Anyway, the next workshop I attended was Creating Character by the lovely Julie Cohen (a very bubbly lady - I want her energy!)
According to Julie, there are six ways to create character... I will expand on the exercises at the end.
1) Appearance/ Decription
Characters might fit their appearance, or be at odds with it. Beware of indigestible chunks of description, or cliches.
EXERCISE: Describe the Character's appearance)
2) Action: SHOWING not telling
Make characters active whenever possible, instead of telling what they're like
EXERCISE: Write about this character walking into a room and picking up an object
Use objects and settings to show significant aspects of your character
EXERCISE: Discover the significance of the object the character picked up
This will drive your character forward through the entire story, and can be on an internal (emotional) and/ or external (plot) level. The best conflicts grow out of internal conflicts.
EXERCISE: What's your character's biggest problem?
5) Character Arc
How does your character grow and change over the course of the story?
EXERCISE: What's your character's greatest quality and worst fault, and how do they connect?
Both the voice of the character as narrator, and voice in dialogue.
EXERCISE: Write dialogue as a script, and write first-person inner monolgue
TEN WAYS OF USING YOUR NEW CHARACTER (X) IN A STORY
- Put X in a place s/he doesn't belong
- Introduce X to a character with conflicting goals
- Introduce X to a chracter with the same goals but different motivation
- Make X face his/ her worst fear
- Give X an impossible task
- Make X make a horrible mistake
- Force X to confront the past
- Plunge X into unexpected fame
- Make X lose everything
- Make X win something unwanted, or which becomes unwanted
During the course of this workshop we had to carry out the exercises.
My character was a male who I called TIGER QUINN, aged 19. (We had to select a number and letter cards to give us a start). This is what I wrote...
Tiger Quinn was not the type of person who had ever been described as bright. As long as Lisa could remember, he had been the drop out loser guy that every girls aspired to have as a boyfriend. She was not one of those girls. From the moment she set eyes on his muscular, tanned body and striking hazel eyes, she had known he was that type. The type that would never be interested in someone like her. And funnily enough, his idea to trip her up five years ealier had only solidified her hatred. She would not forget, her memory was long.
Lisa happened to watch the door as he grabbed the handle and made his way in. His slow, almost calculated (and obviously staged), walk was smooth. As he continued to move in her direction a smile broke out over his face. She glanced over her shoulder, paranoid. she faced him again and realised he was actually smiling at her. He stopped next to her, leaned one hand on the table and winked. then he picked up a chip from her plate, dipped it in her ketchup, and popped it in his mouth. He chewed slowly, it was almost an attempt at seduction. Almost.
He moved his hand to take another just as Lisa broke out of her trance and slapped his hand away. Her eyes narrowed.
(This covered points 1 & 2)
Best attribute: Looks, kind, sharing
Worst attribute: Attitude, arrogance, pride
(For point 3)
Now we had to make them talk (she asked us not to embellish, just make them talk)
'I'm glad it hurt.'
'Come on, you know you don't mind sharing with me. Most girls I know would love to split a meal with me.'
'Well, I'm not one of them.'
'You are serious? Wow! Anyway, I know something you don't and you're going to have to be nice to me so that I tell you what it is.'
'You don't know shit.'
'Go girl. I didn't even know you knew how to swear.'
'Well, I do.'
'So, I guess I'll be going then. You don't want to know what I know. Right?'
He started to walk away, but then stopped and turned back to face her. 'Fine, I'll tell you already. I'm in love with you.'
Before Lisa could react his lips were on hers. That completely threw her off.
I did not get the chance to carry on with the exercise since I had my next one to one with an agent... but what I managed to do was excellent! Thank you Julie...