Post by Keri on Oct 12, 2020 20:31:11 GMT -5
October 12th, 2020
(Sign Up Thread Here!)
Welcome to OctoOctober 2020, a Preptober Workshop. This year, please feel free to download the prep book which has some more fun, some more questions, and more pictures of our lovely mascot, Otto the Octopus.
As a reminder, we’re going to be focusing different “arm” every week. The order to this is semi-arbitrary; there’s a rhyme and reason to it, but everyone’s rhyme is different.
So today, we’re going to focus on character building. If you’re following along in the prep book, we’re going to grab some things from the character sheets and also dive a little into the plotting section. These can be done at the same time or interchangeably, because one feeds into the other!
So for this post:
Goals, Wants, and Needs
Last week we talked about the events that happen to your characters and how that sequence is, essentially, the plot. But many readers don't connect with a plot. They connect with the person who is undertaking the journey - be it anywhere from epic to internal - and empathize with some part of their story.
The easiest way to make a character that readers connect with is to find out four major parts of their inner workings.
A character's goal is exactly that: something specific that they want to achieve. Do they want to get the girl? Do they want to win the war? There is something happening that your main character is focused on achieving.
That leads into their want. Whatever the goal is, it should fulfill what they think will make them happy. They may want power, love, fame, money... Something that may seem like it will cure all their woes and yet, it's directly opposed to...
What they need. Their need usually is a lesson to learn in order to grow as a character. Here's an example of these three...
Character A's goal is to win the dance competition. They want the fame and adoration that comes with winning the gold medal and will do anything to achieve that, including pushing away friends and family. However, what they need is to recognize that fame is fickle and true friendship is far more valuable.
All of these are things that you, as a writer, have probably experienced. Things that you have felt before can be far more easily translated onto a page because no matter what the goal is - winning a war or winning over a guy - we all experience the same basic human emotions.
That's the real key behind "write what you know." Think about the moments in your past where you felt something strongly and translate that onto the page.
Struggles, Flaws and Fatal Flaws
If you're not sure what your character needs, look into the past. There had to be something that happened to them that set in place their belief systems, the way they see the world, and the way they react to things.
This event and the surrounding emotions and turmoil around it are your character's inner struggle. It could be a battle with themselves over self-worth. It could be self-entitlement. It could be realizing that they are more capable than they think.
Whatever it is, it creates in them a defense mechanism to survive which becomes a flaw.
Now, your characters probably have more than one flaw. It's impossible to be a real "person" and not have some faults. But one should be the main one holding them back and preventing that character growth. If it holds them back too far to the point of destruction or death, it is known as the fatal flaw.
Once you have figured out all the things above, it's pretty easy to determine what your character needs to do to go from their beginning state to the state they're in at the end of the novel. Usually, this is a character arc.
Does your character start off in a place that they need to improve from? Do they need to overcome their flaws and fulfill their need, learning that it is more important than their want? Then then this is a positive character arc.
Does your character slowly spiral down into a dark place they can't return from? Does it end in destruction of themselves, their environment, or even death? Do they not fulfill their need but succumb to their fatal flaw? Then this is a negative character arc.
Maybe your character doesn't really grow, but doesn't get worse. Maybe the problem isn't with them, but with society around them, and they want to change their environment by using their already-fulfilled need. This is a flat arc (which isn't seen all that often!).
Background and Appearance
This is the fun part! This is the character sheet, character creator, Sims building experience. And for that, we do have a few WriYe Character Sheets...
But enough of that. You all know how to make characters that way. So I'm going to just point out a few things...
1) If you add something into their backstory, or give them a hobby or a strength, see if you can tie it into the plot somehow.
2) There is usually something memorable about the way everyone looks. What is your MC's memorable trait?
3) Any pets? Pets can do a lot of things for us at all stages of their lives!
Goals, Needs, Flaws:
Goal, Motivation, Conflict by Debra Dixon
GMC by Publishing Crawl: www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/07/31/emergency-post-goal-motivation-and-conflict/
Want, Need, Flaw, Symptoms by Writes with Tools: writeswithtools.com/2015/03/16/character-want-need-flaw-symptoms/
How to Write Character Arcs by KM Weiland: www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/write-character-arcs/
Try and figure out a few basics of your characters:
- What is their:
- Inner Struggle
-What sort of character arc do they have?
- What do they look like?
Fill out a character sheet and maybe make an avatar! (And, of course, share!)