I’ve just completed the first week of my Open University creative writing course – Start Writing Fiction from Future Learn.
It has been interesting and useful and this week has concentrated on Character creation. Some of it has been analysis of other writers work and some has been the use of the writer’s notebook to make notes on people and use that to generate character studies. What do we need to say to help people both visualise and understand a character when they walk into the room.
This has been useful for me because I have to work on having fully rounded characters with a proper back story. Although others have said my characters are good and they wanted to spend more time with them, I’m not so sure myself. I think I have a tendency to have generic characters which is why I’ve started doing mini biographies that I don’t necessarily use in the text but create a clearer picture in my own mind when I’m describing their actions or dialogue. I tend to use aspects of real people I’ve known in creating characters but aside from the ones who are more or less me, they will be amalgams rather than copies. This means I can forget to give them mannerisms or ways of speaking that are distinct and can make it obvious who is saying what without having to write “said Fred” all the time.
I don’t necessarily want to go as far as David Nobbs, who tended to give everyone a catchphrase (bit of a cock up on the catering front) but many people do have things they pepper their sentences with, or ways of expressing themselves. Dickens was the master of this, as of so many other things. How many of us had teachers whp overused individual words allowing the fun game of doing a five bar gate mark up of every time they ended a sentence with “right?”?
I’m looking forward to the rest of course to see if it can help me develop more good habits.