Creating Characters

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I know these are a dime a dozen, but I made a printable character development worksheet for anyone who is interested. Enjoy!

Character Sketch- Main Character

Character Sketch- Supporting Character

The Letter

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I wrote this short story for a contest on Fanstory.  The prompt was to write about a tattered, stained letter with no return address.

 

“Sir, your truck is fixed.  Also, I found this wedged behind one of the seats.”  The auto repair man handed the mailman a tattered, stained letter.

“Oh, thank you.”  The mailman replied as he stared at the letter wonderingly.  It had no return address.  How strange! It looked old. How long had it been lost?  Its delivery address was on his mail route.

The mailman dropped the letter into a stack of outgoing mail, even though he felt tempted to open it and read the mysterious message.  The next day he came to work and was assigned his mail bag.  He rifled quickly through it, looking for the letter.  It was there. When he arrived at the address on the envelope, he put in the mailbox.

The next day he approached the house where he had delivered the tattered letter.  He opened the mailbox to put the day’s mail inside.  The stained letter was laying there, with a post-it note attached to it stating in red letters: Recipient doesn’t live here.  A strong curiosity overpowered him.   I want to read it.  What kind of message would be inside?  It looks personal and old.

The next day, the mailman didn’t find the letter in his delivery bag.  Still intrigued by it, he rifled through a box that held undeliverable items. The tattered letter was among them.  He secretively put it into his pocket and left to begin the day’s work.   When his shift was over he drove to a nearby coffee shop.

He slid into a corner booth and mused about the strange letter in front of him.  The recipient wasn’t found. What could it hurt if I read the letter?  I know I’m not really supposed to, but my curiosity is killing me. 

Why didn’t the person include a return address?  Is it because they are wanted by the police?  Was the person too ashamed to write the return address, for whatever reason? What if this letter would have repaired a relationship, but it was never delivered?  Is it a murder threat, or a murder warning? Since it was never delivered what were the consequences? Was it some other type of warning that was never given? Would this letter have saved someone’s life?

He knew his mind was wandering as he sat examining the envelope. Why is it stained? It looked like someone had spilled juice on it, or was it blood?  He sipped his coffee and sighed.  Alright, I’m going to open it.  It will probably just get thrown away anyway.

He broke the seal hurriedly, knowing he was doing something that he shouldn’t. It felt weird to be reading a letter meant for someone else.  He took the paper out of the envelope.  It was somewhat ragged too.

It read:

April 18, 2007

Dearest Alexandra,

If your love is still as fervent as it was last June, meet me at the downtown Starbucks on April 26 at 8:00 PM.  I’ve never forgotten you and I still love you.  I’ll be there waiting. If you don’t come, I’ll have my answer: our love was simply a summer romance and nothing more.  But, if you do come, we can run away and start a life together.  The obstacles that parted us will not be able to stop us this time.  Do not, under any circumstances, let anyone know about this meeting.

Forever Yours,

Michael

The mailman stared at the letter.  The date showed that the letter was from seven years ago.  He had not guessed it would be a letter between two forbidden lovers.  I wonder how long Michael waited for her that night.  Is he still mourning her loss?  Or was he able to move on?  What were the circumstances that tore them from each other?  It may have been a good thing that this letter was lost for all those years.  It may be that Alexandra is now happily married and perhaps, has a child?  If she saw his note now, it could cause discontent in her.  It could reawaken her feelings for Michael.  On the other hand, what if Alexandra was never able to move on and is still mourning the loss of her beloved? 

 He pushed these thoughts away.  He put the letter back in his pocket and left the coffee shop. Fate’s a strange thing, that’s for sure.

The Four Temperaments

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Recently, I’ve been learning about the four temperaments.  I’m reading a book called The Temperament God Gave You, by Art and Laraiane Bennett.  The four temperaments are choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine and melancholy.  Understanding each one’s strengths and weaknesses can help you understand yourself and others better.

The four temperaments are a very old method for figuring out personality.  Hippocrates (460-377 B.C) may have been the first to discover them.  His theory was that each temperament was created by an imbalance of fluid in the body, which is why they each have strange names.

Choleric: yellow bile from the liver

Phlegmatic:  phlegm from the lungs

Sanguine: Blood from the heart

Melancholy: black bile from the kidneys

I’ve also found that knowing the four temperaments is also helpful for figuring out characters.  It’s a very concise method, since there are basically four types (there are secondary temperaments too). This method is my second favorite for characters, next to the enneagram types.  I’m melancholy, and in my current novel, my protagonist is a choleric.

Here is an overview of the four temperaments.

Choleric (The Achiever) 

Generally, cholerics are people who get things done.  They are extraverted, confident and decisive.  They react the quickest out of all the temperaments.  The choleric temperament is the opposite of the phlegmatic temperament.

Strengths

Weaknesses

 

Practical

Rational

Driven

Courageous

A natural leader

Independent

Quick thinker

Passionate

Not easily discouraged

Doesn’t complain

 

 

 

Bossy

Not compassionate

Proud

Impatient

Prone to anger

Makes rash choices

Reckless

Demanding

Doesn’t like to listen to others, always wants to be in charge

Can’t relax

 

 

 

Phlegmatic (The Diplomat) 

Generally, phlegmatics are people who like peace and quiet.  They are introverted, reserved and slow to anger.  The phlegmatic temperament reacts the slowest out of all the four.

Strengths

Weaknesses

 

Team players

Encourage others

Settle arguments (as long as they are not directly involved in the conflict)

Patient

Not easily stressed

Meek

Easy to get along with

Good planners

Even-tempered

 

 

Plans, but never starts

Unenthusiastic

Overly-tolerant

Hates conflict

Indecisive

Procrastinates

Struggles with change

Holds grudges

Messy

Hard to motivate themselves

 

 

 

 Sanguine (The Enthusiast) 

Generally, sanguines are partyers. They like having fun and are people-oriented. They are extraverted, excitable and spontaneous.  The sanguine temperament is the opposite of the melancholy.

Strengths

Weaknesses

 

Life of the party

Motivates others

Inspires others to join in the activity

Optimistic

Generous

Wants to please

Energetic

Doesn’t hold grudges

Makes things fun

Likes volunteer work

 

Wants to be popular and fit

Talks too much and interrupts others

Disorganized

Doesn’t see the long-term effects of their actions

Impulsive

Irresponsible

Weak-willed

Naïve

Lacks follow-through

Struggles to be alone

 

 

 

 

Melancholy (The Idealist) 

Generally, melancholies are people who are serious and focused on the ideal.  They are introverted, intelligent and empathic.  Melancholies are the most introspective of all of the temperaments.  Many writers were melancholy.

Strengths

Weaknesses

 

Deep thinker

Likes serious discussions or debates

Loyal friends

Perfectionist

Analytical

Very disciplined

Organized

Appreciates beauty

Idealistic

Sees long-term effects of their actions

 

 

Tends towards depression and anxiety

Indecisive

Dramatic

Pessimistic

Skeptical

Dislikes change

Hard to please

Critical of others

Not open and friendly

Holds grudges

 

 

To learn more about the four temperaments, click here.   To take a personality test, click here.

Using Review in Word

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I found a great way to edit a novel or short story in Word.  I found it because a few days ago, one of my friends asked if I’d read a short story she was writing and give my opinion on it.  I was so excited to be able to critique someone else’s work.  I used review in Word to make comment bubbles to put my notes in.  This is helpful for either putting notes in someone else’s work and emailing it to them, or putting notes in your own work to look at for the next writing day.

sample page image
This is one page of my friend’s short story, with my notes on the side.

 

Here’s a super easy tutorial showing how to use review in a Word document. 

1. Open a word document.

2. Click on the tab that says ‘review’ at the top of the document.

review tab with arrow image

3.  Highlight the word or words you want to add a note about.

highlight word image

4. Click on the ‘new comment’ icon.

comment added image

To delete a note, first click the note, then click on the icon that says ‘delete’ next to the ‘add comment’ icon.

Viola! Enjoy adding notes into your Word documents:-)

Short Stories

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short story

Recently, I’ve been writing more short works.  Fanstory has helped me write more because of the daily prompts and contests.

I personally really like short stories.  They are good practice for novelists, because a short story is built similarly to a novel.  I’ve also used a short story to ‘get to know’ my character if I don’t have a clear idea of how they should be.  Short stories also make great blog posts, and if they are long enough, they can be a part 1, part 2, which creates suspense for your followers.   I found a blog post that works you through the steps of writing a short story, all the way from inspiration to the rough draft.

The author, Paul Alan Fahey, is an accomplished writer and has published several short stories and novellas.

This post was so helpful for me, and I now better understand how to create a short story.  I hope to write a short story soon and post it on this blog.

Is High School Dating a Good Idea?

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I wrote this essay for a contest on Fanstory.  The topic was write an argument against something controversial.

teen dating image (1)Love is something that is displayed constantly and in a variety of ways. From the earliest age, people are exposed to stories that focus heavily on romantic love. This glorification of romance puts love as the highest ideal. Because of this, teens feel pressure to enter into dating during high school. This has become the norm, but, is high school romance a good idea?

A relationship is a huge load for a high schooler to bear. The dictionary definition of love is this: A decision to commit oneself to another and to work through conflicts instead of giving up. The love between a man and a woman is a sacred and beautiful thing. The purpose of this love is marriage. Marriage means sacrifice, responsibility and a family. What high-schooler is able to realistically commit on this level? Because a high school romance cannot lead to marriage for about 4-8 years, they often end in breakup. During high school, a teenager may end up having a broken heart multiple times. This is giving teens practice only in failed relationships, rather than practice in maintaining a healthy relationship. Lastly, teenage relationships are physically tempting. This often leads to pre-marital sex, birth control and possibly abortion. High school is not the time to enter into these roles because a teen has neither the skills nor the resources to marry and provide for another.

A romance requires time and energy. It can be exhausting maintaining a teenage relationship, academic demands and extracurricular activities. Several aspects in a teen’s life are impacted by dating. The tendency to communicate constantly through various electronic methods is hugely distracting. Secondly, a relationship consumes much of a teen’s precious time, which is usually already overscheduled with academics and extracurricular activities. Thirdly, it’s emotionally exhausting. Maintaining a happy relationship, working out conflict and making wise decisions can drain their mental and emotional resources. There are only four years of high school, and romance is not the best way to use these formative years.

High school can be a wonderful time of personal growth and development of hobbies and skills. This is prevented when the majority of a teen’s time is taken up by the opposite sex. Imagine how much more ready for the world a teen would be if they had spent all of their high school years developing himself/herself as a person, rather than spending it jumping in and out of relationships. Romance also takes time away from developing friendships. Friendship is a skill that will be needed throughout one’s entire life. Lastly, it takes from the time that should be used for learning and studying, which affects a person’s future career. Romance is an unnecessary demand to place in a teen’s life.

Though our society has chosen to make teen dating the norm, this doesn’t have to be the case. Love is at the heart of human nature, and because of this, it’s something that we’re all looking for. Romance is a good and beautiful thing, but it is important to wait until the right time. Hearts need to be guarded and protected, which becomes harder when a high-schooler is involved in a romantic relationship. The self-restraint that is exercised when a teen withholds a romance from himself/herself is a valuable skill that will serve him/her for the rest of their life. Before entering into a teenage relationship, carefully consider if it’s a wise choice.

Flashbacks in your Writing

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Flashbacks can be a valuable technique in writing, if placed strategically.  I’ve found that books without them typically have less depth and are less interesting.  The Divergent series is an example of this.  These books don’t have flashbacks and I thought the characters were not very developed as they could have been. I’m currently reading a book that has many flashbacks and the characters are more human and I am able to understand their motives better.

 

Here are some benefits of having flashbacks in your writing:flashback image

  • Helps your readers sympathize with your character more.
  • A flashback can be gripping way to show some life-changing event in your character’s life.
  • Can show readers what formed your character and why he believes what he does.
  • Can help the reader understand the current conflict better.

 

When not to add a flashback:

  • If the flashback doesn’t add anything interesting to the story.
  • The event in the flashback wasn’t significant or life-changing.
  • If the flashback doesn’t strengthen the current conflict.

 

 Do you like using flashbacks in your writing?