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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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cdawson41
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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

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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

Profile Page FaithWriters
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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.

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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

Profile Page FaithWriters
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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.

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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

Profile Page FaithWriters
http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=58736

My Web/Blog Page
http://cynthiad.weebly.com

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

Postby JeremyK » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:15 pm

This, my homework, are 2 excerpts taken from my story "Sugarbeast". They seemed to fit together without really reworking it much:

In the deep, dark woods there lived a creepy, crawly, disturbingly ugly animal. It was small and had mangy, matted fur. It even had bald patches making its sight all the more revolting. Where its teeth once were, tiny outcroppings of rotting stubs now remained.
Not long after his last piece of licorice the headache began. That was weeks ago and now it was tormenting him. Biting his nails didn’t help; hitting his head on rocks didn’t knock it away. He sucked on clover flowers and sassafras roots but nothing helped. His hole under the old Sycamore tree seemed to get bigger, but really, he was getting extremely skinny.
“I must have sugar!” he desperately cried.
He thought and thought about how he could obtain this precious commodity and suddenly it occurred to him.
“Gas Station.”
“Let me see…hmm… yes, that’s it!” A plan formulated in his sugar deprived brain.

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

Postby glorybee » Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:02 pm

JeremyK wrote:This, my homework, are 2 excerpts taken from my story "Sugarbeast". They seemed to fit together without really reworking it much:

In the deep, dark woods there lived a creepy, crawly, disturbingly ugly animal. It was small and had mangy, matted fur. It even had bald patches making its sight all the more revolting. Where its teeth once were, tiny outcroppings of rotting stubs now remained.
Not long after his last piece of licorice the headache began. That was weeks ago and now it was tormenting him. Biting his nails didn’t help; hitting his head on rocks didn’t knock it away. He sucked on clover flowers and sassafras roots but nothing helped. His hole under the old Sycamore tree seemed to get bigger, but really, he was getting extremely skinny.
“I must have sugar!” he desperately cried.
He thought and thought about how he could obtain this precious commodity and suddenly it occurred to him.
“Gas Station.”
“Let me see…hmm… yes, that’s it!” A plan formulated in his sugar deprived brain.


Jeremy, my comments really depend on what your audience is for this piece. If I'm reading it correctly, it seems to be aimed at children. If I'm wrong, you'll want to look at it again, and adjust the writing to your intended audience.

If this is not for children, you'll want to get rid of many of the adjectives and adverbs (there's a lesson on adjective and adverb overuse here on the forums).

I think I'd also like to see less of what the animal looks like (you can keep some of this, of course) and more of how it acts, how it feels, and how it thinks and speaks. I know I gave you a word limit, so you probably have that sort of thing in the rest of the story.

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