Friday, April 22, 2011

From the Mind of Dr. Legend - Learning the Creative Writing Process

"What's past is prologue" - William Shakespeare

As an added bonus to this little self started blog of awesomeness, I thought I would help those in need who could use a little extra boost in the creative writing department.  Thankfully, this isn't a trait you either "have" or "have not".  Everyone has an imagination (although some are more developed than others).  Oddly enough, it appears that most of us either repress it or flaunt it.  I believe this attributed to how we were raised as children.  Was your imagination reserved or flourishing?  With that in mind, we begin this week's lesson by talking about the history of our characters.

                Alright!  You've got a great idea for a story already scripted in your mind.  The plucky hero and/or heroine are ready to take your world by storm.  Soon, the battle is over and the day is saved.  Sound familiar?  Don't get discouraged.  Almost every element of fiction begins with this notion.  So what separates every story from one another?  That's right; the characters.  This little trinket of knowledge is just one of many lessons on how to bring your characters to life.

                One technique you might here about is to write out a character biography.  You know the drill.  Where did they grow up, how were they raised, key personality attributes.  This is the kind of this you'll find on the first page of Facebook; definitely not enough to truly know where your character comes from.  How can you really know how to write about a character when you're simply scratching the surface?  Your characters will be as flat as the paper they are printed on.  To really extract to true essence of the human being, you have to give it a little more than tapping a "like" button.

                So, now that you've decided I'm not talking completely out of my ass, let us begin.  Firstly (and honestly, the easiest method), take a page out of your book for inspiration.  Think about where you came from and any little quirks you have.  My brother, for example, has a hot blooded temper with a miniscule fuse.  This trait is something he inherited from my mother (damn that woman could scream) but developed over the years through countless disappointing losses in video games, sports, and life in general.

                And there we have it; instant inspiration.  All it took was a little drive down sweet memory lane.  Now we just need to focus this inspiration into something much more.  When your novel begins, the speed lane your character's history flies through stops dead in its tracks.  You need to know exactly what roads, shortcuts, and speed bumps they hit along the way.  That is why writing out your character's history, in as many details as possible, is an important element to effectively writing and humanizing said character.

                Now, don't think that I am recommending writing said history into your story. Far from it to be honest.  This is for your benefit alone.  Truth be told, writers forget things.  It's easy to say Character A came from a broken home in one book but then in the sequel you reference your character's mother dying from complications in labor.  Sketching a complete character history is a way to remind you just what your character has gone through up until this point.  Dive into the details.  Anything at all that inspires you should be put on paper.  As you move along through your book you'll find it much easier to decide and decipher how a character is going to act.

                Honestly, I can go on and on about the subject but I wanted to give you guys just a little taste on how to effectively use the creative process.  This method requires little effort but reaps maximum rewards.  So before you even think about writing line 1 of your new novel, try to remember what your characters have done to get you there.


Post a Comment