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Monday, August 30, 2010

YOU GOTTA MAKE ME, GUYS

So I've decided to elect all ya'll my own personal band of harassers. I hereby give you permission to blackmail, coerce, tempt, lure, incite, anger, offend, or otherwise negatively project yourself onto me so long as the ultimate result is me FREAKIN' WRITING.

I mean, I HAVE been writing. But this writing consists solely of stuff for freelancin', which does not qualify as novel-writing, which does not contribute in anyway to any book I may want to produce in the foreseeable future. Unless that book has anything to do with Russia. Which it probably won't. For now.

(AND school will be starting next week. Which is never a problem, but, you know, I'll have to set aside at least 30 minutes a week to pretend I'm doing homework. Last-quarter-of-school-and-I-just-don't-CARE-about-business-law-or-the-sociology-of-gender-anymore FTW.)

The kick-start to all ya'll's help (hey, look, my southern drawl again! *waves to southern drawl*) resulted in a veryclose name result. 5 to Jeb, 7 to Elias. Too close to call? Let's pull out the tie-breaker. The MC's name is Sophie. So, logically, the best way to decide which name fits her would be: name-mashing.

(Stop looking at me like that. I am SO not the only writer who thinks like this.)

Sophie and Jeb: Sopheb
Sophie and Elias: Sophias

(Though it just occurred to me that no one ever name-mashed the Twilight series. Bellward or Bellcob? I guess there's a reason no one ever name-mashed Twilight series. Which means my evil master plan isn't fool-proof. BLAST.)

I'm going to play the Author card then: Elias it is. If only because nicknames are possible with Elias, not so much with Jeb. Li, El. That's how the MC in STREAM PIRATE became Alluvial. I'm such a nickname whore.

So now that we have the name fiasco sorted out, the next step is: character sketches.

I don't usually do character sketches. For my last few novels (that were mostly novel attempts), I just grabbed an idea and dove in. This method, while excellent for rapid-fire-outlet-writing, isn't so good when you want to produce readable, decent material. I tend to get the story going reallyfastreallyfast but sorely and desperately lack in the characterization department. So much so that whenever I send something out to be beta-ed I 9.999 times out of 10 expect their #1 concern to be "WHO THE HELL IS YOUR MC??" They're much nicer, of course.

This time, I'm by the book. Pun intended.

My beautiful and wonderful ninja friend Natalie did a post on character sheets. She linked to a webpage with a pretty darn decent character sheet. I was going to fill out the character sheet here, but at the risk of making this the world's longest post, I'll do it on my own time. But MAKE SURE I do it, guys. Abuse your Right to Blackmail, Coerce, Tempt, etc etc. The future of Sophias depends on you.

(The character sheet is 9 pages! 9! I can't answer that many questions about MYSELF, let alone one of my characters! whinewhinewhine)

9 comments:

Jill Wheeler said...

Oooh, I need to do some character sheets, too! Thanks for linky!

Dominique said...

I've only recently considered character sheets, since I had to do one for a screenwriting class I took. Since then, I've decided they could be rather helpful. I'm actually working on one at the moment for a character whose been kicking around my head for months. While the one you linked to seems remarkably involved, probably moreso than I'd use, but best of luck with the new endeavor. I hope it's useful.

SM Schmidt said...

Peer pressure to the rescue! But try breaking the hugeness into smaller chunks so you can do them on the fly. Like one page of the character sheet as you eat dinner or sometime smarter when stains will not appear.

Sophias sounds like a cute name all on its own...

Adam Heine said...

Why not mash the other way? Ella vs. Jalla? (Or Edlla and Jaclla, I guess).

Renee Collins said...

I'm with you on the whining. That character sheet is dang long.

Oh, and here's my contribution of peer pressure:

Come on! Everyone's doing it. Are you chicken or something?

(How's that?)

Wyman Stewart said...

Can't your characters or you and your characters sit down to talk to each other?

Silly as it is, in Yahoo chat people often start with age/sex/location. Then you may ask what the person does, what the person likes. Some are shy recluses, others outgoing and exuberant. Characters are light-skinned, dark skinned, rounded heads, narrow heads, tall and skinny, short and fat, wear glasses or have eagle-eyed vision and all these things often fit with the character of the person.

People are old, young, middle age, and sometimes that has little to do with their actual chronological age. Some people laugh loud and hearty at jokes; some people grunt when hearing a joke. People from Tennessee have an accent that sets them apart from others; they may be good story-tellers too. I hear New Yorkers are in-your-face type people.

Okay, enough from me. It's probably a mistake, but I tend to let my characters write themselves, but I like to write short stories, not books. Make your characters like people you know or a good mixture of the people you know.

K. M. Walton said...

First, thank you for the link to that wonderful resource. With my first three books I just got the story out and failed to truly develop my characters. But then I went to a SCBWI conference and one of the breakout sessions was on character development. Presto. Bammo. Whammo. I actually developed the two mc's for my fourth book. I also went back and developed the MC's from my previous books, which resulted in stronger manuscripts.

How to convince you? Well...I can honestly say it felt good, revolutionarily so, to develop those characters before writing one word of the n. Instead of me just getting the story out I let the MC's get the story out. And my story was much more authentic and needed MUCH less revision.

Of course you can do this. I suspect it will be a chill-bump inducing experience for you.

Go on, jump into the new pool. It's really awesome in here!!!!!

Dara said...

I've never done a nine page character sheet. Generally I just do a brief sketch and the MCs tend to be about a page long.

BTW I like your MC's name--that's the name of my MC's mother, who grew up during the Civil War period too. :) I've been meaning to write her story someday...maybe for NaNo.

e. f. danehy said...

Requisite prod. *Prod*

How's the productivity going?