Tag Archives: dimensions

Putting your Hero Through Their Paces

Also known as: Deliberately Doing Mean Things to your Hero.

One thing that got me when I was reading one of Friend’s stories, about one of his characters meeting him, was that the character asked, “Why are you doing this?”

His response was, “It makes a good story.”

Which, if I were that character, would make me feel very forlorn. Why is my creator putting me through all of these rigors if they know what it will do to me? Don’t they love me? What the hell did I do to deserve this?

Thinking about it, probably all of my characters would ask me that.

The reason is the story. It is the rigors and the hardships and the tough, stress, anger, sorrow that makes everything so real and so tangible, it puts more life into the character, it is another way to relate and fall in love with them. If they experienced nothing traumatic or alarming, nothing heartfelt or upsetting, wouldn’t you feel even more distanced from them?

I still remember another friend giggling madly as he thought up embarrassing situations to put his character in. It amuses us, and there’s a point to it. It helps development, it helps move plot, it helps us see the dimensions of not only the story but the character themselves.

Tossing a villain at them that they can’t kill right away, shoving them into a situation where they struggle, forcing them to find a way out, putting them in the face of adversity, it is all for the sake of the story. It is what we do as story-tellers. We love our characters, we want to see them flourish, we want them to go above and beyond, and we put them in these situations because we know they can find a way out, and because it will help them in the long run, to get to the point we want them to be at.

One thing I will say is that you shouldn’t just throw something at them just to do it, and if you end up not liking what you did, you CAN go back and change it. Do not put them in something that you don’t like, and unless it’s your intention, that you want, that will aid the story, don’t put them in something without a way out in mind.

It is probably one of my favorite things, to find new things to put them up against, because of how dynamic it makes the story. Action, suspense, thrill. It keeps the reader on the edge (and sometimes the writer), hooks them in and shows them something unexpected.

Your character might think you’re a sadist, but– actually, I’m not gonna finish that statement, that sounds really awful.

Don’t be afraid to do mean things, if you like where it takes your hero. Remember, they’re on a journey, and you decide where it goes, but it should always contribute to the story in some way. You can apologize later with some good karma, if it works out.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Dream On

This morning, I woke up with some really vivid dreams still playing back in my head, most of which included travel. One included kittens, and snakes, then there was the Stanley Cup match dream, and ice cream.

When I was younger and hearing about Twilight, I got excited knowing that Stephenie Meyer created the books from a dream she had. It wasn’t something new to me, but seeing someone create from a little subconscious spark was a big exclamation point for me. Since I was younger, I was always a total goon for dreams, their meanings, and the research on them.

I found myself wanting of a dream that could do that, that felt so perfect for a story or a movie, and to let it take me on this huge ride of inspiration.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, it didn’t manage to happen while I was obsessed with the thought, but later, it did.

One thing I want to say about this is it’s how you perceive it, how you encounter that little crazy thing that happened in your dream. Is it enough to make something out of? Where does it make your mind wander, and how fast does it go?

For those of you who are apathetic about this topic, that’s fine, I recognized before I wrote this that it wouldn’t be for everyone. And rightly so, some people have very vivid, strange dreams, and others have more simple dreams that stick to normalcy and don’t make them look insane. I am not one of those people.

One dream, in fact, is up for debate on if I want to write it for NaNo. Sometimes your head just brings things together that are so strange, they work. With some minor tweaks, maybe, but they’re no less motivating.

I want to know what you think about this, what is your view on dreams helping the creative process? Do you do it, and if so, how often or infrequently? Are there any current stories that you’ve written that have come from your wild, or not so wild, subconscious?

All in all, I’m a fan of this kind of thing; sometimes my craziness just brings out something that I can’t let go. It’s a good source of creativity, in my opinion, because it’s a brain dump. You’re shaking out everything that you’ve had on your mind for the week, or for the day. When you shake loose papers, there’s bound to be something that makes you go, “Huh… That’s kinda cool.”

Another side to this is the dream sequences of characters, which can be much like our own, but also tend to waver on the premonition side of things. What’s the importance of dreams if there’s nothing that comes of it, right? It’s optional, like everything else, but in a way it’s a little thing that helps make the characters more real. I’m not saying you’d have to map out the entire dream, not unless you want to (refer to dreams being important, or going somewhere with the plot), but little mentions, maybe it disorients them or makes them go, “Uhm, what?”

It can also provide some comedic relief, or get them to briefly think about certain things, as well as putting them on the path of something else, just to get them off the trail of something they were close to solving.

Ultimately, it’s a distraction, but it can be a creative one. It’s up to you whether you let the unfettered subconscious have a say in what you write, the possibilities are endless.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Questionnaire and Questioning

I had been planning this post after the prompt about meeting characters, and then it just so happened that someone who follows me (and who I follow), made a post that coincides, and the results were entertaining.

One of the things I absolutely love about character development and finding the voice and personality of a character so strongly, is that if you had a set of questions in front of you to ask them, you could get answers back authentic to who they are. Jon has an excellent example, an onslaught of varied, unique and interesting questions that you may not have thought to ask before, but it helps flesh out the character well, in unexpected ways.

Friend took an approach similar to this one to figure out the dynamic of his characters he was going to write for for Camp in April and July, things about their greatest accomplishments, what they buy at the grocery store, what kind of character they’d play in a certain game.

It gives you a feel for them, and it helps give them a stronger voice, I think. I used to do these questionnaires when I was younger, for new characters, and for old ones, and just sunk into it on a rainy day. It really is one of my favorite things to do, but for being that, I haven’t done it much at all recently.

Regardless, I encourage it, at least give it a shot. Check out Jon’s blog, the link up above, and I think he has another set of questions in his blog somewhere, too, or just do a random search online. You can’t go wrong. Or, if you think of something random; what kind of coffee do they like, would they go to Starbucks? Do they like flowers, how do they feel about old, classic paintings?

On top of that, it manages to give them some more dimension, making them more human (or humanoid, or humanistic… err… depending if they’re aliens or not). I like what it brings to the forefront, more than just the things you would typically know from reading the novel or the stories, the questionnaires bring forward a lot of random little tidbits, showing off all edges.

I’m a fan of reading things like that, too. I have a friend whose blog is run about and “by” her character, and I see different prompts and questions about odd little things pop up every so often. Inappropriate thoughts or things being shouted, a particular phrase.

Maybe I’ll do one of these sooner than later, myself…

-The Novice Wordsmith