October 15th, 2016

Me typing?
  • mbarker

Writing Excuses 11.Bonus-01: Characterization and Differentiation, With Robin Hobb

Writing Excuses 11.Bonus-01: Characterization and Differentiation, With Robin Hobb

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2016/10/12/11-bonus-01-characterization-and-differentiation-with-robin-hobb/

Key points: How do you make characters unique and interesting? How do you create characters? Some writers start with a plot or a what-if. Others start with a character. When a character steps out and starts talking, the world will form around them. Ask who are you? What formed you? What kind of family did you grow up with? What did your parents do for a living? Are you from urban, rural, or where? Wealthy, poor? Think about how a character's backstory influences them. A lot of it is your character's reactions to whatever is happening. When the story unfolds, trust yourself. Differentiating characters really means paying attention to the characters' backgrounds. What vocabulary do they use, how do they see things? Attitude, sentence structure, slang, cadence, it all makes a difference. Then add in description. And reactions to other characters and events. Reaction shots reveal character!
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[Dan] Do you have a writing exercise you can give to our listeners?
[Robin]'s Well, I think one of the things that's kind of fun to do is to pull some of your favorite books down from the shelf and look at the dialogue. Purposely kind of train your eyes so you're not looking at the he said, she said. Or, if you can find a long section where it's simply this person, that person, this person, that person, can you tell in the middle of the book who's speaking? What were the tricks that were used to do that? Or…
[Howard] Why isn't it working?
[Robin] Pull out a section of your old dialogue and look at it and say, "If I ran this all together in one paragraph, with the reader really be able to tell that somebody else was speaking the second part of it?" Just try it out. Talk out loud. There are some things that are written in dialogue and they just… When you try to actually say them, they don't work. There are some books that I really loved when I was a kid, and then I went to read them out loud to my own children and I suddenly realized that the dialogue was just terrible. The story was great, but I could not make it sound like something somebody would believably say to someone else. So it's try it out loud…
[Dan] That was my book she was reading…
[Laughter]
[Dan] By the way.
[Howard] She really enjoyed I Am Not a Serial Killer as a child.
[Laughter]
[Dan] She read it to her children at night.
[Robin] I read it to my children at night.
[Laughter]
[Dan] Awesome. Well, Robin, thank you so much for being here. This has been wonderful. Thank you to our audience. And to everyone out listening, you are out of excuses. Now go write.