Month: January 2012

Why? Because I said so, dammit!

If you struggle with creating believable characters or wrestle with authorial plot manipulation than you should have been at the last meeting. If not, well congrats – you’re awesome, but for the rest of us it was chock full o’ handy info on developing believable, realistic characters who will drive your plot.

Jude Wilner not only let us peek through the window of her character development process but she also shared her character chart with us. Hers goes beyond the basic information (name, eye colour, height, weight) and delves into all the dirty stuff that makes her (your character, not Jude) who she is. I’m not going to reproduce it here because you can find examples of character charts all over the internet and you’re probably better off creating your own anyway.  

The first step is to identify the character’s attributes. That’s the easy part. The second step is to justify them.  It’s all well and good to have a list of quirks for each of your characters but you have to know why they behave in that certain way. Does she bite her nails? Does she ride a motorcycle? Does she hate cats? Awesome, but why? Despite everything my dad would have me believe ‘because I said so’ just isn’t going to cut it.

Your experiences have shaped you and it should be the same for your character. Me? I have a paralyzing fear of stairs with open risers. Why? I suspect it’s because when I was two I fell down a flight and cut my face open. Those of you who have met me may have seen the scar. I don’t notice it anymore but it’s there and it has a story and if you ever see me clinging for dear life to a filthy banister while I take painfully cautious steps up a flight of open-riser stairs, you’ll know why. Interestingly, my fear of open-riser stairs overrides my fear of pathogens on banisters. My fear of zombies would probably override my fear of open-riser stairs but I’d like to not ever have to find out for sure. 

Anyway, the take home message is that real people are complex, even the boring ones, and your characters should be too. If you create strong, believable characters they’ll practically write their own story.

A more detailed summary of Thursday’s presentation will be included in the next Connections newsletter. If you ask Jude nicely she might make a copy of her character chart available on the website or via email.


In other news, there are tumbleweeds blowing through the blog submission inbox. This is going to be a pretty frickin’ boring place if no one else contributes.  If I don’t get some volunteers here I’m going to have to start pestering people and that will involve a whole bunch of swears and prolonged moments of awkward, accusatory eye contact.

Here’s a picture of Bon Jovi giving you the stink eye for not participating in this whole blogging thing yet.

Photo Credit: Anthony G. Moore/Photorazzi

I Guess It’s January or Something.

I sometimes lose track. Whatever.

Christmas, New Year’s, and my birthday (34 and still getting ID’d) have all come and gone and now I’m out of legitimate excuses for delaying the launch of this blog. So, TADA! Here it is…

Today was the first meeting of the new year. Diana Scott led the rest of the ARWA gang through a workshop on how to develop a one- to two-page synopsis. I never finish anything so I couldn’t apply the information to my own work but I’m glad I went because until this afternoon I didn’t even know a thing called ‘synopsis’ existed outside of junior high book reports and the dust jackets of hard cover CanLit novels.

Afterwards, Sarah Kades and I had a super good jam over a couple of lattes at Good Earth.  We talked families and jobs and kids. We talked writing and reading and blogging. We talked about this year’s WWC convention and ARWA’s presence, involvement and contributions. We tossed around a lot of ideas for the coming year while sipping soy lattes in one of Calgary’s increasingly hipster-dense neighbourhoods. I wore a scarf. It was all very writerly. 

So this blog. The idea is not for me to have another forum for my neurotic ramblings and narcissistic navel gazing but to give our members an opportunity to contribute and access information in a new (to us) way. It doesn’t get any easier than this.

I want you guys to send me stuff. Maybe you have some brilliant ideas about craft and process to share. Maybe you want to post something you wrote and get some feedback from anonymous strangers. Maybe you have a new project being released and you just want to indulge in some blatant self promotion. Superb. Do it all here.

Seriously. Do it.

You should probably check out the Want to Contribute? page for submission guidelines first, though.