The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

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dios4vida
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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by dios4vida » August 24th, 2011, 12:29 pm

Margo wrote:
dios4vida wrote:I've tried doing the character sheets but I have a hard time with the stringent, super-detailed worldbuilding sheets like Margo's. They make me shudder and feel like I'm doing homework again, and that ruins my creativity. The last novel I did character sheets for I had to trunk temporarily because I couldn't seem to think past the lists of character traits to translate them into actions and believable characters (to say nothing of the fact that I then couldn't even advance the plot!)
Stringent? What kind of character study questions did you try? The best ones are 5% 'traits' and 95% 'other'. I suspect that would be the problem right there.
I don't remember exactly what it was but after I got through the things like 'height' (um, I don't know, about average?) 'weight' (thinish), etc. I remember writing things like "timid, but willing to fight for what she believes in" and "natural servant, perceptive, gentle spirit." I tried to translate that into actions - I mean, it sounds great! - but I just ended up staring at that darn blinking (mocking) cursor. I'd think "okay, so she's trying to convince this other guy ("carries deep wounds, weary, feels pressure to complete mission") to let her go with him and fight with him...and then I'd just stare at the blank (mocking) page because I didn't know how to put all of that into their actions. I really, sincerely feel like I did something very wrong here, but for the life of me I don't know what. And I've looked through your worldbuilding stuff and I know it would be amazing, but it's like the Garcia Effect - I threw up orange sherbet when I was seven and I still can't eat it, I screwed up character sheets once and I can't stomach them anymore.

Do you have any advice for me?
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by Margo » August 24th, 2011, 1:02 pm

dios4vida wrote:Do you have any advice for me?
Lists of traits make for very dry characters. Usually these will be physical traits or occasionally behavioral traits without any background info as to what events established the behavior. Trait lists also don't give a writer the opportunity to go into specific interpersonal reactions. How do friends, family, co-workers, strangers treat the character? What does that say about what they think of him? Why do they think this of him? What does their reaction say about him? How does he react to them?

Traits are cosmetic. Go for important history (backstory), important behaviors (and why! and how these illustrate the character's beliefs and values), important reactions to other people and events, reactions from other people to the character and his actions, deepest fears (and the causes), greatest hopes (and what that says about the character).
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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by Margo » August 24th, 2011, 1:04 pm

dios4vida wrote:And I've looked through your worldbuilding stuff...
Did I give you my character study template? I don't recall that...
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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by dios4vida » August 24th, 2011, 1:10 pm

Margo wrote:
dios4vida wrote:Do you have any advice for me?
Lists of traits make for very dry characters. Usually these will be physical traits or occasionally behavioral traits without any background info as to what events established the behavior. Trait lists also don't give a writer the opportunity to go into specific interpersonal reactions. How do friends, family, co-workers, strangers treat the character? What does that say about what they think of him? Why do they think this of him? What does their reaction say about him? How does he react to them?

Traits are cosmetic. Go for important history (backstory), important behaviors (and why! and how these illustrate the character's beliefs and values), important reactions to other people and events, reactions from other people to the character and his actions, deepest fears (and the causes), greatest hopes (and what that says about the character).
Oooohhhh...that would make a big difference!! :idea: <wheels start turning>
Margo wrote:Did I give you my character study template? I don't recall that...
No, I just saw the things you posted on Urban Psychopomp a while ago. That was more world- centered, if I believe (I remember seeing 'what's your world's population' and thinking 'hmm...I don't know!'). If you don't have adversions to sharing, I would love to see what you have. :)
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by Margo » August 24th, 2011, 1:21 pm

dios4vida wrote:If you don't have adversions to sharing, I would love to see what you have. :)
I wouldn't have a problem sharing them with you, but I think it might be more than you'd like to try at this point (about 15 pages). I don't want to make those gears seize up again. Go with those wheels that are already turning and get back to me if you still want to see them later.
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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by Cookie » August 24th, 2011, 1:29 pm

dios4vida wrote:I don't have any more suggestions right now, but I do have a request.

One of my biggest problems in writing is character development. It's something that I struggle with every single time I write - my characters tend to be pretty flat. I've gotten better at it, but it's still really difficult for me. I've tried doing the character sheets but I have a hard time with the stringent, super-detailed worldbuilding sheets like Margo's. They make me shudder and feel like I'm doing homework again, and that ruins my creativity. The last novel I did character sheets for I had to trunk temporarily because I couldn't seem to think past the lists of character traits to translate them into actions and believable characters (to say nothing of the fact that I then couldn't even advance the plot!) Is there anyone who could lead/suggest exercises or tips for a character development session?
I second this request! Some characters I have a really hard time with, and for the life of me, I can't give them any personality beyond bland or stoic.

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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by Claudie » August 24th, 2011, 11:38 pm

I might be able to help with the character development exercises. I once went through Michael Stackpole's 21 Days to A Novel exercises. His approach is very character-centered, and there are some cool exercises I still do when I feel the need to deepen a character.

One involves writing three short scenes (500-1000) with three characters (he always work in character triumvirates), all in the same location. It doesn't have to be the same scene told three times, just the same place. The goal is to play with what your character pays attention to, what he notices that the others don't, how he describes the place (if he hates green and the place is full of plants, he won't have the same reaction than, say, a gardner). It's about letting your character's background and personality interact with his setting to give an unique approach.

Another is more for character creations. It's give you a "sheet" with five Major traits (or aspects of his life/past/whatever you want), with a short paragraph explaining it, and another adding shades of grey to it. Then you also have two minor goals and one major goals, prior to the story kicking off, all of which have obstacles. The latest part helps giving the impression your character led a non-static life before you threw the plot at him.

These exercises are nothing fancy, but they're good to get the gears turning and an idea of how the character works out in the actual writing.
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by dios4vida » August 25th, 2011, 11:52 am

Claudie, I love those ideas. I say we run with those. :)

Margo, as much as I'm afraid of your worksheets, I'm more intrigued and excited. I'd love to delve deeper into this character stuff, so much so that I think I'm prepared to face the work!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by MattLarkin » August 25th, 2011, 12:47 pm

Margo wrote:
dios4vida wrote:If you don't have adversions to sharing, I would love to see what you have. :)
I wouldn't have a problem sharing them with you, but I think it might be more than you'd like to try at this point (about 15 pages). I don't want to make those gears seize up again. Go with those wheels that are already turning and get back to me if you still want to see them later.
I'd be interested to see them. Since you mentioned it on Wicked & Tricksy I've been curious.
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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by Claudie » August 25th, 2011, 2:48 pm

dios4vida wrote:Claudie, I love those ideas. I say we run with those. :)
Great. Ok. So I guess I can lead those, since I know them fairly well.
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by dios4vida » August 29th, 2011, 2:24 pm

Sounds great, Claudie.

I've been thinking about how good dialogue is like real dialogue with all of the boring stuff taken out, and also how Donald Maass says that in our writing we have a chance to make our characters say what we've always wanted to say. I feel like there's a dialogue workshop in those two pieces of advice but I can't seem to get much structure to it or real workshops to do for it. Does anyone have any ideas?

(Eek! This is my 666th post. Is dialogue really that evil?)
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by Claudie » August 29th, 2011, 3:27 pm

dios4vida wrote:(Eek! This is my 666th post. Is dialogue really that evil?)
Yes. That's why we love it.

** Will be back with someone useful to say sometimes later. :P **
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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by Margo » August 29th, 2011, 3:29 pm

dios4vida wrote:I feel like there's a dialogue workshop in those two pieces of advice but I can't seem to get much structure to it or real workshops to do for it. Does anyone have any ideas?
The one I offered to do, because I've been through it with Donald, covers that.
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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by Margo » August 29th, 2011, 3:29 pm

MattLarkin wrote:
Margo wrote:
dios4vida wrote:If you don't have adversions to sharing, I would love to see what you have. :)
I wouldn't have a problem sharing them with you, but I think it might be more than you'd like to try at this point (about 15 pages). I don't want to make those gears seize up again. Go with those wheels that are already turning and get back to me if you still want to see them later.
I'd be interested to see them. Since you mentioned it on Wicked & Tricksy I've been curious.
Okay, I'll PM you guys.
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Re: The Bransforumsfest Writing Workshop Brainstorm

Post by dios4vida » August 29th, 2011, 4:00 pm

Margo wrote:
dios4vida wrote:I feel like there's a dialogue workshop in those two pieces of advice but I can't seem to get much structure to it or real workshops to do for it. Does anyone have any ideas?
The one I offered to do, because I've been through it with Donald, covers that.
Oh, that is fantastic!! I've had that thought in my head for a week now. I'm even more excited now! :D
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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