Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

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Writing Craft #2 Critique

It is scary to put your work out there for critical eyes. It leaves you wide open. It leaves you vulnerable. Of course you’ve done your best and you love every word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph. You’ve worked hard. You’ve crafted each word until your eyes seem to turn inward. You think that you can make your article, essay, story, or book no better and you hope that your reviewer will feel the same. After all, if you did not think it was your best, you would not have released it for other eyes – right?

It’s hard to hear critiques – even the positive ones. Those words you dragged out of your head and arranged into neat little lines on the paper to tell your story are your babies. As a mother is protective of her child, you too, are the keeper of your words – their protector, their proud creator. So you don your armor, harden your shell, stiffen your upper lip, hold your breath, and … hope for the best.

red pen thIf you have chosen a reviewer, someone who you respect and who you can trust, then trust you must! Don’t fear the red pen. Listen with eager mind but remember too, that her opinion is only one view and not necessarily better than yours. Although she, no doubt, will look at your work with fresher, more neutral eyes, you must still pick and choose and determine what you think will move your writing further – what will make your story the best it can be.

Then go back to the keyboard … and tackle your work with a new outlook until your piece shines – brighter than before.

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(Clip Art compliments of Bing.

December 9, 2012 Posted by | Writing Craft | , , , , | 2 Comments

Writing Craft #1 Concoct a Character

Writing a character sketch is like drawing a picture – like painting a portrait of your character. If you are lucky enough, you may even be able to conjure up a movie of your character – seeing her frolic through your mind or, better yet, across the pages of your story. She may be digging a hole to the other side of the earth or stumbling lost in a forest with wild beasties in mad pursuit. She may be cowering in a closet, walking a tightrope in a circus, or fighting with a best friend over the color tutu they will wear in the ballet recital. The possibilities are infinite. Your character may be meek and shy, or she may be the belle of the ball – self-centered and oozing confidence. She may be a bully or a nerd, or perhaps she is the teacher’s pet. Your endless imagination is your only limit.

There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for developing a character, but there are some guidelines that may be helpful as you travel your journey from story idea to completed book.

The thing your character wants above all else will be the crucial point in driving your story. Through intense desire, your character will come alive. Her physical characteristics and attributes will develop as she becomes entangled in the plot. There is no need to name your character or supply her with physical attributes at the beginning. Be patient. Her personality will emerge as she wiggles her way through the story line. A name, hair color, or age may stifle your creativity about your character. Your unnecessary limitations on your imagination may limit the depth of her character. So let your character flow freely until she is ready to take on her physical being. Then unleash her and see where she takes you.

Still it never hurts to talk to your character – flesh her out.  Some people call it interviewing the character. Find out her greatest desire. Does she want to be best friends with the most popular girl in class – the one who scorns her? Does she want to get rid of her glasses because she is endlessly being teased? Does she wish her baby brother didn’t exist? It’s your character’s burning desire, no matter what it is, that will propel her through the story as she seeks her goal.

Life is not easy, and neither should it be for your character. Throw in some conflicts. Make it difficult for her to achieve her goal. What makes her shake in her boots? Is it the monster in the closet or under the bed? Is it the bully in the girls’ restroom? Is it the patches her mom sewed on her too-baggy jeans? Why does she need to get an A+ on her Science exam? Is it to impress the cutest boy in her class or because her parents promised her a trip to Disneyland? No matter! With problems peppering your story that your character must surmount, you will capture your audience. When she finally does reach her goal – and she must – by the end of the story, it will be sweet – and satisfying. And if you have done your job well, then your readers will easily relate to your character. They will gladly root for her to your very last word.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

May 26, 2012 Posted by | Writing Craft | , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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