Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thought To Plot Sunday

Mary Buckham joined RCRW for another day to shed some light on the secrets of characterization and plotting. We all had fun with it, especially the assignments.

We started with ennegrams. I love using them when creating characters. I have an abbreviated method for character charts I call point-and-click characterization -- ennegrams, archetypes, astrology and sex. What more do you need?

Learning the ennegrams of our chaptermates had everyone laughing. Guess who is a one? You know, the perfectionist? Why, that's our Jessie who organized the whole weekend.

Knowing our ennegram type helps us learn our default personality type for characters, and what to look for when comments on our story come back saying our heroine is acting out of character - it's probably when she's reacting as we would, not as she would.

Next, we moved on to character traits. We saw how using unexpected traits made for more rounded characters. Mary taught us not to write default characterization, more dimensional characters are what editors are looking for when they say they want the same, but different.
 
Character traits for career choices
COP -- controlling, helper, jaded, dominant, observant
FACTORY WORKER -- exacting, reliable, disenchanted
EXOTIC DANCER -- exhibitionist, confident, resourceful

What if they are spun around, and we change the assumed gender of the character?
female COP -- exhibitionist, confident, resourceful

female FACTORY WORKER -- controlling, helper, jaded, dominant, observant

male EXOTIC DANCER -- exacting, reliable, disenchanted

TOTALLY different characters come to mind, and they are much more interesting than before.

To explore character traits, we wrote five character traits of our hero or heroine...these were collected and doled out. We took the traits provided and then expanded on them. And then we passed it to the left and did it again. This really opened up personalities.

Here's mine
  1. busy > hyperactive > high achiever
  2. responsibile > stodgy > reliable
  3. determined > stubborn > persistent
  4. adventurous > reckless > curious
  5. charming > manipulative > self-assured
 Not every suggestion works, but it does help brighten the picture of your character.

After lunch, the conversation turned from characters to plot structure. As a proud non-plotter, I mainly listened. One thing I was able to see yesterday was that I naturally work in scene and structure. I didn't understand it twenty-four hours ago, but was able to find the elements easily in the story I'd brought to analyze.

We worked through goals and turning points, fears and black moments. Nancy CB was ultra brave and offered up her story for examples. I suppose she can say it was all the gypsy fortune tellers fault :)

The best part of the whole weekend was getting to reconnect with chapter-mates. We really do have a special group. I can't wait to do it again!

2 comments:

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Thanks for sharing these insights for those of us who were unable to attend. It sounds like it was an amazing workshop!

Sheila Deeth said...

Oh cool! This was fun to read! Sounds like a great exercise.