Mary Buckham joined RCRW for another day to shed some light on the secrets of characterization and plotting. We all had fun with it, especially the assignments.
We started with ennegrams. I love using them when creating characters. I have an abbreviated method for character charts I call point-and-click characterization — ennegrams, archetypes, astrology and sex. What more do you need?
Learning the ennegrams of our chaptermates had everyone laughing. Guess who is a one? You know, the perfectionist? Why, that’s our Jessie who organized the whole weekend.
Knowing our ennegram type helps us learn our default personality type for characters, and what to look for when comments on our story come back saying our heroine is acting out of character – it’s probably when she’s reacting as we would, not as she would.
FACTORY WORKER — exacting, reliable, disenchanted
EXOTIC DANCER — exhibitionist, confident, resourceful
What if they are spun around, and we change the assumed gender of the character?
female COP — exhibitionist, confident, resourceful
female FACTORY WORKER — controlling, helper, jaded, dominant, observant
male EXOTIC DANCER — exacting, reliable, disenchanted
TOTALLY different characters come to mind, and they are much more interesting than before.
To explore character traits, we wrote five character traits of our hero or heroine…these were collected and doled out. We took the traits provided and then expanded on them. And then we passed it to the left and did it again. This really opened up personalities.
- busy > hyperactive > high achiever
- responsibile > stodgy > reliable
- determined > stubborn > persistent
- adventurous > reckless > curious
- charming > manipulative > self-assured
Not every suggestion works, but it does help brighten the picture of your character.
After lunch, the conversation turned from characters to plot structure. As a proud non-plotter, I mainly listened. One thing I was able to see yesterday was that I naturally work in scene and structure. I didn’t understand it twenty-four hours ago, but was able to find the elements easily in the story I’d brought to analyze.
We worked through goals and turning points, fears and black moments. Nancy CB was ultra brave and offered up her story for examples. I suppose she can say it was all the gypsy fortune tellers fault 🙂
The best part of the whole weekend was getting to reconnect with chapter-mates. We really do have a special group. I can’t wait to do it again!