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Jan's Writing Basics #8--Developing Interesting Characters

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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cdafrica
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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #8--Developing Interesting Characte

Postby cdafrica » Wed May 16, 2012 11:41 am

Hi Jan,

I'm so new at all of this. I started writing this when I was in high school 16 yrs ago. Over the years I've picked it up and put it down. Last fall I took a night class called, "Write a novel in month." Of course I didn't get it done, but I learned a lot, and it's come back to life again. I have so much to learn. Right now, I'm having a hard time developing my characters. It's kind overwhelming. I'm afraid that I'm making them too stereotype. I want to make them interesting, but how? I'm probably over thinking. Here is what I have so far:

I was awakened by a chain-like sound and I realized it was the Aberrats unlocking our cell. I moaned, “Is it morning already?” This was always our morning wake up call. I stretched and yawned and got to my feet and so did the other prisoners. Then I started to gag a little because there was a strong odor in the air. This odor was new besides the usual stench of mildew, body odor and bad breath. My stomach started to turn. “If they wouldn’t put so many of us in here it would be better.” There were about 30 of us ladies in this cell. We could move around a little bit, but that was all. There were many other cells in the castle. It’s usually all ladies are together in one cells and all the men were together in one cells. As we made our way out of the cell, we walked over to the buckets filled with water to wash up. I wanted so badly to dump the bucket of water over my head, so that my whole body was clean again, especially my hair. If there is one thing I hate, it’s having my hair feeling dirty and matted. I tried to run my fingers through my long brown hair, but it didn’t help much. I sighed in disgust.
“Trying to comb your hair again Rose?” A male voice said.
I turned to see Andrew looking at me with a teasing grin. “Leave me alone about my hair.” I said.
He chuckled and said, “Good morning to you too.”

Thanks for your help!
~Cara

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #8--Developing Interesting Characte

Postby cdawson41 » Wed May 16, 2012 11:54 am

I am a newbie here and just found this thread. Can I still do the homework for this lesson? If not I understand as this seems to be a rather old thread. Thank you.
Cynthia

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #8--Developing Interesting Characte

Postby glorybee » Wed May 16, 2012 12:00 pm

Cynthia and Cara--

Thanks for re-discovering this thread! All of my lessons are still open for comments, and I respond as soon as I can once I get notifications that someone has posted.

I'm leaving tomorrow for 6 days of vacation--Cara, if i get a chance before I leave, I'll answer your post in full. Otherwise, I'll do it as soon as we get back.

j
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #8--Developing Interesting Characte

Postby cdawson41 » Wed May 16, 2012 12:02 pm

I'm sorry for some reason I can't figure out how to send you a private message. It took me to a form that I don't know how to use. So I apologize for sending this request here when you ask for a private message. However, in the original thread you had made the following statement.

[3. If you PM me with your e-mail address, I’ll send you a copy of the “Compiled Master Class” from several months ago. I covered lots of literary terms, and the intended audience was writers with some experience, but I think most writers would benefit. Some of these lessons are available on this forum, but many were lost in a FW forums crash, and the document I’ll send you has nearly all of them in one place.

If this is still a valid offer since the thread is quite old I would really appreciate a copy of the class as I'm trying to do anything and everything I can to improve my writing. My email address is [removed by mod]. Thank you so much and if it is no longer a valid request I certainly understand. :D
Cynthia

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #8--Developing Interesting Characte

Postby glorybee » Wed May 16, 2012 12:07 pm

Cynthia, yes, the offer still stands. I'll send it off to you in a minute. I've removed your email address so that the occasional spambots that roam the internet won't find it and start to spam you.
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #8--Developing Interesting Characte

Postby cdawson41 » Wed May 16, 2012 12:25 pm

Thank you so much Jan, you don't know how much I appreciate it!
Cynthia

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #8--Developing Interesting Characte

Postby glorybee » Wed May 16, 2012 8:53 pm

Cara, here's your passage, with my suggested changes in red. I'll explain the most important of them after the passage.

I was awakened by the rattling of chains and I realized it was the Aberrats unlocking our cell. This was always our wake-up call.

I moaned. “Is it morning already?” I got to my feet, stretching and yawning with the other prisoners. There was a strong odor in the air, something other than the usual stench of mildew, body odor and bad breath. My stomach started to turn and I gagged a little. I wish they wouldn't put so many of us in here.

There were about thirty women in this cell. We could move around a little bit, but that was all. There were many other cells in the castle, some packed with women, some with men.

We made our way out of the cell and walked over to the buckets filled with water to wash up. I wanted so badly to dump the bucket of water over my head, so that my whole body was clean again, especially my hair. [deleted entire sentence.] I tried to run my fingers through my long brown hair, but it didn’t help much. I sighed in disgust.

“Trying to comb your hair again, Rose?” a male voice said.

I turned to see Andrew looking at me with a teasing grin. “Leave me alone about my hair.” I said.

He chuckled. “Good morning to you, too.”

***
Most of those changes didn't really have to do with characterization, but with improving the flow of the writing. The main characterization change was with the deleted sentence--you don't need to tell the reader how Rose feels about dirty hair. You have already shown it by her actions, and taking out that sentence tightens and strengthens your writing.

The phrases that I highlighted in green are phrases that I wasn't sure about, not knowing the relationship between Rose and Andrew. Words like "tease" "grin" and "chuckle" would tend to indicate an affectionate relationship. If Andrew is her captor, you probably should choose words with more negative connotations. This is an example of how a well-chosen word can form a character's personality.
Jan Ackerson

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #8--Developing Interesting Characte

Postby cdafrica » Wed May 16, 2012 10:12 pm

Thank you so much! :D I will make the changes.

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #8--Developing Interesting Characte

Postby cdawson41 » Wed May 16, 2012 11:20 pm

Jan, thank you so much for the lessons. I did receive them and am just floored. It is so much more than I expected. All newbies need to get in contact with you. How very gracious of you to share so freely with us to help us fine tune our art. Thanks again! :coolsign
Cynthia

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

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