Week 6

The People of Your World

Show Transcript

Nick [00:00:05]:
Alright. Just like in high school, we’re writing a paper. I’m gonna tell you what I’m gonna tell you. I’m gonna tell you, and then I’m gonna tell you what I told you. Anybody remember that? This is where we’re gonna do that. I’m gonna tell you what I’m gonna tell you later. So we’ll talk about characters at the end, at the last module, in the last module. But right now, I wanna tell you what I’m going to tell you.

Nick [00:00:24]:
This is all about characters, but this is really largely the plan. Right? The module that we’re in is kind of how we’re gonna approach all this stuff. You can’t write a book about nobody. You gotta have somebody in it. Again, I’m not talking about you weirdos who write literary fiction and you don’t have any characters in your I’m talking about you normies. Normies like me who just wants to write a book that’s got a plot with some characters on it. You know who I’m talking about. Alright? If you’re here, you you whatever.

Nick [00:00:47]:
You you know what I’m talking about. Characters have to be in our book. Okay? You may have the best idea ever, and you may have the best structure ever written, and you may be able to even pace it correctly. But does it mean squat if you don’t actually build some characters, that preferably don’t all sound exactly the same like I used to do, and put them in your book. Okay? I like to call this building characters the easy way because it really is pretty easy and it’s pretty basic. Let me tell you why that’s true though. I started writing, when I was a wee lad, the ripe old age of 22, I think. It was pretty late in the game, for me, but I I didn’t know anything about characters.

Nick [00:01:29]:
All of my characters, male and female, sounded like sarcastic middle aged white guys. And, obviously, that was pretty boring because, well, they all sounded exactly like me, and, we didn’t want that. So I took some time and and really studied character and tried to get better. I just forced myself to internalize some of this stuff. One of the things that kept surfacing was, the Dwight Swain approach, who I’ll mention, if I haven’t already, he he basically taught me everything about structure as well, that I know. But he he has a a way of writing characters that he, he just breaks down into this idea of of a noun and a and an adjective, and it’s a noun of vocation. Literally, what do they do for a living? Or if it’s not about their job, the book isn’t about their job, you know, who are they? You know, I made Harvey Bennett a reclusive park ranger. So I’m getting ahead of myself with the reclusive word adjective, but, he’s a park ranger.

Nick [00:02:23]:
Now the books aren’t about him being a park ranger, so the job doesn’t matter. But but I needed that noun of vocation so I know who he is, what he knows, what he’s skilled at, what he’s not skilled at, this was really important, and noun of vocation helped me do that. Well, he’s a park ranger, so he can probably whittle. You know? He probably knows his way around like knives and in pocket knives, but he probably doesn’t shoot a whole lot of weapons. However, the opening scene is him firing into a grizzly bear to tranquilize it so they can move it. It’s called the nuisance bear. That’s the common thing they do in parks. Right? So he knows that, but he’s not a soldier.

Nick [00:02:56]:
He’s not a trained killer or anything like that. So this already gives me some ideas about who he is and what he does. And then that the adjective of manner helps us figure out as writers, who are they like? What’s their kind of mannerisms? How would other people describe them is the way I like to think of it. So I mentioned earlier Harvey Bennett is reclusive. He’s got a past and because of that past, he runs away to a park, to the Yellowstone National Park, actually, by way of Rocky Mountain National Park and I think Denali at one point. But the point is he he’s running away from the world. He’s running away from his own problems, his own issues, And so he’s reclusive. He doesn’t want to open up to people, for good reason in his mind.

Nick [00:03:37]:
And so I made him a reclusive park ranger. And that was enough for me to just write, for me to let the words come out, and I didn’t have to flesh out this character with huge character sheet. I didn’t have to go use Persona, which is a Mac app, on creating characters. And, I mean, those are all very helpful things to do, but I didn’t have to do that to start writing. And I think that’s really important. And I think that’s really important because if if we need if we if we wait to write because we’re coming up with all these characters, we may not write. We may not ever write or or we may go slower than we need to. Our books can I’m telling you, our books can be just as good, if not better, by keeping it simple and just using 2 words, a noun of vocation and an adjective of manner.

Nick [00:04:25]:
Finally, Dwight has another kind of component to this if we really wanna get crazy and flush out the character. This is probably important to do, though. So if nothing else, I like to to to do the noun and the adjective, but then write up a little a little one sheet of of who they are so that I can remember, that they don’t have blonde hair in 1 scene and brown hair in the next scene or blue eyes and then green eyes, you know, that kind of thing. So what’s their gender? You know, male, female, something else. Like, is it something that’s important to the book? You need to kinda flush that out a little bit more, or does it not really matter? They’re just that’s a dude who does this. How old are they? You know? Are they a kid? Are they my age? Are they your age? Mannerisms, this is where something like, hey. It’s really important that we know he’s a reclusive park ranger, but he’s also really, justice is important to him. You know? He he’s just going to fight the good fight for the good guy, for the little guy.

Nick [00:05:15]:
This is where you would put that dominant impression. Race, you know, nationality, these are things that you could put in if you decide it’s important. But, you know, you’ve got enough to go on now to build a character. So we’re gonna talk about characters later, but I wanted to give you this as a kind of a preview. Right? I’ll tell you what I’m gonna tell you. So I just told you, and I’m gonna tell you more later, and then I’ll tell you what I told you.

The Art of Building Compelling Characters

Today, I want to delve into the fascinating world of creating compelling characters in your stories.

As a fiction writer myself, I understand the struggle of crafting characters that resonate with readers. Through my own experiences, I’ve discovered some invaluable techniques that have revolutionized the way I approach character development.

In this lesson, I’ll share with you the essence of creating characters that come alive on the page and capture the hearts of your audience.

The Importance of Characters

Characters are the lifeblood of any story.

Just as we don’t want to read a book about nobody, readers seek connections with individuals who drive the narrative forward.

As writers, we owe it to both our stories and our readers to breathe life into our characters.

Whether you’re a seasoned author or an aspirant penning your first novel, understanding the significance of well-crafted characters is pivotal to your success.

When I began my writing journey, I stumbled upon a realization that changed my perspective on character creation. I found that weaving compelling characters could be a straightforward process if approached in the right way.

My guiding principle is a simple duo: the noun of vocation and the adjective of manner. These two elements, when thoughtfully chosen, can lay a robust foundation for character development.

The Noun of Vocation

The first step, the noun of vocation, serves as the anchor for your character. This encapsulates what your character does for a living or, if irrelevant to the story, defines who they are at their core.

Take my character, Harvey Bennett, for example. As a reclusive park ranger, his vocation not only provides insight into his skills but also shapes his worldview and actions.

By understanding your character’s vocation, you gain invaluable clarity on their essence.

The Adjective of Manner

Once the noun of vocation is established, we move on to the adjective of manner, which influences the character’s behavior and interactions.

Harvey’s reclusive nature profoundly impacts his interactions with the world. It’s crucial to consider how others perceive your character and what dominant impressions they leave behind. By combining the noun of vocation and the adjective of manner, writers can skillfully craft characters that engage readers on a profound level.

Refining the Character

For those seeking to delve deeper into character development, creating a one-sheet overview can be immensely helpful.

Not only does this aid in maintaining consistency, but it also allows for a quick reference to essential character details. Avoid discrepancies such as changing physical attributes and fluctuating personality traits that may disrupt the reader’s immersion in the story.

This one-sheet can include details such as the character’s age, mannerisms, and background, providing a comprehensive overview for a well-rounded character.

Final Thoughts

By embracing the simplicity of the noun of vocation and the adjective of manner, we can lay a solid groundwork for characters that leap off the page.

Building characters should not be a daunting task, but rather an exciting adventure that breathes life into our stories. So, here’s to creating characters that stay with your readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

With this guide, I hope to inspire you on your path to creating memorable characters that resonate with your readers.

Remember, the characters we create are the heart and soul of our stories, and by dedicating ourselves to their development, we honor the art of storytelling.

Happy writing!

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