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Getting To Know Your Characters Better

February 8th, 2019

First, thanks to Kunda for last week’s blog – it’s always interesting to hear how our overseas students get a foot on the writing ladder. It just goes to show that the ideas taught in the course are universal. Wherever you live, they still apply!

Some writers find bringing their characters to life easy – they spring from the imagination fully formed and ready to go. Others don’t find it quite so easy. So, here are a few tips for making your characters more real.

Obviously, you’ve got to give them a name – one that is appropriate to the era and country in which your work is set. The name should also be appropriate to their age, social circumstances and disposition – unless incongruity in this area forms part of your plot. And, don’t forget that names that were once considered old fashioned are now all the rage. My mum, who would now be 103 were she still alive, was called Edith and as a child I remember many of her older relatives referring to her as Edie. So I was surprised recently to hear that one of my son’s friends has named her baby daughter Edie! Read the rest of this entry »




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Picking The Right Name For Your Character

December 8th, 2017

Last week I mentioned the Debut Dagger Competition. I’ve just been on the Crime Writers’ Association website again and discovered that they have a page of excellent crime writing advice by well-known authors plus tips for entrants to the competition. So if you are considering having a go, it’s definitely worth taking a look.

This week I’ve had another great contribution from Writers Bureau tutor, David Kinchin – about naming your characters. So, rather than looking at bits and pieces, I’m going to provide some general advice, followed by what he has to say on the subject.

Choosing the right names for your characters is crucial. You can suggest a great deal about a person’s age and background by the name you give. All names have popular connotations and associations which the reader subconsciously tunes into – they create instant mental pictures. For example, Nikki is a young art student with a way-out dress sense, while Cynthia is a rather staid housewife in her mid-60s with an immaculately clean house in the leafy suburbs. Read the rest of this entry »




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Thoughts on Character Creation

October 20th, 2017

In real life you’ve probably at some time met someone who has become a friend. Only gradually do you get to know the person and even after months or more you may be surprised by some revelation about them.

A character in fiction will be gradually revealed but as the writer you must know your  characters fully before you start the story.

It’s a good idea to make a detailed profile of your main characters. This helps you to be consistent and to know what they would and wouldn’t do, and not to provide sudden changes in behaviour which would be out of character and unbelievable to the reader. Occasionally a sudden change may be justified, for instance, if the character has suffered some tragedy or trauma, but as the author, you should have prepared for this. Read the rest of this entry »




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What’s In A Name

August 25th, 2017

One of the most exciting things about starting a new short story is the god-like capacity you have to create any character you want. You have the power to name them, dress them, decide where they live and so on.  At least you think you do. Until, that is, you get up the next morning after an evening of inspired writing to discover that your sensible Dr David has transformed himself overnight into trendy, jeans wearing Dr Nick. After a prolonged keyboard quarrel, you give up. OK you think, if you want to be called Nick then so be it. And Marion hates her name too. Please can she be something less staid like Naomi. And while you’re at it, there’s no way she’d live in a bungalow.

It happens a lot and the interesting thing is that the characters usually know best. Some of them don’t like swearing, or curry or red shirts. Mostly I’ve given up arguing and go with the flow.

And then there are the ones who won’t go away. You finished their story months ago, but they don’t like it. Raymond for example has never forgiven me for getting him arrested for being drunk and disorderly.  It wasn’t his fault he was drunk – his wife had just left him – he wasn’t responsible for his actions and the least I could do was make it clear to the readers. So I’m rewriting it from his point of view and he’s quite pleased with it so far.

And then there’s the sad, the lonely, the overlooked. I think of them often – Mr Pollock, Joyce, Benjy and Pierre. I wonder what they are doing now that I’ve abandoned them to their respective fates. I hope they’ve found happiness. Last week one of my writing group wondered how Daniel was getting on now he’d returned from Switzerland. I wonder that too. Maybe he’ll pop up in a future story and let me know.

I hope so.

 

Christine loves writing whether it is short stories, flash fiction, plays or poetry and has been successful in a number of local, national and international competitions. She has had two short plays performed and has read her work at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and on local radio. She recently published a book of short stories on Amazon  entitled ‘The Road Ahead




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Are Women Really From Venus and Men From Mars?

September 4th, 2015

boyd-blogFirst, thanks to Iain for last Friday’s blog. I hope you enjoyed it and that it made you smile. I’ve worked with Iain for more years than I care to remember and he’s one of the most accomplished people I know for injecting humour into his writing. You don’t always have to be looking for a belly laugh from your audience – a sly chuckle is often just as good. And, you shouldn’t have to try too hard – it should come naturally from your material and your turn of phrase. Read the rest of this entry »




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