Tag Archives: character development

Focusing on your goal

I think most writers would agree that from time to time they lose their way a bit. We can get distracted by Facebook or by the housework, a book that will surely help us or writing something else that has suddenly taken our interest. We , like dieters, get really cross with ourselves and say “well that was a wasted day, I may as well not bother now because I’m not going to meet my daily wordcount goal.”


Instead let’s reframe the distraction. Meet it headlong and ask it what it has for you. How could you use the distraction to your advantage? Here are some ideas.

1. So you find yourself on Facebook or Twitter and you need to be writing your oeuvre.

How about asking your friends what a word you’re writing in your book, means to them. Ask them what they feel about the subject you’re writing about. Ask them for their favourite word. Maybe you can use it. Put out a plea for a quote that you could use. Ask favourite colour , maybe your character could wear something that colour. What is the most bizarre name they have ever heard of? What is the strangest sounding place name? Use your distraction to move you on with your book.

2. You’ve found yourself in Youtube and you’re getting carried away some place else.

Well this is fine, it is research isn’t it? Search for videos on subjects your character might be interested in. Search for videos on the same subject you’re writing on. Think about how you might post a Youtube video on your blog, you could take your smartphone and do it right now. Video posts or vloggs are very popular and drive a lot of traffic to your blog. Talk to camera about where you are in your story what’s the block, what are your options. This will engage with your readers and make them ten times more likely to follow your blog so they find out when you’re book’s coming out.

3. While you’re researching you find someone’s blog with some great posts on. If only you could write like that …. blah blah blah

Of course there are better writers out there and that’s good isn’t it? Who wants to read rubbish anyway? So what makes their writing good? What can you learn from it? Do they have a great way of starting a new paragraph or concept? Have a go at doing the same yourself. Do they use some great adjectives, copy them into your work. Obviously you aren’t taking the whole sentence but play around with some of the words you like.

4. For some reason you know not why, you’re doing the housework.

Well you character may have a view about housework. What would their view be? How would they approach the housework? Which would they like doing first and what would be left til last? Are they someone who hates to stick their hand down the toilet or are they someone who has to hunt out every cobweb. Do the housework like your character and get some more insight into their nature.

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5. I know it, you’re gazing out of the window

Who could be there? What might your character see? What will they do? Who do they least want to see? How could you make something happen that will be exciting and unexpected? What’s the most random thing that could happen now? If this doesn’t fit into your story or you’re writing non-fiction then how is what you are feeling or seeing at this moment a metaphor for the subject you’re writing about? Could it make a good blog post?

So here you have it. This blog post started by me looking out of the window and noticing how the frost on the leaves has gone and wondering what the garden will look like tomorrow when I wake up as there’s snow forecast. For me this reminded me how different my page looks when it’s full of writing, like the bushes covered in frost. The page looks attractive to me but underneath the blank page where I am about to write, looks bare and ugly so I want to fill it.

Working on your character development

Whatever experience our character has during the course of your story will be filtered by their memories, beliefs, values and attitudes.

You have probably written copious notes about your character, developing a back story and a set of experiences and memories that will determine how they react during your novel to the various situations you will throw at them. You will know what your character stands for, what is important to them, what they believe in and what drives them. These are all fairly standard processes of creative writing and you will be more familiar with them than I. It’s all about interrogating your character isn’t it and being able to answer confidently how they would respond to different scenarios.

But what are these Meta-Programmes and how can it help you to know about them?

They are filters on our world which will add any dimension to the understanding of your character.

1. Towards / Away from – is your character motivated by what they do want and driven forwards towards their goals or do they focus on what they want to avoid. Do they for example look to achieve something or do they seek to avoid confrontation, avoid failure, avoid risk?

2. Internal / external referencing – do they seek to gain the approval of others, or does it matter more that they are true to their own beliefs and values?

3. Past/present/future – where do they place their focus? Do they live very much in the present, do they think of what they want in the future or do they dwell on the past?

4. Choices/process – does your character thrive on choices or do they just go through life like a ‘to do’ list?

5. Big chunk/small chunk – some people are better at concept thinking, broad brush ideas but are less good at the detail. Where does your character excel? If you have two main characters it may help the pace to have one small chunk, the person who can organise and manage detail and the other with the blue sky thinking.

6. Associate/disassociate – someone who associates is one who can empathize easily and feel the pain of others as if it were there own. Someone who disassociates will notice the others’ pain but from a distance. They will not be affected by it. This distancing can be a useful tool when you want to encourage the reader to stand back and notice something.

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