Beginning the Journey
Updated: Sep 30, 2021
This is Tyroll again. Iris said I did pretty good on the other post, so I'm allowed to write another. This time, I may take the rare opportunity to write something cool without the author's watchful eye, because she's busy plotting another plot twist while drinking tea and texting and totally not paying attention— oh, shoot. Never mind, she is watching.
I. . . I'll um, give some tips for those of you who enjoy writing. So. You're at chapter 10, pretty much the end with the beautiful happily-never-afters for some characters and the happily-ever-afters for others, and it's actually coherent and not just a jumble of words that others would see as erfshuvsdtyhjvnecyhzdmaeyjgrcndv!
Good for you; you're pretty much set for publishing! Right?
Well. . .
That is until you read over it one evening when you're already pretty tired and don't have much brainpower left, and you realize something.
This incredible book isn't so good as you thought. Imagination is a blessing and a curse. You can't name the problem, but you don't like it.
You try to think of it and it just won't come!
Let's cover some bases.
Well, let's see:
You're pretty certain your plot is original enough.
Let's say... um... (not giving away part of the book plot or anything), but, the main character is the daughter of a governor, has a cousin but doesn't know it until halfway through the book. Then she decides to nearly die a few times, and I— um, the brother has to save her because she's a little headstrong. (She survives. You’re welcome.)
Well, we are not going to attack the heart of your story today. Plot posts take lots of plotting. Haha, get it? Because you— oh never mind.
Don't worry, we'll talk about plots in other posts, but right now we are going to get on to what we'll be focusing on for the next while.
A common difficulty in writing is making characters that people will care about. You can easily end up with flat, boring characters about as interesting as blank paper if you aren't careful.
Well, in this particular case, they aren't flat. They have personalities. Bravo! Step 1 is done! We're one step towards perfection. But do we want perfection?
Let me show you what I mean by giving some character examples from Warriors of Visaya, book 1, draft 1.
The brother is handsome, funny, loyal, determined, and has a death wish for getting into dangerous situations and sometimes messes up (always saving someone else, mind you), but never gets in trouble.
The cousin is quiet, reserved, annoyingly sarcastic but not bullying, never loses his temper, and is always polite to everyone.
The sister is feisty, determined, independent, perfect and—
Ladies and gentlemen, we have found the problem!
No longer flat, but they are much too perfect for realistic, relatable people.
It's okay, don't feel bad. You writers are busy people, and this can be hard to spot unless someone else lets you know. And this is in the rare case you feel comfortable sharing this precious piece of work, lest anyone say anything you could possibly take and turn into something negative.
Iris had to reread the whole first draft about four times and has edited, rewritten, and deleted all but one original scene piece that her friend must be sick of by now (a year later, rereading the work in progress for at least the eighth time). How you just saw the characters described is how they were in draft 1.
Fear not, dear people! There are many ways to make good characters, and we'll cover this in a few articles, so hold on tight!
First off, I'll give you a project that may help you with character development:
The Power of Observation
Observe the people around you. Note how they speak, act, etc. Everyone has a unique personality, which is helpful for you because you can draw inspiration from everything around you!
Start with siblings. They are perfect for this because you're probably around them quite a lot. Trust me, there's a lot to learn about your siblings. You'll be surprised how much you'll notice about their personalities if you do this.
Parents can be a good next step, depending on what age and role of a character you need. (Advice: don't be foolish and think this is ammunition to paint them as villains, because they usually aren't. Consider the fact that they’ve put up with you this far. Seriously, thank them and give them a hug or something.)
Friends are next. This is the fun one because it makes you really observe who they are and you have more questions you can ask, such as favorite colors, what makes them upset, what they love doing, etc. Now, don't get creepy and stare. Staring at others for long amounts of time is plain rude and rather unnerving.
People in public places. This is more a general study to help you hone in on guessing what people are like, not specific likes and dislikes.
Before I go, I want to say something important.
When doing this project, you need to observe the positive as well as negatives; strengths and weaknesses. . . likes and dislikes. Never, ever use it to drag someone down and make fun of them. This is for making a fictitious character, not to mock or pick on or criticize people! Be loving to others; you never know what they may be going through. Everyone has hurts.
Well, that's all for now.
See you around!
Well, I am going to give you guys a glimpse of my book! This is literally all that is left of the original, 68-page draft 1.
Without further ado. I present what the aforementioned friend calls. . .
From Warriors of Visaya, book 1
Tyroll stuck his hand in his messy hair, which was sticking straight up. He shook his head and whistled. "That was a close one. I don't like to think what it would've done if that dragon found a tasty little snack like you sticking your pretty nose into the fog. How did you shoot it in that murk, though?”
“I don't think you would, little brother! Although I'm sure if you had gone and stuck your ‘pretty’ nose in the fog, you would've been fine,” Faeda retorted, ignoring his last question.
Tyroll grinned, but it was ended by a jaw-cracking yawn. “Well, I only came up here to make sure you were alright— on Sathor’s insistence,” he added with a wink. “But you're alive, so I'm going back to bed. Come, Koros."
With that, he disappeared down the stairs.
Koros took to the air, then flew down to the barracks. The dragon shook himself a couple times, then curled up just outside the door.
Faeda heard a thump and figured —rightly, she later learned— that Tyroll had hit his head again, on the beam at the bottom of the stairs. She shook her head and smiled, then walked back to the edge of the wall.