Let Your Imagination Soar … Characterization

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There is a writer inside everybody.  It might be shriveled up from disuse, it might be calloused from one to many rejections, or it might be a little princess (or prince) preening at the very mention of another well-written document.

Now is your chance to shine or attempt to rub off a little rust.  Once a week, I’ll discuss a writing element to help you become a better writer.  By the end, you will have your own piece of writing.  Maybe you’ll write a short story; maybe you’ll write a novel; maybe you’ll write a children’s book.  The end product is entirely up to you and your imagination.  The only thing I ask is that you share your weekly writings.  This will help you be a stronger writer, and you’ll get feedback from me and others.  It’s not as intimidating as it might seem … I promise.

In order to have a great story, you need several things.  The first element we’ll discuss is the importance of good characters.  We’ve all fallen in love with a character; there is a reason movies based on books can flop at the box office:  the actor didn’t quite capture what we envisioned our beloved character to be like.

Create a character that either the reader will love to love or love to hate.  The next step is to create him or her.  Remember, show; don’t tell.  Instead of telling us what the character is like, have your character say or do things that reflect his or her personality.

Telling example:  Jimmy was a naughty little boy who compensated for his small stature by destroying things.

Showing example:  Jimmy struggled to raise his 4 foot frame far enough to peak into Mrs. Baxter’s front picture window.  There she sat with her white head bowed over a bird puzzle.  Jimmy snickered and eased himself down, tip-toed around the old lady’s house, and began pulling up her prize petunias by their roots. 

So, your first assignment is to create two main characters.  Usually you have a protagonist (good guy) and an antagonist (bad guy).  You can, of course, write a romance.  Naturally, you’ll have the two love interests.  Write a paragraph or two about each of the two characters:  what will they do?  What do they look like (keep away from stereotypical good guy/bad guy looks … make the character unique enough to grab the readers’ attention)?  Why is there tension between the two?  What do your characters do for a living?  Does one of them die at the end of your story?

I hope you all join in this writing experience.  It will be fun to read everybody’s ideas.  I can’t wait!  Have ideas posted by next Wednesday, December 18.  If you have specific questions, please ask me.  I’ll help you out any way I can.  If you aren’t a big writer, but you know someone who loves to write or who you think would enjoy a literary challenge, please pass this along to them.

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