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Craft of Character | Notes

These are my notes from the Craft of Character online writing class.


WEEK 1

🌐 Conception

The heart of character is who matters to you. Not who you think will be interesting to other people, but what you care about. The heart of an interesting character is somebody that you’ve developed in your imagination, and then we work with the language to put that on the page.

Amy Bloom

Imagine a Character

  1. see them—as a physical being, the body of the character matters
    1. Create an entire list for how the person looks
  2. hear them—how do they sound, how do they express themselves? 
    1. Listen to them
  3. smell them—use all your senses
  4. Invest in the character—what draws you in?

What is at the core of characters is not that they are imaginary, what is at the core of them is your real feelings about them and your wish to make them come alive.

🌐 The Conflict Within

Every writer should aspire to create characters that have their own desires—that want things.

Memorable Dialogue should include two things:

  1. Deepen our understanding of the character
  2. Advance the plot

Dialog is what characters do to one another. It’s active, it moves the story forward.

What makes a memorable character? Desire—your character wants something.

Our flaws are often driven by what it is that we desire most.

Amy Bloom

Read more about Character Desire.

🌐 Desire and Goals

It’s important to give yourself permission to approach your characters and your story in as wide of range as possible. 

The most important part of dialogue is what it reveals about the speaker.

The requirement of the writer is to show, and show, and show some more. And then you get to tell a little bit.

🌐 Hearing, Selecting, and Seeing

What a writer does, in a certain way, is look at the world, leave out everything that isn’t part of the story at hand, and then examine very, very carefully that which remains.

Observation is how we get to know what people look like, what they sound like, how they feel to us, how they move in the world. How they interact with the other characters.

Empathy is the moment where we enter into the character. We don’t just see them and observe them, we see the world as they see it. We experience it as they see it.

Selecting or chipping away of that which does not serve our story. If it doesn’t help move the story along or illuminate the character, or make them visible to the reader, file away for later.

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