July 26, 2009

One, Two, and Three Dimensional Characters and How to Use Them

Different characters have different levels of depth to them, dimension if you will. A concept I read about once, categorizes these levels into dimension types and explores those types to better aid in character creation and story telling. This article is my spin on the different levels of character depth as well as my commentary on the ways I've found most helpful in using them effectively.

At first glance it seems like a simple concept, but distinguishing these dimension types and integrating them properly into a story can GREATLY improve reader engagement, scene pacing, and believability. Recognizing both the under-developed and over-developed characters in my stories helped me improve my writing in the aforementioned areas and it can do the same for you. It is important for a writer to know both when a character needs to be developed and when to move on.


A one-dimensional character constitutes the "walk on" parts of the story. These are your waiters, your cab drivers, bartenders, a mother walking down the street, or the random pikeman your hero stabs through the face (though not always). They are briefly seen and do not speak. One-dimensional characters that spend more than several pages in your story should be made two-dimensional. Beside possible subplots, adding realism to an environment, or even promoting general interest, any interaction with a main character serves to flesh out the personality of both characters and add dimension to a scene or personality. Any walk-on that could successfully be made into two-dimensional character should...unless doing so awkwardly upstages an important character/moment or harmfully dilutes the pacing of a scene.

July 24, 2009

Good Writing Books to Download or Purchase

Ok, first...getting the books the free and illegal way.
You're going to need to download this to download from piratebay: http://www.utorrent.com/ so get that first. Next since the package of Ebooks you'll be downloading is compressed into a rar you may need a more heavy duty extractor such as 7-zip: http://www.7-zip.org/download.html
Now you're all geared up to pirate, arrgggh! Recommended packages and books:

  1. http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/3358919/E-Books_-_Writing_novels_and_screenplays.rar
  2. http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/4524240/70__English_grammar_and_writing_books.rar
  3. http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/4489511/Writing_for_Journalists__2nd_ed.
  4. http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/4648754/English_for_Journalists_(Media_Skills)_3rd_ed.
Most worthwhile and essential books of the first package include: "On Writing Stephen King, "How to Write a Damn Good Novel" volumes 1 and 2, James Frey, and "A guide to writing novels and getting published" Bob Mayer.
The second package has much of the same books as the first, with more variety and focus concerning Grammar.
The third and fourth items on the list are books concerning writing for journalism, and although they focus on the aspects of writing non-fiction they contain valuable information on the mechanics of writing.

If you're looking to purchase (either for a hardcopy, or honor's sake). The Idiots Guide and Elements of style are not in the download packages, but highly recommended. Here are links to good books on writing:

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Several Writing Websites

Just a few sites for goodies on writing:

More money orientated:

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July 23, 2009

Character Bio's: Why and How

It's important as a fiction writer to know your characters. Giving your characters in-depth backgrounds, goals, and features and keeping all of those things consistent provides believable people for your story.
Not only should you know your characters, you should know them better than your reader. How do you get to know them well? By writing answering questions about them for yourself. Whether you commit them to memory or miniature character biographies is up to you. Benefits?
  • Helps writing a character's actions and reactions come faster and more natural
  • Well rounded, interesting, and deep characters engage readers and are more believable than two-dimensional, shallow, cardboard cut-outs
  • A Bio/dossier gives you a complete picture of who they are so that, with this in mind, you can take them on a journey that hopefully helps them grow
Most writers can create good characters off the cuff but is that character vivid in their minds? Can the writer instantly judge how they would act or react in a given situation or intimately understand where they are and where they're going? Most likely not.

If you really DO have a vivid idea of what your character is like then a character bio is a sure way to keep it consistent as the story progresses, or as a reference to revisit later.

The Benefits of the Spiral Notebook

Writing longhand (much less in a notebook) is not nearly as popular as it used to be, and this is no mystery. Computers have made the job of writing much easier with a faster word rate, spell check, thesauri, ease of editing, etc.

But there are many benefits to writing in longhand that are overlooked, as the method seems out of date. I have recently found a personal preference for the notebook over the notebook computer because of the ease of transportation and because it give me less excuses to avoid writing.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Less Excuses to Avoid Writing (and other benefits)
1)Easier to start, and stop- Just the flip the spiral notebook open and go; no logging in, saving, putting it on standby when you leave. The notebook is ever-ready for you to pick it up, and set it down. Piece of cake.

2)Notes in margins- No need to open new documents or get separate sheets of paper for items such as ideas, outlines, notes for the future, maps, drawings, things to edit, because the margins provide room for all of this. If they do not, then you can always skip a page and use it as space for you miscellaneous needs. Better organization and no breaks in your writing to stop and make a document, or stop and get a piece of paper.

How To Write "Good"

How To Write Good:
I don't completely know where this came from, but some of it is derived from William Safire's Rules for Writers. You can find the page that I got this from at the link below. Love how an example of what not to do is given in each.

1. Always avoid alliteration.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. Avoid cliches like the plague--they're old hat.
4. Employ the vernacular.
5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
7. Parenthetical words however must be enclosed in commas.
8. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
9. Contractions aren't necessary.
10. Do not use a foreign word when there is an adequate English quid pro quo.
11. One should never generalize.
12. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
13. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
14. Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
15. It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions.
16. Avoid archaeic spellings too.
17. Understatement is always best.
18. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
19. One-word sentences? Eliminate. Always!
20. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
21. The passive voice should not be used.
22. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
23. Don't repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
24. Who needs rhetorical questions?
25. Don't use commas, that, are not, necessary.
26. Do not use hyperbole; not one in a million can do it effectively.
27. Never use a big word when a diminutive alternative would suffice.
28. Subject and verb always has to agree.
29. Be more or less specific.
30. Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.
31. Use youre spell chekker to avoid mispeling and to catch typograhpical errers.
32. Don't repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
33. Don't be redundant.
34. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
35. Don't never use no double negatives.
36. Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.
37. Hopefully, you will use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
38. Eschew obfuscation.
39. No sentence fragments.
40. Don't indulge in sesquipedalian lexicological constructions.
41. A writer must not shift your point of view.
42. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
43. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
44. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
45. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
46. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
47. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
48. Always pick on the correct idiom.
49. The adverb always follows the verb.
50. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
51. If you reread your work, you cn find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
52. And always be sure to finish what

Find the article at: http://www.plainlanguage.gov/examples/humor/writegood.cfm

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