Placing your work out for someone to critique is never an easy thing to do. I’ve recently started taking a writer’s course through the Christian Writers Guild, a Christian-based writing mentor program for aspiring writers to hone their skills. The Journeyman course, which is the second level in a series of three possible tracks, provides two years of instruction on various aspects of writing….and mainly writing fiction. After six assignments about the ‘business’ of writing, I have just started the ‘fiction’ portion of my course…and I’m thrilled.
Two books highlighted during this section of the course are Stein on Writing by Sol Stein and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. At this point, I’m beginning the process of characterization and it is more detailed than I imagined. Stein gives some fantastic ideas for fleshing out characters. For example, he says to ‘interview’ your characters and from this I decided to mentally picture my protagonist in a chair across the room from me answering various questions posed to him/her. It really worked. I began to see details of my characters I hadn’t imagined before.
Some key elements Stein notes about characterization are:
Characterizing through action – what the person does reveals something about them
Dialogue – what they say reveals something about them
Describing uncommon physical characteristics
I ‘ll list more later…..Stein’s “five different ways to characterize”. For now, it’s off to writing I go 🙂