On People Watching

Hey. I’m not crazy. People watching is a genuine thing writers (and other creative people I guess) do. It’s fun. Try it.

What is people watching? People watching can be as simple as sitting in a cafe with your notebook and a pen and recording interesting things about the people around you. Something like, “elderly lady in a pink jacket with blue jeans and trainers drinks a coffee whilst reading on her smartphone” can be enough to spark off a story.  Continue reading “On People Watching”

Characterisation Ideas

Characters are the obvious backbone to your writing, no matter what the style is: play, novel, film or TV script, even a simple comedy sketch. So getting them right is clearly the thing you should be working on.

Characterisation is something I am notoriously bad at. In my novella, An Icy Collision, the characters feel like people I vaguely know as opposed to BFFs. My NaNoWriMo 2014’s downfall was, in my opinion, not knowing my characters well enough – I didn’t even know my MC’s skin colour!

I haven’t tried all of these tips you’re about to read, but I would suggest giving them ago. If you want, you could always let me know what happens, because I always love to hear from you. I’ll have a go at these, too, perhaps in one of the exercise books I recently bought. Let’s see what happens, eh?

  • The name game. I saw this in Writing Magazine. Write out your character’s name vertically down a page. Then, next to each letter, write something they like that begins with that letter! (Good luck if their name is Xander.) After you’ve done that, write something they dislike next to each letter again.
  • Go character image referencing. For An Icy Collision, one thing I did do was go picture hunting and now I have various files with captions like ‘Ariane’s eyes’ or ‘Meryll’s mouth’. Pretend that you’re trying to recreate their face for a police investigation and enjoy finding different parts of them you might not have thought of before.
  • Make a meal in their style. Even go out shopping for ingredients. And, though this bit may make you sound crazy, talk to your character/s as you go around the supermarket or even as you’re cooking, get their hints and ideas, whilst learning how they talk to one another and to you as the author. Do they become incredibly sarcastic when you mess up? Perhaps you would never have known this if you hadn’t had dinner with them!
  • Talk to them. Preferably alone. Why preferably alone? Your friends can’t communicate with your characters in the same way you can. Just get a list of questions, sit down and ask aloud what you want the answer to. It might take a while for you to get into your stride, but you’ll make it.
  • Write short stories about them. Say your character loves Harry Potter. Put them in Hogwarts! See how they react, what happens. You’ll learn a lot and it’ll be great fun too.

So here you are, just some ideas about your characters that you might want to use.

I’m going to start planning my second novella in the series from the 16th February (half term here!) – it seems like I’m going to have some fun with my characters that week! Why don’t you join me? We can have a week of character development!

Questions, thoughts? Shoot! 😀 

For and Against a Happy Ending

When writing, two (or more) characters often start to look at each other a little bit, then a little bit more and a little bit more and before you know it they’ve had sex in the closet and are declaring their undying love leaving you in front of the keyboard with your hands in your hair and screaming wildly, to which assorted family members and friends just think, “I knew it,” (which can also happened with two (or more) real life people too, I guess).

So you have characters in a relationship. But do you let them keep it? Some readers live for romance, and others would rather cut it down with a scythe. What do to, what to do?

For a Romantic, Happy Ending

  • It’ll leave you with a warm, bubbly feeling in your stomach (well, hopefully).
  • Your readers might love you for it, especially if the characters are great (*cough*Percabeth*cough*) or fit well together even if one sucks.
  • All characters deserve something nice.
  • If you’re finishing off a series, it might round it off nicely.

Against a Romantic, Happy Ending

  • You have a heart of cold, cold ice.
  • The characters are horrible to each other (such as Paul Marshall and Lola in Atonement). Or, one is just horrible to the other. Uh uh, not a happy, nor healthy, relationship.
  • Your characters are dead, which isn’t completely unusual.
  • You’re setting them up for another story, in which they are going to get together.
  • The romance just doesn’t work out. Sometimes it’s like that. They fall out, find someone else, or maybe just don’t love each other like that, or that much, any more.

Romances are great fun to write, and can be great fun to destroy (even though they might break my heart). And if characters unintentionally end up together (it’s happened to me before. I was thinking about them and BAM the two of them decided they wanted to get it on) who are we to say that it’s impossible?

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! 😀 

Why ClassTools.net Is SO COOL For a [Sad] Writer

Okay. I’m not a completely child (unless you listen to the law in which case I am) but I’m not a complete adult. I’m at that usual in the middle phase, which means that it’s still socially acceptable for me to play on kids sites, as long as I find something educational. Ha.

When playing about on the computer one day (I think it was at school?) I stumbled upon this site: ClassTools. ClassTools is a website dedicated to teachers, for, unsurprisingly, tools to use in the classroom. Amongst these are gems such as ‘Fakebook’, an SMS creator, and ‘Twister’. No guesses for what these are parodies of…

Why are these so cool for writers? Because it lets you bring your fictional characters to life! Even if you’re writing from the middle ages or the dystopia future where computers enslave the world, just pause and have a go at it for a moment. Turn your characters into living breathing people, who moan about their jobs on Facebook, spam their friends on SMS and upload a subtly hinted Tweet right around Christmas.

You can even save your Fakebooks and Twisters and come back to them later if you’re stuck on something. Perhaps having a Fakebook during a writing project to keep up with it could help you? Post from a different character every day! (Oh, that’s actually a good idea, I might try that.)

It’s just a quick idea about something that could be pretty awesome.

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! 😀

And I’d love to hear if you use ClassTools! There’s also other cool things, like a fruit machine – if you’re stuck between character names, plug them in and let the machine decide for you! 

Just a little fun. Emily Watson is apparently a real person, which is why a picture came up (don't worry, you can change it!).
Just a little fun. Emily Watson is apparently a real person, which is why a picture came up (don’t worry, you can change it!).

Convo between my FMC for NaNo and her best friend.
Convo between my FMC for NaNo and her best friend.

Eheheehehe
Ehehehehe

Strip Off!

keep-calm-and-strip-off-not-literally

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to walk around naked. And, I’m assuming, neither do your characters.

Characters need clothes (duh). But not all characters dress the same.

Let’s take a historical period – Tudors. Women would wear long dresses, platform shoes if they were out, and often something on their head, like a bonnet or headdress. Men would wear big hats, long coats, shirts and those funny poofy trousers.

But that’s not all. There were jesters (I’m sure you all know what they look like), peasants in cloths and children would often just wear one full dress, especially if they were babies.

Nowadays, there’s a whole array of fashion. Crop tops, jumpers, jackets, t-shirts, long shirts, three-quarter length shirts, shirts with collars, button up shirts, pull over shirts. And that’s just tops.

You have shoes to think about, trousers (or ‘pants’ as Americans like to call them – actually, speaking of pants, you have underwear as well! Are your characters thong people?(!)), head wear, like a motorbike helmet, glasses, scarves, bags…

So when you dress your characters, keep in mind that they don’t all wear the same. One character might be a ‘chav’ – wear jogging bottoms, hooped earrings, cropped t-shirts. Another might be a more casual dresser, and wear jeans, a t-shirt and trainers. Another might be a cosplayer – seriously, imagine how much fun you’d have with that!

Even in historical contexts, not all characters dress the same. They might wear a different colour, have a headband whereas another does not, or have a different trim of lace.

The biggest difference between character’s wear is men and women – traditionally, the trousers vs. dress argument. Keep this in mind when you’re writing. If you’re going for a Mulan-like story, sure, your female character can wear trousers. But, more often than not, this wouldn’t happen. If you’re going for a real-life example, the only crime Joan of Arc was convicted of was wearing men’s clothing.

People don’t wear the same, so characters don’t either. In the novella I’m writing at the moment, one of my characters is going through a phase of wearing long, Lord of the Rings style dresses. Another just wears jeans and a t-shirt. Another likes shirts with collars. Another likes darker coloured clothing.

So mix-and-match with your characters clothing, and make them stand out.

More importantly, make them real.

Top tip: use a website like Doll Divine to have fun at creating different outfits. Sure, it seems childish, but it’s actually strangely addictive…

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! 😀