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For Authors: December 18, 2012 Issue [#5415]

For Authors

 This week: Step 3 to be a Better Writer
  Edited by: Vivian
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2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
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         Last issue we discussed the necessity of plot in writing a story. This time we'll discuss developing characters, how to make them real.

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Character Development

         Character development is directly connected to plot. Character movement and dialogue advance the plot without boring the reader.

         Therefore we need to develop characters that live. If they don't live, a writer fails to create a good story and will not keep the reader's interest, Even though other components are necessary, characters live through an author's words with believable dialogue and believable actions tied together.

         Dialogue reveals personality, emotion and relationships to others. One way to reveal personality is the use of different speech patterns or varieties - sparingly, just a sample or taste. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an example of the use of dialect, or the overuse. Many readers are not willing to wade through the constant usage of dialect or accent. A lighter sample or a taste of the dialect would appeal to a wider reading audience in today's world.

         A list of some different speech patterns include the use of slang, dialect, formal English, semi-formal English, substandard English, etc.

         Also the manner of speech reveals personality and emotions, and I don't mean only using as speech tags: Murmur, shout, advise, console, whine, and brag are just a few examples.Tony could barely hear Joan's murmur. "I don't feel well."
Joan murmured, "I don't feel well."

         To help make dialogue and actions "real," observe and note the world around us (watch, listen, and take notes). Choose the right details, ones that are believable and real. Write distinctive dialogue by making each character speech different. Then have actions tied closely to the dialogue. How you ask? I'm so glad you did. Let's look at a few ways we can tie actions to dialogue.

                   As speaker talks, add action.
                             Action before dialogue: The detective studied the crowd. "The killer is out there."

                             Action after dialogue: "How can you tell?" His partner searched the faces around them.

                   {indentAction during dialogue:"Where else would he hide," the detective pointed at the circling helicopters, "with all escape routes covered?"

                             Have dialogue show what is happening: "Why did you tear off the cover?"

          Don't have to use "said" as the only tag for dialogue. Use variety but appropriate tags
                   Don't have to use tags at all. Use action not tied directly to dialogue to identify speaker
                             Karen glared at him. "I hate that picture of you."
                             "You never told me." Richard picked the torn cover off the floor.

         Make actions real/believable. If the action does not fit the character or the scene, don't use it, or at least give motivation. If a character is someone who is shy, unless the writer gives hints or motivation, having her suddenly stand up and yell at someone is not believable. If two friends are quietly visiting, having one slap the other isn't "real" without a reason.

         Use action through action verbs and active voice, which we will discuss more next issue by me.

         Action of character and realistic dialogue not only make characters breathe and live, but also moves the story along - helping to keep the reader's interest.

         Next time we'll discuss Step 4 in becoming a better writer: Grab the reader's attention from the beginning and keep it.

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My current pet peeve is poorly developed characters. That's what this is about.
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 Cracking the Characterization Code  [E]
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Words from Our Readers

Tina's TEN YR Anniv
Don't you think the reason "reading" has changed therefore writing had to evolve also is due to the fast paced media outlet of video games. I think people want instant gratification so if they are going to read they want to take as little time to do it. Be entertained and move on, how sad.

         Whatever the reason, people who read expect to have an experience they can enjoy and find interesting. If we, as writers, expect to have many readers, we are the ones who have to change. Refusing to do so means we write for ourselves only.

Hi, my name is Zheila. "A story requires a plot" is very useful. Iwrite documentary, but if one day I am good enough to write story. I sure will help me a lot. Thank you for sharing with us.

Steve taking some time off.
Thank you again for your work in this Newsletter. Plot in a story looks a lot like what one does when he/she preaches.
Have not considered that but it makes sense.
Praying your shoulder surgery goes well and that you will have little to no difficulty in preparing and publishing your next newsletter.
You are important!
Copenator out! BA, MDiv
Founder of Copenator's Crew
The item I present today is a C-Note shop. I use the total proceeds from this shop to give to upgrade groups on the WdC.

Was there a cutoff date on that? I mean from when a good story was well-told, but now it's well-shown because readers are bored by old stories?

         I never said readers were bored by "old" stories, but they are bored by boring parts of any story. As far as a cutoff date, what does that mean? I find that people who do not want to learn, improve, and stretch their knowledge and abilities find reasons not to. People who want to improve, learn and try to do so.

Thank you for the reminder.

Valiant Player
This was a very direct and concise lesson in plot development. All my favorite writers have practiced sitting down and building an outline of events, just as described. Even some of those fought a weak conclusion. A tale isn't finished until its finished.

dejavu_BIG computerprobs
Interesting newsletter,Viv!I plan to print this one out to add to my ' starting stories' folder. This information is really helpful in both planning and editing stages. I also liked all the links you included to other sources for improving one's craft. Looking forward to the next one!
Hope your shoulder is healing well and rapidly.

         I'm glad you found the article last time helpful. My shoulder is healing, slowly but is better. Therapy is increasing. Thanks for asking.

I don't completely agree with the importance of adhering to guidelines for writing. For some reason, I simply can't make myself do it. Maybe it is a matter of patience. I prefer to write (whether a story or a poem) for the pure fun and enjoyment of it. Inspiration leads me to where I want to go. I do enjoy feedback that leads to ideas for changes that I can live with.

         People who bend or break any guidelines first know them and how to use them. If "writers" don't want to write so others can and will truly enjoy the writing, then they write for themselves. If they are pleased, then it doesn't matter if anyone else reads their work or not.

Thank you for the wake-up call. For a long time, I've had clues that my writing style is old-fashioned, or at least, overburdened. My strongest pieces usually are, as you said, "a narrative, a scene, or a descriptive essay." I can create moments, but resist having characters come to life by having a life. I will work on this.

         I'm glad when any of my editorials help others improve their writing. However, I realize that everyone won't agree or at least don't want to agree. All I can do or want to do is present material that can help, if the person wants help.

I hope all my Jewish readers had a bright Hanukkah. I wish all a Merry Christmas.

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