Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Highlights Fantasy Reunion Day 3

Today was the third day of our Fantasy Reunion Workshop and a real treat.  In addition to critiquing and writing time today, we had a group workshop led by our mentor, Laura Ruby.  The session was truly epiphany-inducing, and I'm so excited to share our exercise with you.

Have you ever been asked, "What does your character want?"  Has that question ever been followed with, "But what does your character really want?"  If you've ever written a manuscript, I'm guessing your answer is "Yes" to both of these questions.  (And it probably makes you grumble and feel all prickly about the experience.)

Laura Ruby explained that for many writers, these are dumb questions.  Just knowing what your character wants often isn't enough to drive your story along.  The story needs to go deeper than just "wants."  Instead, she shared a exercise that she learned from author Franny Billingsley to help discover the three driving factors of your character: Wound, Belief, and Default Emotion.

1) Wound: What is the experience that shapes your character's self-image and guides his or her action?

2) Belief: What single belief rules the character's view of him/herself?

3) Default Emotion: What emotion rules your character's life, seizing him or her in times of stress?

THIS affects his entire being.  THIS is what he wants.
We walked through the steps with J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter.  Harry's "wound" (or "mortal wound" to stress the importance), is the loss of his parents.  His "belief" is that he is all alone in the world--even when he has friends to stand by his side.  His "default emotion" is fear, and this in turn drives him to extreme acts of heroism to save everyone he loves.

And doesn't that just sum up Harry in a nutshell?

Determining these three factors can be a little tricky, and you might have to delve deeper and deeper to find the root of your character.  But once you do, you immediately understand why your character does the things he does and how he will react to the story you've created for him.  (And yes, you'll probably even have some clue as to what he ultimately wants, too.)  Neat, huh?

You can apply this method to your villains and side-characters as well.  And if you're having trouble pinning down these three factors, brainstorm with some critique buddies who know your character.  We certainly did, and I think everyone walked away from today's session feeling much closer to their characters.

We definitely fed our minds today, but what about our bellies?  Well, for breakfast we enjoyed oatmeal with fresh fruit and brown sugar, hard boiled eggs, and carrot-zucchini "Good Morning Muffins."  Lunch was chicken salad with butternut squash soup and double-chocolate cookies for dessert.  Our smorgasbord of workshop appetizers included baked crispy kale, potstickers, and mini-quiches.  Dinner was chicken and salmon with creamy leek sauce, seasoned veggies, rice pilaf and foccacia bread, with panna cotta for dessert.  (Aka "delicious cream with berries on top.")     

How can I still be eating so much, you ask?  Honestly, I have no idea.  I guess all this writing just works up an appetite!  :)

Note: Harry Potter is (c) J.K. Rowling, the movies are (c) Warner Brothers, and the above picture is from harrypotter.wikia.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment