Tag Archives: writechat

How to Validate Your Characters’ Traits

The number 4

Validating Character Traits

One of the wonderful things about being a teacher of writing, and author, is that I get to think about my craft and discover hidden treasures that surprise and reward me at unexpected moments.

During a recent screenwriting lecture, a student asked me how to avoid making the forth trait of a character appear less trite and forced? She felt that in many of the films and books she’d read, some by accomplished authors, this contrasting trait appeared superficial and misplaced and detracted from the effectiveness of the overall work.

Just to rewind for a moment: A typical character comprises of four defining traits, the forth of which stands in stark contrast to the others—this, in order to create inner tension and generate interest in the character. For example: a generous, intelligent, educated man who keeps stupidly choosing the wrong spouses; a merciless, relentless, serial killer who supports a favourite charity dedicated to uplifting the education of underprivileged children in the inner city …

I thought about this for a while and realised that I hadn’t, perhaps, sufficiently emphasised the importance of tying each character trait, and especially the fourth trait, into that character’s backstory.

So, if a man keeps stupidly choosing the wrong spouse, find an event in his past that explains this trait, and make it integral to the story. Was he rejected by girls as a youth for a specific reason? Is he simply compelled to accept marriage proposals by women because he knows what rejection feels like?

In other words, seek to explain, in a believable way, where his ‘stupidity’ trait stems from, then reveal its backstory at a significant moment—typically at a turning point, or at the midpoint. The same goes for the remaining three traits. Doing so will deepen our understanding of that character and legitimise his contrasting trait.

Speaking of which, I’d really love to know what bit of backstory fully explains Hannibal Lector’s (the TV series) drive to create macabre meals from human flesh. Perhaps you can write in and let me know.

Summary

Tying character traits into specific and significant events of a character’s life through the backstory, especially the fourth contrasting trait, is essential in creating characters that are interesting, yet believable.

Invitation

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Image: Jukka Zitting
License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Marketing Your Work

Marketing chart

Marketing Your Project:

Indies, primarily independent authors, filmmakers, artists, and photographers, wear more than one hat. We create and market our work, too. This is hard work. The up side is that we get to keep the earnings we generate.

Becoming expert marketers is not a task creative people take to easily, especially in the constantly changing landscape of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon. The “shop fronts” are growing by the month.

Let’s face it, we’d rather be sipping cappuccinos or tea while typing out our 1000-2000 words for the day, than figuring out the best marketing angle for our new film or book. Unfortunately, we don’t have a choice. No marketing, no sales.

Imagine having sixty thousand followers, as some do. Tweeting about the release date of your new book or film has the potential of reaching a great many people. Factor in that your tweet may, in turn, be retweeted by some of your sixty thousand followers, and you can see how the word can spread.

Following people randomly, however, is time consuming. Only 10% to 20% of people you follow, follow you back. The trick is to follow a high volume of people daily until your number of followers grows to a respectable size.

In this article I want to highlight a method for acquiring Twitter followers more easily—through a site such as blastfollow: http://brianmcarey.com/blastfollow/. This is a free website that allows you to follow by hashtag. You type in a word relevant to your blog, book, or film, do an automatic search, then do an auto-follow. If you follow about 1000 people per day you’ll get at least 100-200 followers back. Maybe more.

Here’s the sort of hashtags I use to identify potential followers who can benefit from my blog on writing:

#AskAgent
#AskAuthor
#AskEditor
#BookMarket
#BookMarketing
#GetPublished
#IAN1 (Independent Author Network)
#IndiePub
#PromoTip
#Publishing
#SelfPublishing
#WriteTip
#WritingTip

I’ve acquired an extra 2000 followers in a few days so far, using this method.

You can too.

Summary

Acquiring a large twitter following is one way to spread the word about your work. Using a site such as blastfollow can help you achieve this.

Image: Kivi Leroux Miller
License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode