Writing Report August 9, 2016

Writing Report August 9, 2016

The last week proved to be very good for me creatively.  Thanks to participation in Beth Bornstein Dunnington’s writers workshop on Sunday* I now have the first draft of four short stories that I’m going to get circulating in the next few weeks and five short-shorts (or fictoids, as I like to call ‘em). You’ll be seeing those (i.e., the fictoids) over the next few weeks.  The four short stories are pretty short -- most around 800 or so words, one almost twice that length – but I think they’ll be fun reads once I finish polishing them.

No progress on the books but since I knocked off a number of short works I’m not bugging out on that…yet.  But I do need to get those drafts completed ASAP.

. . .

In my last writing report I mentioned a method of creating a character that (IIRC) Samuel R. Delaney discussed in his book The Jewel-Hinged Jaw.

I don’t think Delaney claimed this as his own but credited another writer with it; however, I can’t remember who that may have been so, Chip, if I’ve short changed ya, my apologies…

This is what you need to create the basics of a character:

  1. A name
  2. A gender
  3. An age
  4. An occupation
  5. A physical description
  6. An emotional description

To whit:

Jane is a tall, effervescentretiredlibrarian.

Jack, 24, is a stocky, sourauto mechanic.

Brian is a moodydark-hairedhigh schoolstudent.

Betty is a pensivemiddle-agedhousewife in a wheelchair.

You’ll notice how it doesn’t take very much to create a character in the readers' minds.  Give them just a few pertinent details and they’ll fill in all the blanks.

And you don’t have to break each component down:  Names often indicate gender as well, a high school student by definition is a teenager, etc.  (And clearly “occupation” is not limited to what their actual workaday job is.)

But those 6 basics are all you need to ground a character; you can build on it from there.

Jane, the tall, effervescent retired librarian, is clearly a much different person from John, the cantankerous 40 year old corpulent librarian, who is a different person from Joan, the shy, gawky tween intern librarian, who is different from Juan, the elegant trim 30 year old librarian.



*  I’ve known Beth as a fellow scribe since my animation days andhighly recommendher workshops; check out herblogfor more info (and, no, I didn’t travel to Hawaii; Beth was holding a special workshop in Venice [no, not Italy, California].).

Thinkage [updated]

Thinkage [updated]