Life has been hectic since I started classes again on Monday, which has led me to revise some of the plans I had, not only for the blog and writing but also life in general. I’ve decided to give up the volunteering I was taking part of in my faculty’s library, because, while four hours per week might not seem that much, I have a feeling that they will be important, especially when work starts to pile up during mid-semester. It doesn’t help that I joined my course’s student comission, though I don’t know how much work that will mean just yet. The worst might just be that I’ve found that having classes until 8 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday exhausted me more than I expected. Maybe it will get better as time passes and I adjust, but this means that, at least for now, on Mondays I will only be able to work during my two hour break, while on Wednesdays I won’t be able to get any work done at all.
As for my writing, I have been wondering about the plans I have for the upcoming months. Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up, and my idea was that, during March, I would blog about my planning for the event, which is why Planning is this month’s second Writing Craft Element. Then, during April, I would blog during Camp NaNo– my progress, thoughts, general notes, that sort of thing. Now, I’m still planning to do all of this. I don’t have any other alternatives, and I really wanted to do something different from what I’ve been doing so far. Only time will tell whether I’m going to be able to do this, and hopefully I will be prepared if it comes to the point when I decide that I just can’t deal with all the work.
That being said, here’s this week’s post!
Week 3 Update
Prompts: This week’s prompts were:
- “Where is the baby!?” She screamed. [x]
- The Reaper takes on a different form for everyone. You’re a notorious killer, but yours is a kindly grandma for some reason. [x]
This week I wrote a total of 2507 words, 1217 for the first prompt and 1290 for the second. I really am seeing a pattern in my writing flow: the amount of words I write decreases from the second to the third week. Last month was due to demotivation, this month, I believe, has to do with the start of the semester. I wonder what else I’ll see in the future!
Craft Book: This week’s chapters focused on Characters and Dialogue.
Characters are the heart of the story, and if your characters are unconvincing, then your story will be as well. Great characters make for memorable stories. Ideally, the characters and plot must influence themselves mutually, characters must be proactive and evolve throughout the story.
There are different ways to create characters:
- Base characters on real people, mixing and modifying traits to make them unique. You can even use pictures of real people who look similar to your characters in order to visualize them better (people who can draw can sketch their characters, unfortunately not all of us are well rounded artists)
- Interview your characters, noting down basic information and putting them in different situations to know how they react. There are thousands of lists online of questions to ask, these are the traits the author suggests if those lists seem too much:
- Name, Age, Gender
- Ethnicity and Nationality
- Physical traits
- Psychological traits (positive and negative traits, quirks, hobbies)
- Illnesses, Disabilities
- Family life (marital status, family relationships)
- Social life (friends, clubs)
- Love life, Sexual orientation
- Religion and spiritual life
- Political opinions
- Culture, Education
- Employment, professional ambitions
- Discourse (formal, informal, coloquial, etc)
Something to consider when creating a character is the name. Was it common in the time and place the character was born, or will it stand out in a negative way? Does it point to attributes or weaknesses? Giving a character a nickname can also help point to different levels of intimacy with others, or even to important events of the character’s life. It is also important to not give similar sounding names to characters, or else you’ll confuse the reader.
When choosing traits, it’s important to give both positive and negative traits to every character. This produces three-dimensional, realistic characters, rather than carboard cutouts and clichés. Taking an object that is important to the character and defining them around it also helps to create depth and a deeper understanding of the character.
When it comes to dialogue, it’s important to know the roles it serves in a story. It can move the action forward, reveal the character’s state of mind, highlight a conflict and create suspence, and add to characterization. Dialogue must be natural, but shouldn’t be exactly like a real life conversation, it should be concise and relevant. It must be fluid, have short sentences, breaks, hesitations and interruptions; limit the use of references (said Alice) to only when it is relevant, and you can use gestures when you need to refer to a character. To make sure dialogue is fluid, read it out loud or act it out. Dialogue works best with characters in conflict, creating tension. Dialogue must show the character’s intentions without spelling it out. A good way to use Dialogue is through internal monologue, revealing the character’s thoughts to the reader.
Course: This week’s lesson dealt with Research.
Research in Creative Writing is needed to create the world of the story and make it realistic and persuasive, no matter what kind of story you’re writing. There are three kinds of research:
- Functional, which not only involves researching in books, the internet and other sources, but also visiting the places and talking to the people you’re writing about.
- Inspirational, in which you take inspiration from books, music and other sources for new ideas.
- Imaginative, which is the act of planning and thinking of your story. It is no good if you have a lot of facts and ideas if you do not use your imagination to think of how they can fit in your story. It’s also important when you are writing about a place you cannot visit, or when developing a space you are imagining yourself.
It’s also important to know that, while research is important, it’s also important to not research too much. Know enough to visualize the setting and add details that will persuade readers to believe your story, but you don’t need to know everything.
Being familiar with the setting also helps to avoid stereotyping characters and cultures and clichés related to them.
Plans for Week 4
This week my focus will be on consiliating my writing, my academic responsibilities, and have enough free time to not exhaust myself. I still have to researh the Writing Craft Element, which I neglected this week due to my aforementioned problems, but I will definitely do it. Hopefully, this was all just the effect of the first week and I will be able to adjust myself.