Tuesday, 29 July 2008

WRITING - Character Generation

Interested in well rounded, fascinating characters that leap off the page? Then the following are some links to assist you in generating them. This was originally posted by prophet224 on the yWriter Google Group.

To quote the prophet:

"Here are a bunch of suggestions. There's a lot here. Go to the
bottom for a large pdf download of character questions and things to
know about your character. I hope this helps! :) Most of this stuff
is related to RPG character creation, but it should help and serve
double duty!


Burning Void's character questionnaire:

Burning Void's pdf book, "365 Character Questions for Writers and
Roleplayers," under "Downloads":


Fiction Writer's Character Chart:

The 100 Most Important Things to Know About Your Character:

Character Questions from WritingClasses.com:

Proust's Character Questionnaire:

(I'd like to acknowledge the blog "The Naked Truth" for some of these
links: http://nmallory.exit-23.net/ )

Another source of interesting questions is "The Book of Questions":

(Example: Question #4: “If you could spend one year in perfect
happiness but afterward would remember nothing of the experience would
you do so? If not, why not?”




100 things to know about your character:

More (maybe the same?) questions:

Various creation and design links:

Questions Download:

Saturday, 26 July 2008


Updated Above ^


Not writing related but nevertheless you need to install PicLens for your browser! This is the first web 2 application that I have seen done well. In fact it is brilliant.

In the words of the website (www.piclens.com) "Transform your browser into a full-screen, 3D experience for online photos and videos." There is a version for all the major browsers.

It looks like something that Apple would develop, except it is free. If you are ever looking for images on the net then this little fella is a gotta have. You get the picture.

STORY BACKGROUND - The Long Green Goodbye

Issue 122 (July-August 2008) of AntipodeanSF is now available at www.antisf.com, so head on over and wallow in the trough of speculative goodness. While you are there make sure you check out Felicity's story "Windows to the Soul" and enjoy a Kodak moment. Now a bit about my story ...

ABOUT The Story

The Long Green Goodbye was inspired by an old Schweppes lemonade commercial that I loved. The advertisement was done in the style of the hard-boiled detective stories by Raymond Chandler - but funnier. One of the lines was something like, "a tall blonde walked past my window, I could tell that she was tall as my office was on the 2nd floor." *he he he*

The title is homage to the Travis McGee novels by John D. MacDonald. His 21 novels regarding this amateur sleuth all had a colour in the title and the first three novels in the series were published in the year that I was born. Respect.

BTW - You can read reviews of issue 122 here:

Hole in the page

Musings of an Aussie Writer

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


yEDIT from Spacejock Software.

SpaceJock Software (www.spacejock.com) has just released another handy little application. In my opinion this is good for writing short pieces (like FLASH fiction, 500 to 1000 words) and so complements yWriter which is better suited to organising longer works.

Its features include:
  • a plain text editor
  • a good autobackup system
  • a countdown word counter
  • an undo system
  • log folder of your daily word count.
The counter & autobackups update when you haven't typed for 2 or 3 seconds or so.

Note that it's NOT a word processor. Spacejock wont be adding spell checking, grammar checking, formatting, fonts or any of the other trappings of Word or OpenOffice.

Give it a try - did I mention it's free!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

WRITING BOOKS - Plot & Structure

Plot and Structure

By James Scott Bell

I enjoyed reading Plot and Structure, so I thought that I would jot down some of the key points that I picked up. In essence this book describes how to develop a road map for your story. Some may see this as a recipe for writing formulaic rubbish but just because every house has a plan doesn't mean that they all look the same. I have mixed my metaphors but you get the idea.

Bell acknowledges that there is a continuum of writers, from those that are capable of vomiting a stream of consciousness to those that can't get out of bed without a Gannt chart. I haven't worked out where I sit yet but I suspect that is just to the right of Genghis Kahn. No matter where you sit on that continuum, your writing will benefit from some structure and at the very least you should develop your LOCK before starting.

LOCK is a FLA (Four Letter Acronym). I guess he couldn't get it down to three.

L = Lead (who is your lead and why are they interesting?)
O = Objective (what does your lead want or want to get away from?)
C = Confrontation (what obstacles stop your lead from getting their objective?)
K = Knockout (what is the killer ending which ties up everything and resonates with the reader)

Bell argues that a strong ending can rescue a middling story. As part of the minimalist approach he recommends that you also whip up a back cover description of your story based on the LOCK. If this doesn't sound like something that you would want to read then it is time for a rethink.

By now I will have lost our less structured brethren so allow me to forge on with a bit more detail.

Bell points out that the three act structure has been in place for thousands of years which suggests that there may be something to it.

Act 1 introduces your lead and usually has an initial disturbance to get the reader interested. At or before about 1/5th the way through your word count a major disturbance occurs which thrusts your lead through a door way into Act 2. This door way is a one way trip. Once through your lead must have a reason to keep banging their head against all the obstacles you keep throwing up. This gives the story momentum and keeps people reading.

The door way to Act 3 should be at the 3/4 mark or further and is another one way trip. The trigger to crossing this threshold could be a major clue or setback, which sets you up for the final confrontation or choice in Act 3. The knockout.

Bell also talks about the rhythm of your story with the major chords being:
  • Action then obstacle; and
  • Reaction (how the lead responds and what choice is made)
And the minor chords:
  • setup; and
  • deepening
Which are added for spice.

Bell then speaks about the character arc, which editors tell me my stories don't manifest. His theory is that the arc looks something like:

Start -> Opinions -> Attitude -> Values -> Core Beliefs -> Self Image.

There is lots more in Plot and Structure, with plenty of examples from popular fiction, literary works , screenplays and comics.

I enjoyed it and will be giving some of his suggestions a go. I reckon it was well worth the $11.55 (plus postage). BTW - this is part of a series of books on Writing. There are other titles on Dialogue, Characters, Setting, etc. I have also purchased the one on Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint. Once I read that I will let you know what I think.

I bought this book on-line at www.amazon.com. Get it now while the Ozzie dollar is strong.