Sunday, 12 March 2017

3 Essential Scenes That Reveal Character




1. the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. "running away was not in keeping with her character"
synonyms: personality, temperament, nature, disposition, mentality, makeup

Yes, let's talk about character! In previous posts I've discussed how to make your character jump off the page, and how to create believable villains. But today we're focusing on how to use certain scenes to reveal your character's...well, character.

1. The Monogram Scene
Imagine your novel being played on a stage. In the beginning of your story, give your main characters a scene or two that defines them as individuals; make them interesting enough to entice the reader to follow them through the story. These scenes must show who that character is at their very essence. 
Think of key words that describe your character. How can you show this? 

In NIGHT SHIFT, the protagonist, Daniel Gale could be described as vulnerable and lonely, but he also had a good sense of humour.
To help show this I have Daniel meet one of the clerks right after he gets hired.

Daniel didn’t feel insulted; he knew how scruffy he looked. He grinned, showing off his dimples. Flirting felt awkward, but he couldn’t ignore the lightness in his chest. “Actually,” he said, “I’m doing night security.”
     “Oh.” Her smile dropped. “Nice knowing you.”
     The air had cooled. “Sorry?”
     “The new night guards never stay for long.” She glanced around the area, and then leaned in so close he could see the sparkles in her eye shadow. “It’s like this,” she whispered. “Weird stuff happens at night.”
     “Weird stuff?” Daniel repeated, raising an eyebrow.
     “Unexplained phenomena after hours.” 
     Her eyes grew wide. “Strange noises, furniture being rearranged, displays messed up, lights going on and off for no reason.”
    “Sweaters unfold themselves?” he said. “Sounds terrifying. I hope I survive.”

Hopefully it shows him for what he is, a lost young man who remains hopeful this last chance might be the one he's been waiting for.

2.  The Momentum Scene 
Build that anticipation! Momentum in your story is created by your character making a decision and acting on that decision. The scope of the decision doesn't matter, it could be big or small. However, it is imperative to use this scene as your character's time to show their nature. And because your character has made a decision, this changes the plot and should create more obstacles for their goal. This is all about creating tension, moving the plot forward, and building momentum.  
In this scene from NIGHT SHIFT, Daniel is doing rounds after hours on his first shift, trying to convince himself the strange occurrences aren't ghost related. However, one moment becomes to real to ignore and he makes a rash decision. 

Daniel’s breathing slowed down. He twirled the keychain around his finger a few times, trying to think clearly. It must be those day-shift jerks, he reasoned. He looked at his digital watch—they only had four hours left to scare him into quitting. Daniel cracked his knuckles and summoned some of his bravado from his hockey days. Bring it on, he challenged.
    Strutting back to the piano, he grabbed the flashlight, trying to guess what their next trick would be. He was halfway to the elevator when the lights went out. He worked the flashlight switch, and then jiggled it up and down, but it didn’t work. “Shit,” he whispered.
Without warning, loud piano music cut through the silence and filled the empty room. Daniel’s heart threatened to explode. Someone or something was playing his mother’s favourite song—the piece he’d tried to play. He tossed the useless flashlight and ran to the elevator straight ahead.
Daniel’s outstretched hands made contact with the iron mesh. His fingers grabbed the edge of the gate as he swung into the blackness. But his feet never landed on the elevator floor. His legs just brushed against the greasy cables where the elevator should have been.

3. The Glimpse Scene
As a reader (and a writer) I need to find the character relatable, something that makes them real. Sometimes characters can seem too perfect, or too evil, or too...well, conceived by someone's imagination.  
And if a character isn't believable, the story won't feel authentic, thereby decreasing the reader's interest, they simply won't care what happens. This is why the glimpse scene is so important. It gives the reader an inside view of the character's humanity.  
It doesn't matter if your character is a superhero or a work-from-home accountant, there needs to be a human connection. To do this, show their fears, secrets, desires...all those things that make us human.

This glimpse scene in NIGHT SHIFT helps show Daniel's grief.

His backpack lay in a heap at the end of the bed. He pulled it over and rummaged down to the compartment close to the bottom. Carefully folded and dry in a plastic bag were several white handkerchiefs. His father had always carried one.
“If it weren’t for handkerchiefs,” his father once told him, “I wouldn’t have met your mom.”
Daniel sat on the hotel bed wishing for that moment back. Instead of brushing off his dad, he would have asked to hear the story about how his parents met. Years later, after the accident, Daniel would lie awake at night, making a list of all the things he never knew about his mother—even trivial things that never occurred to him. What was her favourite movie? Favourite colour? Favourite food? Did she like milk or sugar in her coffee? And what was the name of her favourite perfume?
He never asked his father these questions—it was too painful and the words felt clumsy in his mouth. As the routines of school and work gave a semblance of normality, Daniel quietly filed each one away, waiting for when his dad was ready to talk. But that time never came.
Daniel picked up a handkerchief and ran a finger over his father’s embroidered initial. It was something tangible that reminded him he had once belonged to a family.

Here are some quick writing exercises to help you get into your characters head.
  1. List as many bad habits you can think of (even some of your own). Is there a way to give one of these to your character?
  2. What does your character do when no one is looking. Sing? Dance? Make diabolic plans with homemade voodoo dolls?
  3. Take a few minutes to write a long list of key words that describe your character. Then cross out all the uninteresting ones until you have only three or four. How would you show those characteristics?
  4. Think about how your character was living before the story takes place. Is there a decision in their past they regret?
I hope this was helpful! Happy writing!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Read An Ebook Week!

Who wants a free ebook? Who wants many free ebooks?

You're in luck, my friends!

The 2017 Smashwords Read an Ebook Week promotion is taking place now from March 5-11 2017. All week long readers can browse the special Smashwords Read an Ebook Week catalog by coupon code levels and categories. After 11:59pm Pacific time on March 11, the catalog disappears.

How it works:

Click here for my Smashwords author profile. Both NIGHT SHIFT and BLACK FRIDAY are FREE to download this week. When you go to the checkout, use the promo code 'SFREE'.

Happy Reading!

And if you enjoy a book, please consider leaving a review on any buying sites such as Amazon or you preferred social media. It really makes a difference to the book's exposure. Plus, it warms the author's heart and encourages them to keep writing. So, matter.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Secret to Never Giving Up on Your Writing

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

I'm madly working on a secret project right now!

Okay, it's not that secret, but it makes it sound all mysterious and forbidden and I want to grab you by the suspenders so you'll keep reading.

Anywho, I've been trying to get a chapter written each day because I hate writing, but it feels amazing to have written, you know? I guess you could say I have a 'love hate' relationship with writing.

But the other day I realized I had gotten into the habit of thinking the same two destructive thoughts each time I opened my laptop.

1. I would look at the word count and think, There is no way I'm going to make this into a novel! Too much stuff has already happened and I have no plot left. (Maybe I'm trying to convince myself I'm almost finished) *evil laugh*

2. Then I would worry the story didn't have enough action. I need a fight scene, I'd think. Where can I fit in a fight scene? And what's going to be the next plot twist?

You can imagine how much I was able to write with that miserable frame of mind. *tsk tsk*

But...THEN! (light bulb) I started watching Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (based on the books by Douglas Adams) and had my mind blown! It's hard to describe exactly, but basically a bunch of weird stuff happens to four different groups of people who have nothing in common, but they're all connected by the most bizarre circumstances. The main theme Dirk kept relying on was that everything is connected and nothing is coincidence.

At the end there's an explanation you'll gladly accept because you've grown so attached to the characters you really think they exist and you want a happy ending for all of them.


More importantly—besides being entertained—I came up with a story telling slogan to keep me typing; Everything is connected and if you keep moving forward all the random stuff will eventually meet and it will be awesome.

Say it with me.

So that's what I think of now when I open my laptop. All the other stuff I can't figure out will eventually make always does.

What do you do to help you through slog through a writing project?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...