Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Treaure Trove of Tips
The line between fiction and lifestory or memoir is finely drawn and permeable. The main difference is that our characters and events come ready-made. and we have an obligation to portray them truly. That truth is shaped by the way we transfer them from memory to page, and that involves both heart and craft. Our heart shapes the slant of our stories. Craft fleshes them out for the benefit of readers. In general, fiction writers have taken the lead in the area of craft.
In my most recent post I mentioned K.D. Weiland’s blog, WORDplay. Aside from her rich array of blog and video posts, she offers a free 50 page eBook, Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Guide to Bringing Your Characters to Life. I urge you to click over and download this book right away before she realizes just how valuable it is. Although its focus is on creating and portraying fictional characters, if you adjust your filters, you’ll find a treasure trove of tips for capturing the essence of the ready-made characters in your life.
Her "Character Interview Form" almost slid past unnoticed as I skimmed the contents the first time through. Why would I need that? I thought. I already know my characters — primarily me. Then the lights went on. If I use this form to interview myself, I’ll have a pile of focused material for my memoir and may find a couple of interesting twists.
In fact, this is a good time for me to take a break and do just that. I’m well underway with the memoir project (you can follow my progress on my Los Alamos Girlhood blog), but more focus will surely help.
These unforgettable character tools will be useful even if you write loose collections of stories rather than formal memoir. If certain people regularly appear in your stories or memoir, you may benefit from using the interview technique with them too. Use the Interview form primarily for major characters. Use the other tips for any person you mention in your story. The tips will enhance your creativity so even pop-in characters take on added sparkle with a few deftly chosen words.
As icing on the cake, this eBook is over-the-top gorgeous, with spectacular layout. I'm a layout junkie and had to ask, “Did you do this yourself?” She did! It’s not a layout you’d use for simple story, but keep your eyes open for examples of great craft as inspiration for your own projects.
Write now: download a copy of K. E.’ s eBook and read it — it doesn’t take that long. Then write a new story or reopen an old one that features a strong character. Use one or two of her techniques to make that character even more vivid.
Picture credit: Timitrius