Question of the Day: What do you personally get out of taking your time to blog? To put simpler, why do you blog?
One of the most critical aspects of creating a novel or even just a short story is characterization, because the characters are what makes the story come alive. Their facial features, their actions, the way they view the world and the other characters they interact with, their thoughts and feelings, and their reactions to events all play major parts in determining who exactly the characters are.
Sadly, I do not fully developed my characters well enough at all. I get so excited with my SNI (Sexy New Idea, as Frankie Diane calls it) that I delve right into it and start writing my heart out. However, for all of the novels that I have begun in the past, there comes a time when I hit a total roadblock, a dead end if you will, and run out of things for my characters to say and do on a day-by-day basis. And I believe that I must attribute this to my lack of complete characterization. How can I write the audacious, romantic, inspiring story of my main character…if I myself do not fully know who exactly the main character is? How can I speak for my character when I have yet to know him or her through and through?
I always hear writers say things like, “My character and I had a fight today about what he’s gonna say and do…” and “How can I prevent my character from taking over my novel?!” and “I broke up with my character.” I’ve always wondered, how in the world can you think of your character as being THAT alive?! I have always felt 100% in control of my novels; I never have to “persuade” my characters to let me write something about them because I essentially command everything that happens to them no matter what. I AM the characters. However, I’m starting to think that that’s exactly what’s wrong with me. I don’t allow my characters to fully develop and thus come alive; I impose barriers without even knowing, which thus prohibits my novel/story from going farther and becoming richer.
Thus, I have decided to write a new character profile each week or every other week (if possible) and share it with you. Although I won’t necessarily be using each character that I make a profile for in a current or future work, this will definitely be a great exercise for me to practice characterization. It will give me the opportunity to create multiple mini characters and get the hang of it so that it will be a bit easier–and fun!–when the time comes for a real novel and real characters to come alive…characters that are far more complicated than these character profiles.
I will be pulling certain people from my day-to-day life that I find extremely interesting (not in the creepy way) and with distinct mannerisms that would shape them into perfect characters for a story and do a character profile on them. After the profile, I will always write a brief passage from a potential story. The passage will be in the point of view of somebody who is physically close to the character at a certain moment.
Meet Ms. Reed
NAME: Abby Reed
Biography: Abby Reed was born and raised in a small, Southern town in North Carolina. She currently attends the local university as a junior and is getting a degree in Education. She hopes to teach high school in the future. Abby is an only child, but her wealthy parents were often too busy to spend time with her during her childhood, so they often made that up through a shower of gifts. Abby is a part of the college’s sorority. She is a Teaching Fellow.
5 feet 0 inches.WEIGHT:
Between 90 and 100 pounds.
BODY TYPE: Slim and petite.
FACE TYPE: Small face, angled chin, prominent nose, pursed lips.
EYES: Chocolate brown and sharp. Her eyes often say a thousand words, even if a sound does not come out of her mouth.
HAIR: Shoulder-length, chocolate brown hair that matches her eyes. Straight.
CLOTHING STYLE: In the passage below, she wears a grey skirt and a white top with a purple tank underneath. Wears flats.
SPEAKING STYLE: Short sentences and to the point. Abby has a rather quiet voice that never carries out to an entire room.
GENERAL DEMEANOR: Carries an air of importance about herself. Straight to the point while talking with others. With students, she enforces her authority but does not respect their needs, nor does she identify with them.
CAREER: She works part-time as a a waitress at Olive Garden restaurant.
PREJUDICES: Frightened of insects and clowns.
BEST QUALITIES: Tries to do her best with her work. Honest and intelligent.
WORST QUALITIES: Rather self-centered, opinionated, and not gracious. Tends to be impatient.
WEAKNESSES: Abby has trouble getting along with other people and carries an air of arrogance that does not flatter herself at all.
HOBBIES: Exercise, read Self magazine, hang out within her sorority. She runs in the morning everyday at 7am.
TALENTS: Extremely intelligent in all areas of education. Plays the flute.
The moment Ms. Reed stood up and began switching on the projector to begin her lecture on Nigeria’s three ethnic groups, it was clear that something about her made me feel uncomfortable and even hostile towards her. She did not smile, though her keen eyes seemed to notice everything around the classroom. As Ms. Reed got her materials ready for lecturing, she moved without hesitation, and the way she carried herself immediately set her off as an intern unwelcome in our classroom.
I looked around to glance at the faces of my classmates, but they were all expressionless as their eyes followed Ms. Reed. She moved as though every step she made was on a balance beam, and the grey skirt she wore swished while she moved. Even as she was bending down, her chin seemed to stick up pretentiously. After Ms. Reed’s presentation finally appeared on the screen, she walked back–skirt still swishing–to the podium and began her lecture.
“Nigeria is represented by three ethnic groups: the Igbo, the Yoruba, and the Hausa-Fulani.” And from there she proceeded on to explain the distinct characteristics of each group. The lecture itself was very well-done and the presentation was organized neatly, but Ms. Reed went too fast. In fact, she went so fast that nobody was able to finish her first couple of slides. Finally, by the fourth slide, a rather outspoken student named Audrey* interrupted her, “Wait one moment! I’m not finished yet.” She bent her head to scramble down the last two lines of notes. Audrey wasn’t the only one still writing.
“You are not finished?” Ms. Reed repeated. “Let me know when you are finished then. Look up at me when you are done.” The tone of her voice was so strong that it made me taste bitter and sour in my mouth at the same time. “While you are still writing, let me talk about the next slide. The Yoruba people have a mix of…” Nobody was able to retain a single word that Ms. Reed said because they were too busy scrambling down the last couple of words, and she noticed that. Clearly, this method was not working, and her Yoruba talk slowly faded to a stop after “…and they live in the Southern part of Nigera. I guess I’ll just wait until you’re done with this slide.”
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.