Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Final tips on character development

Really liked this bit from Dwight V Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer. "Don't overbuild." Decide which characters need to have a complete development. Making every character in the book have all the qualities as the major characters brings mass chaos. Who is the reader supposed to root for if the gardener has a long and involved back story, goals and reasons? What if he's just part of the scenery. She gazed out the window and saw the gardener at work. He could be there to give her some insight into her part of the story. She'd the heroine and she needs the spotlight. So look at the many characters in your story and see if you've given any more words in the story than they deserve. Don't let minor characters take you on a path that leads away from the main story. If they've engaged you so much, give them their own story, not this one.

Learn about people - There are many ways to do this. Writers have been accused of eaves-dropping on the conversations of others. Not a bad thing. Reading books about understand people. Take a psychology class at the community college. Learning about people how and why they act the way they do is what writers do. Without people, there is no story. Many writers I know are nurses or former nurses and they have an advantage since they see people at the worst and best times of their lives. Doesn't mean any writer can see people at these times. Sometimes the tragedy is your own. Use them.

 I remember waiting while my husband underwent a surgery where the doctor told me he had a 50/50 chance of survival. I sat in the waiting room facing all the things I knew would go wrong. There were other people there, waiting to hear about loved ones. Not only did I face my own fears but I also observed the other people, saw the tears and the smiles. Did I use these events in a book. Sort of. What I looked at was reactions and how people behaved.


Melissa Keir said...

I love to observe the people around me especially when we are out. I usually end up telling hubby about what their conversations are.

Marianne Stephens said...

Watching people is the best way to gain insight on feelings. People are usually so expressive...and showing emotion.