Thursday, June 14, 2012

Peer Review Writing Workshop- Building Believable Characters Part 2

So it's Thursday again, and I've renamed the workshop, but it's the same idea. I've stayed on the same subject because having good characters is essential to having a good book.

Last week we did a character sketch. It's an exercise in getting to know the characters in order to portray the personality in a realistic way.

I've rewritten my character sketch from last week after looking at Hemingway's example again.

Kate Wilson viewed her good looks as a source of annoyance rather than an asset. It was far more important to her to be the smartest in the room, or the most talented, and she pushed herself to be seen in other ways than just the prettiest. When she decided to go to South America, it was her compulsion to do something different that inspired her to not only go, but to return again to live. While there, she discovered that she had been missing real meaning in life and began to fill the void by opening herself to the local people. She loved and let herself be loved.

So that's my second attempt!

This week I've copied part of the link I had in my last blog. The full article's website is found below the quote.

"Place the Fully-Developed Character into a Setting

Once the writer has fully developed one or more characters using the above techniques, it is time to place the character or characters into a setting. Rather than going for something dramatic like a car accident or 1920s murder scene, it is often best to place the character in a common setting the reader knows well like a coffee shop or a classroom. Because the writer knows the characters so well by this point, the writing is a matter of observing and recording what the characters do based on their experiences and the biographical details the writer has already “learned about” the character.

Look to Authors of Character-Driven Fiction Like Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver

While it is not important to have anything “happen” in the scene, some writers may become uneasy with how little appears to be going on. It may be helpful here to read some Ernest Hemmingway or Raymond Carver stories to see how much can happen when nothing appears to be happening. Furthermore, the scene being written probably won’t ever see another reader, so the writer needn’t worry if the prose is not “exciting enough.”"

The example they give of Hemingway, and how little is "going on" but a lot being said made me think of his book For Whom the Bell Tolls. I think it spans about a week's time period and that's it.

This week's exercise is to take your character and put them in a setting. Mine will be from the suggestion of a coffee shop.

Kate took her laptop to the local coffeeshop with free internet to check out the latest news from Ecuador. On her income as a waitress, she couldn't afford internet at home, so once a week she would go and buy herself a latte and spend an hour or two surfing the web. Her dream of returning to the rainforest was a long way off, but she hung onto it with tenacity, determined to not lose sight of it.

She sat engrossed in the headlines when she became aware of a young man hovering near her.

"Mind if I join you?" he asked, smiling.

Kate cringed inwardly but looked up with a welcoming smile. "Not at all."

That's it for today! Be sure and leave a comment indicating you would like to participate and everyone can stop by your blog to see your post.


  1. I like seeing this unfold, Honey.

    And I ponder this often: Writing of the past allowed for more development of character and setting through description; today, we live fast and expect our books to be the same. I hope we can find a balance of the past and the present.

    1. So true. Sometimes I just want to step off the fast track and enjoy a slower life.
      I miss the old way of writing too, like in the Jane Austen books.
      Even movies have changed too much, in my opinion. The romances of today start with sex and then the characters start to fall in love. It actually kind of grosses me out. Same with action movies. With all the special effects sometimes they forget the story part of it. I think a lot of that applies to modern books as well.

  2. Yeah for the next assignment! I'll start working on it this weekend. And I like the title too. (:

    1. Looking forward to reading it!

    2. Sorry, but I just now got a chance to read your scene. I like Kate's determination to get back to the rain forest and her refusing to let go of her dream. It shows a lot about her character. I also like the way you described her reluctance to speak with the young man but forced a welcoming smile nonetheless.

      This was really good and I feel like I'm starting to get to know Kate a little more. (:

    3. Thanks for your feedback. I'm looking forward to reading yours.

  3. I'll be writing something for this assignment, too, of course. Is just don't know yet which character (although I'll stick to one of those of whom I did a character sketch) and what setting.
    Hm, and perhaps I'll try three scenes ;)

    By the way, I love how much more interesting and multi-layered your Kate is in this new version and the scene!
    The inward cringe is fabulous!

    1. Thank you! I'm sorry it took awhile to get to you but I had to work.

  4. It sounds like Kate is a great character to follow through a novel. Congrats!

    I come from the Insecure Writer's Support Group, trying to catch up with as many blogs as I can. Loved your blog and will be back for more. Good luck!

    1. Thank you! And thanks for stopping by to comment. :)