Character Development

Emotionally attached to fictional characters

Character development can be challenging. You have a character. You’ve given them a name and some physical details, but you want your audience to connect with them on a deeper level. When I’m reading a story, my connection with them grows when I get a glimpse inside their head.

Make a list of characters you like from different books you enjoyed. What was it about them that made you grow an attachment? Are they forgetful and worry all day at work whether or not they switched off their straightening iron? Did they worry about the impression they made at an interview? Do they bite their nails when they’re anxious?

Define the character are you working on? Is it your protagonist or antagonist. Think about what makes your character interesting for better or worse? To start out on an easier note, let’s pretend you’re making a new friend. I’ve included the questions below to help you dig a little deeper. Keep in mind you want your audience to become emotionally invested in your character.

It’s Coffee Talk Time

A couple of people sitting directly across from each other with a cup of coffee.

Observational Questions

  • How do they act when they are happy, excited, in love, sad, or angry?
  • What kind of gestures do they make in conjunction with these emotions?
  • Do they have any tattoos or noticeable scars?
  • How do they typically dress?

Interpersonal Questions

  • What is one of your biggest pet peeves?
  • The song you blast when you’re happy?
  • Favorite bar/restaurant you enjoy?
  • Beverage of choice?
  • Do you like to travel? Where have you been?
  • Do you have pets? What kind? How many?
  • Do you have children? What are their names and how old are they?
  • Are you close to you family? Any specific member you call when times get tough or unbearable? Why?
  • Who do you spend your holidays with?
  • Are you religious or spiritual?
  • Do you play or watch sports?
  • What do you do when you’re stressed out?
  • What languages do you speak?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Do you have a nickname? How did you get it?
  • What is your favorite appetizer?
  • As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What is your favorite vacation spot?
  • Happiest moment of your life? Worst?
  • How do you see the world? Is the glass half empty or half full?
  • What’s your greatest fear?
  • What is one of your biggest regrets?

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These questions may only scratch the surface of getting to know your character. Let me turn this over to you now. What else do you want to know about them? Think back on how you got to know your own friends. How can you integrate them into your character? Maybe put some of yourself in them. Try putting them in a scene.

Here’s an example. Allow them to sit alone in a restaurant. What do they notice about other people around them. Is your character comfortable or embarrassed sitting in a booth by themselves. Why do they feel that way?

Inner dialogue can help move your story along and throwing your character into action will help you determine what they’re missing.

Change Your Mindset and Have a Day to Remember

April and I used to have this inside joke where we would tell each other to “Have a day!”

You know, because having a good day would be expecting too much.

Well, I’m learning to expect more. It’s about making your day and not your day making you.

Do you know what I’m talking about? We had a situation the other day that could have ruined our day, but my husband and I proceeded with our day and took that pivot. Do you remember that episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel are moving that sofa? P-I-V-O-T was the main message.

How do you change your mindset?

You make it a daily practice. Like anything, i.e., writing, creating (whatever that avenue is for you, running..all of it requires a daily practice).

Have you prayed for patience or love?

You will be tried.

Why?

God is turning your weaknesses into strengths.

So you prayed and you’re asking why the world is working against you. Keep in mind that you are slowly being molded into the strong individual that people see today.

I need to constantly press the restart button. I’ll be the first person to tell you I’m far from perfect. When it comes down to it, I’m just trying to be the best possible version of myself to my family, friends and strangers alike.

Learn to see things from a different perspective. It just might change how you see an individual.

Scenario

Brooklyn takes her diaper off and uses her poop as finger paint all over the living room.

My husband said, “Why didn’t you ask me for help?”

“Because I thought you would have figured it out!” I replied.

I expected my husband to help me out. You know, anticipating what my needs were.

Verbalize exactly what you need from your spouse.

He’s not a mind reader. Yes, you may be required to spell it out for him.

We are all on this learning curve called life…together.

*Disclaimer: Even when you don’t pray for something, you will still be tried. Most likely because you didn’t learn the lesson the first 100 times.

It’s 2022: How’s Your Mindset?

There was so much I wanted to accomplish in 2021.

I fell short, but I did do some things like sticking with this here blog (country talk is rampant in these parts).

I started this post back in November, but other topics felt more important until now. During the beginning of November it finally started cooling down here in Florida.

The leaves changed from green to a light diarrhea brown. Not quite as eventful as it is in places like West Valley, New York.

Simple Mindset Change

Missing the change of seasons is a small price to pay, because Florida does have its perks. Two words: sandals and tank tops. Not having to scrape ice off my windshield to run a quick errand. I could go on, but enough about why it’s so great to live in Florida, I ‘ll leave that for another post.

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Today I wanted to provide you a list of my favorite books that changed my view on life. Perspective is EVERYTHING.

Here’s a short list that I’ll continue to add on to, so keep checking back.

Self-Improvement

The Holy Bible

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Thank You for Arguing- Jay Heinrichs

Literary Works

Fountainhead- Ayn Rand

Anna Karenina- Leo Tolstoy

100 Years of Solitude-Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Running

Born to Run- Christopher McDougall

The Ultra Mindset- Travis Macy

The Ultramarathon Man- Dean Karnazes

This one made marathons seem like a 10k. After my first marathon, I crossed the finish line and knew that it was only the beginning. I would run my first ultramarathon two months later…Chuckanut 50k and then came Rainier to Ruston 50 mile. Both in 2008.

I wouldn’t run my first 100 miles until 2015.

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What ever you do today, make it a fabulous one. I pray that you will be able to find humor in the things your mindset would normally take you. It can change your day and affect those around you for the better. I dare you to give it a try.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by. Please comment below and let me know what you think about the list. I would love to hear what book helped change your perspective. I’ll add it to my own list.

The Addiction: Part 2

This is Part 2 of The Addiction. Part 1 is available here on my blog. After leaving Mormonism, I threw myself into the sport of ultra running, got remarried for the 2nd time to another runner. As I said in Part 1, I realized that we had love, but it wasn’t for each other. It was for running. During that time of realization, the man I met at work changed how I understood the meaning of love.

Continue reading “The Addiction: Part 2”

Permission: A Gift You Give Yourself

Truth, acceptance, and permission. "Love yourself and everything else falls in line." - Lucille Ball

There are three distinct intangibles we can give ourselves. There is the gift of truth, permission, and acceptance. Once you can tap into these gifts your words will flow freely. I know it sounds like a myth, but it’s the truth.

The Gift of Truth

While I spend my time writing personal essays, I have to relive my past. It gives me time to reflect. I have to constantly tear down the walls and show my vulnerability, another difficult task. Seeing all the ways I could have done things different can fill me with regret. But, I cannot rewrite what was. I must accept what happened and keep moving forward. I have to remember that whitewashing those lows would unmake the Desiree I am today.

The Gift of Permission

As a writer you need to give yourself permission to write. Jhumpa Lahiri, the author of Interpreter of Maladies, felt “nervous” to call herself a writer. She went on to win The Pulitzer Prize in 2000. Margaret Mitchell author of Gone with the Wind, used a part of her manuscript to hold up a wobbly couch before she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937. Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird literally threw her manuscript out the window. Thankfully, her editor picked it up and encouraged her to finish it and also won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.

What do they have in common besides the Pulitzer? They gave themselves permission to write and share it with others. It’s safe to say that writers don’t write for other people. They write for themselves. Writing from your heart, whether that comes in the form of essays, short stories or novels, gives you a chance to connect with others.

I have found the stories that impact me the most are the ones that I can relate to, because stories give us the chance to say what others are thinking. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought, “I was thinking the same thing, but I never would say it out loud.” You will be surprised at how it will be received. This goes back to emotionally attaching yourself to a character. I talked a little about this in Pantser 101. There is a story only you can tell from your unique perspective. Your readers will find you, but first you need to write the story.

The Gift of Acceptance

How do we get to that place in our writing? I believe that we don’t accept ourselves as we are. Why do we do this? Because we don’t love ourselves enough. Although it’s nice to hear those external validations from our friends and family, we need to believe it on our own. I know that I am my own worst critic and I’m the first one to cast the seed of doubt on anything and everything I do. Who is the first person to say, “It’s not going to work?” It’s me. How do I get through these doubts I create for myself?

Something I highly recommend is writing love letters to yourself as suggested by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love. You know exactly what you want to hear. Listen to some of your favorite music, pick up your journal, and write yourself a love letter today.