Fiction Writers – Week 2 – Creating Characters



hello fiction writers and welcome to week 2 we are going to focus this week on creating characters now last week's assignment write a story was a bit vague this week I'm going to give you a more structured assignment and after you've completed your work for this week we will have a question on the back-channel chat about which type of assignment you prefer and that will help me to know what kinds of assignments each individual person enjoys most going forward it will help you to know what you need as a writer in order to do your work do you need a lot of structure or do you just need a lot of free time so we're going to figure that out as we go through this this week characters as Jennifer Lynn Barnes said in her writer interview and I know that a few of you really identified with her she likes to start with basically a character and a problem and truthfully that's all anyone needs to start a story right once you have a character and you have a problem then you can begin to develop the story around it and perhaps you like Rick Riordan or Christopher Paolini like to then take that and outline your entire story or perhaps like Philip Pullman you don't want to plan a thing you sit down and you write in the character and the problem come from your writing as you begin to develop it but anyway character and problem that's really that's the basis for a story right there so this week we'll work on the character side of that and when you are doing any kind of writing something that's helpful is to have some prewriting strategies the writing process itself has really just three stages prewriting writing and then revising so prewriting writing rewriting really prewriting strategies can help you to come up with ideas for a story and can also help you to get your ideas organized a little bit before you start writing if that's what you need so we'll talk about a few prewriting strategies specifically for creating characters and the first one I want to talk about is creating a character cluster now if you wanted to create a character cluster if you already know who your character is then you would put your character's name in the middle of a page and begin to flesh out that character more by then coming up with details about the character and writing them all around until you've created a little web that has a ton of information about your character there but if you don't even have a name you're not even sure where you want to start with a character what are you going to put in the middle here well one thing that I find helpful is if I know what my character does when I start and a way to do that would be to come up with a job that your character might have your character might be a student you might start with 14 year old up here and work from there um I'm going to start with a particular job today I'm going to start with librarian okay so I write it circle it and then I start coming up with ideas making a little map a little cluster about my character maybe one of the ideas I come up with is a name we'll see if that happens at any point so let me just come up with some some ideas about the library first well first thing I think of when I think of library is um a older woman where's her hair in a bun she has glasses she obviously as a librarian loves reading loves books um she's very quiet reserved oh she has five cats lives alone with her fat cats in a small apartment the cats are all black all five of them all black but she can tell them all apart so you see how as I begin to do this sometimes my spikes my spokes off of this little wheel sometimes they begin to get their own additional details and that's great because the more you come up with the more you know about this librarian and I'm going to say she has been a librarian for let's see how old do I want her to be let's say she's worked there for 30 years work at library worked at library 30 years so we'll say let's say she started there she's like she's like 55 okay now I step back and I look at this and I realize um you know what I've created a little bit of a stereotype here so an interesting thing you can do with your character cluster if you've begun to create someone a little stereotypical and even if you haven't sometimes it's fun to take one of your initial details and flip it make it the opposite of what you said so let's say my librarian who has worked there for thirty years will keep her hair in a bun and the glasses but you know what what if what if she's really loud really loud and people are always telling her to be quiet and she always wants to have really loud activities at the library she brings in her guitar and she sings sings loudly as she's shelving books and then I start to think well if she's been doing that for 30 years why hasn't anyone fired her yet uh her brother is the mayor and that's why she hasn't lost her job yet now you see as soon as I changed one detail there I started to actually get a story and that often happens when you take your cluster and you change one thing if I had also if I had changed loves reading too baby hates books that would start to give me a story about my librarian as well so character cluster is one way to begin to flesh out your character and it's one of my favorites because it's very visual if however you're someone who really enjoys sitting down and writing then there's another prewriting strategy that might work better for you and that is free writing which you've probably heard of before maybe it is exactly what it sounds like free writing so you start out not not trying to create an organized document you start out maybe with a question and the question here would be who's my character key and then what you do is you just start writing and the rules of prewriting are that you keep writing it's good to sow time so let's say you set timer for 10 minutes you have to keep writing for the whole time that you're supposed to be free writing and 10 minutes is usually a pretty good time because it's not too much and it's enough to help you get some ideas you keep writing the whole time you do not edit as you go no editing don't correct spelling don't worry about spelling don't worry about grammar just keep on writing and even if you have to resort to writing I don't know what to write I'm getting really sick of this this is a horrible activity even if you start writing things like that keep writing until your timer goes off and often even when your mind gets stuck and you start writing that kind of stuff if you make yourself keep going there's something about the physical movement that eventually the ideas start to come out of your pen they just start to come and you don't often spend the entire 10 minutes stuck you usually get unstuck somewhere in there and then maybe stuck again but you just keep going so it's a good exercise in persistence as well okay so we have clustering and we have prewriting and then other things that you could do you could list just grab a piece of paper and maybe maybe write yourself a little question what do I know about my character what do I know or what would I like my character to be like and I need to start listing things 15 years old blonde and don't question yourself like why is that important I don't know but it came into my head so I'm putting it down female gets into a lot of fights and I'm even going to say fist fights and I don't know why these things are just popping into my mind and I'm just writing them down it's a little bit listing a little bit brainstorming whatever comes into my mind and when I'm done I can pick and choose what I want to keep and so again it's just another way to get ideas out of your head onto your paper and that's what you want to do with your prewriting strategies so we've talked about three strategies here that you can use to begin to flesh out a character first of all there's clustering second there's free writing and third was that sort of listing slash brainstorming so what I'm going to ask you to do this week is complete one of these see which one seems like it's going to work best for you and this is going to help you to begin to come up with a character so assignment assignments and you know the timer idea is very helpful you can use that for your prewriting you can use that when you're writing you can say I'm going to write for 15 minutes you commit to that 15 minutes and it's great because you know you're going to be there for that amount of time 15 minutes doesn't seem like forever right that seems doable and when you're done you're done so it's it's nice because it's a short time it's manageable but you're very present during that time so I do recommend having a timer and if you're doing one of these activities set the timer for 10 to 15 minutes and when you're done let yourself be done and when the timer goes off if you feel like continuing then you certainly can but commit to that minimal amount of time assignments complete one prewriting strategy for creating a character so either cluster brainstorm or free right then once you have begun to flesh out a character and maybe we even have a character named now then you're going to go to the Edmodo website and look in the characters folder and in that folder you will find the next two things I'm going to ask you to complete the create a character sheet and another one that says write a character sketch alright so complete one of these prewriting strategies to help you get the character started then go to the create a character sheet fill that in for your character and then once you have these pieces you'll know a good amount about your character you're going to try to write a character sketch and this has complete directions and ideas for how to start there's one more assignment number four is once again to go to the back-channel chat page and answer the question there you

20 thoughts on “Fiction Writers – Week 2 – Creating Characters

  1. This was a great video! Absolutely helpful in my current starting-up-project-series! 😀

  2. I am a published author with two careers under by belt and i need alot of free time in timeless mode but that is my style.

  3. Hi, I have a question. If I'm not good at coming up with a name, can googling names be okay?

  4. As I was listening to this I had to stop and rewind when you said 'loud librarian' because a while back I had started writing a character description of one such woman, although her hair wasnt in a bun, she was loud,,, it was funny. Now you are getting me to want to flesh her out a little more. just found your course and am so far loving them,,,

  5. Thank you so much for this 😀 .
    I once started free writing and came up with crazy situaions and then made a story of how things came to be.

  6. thanks keep up the great vids. Straight forward informative posts.

  7. this was super informative! thanks a lot, i will for sure try these prewriting exercises.

  8. I found make these videos helpful. Thank you for taking the time to make them. I definitely love the description of the librarian.

  9. Yeah,cause all librarians are older,wear bun and are quiet.Such a stigma or sterotype.

  10. I love how these activities make me more disciplined with my writing. Thank you so much 🙂

  11. This very helpful and informative I wiil put these to use especially the third one

  12. Belinda, I am not sure if you are still making these video's, but I am a writer who has had trouble writing since I came back from the Marine Corps with ptsd. I have finally decided to get myself together and try again. I will be watching your entire series, and have subscribed. Thanks you so much! More to come.

  13. I really enjoy your videos. I have struggled to write a book for a long time, now I am not.

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