Tag Archives: people

K- Know Your Characters…A-Z Challenge

“You never really understand a person until you

consider things from his point of view… Until you

climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird 

 

Welcome to the latest installment in my series of Motivations Quotes for Writers and Creatives working on a big project, especially writing a book. This is my theme for the 2019 Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

Today, we’re up to K, which must be around halfway. So, I can let out a loud cheer for getting this far, because I almost didn’t take part this year as I’m deeply immersed in working on my book.

I have a background in sales and one of the things they really used to hammer into us, was to know your product. As writers, we also need to know our product in addition to our craft and that includes knowing your characters and knowing them well.

One of the tools I’ve used on and off has been the Proust Questionnaire. The Proust Questionnaire was originally a parlor game, which was popularized although not devised by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist. Proust believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. As writers, asking our characters these questions can help us develop more interesting, dynamic and effective characters in our work.

If you’re interested in checking out the Proust Questionnaire, you can explore the Vanity Fair version Here.

Here are a few other quotes I found about developing characters:

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” 
― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

“Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.” 
― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

“Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.” 
― Samuel Smiles, Happy Homes and the Hearts That Make Them

“I don’t know where people got the idea that characters in books are supposed to be likable. Books are not in the business of creating merely likeable characters with whom you can have some simple identification with. Books are in the business of creating great stories that make you’re brain go ahhbdgbdmerhbergurhbudgerbudbaaarr.” 
― John Green

Lastly, while I was trawling around the Internet in search of quotes, I came across this fabulous quote about knowledge, which kind of touches on developing our characters but I feel also adds an important quality to our writing:

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

After all, if we really care about our characters and their wellbeing and what’s happening to them, that will draw the reader inside that vision which is what great writing is all about. It’s not just about us fulfilling our ambitions. Indeed, for the person paying good money for your book and not someone else’s, you don’t factor into the equation.

Do you have any tips for developing characters? What works for you? 

Thank you for joining on this journey through the alphabet and I hope you are feeling encouraged psychologically while hopefully also taking some action steps.

Best wishes,

Rowena

What It Means To Be Human.

G’Day Humans!

This is Rosie-Roo, Rowena’s adorable and geniously smart puppy dog. I’ve jumped onto her blog to end her interminal screen-gazing. Put her out of her misery. I know she’s always teaching me stuff, and thinks she knows it all, but her brain’s now gone into park, and won’t budge. So, seeing that I’ve now worked out how to pull the string on my toy mouse and make it run all by myself, I figure I’m now ready to step into Bilbo’s paws and  be the brains trust around here. After all, that goes with the territory when you’re the Philosopher’s Dog.

Rosie & Zac BW

That’s me on the left.

So, here I am paws to the keyboard.

Rewinding to last night, you might’ve already read all Mum’s philosophical, new year ramblings about turning Chaos Central and it’ s inhabitants, into clockwork robots. Have a place for everyting and everything in its place.

Of course, we who know Mum better than she knows herself, know better. We know she drank too much pear cider over the holidays. Was dazzled by the fireworks. It’s all gone to her head, and now she thinks a  new year makes her a new person. That her DNA myseriously changed overnight.

I might only be six months old, but I’m a great observer. Not only that, I’m smart. Scary smart. Only this morning, I learned how to pull the string on my toy mouse, but I’ve been pulled mum’s string a lot longer. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being creative. However, I’m a working dog, and that means getting on with the task at hand and not writing about it instead.

Anyway, we working dogs are adaptable. I can herd humans, and I can philosophise like a human as well. After all, as you’ve always suspected but have never been able to verify, we dogs can read your minds. Well, at least, that is the more astute of us canines.

Moving forward, I’m going to pick up from Mum’s last post where she concluded: “I am going to be a human being.” Shortly, after signing off there, she quickly typed “What It Means to Be Human” into a new post and went off to bed.

Who did she think she was? Professor Stephen Hawking? Why couldn’t she just be happy with 42 like everyone else, and leave it at that? Why did she feel the need to tackle a question whose answers spread the full length and breadth of the World Wide Web. How did she think she was going to reduce all of that verbosity into 500 words, or even a 1000?

It didn’t take me long to work out Mum was a dreamer, and nothing like a working dog.

 

Anyway, this leaves me to explain what it means to be human.

Firstly, humans are always telling us dogs to “sit”, while I figure all humans do is sit. They need to get out of their chairs. Switch off the TV. Turn off their laptops and mobile phones and walk, Run. Go outside. Smell the roses.

Secondly, humans seriously over-complicate things. We dogs keep it simple. We wear the one coat for life, and we’re always ready to go out. Adventure awaits. None of this hair, makeup, clothes, can’t find my shoes, wallet, phone. I don’t even need a lead, but I did get in trouble last week for what turned out to be a pre-emptive run.

But, while I can be a little critical of the humans and would like to give them some really thorough training, my humans have loved my brother and I unconditionally. We were homeless and had been taken away from our Mum, Dad and sisters and didn’t know what would become of us. Then, Mum and Miss turned up there in the middle of the night to pick us up and gave us a home. We had so much to learn, leaving puddles and piles all over the house and even chewed on the furniture, but they still loved us. Humans have big hearts.

A big heart is mum’s biggest trouble. Of course, she’d like to be uber-organized and have everything running like clockwork, but her heart gets in the way. She cares too much. I also understand that she can’t move around as easily as the other humans and then lets the other humans and us dogs get away with things we shouldn’t. Please don’t tell her that. That can be our little secret.

Well, I don’t know if I’ve answered the question, but I’d appreciate a bit of understanding. This is my first dog, I mean, blog post, and I’m still only a pup.

What do you think makes humans human? Perhaps, you could enlighten Mum!

Love,

Rosie-Roo

PS: In case you’re wondering why I’m called “Rosie-Roo, it’s because the humans reckon I look like a kangaroo. I don’t know why they’d think a dog looks like a kangaroo. Perhaps, poor eyesight and confusion are further aspects of what it means to be human.

The featured image was drawn by my teenaged son many, many moons ago.

Five Ways To Be More Likeable.

“Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.” ~Confucious 1. Pay attention to detail Let’s face it, people love to be noticed. Whenever you meet someone new, take a moment to identify what makes them unique. Make sure to look for positive attributes so you don’t end up pointing out that someone has poor posture or dirty shoes. Maybe they have a nice […]

via 5 Easy Ways To Be More Likable — MakeItUltra™

That Hidden Piece of Me.

There’s a little piece of me,

which doesn’t feel at home.

Even in a crowd,

it can still feel quite alone.

No one seems

to know its name.

Or, that it exists.

So, I wonder if it ever left,

would this piece be missed?

 

xx Rowena

8th December, 2015

Re-reading this poem a few days later, I am quite conscious that on first impressions, it appears quite dark and melancholy.This is not entirely unusual for my poetry as I often write poetry as a way of venting my spleen or as a way of dealing with intense angst or frustration, like releasing a pressure valve.

However, while it initially appears quite melancholy, I hope it’s impact is paradoxically quite positive. That it actually connects a kaleidoscope of missing pieces who start to feel part of wider whole. A sense of: “Me too!” or “I’m not the only one!”

So many of us can be incredibly self-conscious about our various idiosyncrasies and yet even when we are the only one, there ares till other only ones out there we can connect with. We are not as alone as we believe or as weird, different…or even as talented!

Phew!

If you enjoyed this poem, you could well enjoy the book: The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein. Have you read it? I love his work.

Indeed, I just found this beautiful animated version. It’s just incredible! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT0wKeJQvGk

xx Rowena.

 

 

which is quite a departure the more uplifting things I’ve written in the past from I can’t help wondering if everyone feels there is this part of themselves which doesn’t quite connect with the world? A part which is somehow awkward. Doesn’t fit in. Is a bit odd, skewiff or something?

I know I’m not alone is feeling like this at times.

I think for most of us, for whatever reason, there is this sense of disconnection and not belonging or quite fitting in. Sometimes, this can be a point of pride because we’re creative, an individual one-off? We’re not one of these photocopied clones…a Barbie or Ken!

Personally, I struggle with having what you could call an invisibility and straddling the worlds of chronic health and disability and because I appear fully mobile, I am expected to comply with all sorts of unwritten social norms, which can be quite difficult for me e.g. standing in long queues, walking on uneven ground.

Every now and then, however, I have met people who almost immediately see that hidden secret piece and I immediately feel whole, less fragmented, disjointed or even alienated. It is like diving deep into a healing spring and I can feel myself becoming whole again.

I personally find it important to talk about this hidden part of ourselves because I strongly believe, though without professional training, that if that piece doesn’t get nourished and doesn’t find kindred spirits, that we truly will struggle to be happy, healthy and grow into all we could become.

 

Photoshopping the Future

While I was was frantically cooking dinner with my head poised over a hot pan, my daughter approached me with this statement…this wish:

“I wish I could Photoshop the Future!”

Miss, Aged 9, Monday 22nd June, 2015.

Photoshopping the future…I’d never thought about that.

Sure, all of us have photoshopped the past, more particularly OUR past, in some way or another…a bit of a snip here deleting the past from a photograph. Journals burned. Moving to another city or even country to start over.

Yes, we’ve all done a bit of that.

However, photoshopping the future had me thinking…What did she mean?

Of course, she’s at school while I’m trying to nut this out and perhaps my musings and interpretations are more profound than her intentions but we do use photoshop at home. Usually, it’s just to give an image that lift that you used to get in the photo lab back in the day. However, we also have a bit of fun changing the colours and upping or downing the hue and saturation. This is where you can totally alter your reality and end up in a world of lurid fairy floss, dazzling skies and it seems anything is possible!!

Is this what she meant? Did she want to live in this way out, psychedelic world of the imagination where anything was possible with the touch of a mouse? A world that is creative, fun and stretches (if not breaks) all the rules?

Or, was she perhaps seeking a perfect world where there is no sickness, no death, where everyone is nice and there are no bullies and everyone is your friend? Knowing her and how she also wants to be Queen of Australia when Australia finally becomes a republic, she probably wants all of that and I’ll put my order in too.

Why shouldn’t we photoshop the future and start turning the world into a safe and happy place for everyone, despite those old divides of gender, race and class?

I’d also like to add a new divide: difference. “Difference” embraces all those who don’t easily fit into any box and struggle to find a friend or a soul mate. This also includes those who could well be perceived as part of the group and yet keenly feel that sense of difference. Even though they might fit in on the outside,they don’t fit in on the inside. They’re extremely conscious of being on a different wavelength and not fitting in, not connecting with the herd. They might not want to fit in either…or just now and then but in some way that doesn’t involve completely selling out.

Feeling the need to blend in and conform to a set of rules and ideals, is something I’ve experienced myself. Like trying on a new pair of jeans, I’ve felt the rules restrict and constrain as I try to squeeze in and force the zipper shut against the odds. On the other hand, the jeans have also been too big and they’ve fallen down, swimming by my ankles. Yes, we do need social rules, the law and some sort of social boundaries, but we also need to love and offer acceptance to a broader concept of what it means to be human, “one of us”, part of the herd.

At best, the alternative is a dull grey or poo brown world where all the diversity and colour has either been mix in so much it disappears or it is left out entirely.

That’s not a world I want to live in. How about you?

We, therefore, need to become the change, stepping out of our comfort zones and building bridges towards those we have perhaps ostracised in the past and look for what we have in common, instead of what divides.

After all, right around the world, we have already experienced evil at it’s ugliest worst.

It is up to us to be the spark which creates, or indeed, “Photoshops” a new, much brighter future.

Love & God Bless,

Rowena

PS I have Photoshopped the rainbow painting used in this post in keeping with the theme. The original photo had a bit of glare and so I started Photoshopping that out as well but before I knew it, I was also Photoshopping out the brushstrokes, which gave it character and individuality as well as imperfection. So, after doing the blue, I stopped. This gives you an appreciation of the effects of conformity and using the machine to standardise and perfect whereas the other colours show a more “slapdash and expressionist” approach. Indeed, when it comes to describing my painting style, that’s actually a perfect description!

It’s Not Easy Being Green!

G is for Green and as I struggled to think of a meaningful topic for the Blogging A-Z Challenge, I remembered a favourite childhood song: It’s Not Easy Being Green, which was written by Sesame Street songwriter Joe Ripozo and sung by Jim Henson as loveable Kermit the Frog.

It's Not Easy Being Green
It's not that easy being green
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold
Or something much more colorful like that

It's not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

But green's the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful
And I think it's what I want to be

You might even want to have a sing-a-long: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpiIWMWWVco

This song is dedicated to Freddie the Front Door Frog. If you go back to my post to my post for F about Fractured Fairytales, you might recall being introduced. Freddie lives with my in-laws about half an hour’s hop from Byron Bay when he hitches a ride in the car.

Freddie the Front Door Frog.

Freddie the Front Door Frog.

Well, being an Australian Green Tree Frog, I thought Freddie would appreciate this song. After all, we wouldn’t want him deciding that he didn’t like being green and going all fancy dress, turning himself rainbow colours or hopping around weighed down by too much bling.

That’s right. We want him to know that we love him just the way he is or even because of what he is…GREEN!

By the way, Freddie says that it’s actually a lot easier to be green than you think. That you don’t need to go and change your skin colour, or anything else that radical. Rather, you can start small. Get a worm farm. Reduce the amount of packaging you use and don’t buy snacks in individual serve packets. You can grow a few tomatoes,. Have chooks. Walk instead of drive.

Apparently, all these little things add up and even the smallest and seemingly weakest among us, can make a difference for the survival of our beautiful blue planet and he points out, save more frogs!!

Today has been brought to you by the letter G as part of the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge.

xx Rowena