This is a variation of the 20 Questions exercise for characters that Gabriella posted for the DIYMFA
There are 22 questions to consider. The rules for this exercise are the same as those Gabriela posted. You can find them at 20 Questions to Create a Character.
- Masculine / Feminine influence
- Old / Modern
- Logical / Creative
- Happy / Sad
- City / Country
- Mansion / Apartment
- Import in / Self sufficient
- Chimney / Basement
- Animals / No pets allowed
- People / Stands empty
- Run down / Well kept
- Hot / Cold
- Minimalist / Cluttered
- Overgrown garden / Plastic plants
- Open Plan / Nooks and crannies
- Welcoming / Foreboding
- Flat / Pitched roof
- Stands out / blends in
- Function / Style
- Bump in the night / Serene
- Vast / Claustrophobic
- Bright / Dark
Please leave comments. I would like to know if people found this exercise helpful or not, and why.
Work on VTS has stalled for now so I have returned to my pet/epic project of KOIS for a bit, I don’t really want to start writing it yet until I’ve completed a few projects first to cut my teeth. KOIS is my flagship story and I want to make it the best I can. My storytelling is strong but my writing technique is weak. The only way to improve my technique is to write, write, write!
I wish I had something completed on the table for my efforts. I’m just going to have to keep working at it… *sigh* Sometimes I wish I had a writing partner to kick my backside.
I love today’s #diymfa exercise! Instead of laborious character sheets to fill in you are twenty questions to answer with two possible options. This is great for thinking about your characters and getting information about them but gives your muse room to move and explore. Instead of writing a scene I have chosen to brainstorm a character profile. What follows is not is not a polished profile but a rich reserve of material I can shape into one. I know there are too many ‘she’ in it. This material gives me depth and insight without becoming a form filling or tick box exercise.
For full instructions go here.
- Male / Female
- Old soul / Young at heart
- Left brain / Right brain
- Glass half-empty / Glass half-full
- City / Country
- Big spender / Penny pincher
- Loves water / Can’t swim
- Glasses / Tattoo
- Dogs / Cats
- Hybrid car / SUV
- Bites nails / Always manicured
- Chocolate syrup / Hot sauce
- Coffee / Tea
- Overgrown garden / Plastic plants
- Always tells the truth / Lies when necessary
- Organic food / Fast food
- Straight hair / Curly hair
- Soft-spoken / Loudmouth
- PBS / Reality TV
- Motto: “Do or die” / “Look before you leap”
Character: Molly Mackenzie Mitchell
Story: KOIS series
Molly Mitchell is a young girl aged nine. Despite feeling lonely since the death of her grandmother she is still a young soul at heart and loves life. She is very creative and whollistic in her world view. She loves exploring new worlds and loves books as they allow her to meet lots of interesting people and places. She is usually very optimistic but that is becoming harder since she lost her grandmother and is forced to listen to her mother who is very pessimistic. If she had the choice, Molly would love to live in the country so she could lots of space to run around in and trees to climb. Molly likes to save for a rainy day, but her big weakness is buying books from the local bookshop. Molly does not wear glasses although she would secretly like to as she feels it would make her look more intelligent and suitable to be a librarian when she gets older. Molly does not have any pets but prefers cats to dogs because of their independent nature. She cycles everywhere but when she’s older she plans to buy a hybrid car as it better for the environment. Her nails are always dirty from exploring and climbing trees as her grandmother’s house backs onto fields. Her favourite drinks are orange and pineapple squash and she adores having a hot chocolate at bedtime as it reminds of when she was little and her grandmother would tell her stories. Molly does not possess the skill with plants that her late grandmother. She hasn’t yet developed the patience necessary for anything high maintenance. She always tries to tell the truth but lies when she thinks it is necessary. She loves making salads using vegetables from the allotment. Molly has dark curly hair that she has inherited from her father whom she has never met. She doesn’t even know his name. Her mother won’t tell her. Miss Mitchell is quite the tomboy and certainly makes her presence felt. However, she prefers quieter pursuits of walking, cycling and swimming, but especially reading. She doesn’t like watching a lot of television and is often found with her nose buried in a book. Molly is confident in familiar surroundings but that soon disappears and she becomes scared if she strays outside her comfort zone.
I’m taking part in DIY MFA 2.0 this month.
Today’s exercise is to choose a scene, either your own or someone elses and draw a character compass. A character compass is drawn using the TADA method:
More information can be found here.
I didn’t draw the compass shape as I am unable to, I used highlighters to define the different bits. This is from a piece I am currently working on ‘Visions That Shatter’. I have no qualms about sharing thi as the scene will not survive in its current form once I move onto the next draft, even if it survives at all.
Extract from Visions That Shatter:
June 21st. Summer Solstice or for those who follow the old tradition, Lithia. It was a cool evening and Jo Bellini and Ryan Cresswell were enjoying a picnic in the park after work. In love, they were laughing and joking, enjoying each other’s company. The picnic was consumed inbetween bouts of laughter. The trees above them were still casting shadows but the sun was now setting.
It was not only the night sky that was turning into darkness as Jo and Ryan were greeted by a middle aged man jogging through the park who asked what was happening with Lenora’s case. Something in Ryan snapped and his eyes hardened in anger and sorrow. Seeing the look in Ryan’s eyes the man realised that he shouldn’t have asked the question. But the damage was done. Ryan took several moments to compose himself, struggling to keep his emotions at bay.
Jo took over, realising that Ryan is unable to continue. “It’s moving slowly… like all these things do.” This was punctuated with a hard glare that warned that no more questions would be allowed. The man muttered his condolences and hope for a speedy resolution before jogging away away at a brisk pace mindful of Jo’s glare.
They sat in silence now, Jo was at a loss as to what to say. His sister’s death had wounded him deeply, and he was showing little sign of healing. She tried talking to him gently to ease his pain, in hope that he might start opening up to her but all she received was a piercing glare that showed his anger. Ryan was so tense that his eyes were bulging and knuckles were white. Determined to let him know that he could confide in her she took one of his hands and caressed its knuckles. “I’m here when you’re ready to talk.” Silence. “I’m not going anywhere.” This was acknowledged with a nod before he bowed his head. This was a sure sign that tears were threatening to spill. Jo wasn’t surprised that he started picking up the picnic things and leading her out of the park in silence. Jo hoped that he wouldn’t realise how stiff her joints were as he helped her to her feet. She was holding on to Ryan tightly for support, a little too tightly, fearing she was going to slip and fall over.
Neither of them were aware of a man watching them as he took a drag of his cigarette. He followed them as they moved through the park.
Nearing the park’s gateway Ryan’s cell phone rang. He motioned for Jo to go and sit on the bench near a near a trimmed hedge, acutely aware how hard his girlfriend was finding it to walk tonight. Ryan answered the call with an annoyed sigh. It was Sorrell demanding his immediate attention, making Ryan’s mood even more sour. He didn’t want to deal with him tonight. Jo closed her eyes trying to use willpower alone to make the pain and stiffness in her legs go away. She caught snippets of Ryan’s conversation. “I’ll be there as soon as I can…” “I need to sort Jo out first…” The phone clicked off and Ryan growled. Without looking at Jo he dialled for a taxi. Once finished, he took a glance at his girlfriend. “That was Manny…”
“Why the taxi?”
“To take you home.”
“I can walk home.”
He responded with a look of pure disbelief and sat beside her on the bench. “Uh huh. You’re as stiff as a corpse honey. It would take you a good couple of hours to walk home.” Inwardly Jo cursed at her inability to hide her stiffness from Ryan. Without thinking Jo placed her head on Ryan’s shoulder and he began caressing her back hoping to remove some of the stiffness. They sat in silence until the taxi arrived. Ryan helped Jo into the cab and watched it leave. As soon as it was clear, he pulled out his phone again. “Evening Jac. Listen I haven’t much time. I need you to do me a favour…”
I should have spotted the signs when characters in VTS began swapping their functions. An antagonist’s sidekick has become a sidekick to the protagonist, the antagonist has become the sidekick to the antagonist and the ally has become the antagonist. Keeping up? Now the ending has also changed impacting events throughout the story so I need to rewrite my short synopsis and therefore my character story arcs. No I *know* that I shouldn’t stop and start writing when it’s a first draft but if I don’t change these documents I’m going to get in a muddle. Why am I staring at the sections in front of me and making no effort to change them.
Part of me is annoyed at my brain for suggesting this new ending because I’ve spent a couple of months on the original outlines, but yet part of me is thankful as this ending is better as it needs the MC to be active whereas the current version has stuff happening to her with her in denial. Changing VTS means I have to change the events in the short story and novel that need to be written after VTS so that VTS can still serve as a prologue to the universe. I still want the first draft of VTS to be written by 31st March.
Now I should go and make these changes.
I have found setting self imposed deadlines has done wonders for my productivity. My Thunderbird Calendar is now an indispensable part of my writing tools. I am currently writing a short story with a target count of 10k. I want the first draft finished by the end of March. I plan to start outlining my Script Frenzy story on 1st March. I’ve also had an idea for the 2nd annual Original Fiction Big Bang (#ofbb) which needs to be 10k also. Unfortunately the start of #OFBB conflicts with Script Frenzy. Don’t know if I will able to do both.
I am pondering about posting stuff online and if it could harm the chances of my stories getting published. However, I like doing OFBB for the same reason I like doing NaNo. I like the camaraderie of several people writing together and supporting each other.
I’ve set my deadlines till the end of March. I plan to finish and polish at least one piece this year. Scrivener, an alphasmart and a new keyboard are certainly helping but I need to maintain the grunt work. Lets see how I do.
Because of my mobility issues I struggle to do research for my fiction writing. To go to the library would inconvenience members of my family. I could buy books but I literally have no more room to store any in my bedroom. I currently rely on Amazon Kindle editions. Of course there is the internet but I am aware that the information provided may not be accurate.
For example I am trying to research
- Police working with psychics
- Likely injuries sustained from a fatal brutal beating
- Why a young wife may decide to cheat on her husband and jeopardise her family. I am aware of the cliches associated with this but I’d rather try and find out if this is actually the case.
- How someone can ‘disappear’ for ten years without their true identity being discovered.
The stuff above is for a short story, but if I don’t get the detail right it’s going to jar with the reader I think.
Any tips on ways I can research, bearing in mind my limited mobility and budget issues will be greatly received.
Not being able to research effectively, is starting to impact my writing process as I don’t have all the information that I need.
I am currently trying out the Snowflake Method when it comes to planning and organising my writing. I am at Stage 2 – One Paragraph Summary.
Here is the first summary I wrote without the aid of tarot.
After the rest of her family are killed in an accident, injured Butterfly is placed in the care of her grandmother. Resentment builds between the two until The Dragon lashes out, verbally and physically, deciding to keep Butterfly a prisoner in the home. Butterfly decides to try and reconcile with her grandmother who rebuffs her attempts, and mocks her in front of the rest of the family. Frustration and depression overwhelms Butterfly who withdraws and contemplates suicide as a way out. After a massive fight that alerts others to Butterfly’s plight, she is rescued scared and afraid.
How I used Tarot for this task
1. Selected two tarot decks: Llewellyn and Legacy of the Divine.
2. The Legacy deck had already been sorted into three groups: Major Arcana, Minor Arcana and Court Cards as my regular writing process involves me drawing one card from each group when answering questions and drawing up character profiles. I use Ciro Marchetti decks as his artwork sparks me creatively.
3. I put the Llewellyn deck into three random piles and shuffle each one thinking ‘One Paragraph Summary for Surviving Dragon Burns’ which is the name of the story.
4. I pick up the pile that I am drawn the most to and deal 5 cards. One for each of the following:
a) Story Setup
b) Up to the end of Act 1
c) Up to the Mid point (Middle of Act 2)
d) Up to end of Act 2
e) Ending (Up to end of Act 3)
5. Once I’ve noted the cards I’ve drawn from Llewellyn, I lay the corresponding Legacy cards I begin to write.
I drew the following:
End of Act 1: 7 of Pentacles
Midpoint: King of Wands
End of Act 2: Knight of Cups
Each story point/card equals one sentence of the paragraph. At end of Act 1, mid point, and the end of Act 2, there should be a disaster that puts the main character in increasing peril. There can also be a disaster at the ending if you choose.
This is what I came up with:
After an accident that killed most of her family injured Butterfly lives with her grandmother, but The Dragon resents taking care of her granddaughter and uses the power that she has over her to make Butterfly’s life miserable. Butterfly decides to wait it out and see if she can reconcile with her grandmother, but this is rebuffed and Butterfly is mocked by the remaining family. Butterfly strikes a friendship with a man who has mysterious past who takes on the role of Butterfly’s protector, but his secrets threaten their future. The Dragon forces them apart sending Butterfly into turmoil over the loss of Samuel. He returns with a judge who orders that Butterfly is released, but the Dragon refuses to go quietly.
In my opinion the second version is better. What do you think?