Instead of using lockdown ('flattening the curve') for the past 6-8 weeks to get lots of stuff done, we've had a few major things go wrong at our end so have been using the time just to get through the various crises.
Slowly, slowly we've been getting back to "normal" and some of what falls into normal includes putting together a series of 'lessons' on 'Creating Great Characters' to be used in our Broken River Writers Writers' Corner Sessions.
Here is part one.
Creating Great Characters #1
There’s lots of great information out there on creating characters and there are also a multitude of ways to create one and multiple attributes you “should” include.
What makes a character memorable?
Think about characters in books that make you laugh, or cry, have you concerned about their choices. What is it about these characters that grabs you? What is the magic that takes a flat, 2D character and turns them into someone real, someone you’d like to have a coffee with?
So the writing is a part of it. You can create a great character, but if your writing is shite, then the character won’t shine. However, I’m not talking about your writing – if you want to get good, then write a lot and read a lot, even when you don’t feel like it. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.
I believe that a great character needs to be real. They need to have things they are passionate about, they need to have interests and hobbies. They also need to have fears, problems and faults.
Maybe they love horses, hate cats, are allergic to housework, collect books, eat too much chocolate, can’t balance their bank account, always run late, are a clean freak, can’t leave the house unless their perfectly made up, don’t know how to change a tyre, have dirt under their fingernails, are terrified of spiders, aren’t human without coffee...
What I have discovered over the years of writing is that the best way to create a great character is to do so using whatever method/s best work for you. In this series I will share some of mine.
But first, what are the problems I face when it comes to creating a great character? Here are some of mine (NB: I may add to this list over time) –
What about you? What difficulties do you face when creating characters?
Over the years I have discovered that it is very easy to tell somebody how to do it, but sometimes that just isn’t enough, so in this series I’m going share my “Creating Great Characters” journey using these examples of problems I have in several of my ‘in-progress stories.
Hopefully, I will actually create some great characters in the process otherwise it’s going to be a tad embarrassing!
Feel free to comment, message or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with other character issues you have and who knows, maybe I can help.
"The Personalised Writing & Editing Workshop with Killer Pig Productions was great. So much learnt listening to Jake and Sam talk about each piece attendees submitted., Recurring themes that came up, no matter what the style or genre, were having a sense of place and writing with intention.... Thanks Killer Pig Productions" Carla Gardner, Broken River Writers
Next Writers' Corner is on the 3rd Wednesday as the 4th is ANZAC Day and the Library is closed. At our last Writers' Corner I raised the possibility of us doing a "writing course" using Carmel Bird's book 'Dear Writer...revisited...' Originally published in 1988 while this edition is 2013. A quote by the author from the intro -
'When it comes down to it, the principal thing a writer has to do is write, to sit down at the desk and make up stories. You can actually guess and glean for yourself all the info about the so-called world of writing; you can work out how to present a manuscript to a publisher, if you want to. You can pick up some ideas from books such as this one. In classes and at festivals I have sometimes felt that students and members of the audience were hoping to be given the secret to a magic formula that was supposed to be in the possession of the tutor or speaker. The secret is that there is no magic formula.
Writing students have sometimes told me they wish for a book that will not only provide advice about skills, but will somehow urge and inspire the reader to write and continue to write. I hope that 'Dear Writer' will fulfill the students' wishes and answer the needs of both new and experienced writers.'
Leading Edge Books can get 'Dear Writer...revisited...' in for us. Retails for $25 but they will do them for $20 if we order more than 2 copies. I will definitely be getting a copy and am wondering if BRW should purchase a copy. Thoughts anyone? If you want to participate in this exercise I would strongly recommend getting yourself a copy so you can read and reread the entirety of each letter we are working through. I will include a few quotes, but it won't be as good.
NEA member and Broken River Writers' convenor Carla Gardner's short story, The Long Winter, has just been published in Wolves - A Short Story Needle in the Hay Collaboration. "Howl at the moon with eight of the best stories by award winning authors from Needle In The Hay". Congratulations, Carla
Broken River Writers very first Discovery Workshop with playwright Gabriel Bergmoser was even better than expected. Gabe is young and full of energy, on the go the entire time, vibrant and funny.
Discovery Workshops have been set up for local writers and the broader community to enjoy and learn from a variety of Guest Speakers who come, share their story-telling journey, inspire and impart some of their knowledge through a variety of short exercises.
Gabe chose a variety of exercises to illustrate the plot and character dynamic of conflict. The first exercise was for one half of the room to come up with reasons as to why he should drink the bottle of scotch, while the other side of the room had to come up with reasons for why he shouldn’t drink it. Immediately there was conflict.
Other workshop activities built on this theme of conflict, setting the scene for the performance of Gabe’s one act play, Heroes, performed brilliantly by Matt Phillips & Blake Stringer. Heroes illustrated the issue of conflict between characters, and the conflict within themselves between what they want and what they need.
After Heroes there was a discussion with Gabe, Matt & Blake about the play, from inception to recent performances across Victoria and nominations and presentations of a range of awards in the Geelong One Act Play Festival. “Heroes is a complex, extremely well written play by an exceptionally gifted young playwright,” said Bev Lee, who was absolutely rapt she’d decided to come to Broken River Writers first Discovery Workshop.
The next day Matt & Blake performed in Mansfield in the One Act Play Festival where they won Best Production, Best Writing and runner up Best Actor. And since then they’ve also won Best Production and Best Playwright at the Foster One Act Play Festival, with nominations for Best Actor and Best Director!
Big thank you to the Broken River Writers volunteers for coming in early, setting up, preparing supper and packing up after everyone went home. Big thank you also to NEA for hosting the event and auspicing Broken River Writers, and Tomorrow Today for providing the funding.
Details of the next Broken River Writers Discovery Workshop to be announced once they are finalised.
An Occasional Blog
Writers' Corner meeting at Benalla Library, July 26, 2017
Broken River Writers are a group of passionate story tellers from the Benalla region seeking to broaden and enrich our story telling horizons and make a difference in our community. To do this we are working under the umbrella of North East Artisans and with the Benalla Library. It doesn’t matter what your preferred genre is, all writers are welcome – among our number there are people who write poetry, science fiction, fantasy, memoirs, romance, horror so on and so forth.
We meet together on the last Wednesday of the month for Writers’ Corner at the Benalla Library, 5-6:30pm, where we chat about life and writing, share what we’re working on, ideas, ask questions, inspire each other, sometimes even learning something new.
Each month we set a theme or prompt of some kind and encourage people to have a go, which you can find on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BrokenRiverWrtiers/ This month we have three different prompts to choose from. It is hoped that through this exercise we can each choose a piece we’ve written to include in our very own Broken River Writers book of short stories which we hope to publish some time in 2018.
Discovery Workshops are our new project. These supplement Writers’ Corner meetings by bringing in a variety of Guest Speakers on the 2nd Friday of the month to share their expertise in the art of story-telling, and stretch writers of all levels through a variety of skill building exercises. During a Discovery Workshop, Guest Speakers will share their journey, inspire and inform, share from their wealth of knowledge and help us improve our story telling skills.
A Discovery Workshop will run for 2-3 hours and look something like this:
If you know of any story-tellers who might be interested (local or otherwise), or, if you have any particular story-tellers you’d like to hear from, let us know and we’ll add them to our list. Thanks to the Tomorrow Today Foundation we have some funding to pay a small fee and contribute towards travel costs.
Our first Discovery Workshop is on Friday 11th August, 6-9pm with playwright Gabriel Bergmoser at North East Artisans, 122 Bridge St, Benalla.
A Writers’ Corner for younger writers (under 15) and three Discovery Workshops catering specifically for Children, Teens and Young Adults are also under development.
Discovery Workshops are sponsored by Broken River Writers, North East Artisans and the Tomorrow Today Foundation.
Please contact Carla Gardner, NE.A Secretary and Events Coordinator/Broken River Writers Coordinator on 57666453 or email email@example.com subject heading ‘Broken River Writers Discovery Workshops’ if you would like to be involved and for additional information.
An Occasional Blog by Carla Gardner,
*'The Occasional Blogger' is open for submissions by NEA members.
Send copy to firstname.lastname@example.org
Benalla Art Gallery
Shepparton Art Museum
Wangaratta Art Gallery
Benalla Camera Club
Broken River Potters
Broken River Painters
Broken River Writers
Wots4Me Benalla Youth
Art Gallery on Ovens
Bush Gatherings -Violet Town
GANEAA (Goulburn and North East Arts Alliance)