Tag Archives: characters

How Creating a Character’s Family Tree is Like Sudoku

It’s midnight and I’m not sure whether it’s every writer’s dream or every writer’s nightmare, but the little writer’s voice is babbling details about the family tree for the characters in my screenplay.

On one hand, I am a little annoyed because it is a “school night” and I have a busy work day planned for tomorrow. On the other hand, with the heartbreak of writer’s block going on around the world, I really can’t complain when my own writer’s voice is in overdrive with ideas.

I grab a pen and a pad (tucked neatly in my nightstand for just such a literary emergency) and I start sketching out the ideas as they come to me.

Given that this is my first screenplay, this is all new to me, but if it’s anything like my process for writing blog posts, this probably won’t be a linear process from start to end.

The main characters start identifying themselves to me. Then, the main sources of tension between the characters form a neatly bulleted list. The resulting struggles are identified and even the desired end result becomes crystal clear to me.

Now… how do we get from “once upon a time” to “and they lived happily ever after”, while hitting all those marks along the way? Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Misc blogs, Writing

The First Time My Own Writing Gave Me Palpitations

Regular readers will recall that I put the blog on autopilot in early summer, finalizing several blog posts at once, to offer me some free time to spread my wings and try some other creative writing projects.

It didn’t take long for me to sink my teeth into fiction. I guess ideas had been simmering long enough that putting words to paper came quite easily.

For one story in particular, I already knew my main characters and the main source of tension between them. I started committing those to paper.

What started with a few ideas soon became an outline. Then I rounded up the index cards I filled out over the last weeks related to this story and started typing ideas into their respective places.

What I loved was that I could keep the story up on my computer screen, walk away to put a load of laundry in the machine, come back and add a few sentences, entertain the cat a bit, come back and add a few more sentences, do the dishes, add another couple of ideas. Momentum was building and I was already enjoying the creative writing process.

I’d be lying if I said this particular story was a complete work of fiction. There are a few threads to the story that are inspired from my own life, but only a few people will know which is which.

Well into the process of engineering the flow of tension and conflict, I wrote a first draft of a heated conversation between two characters. For this dialogue, I tapped into something deep in my soul, loosely based on something I experienced personally.

In no way does the conflict in the story line resemble anything I’ve ever experienced, but whether someone is angry about life, people or circumstances, anger is anger. It’s universal and can motivate some very impassioned reactions in any of us.

As I was deeply into the writing zone, almost on autopilot myself, the words and associated emotions poured out of me. The exchange between the two characters flowed seamlessly.

The interaction seemed so natural. In some ways, I was not only creating a moment, I was living in it. The strength of conviction and motivation behind the dialogue was unlike anything I had written before.

When I finished typing out the conversation that concluded with one character storming out of a fictional room, the creative bubble around me faded as I returned to reality. In that moment, I noticed that my heart was racing, my breathing was fast and shallow and I felt beads of sweat on my forehead.

I was having palpitations! … over something I just wrote! Who knew that was even possible?

Instantly, this experience became one of those moments as a writer that I will never forget. At this point I didn’t care whether this piece made it to print or not. The fact that I was able to dig that deeply as if I was in the room with the two characters was a huge rush. The fact that it was able to elicit such a strong response felt like a huge emotional welcome into the creative writing world.

I was overjoyed! I was thrilled! I was euphoric!

If this is what it means to be a writer, then I want a lifetime membership! An experience like this makes it all worth it.

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Would I Write Someone I Know Into a Story?

There they go again! The entertainment media speculating about whether or not a song is about a certain someone’s ex-lover.

And then I wonder to myself, would I ever write someone I know into a fictional story? The short answer is no…

 

“My pain may be the reason for somebody’s laugh. But my laugh must never be the reason for somebody’s pain” — Charlie Chaplin

 

First, when it comes to grudges, my emotional baggage would definitely fit in the overhead compartment of a turbo prop plane. At this point in my life, I know that life is too short to carry grudges, so I let most of them go.

Second, I try not to live in the grudge zone in general or to put myself in the path of grudges. Life is also too short to waste precious energy like that.

Third, if I did carry a grudge, why would I immortalize the subject in my art? If I wouldn’t give someone the time of day, why would I make them the protagonist of a novel I will be working on for months? That seems completely counter intuitive to me. Continue reading

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My Take-Aways from Awards Season

Oscar and me1Ever since I knew I wanted to become a writer, whenever I watched The Golden Globes, the Academy Awards, The Emmy Awards (Prime Time and Daytime) or the Tony Awards, I always found myself walking away feeling inspired that one day that could be me.

When I hear writers’ acceptance speeches of humble beginnings, late starts in life or how a unique little story or unique way of telling a story became the object of much attention, I really do feel validated that there is purpose and potential for a budding writer like myself.

I do not delude myself into thinking that my turn WILL come at the awards podium, I think the odds of that are equivalent to winning the lottery. But I would like to think that my imagination, my creativity, my ideas and my story telling style combined with consistency and persistence, are the foundation for writing stories that will resonate. Where it goes from there, nobody knows. Hope for the best, expect the worst, and hopefully land somewhere in the middle.

This year in particular, the word “diversity” has been a recurring theme, appearing in speeches, editorials and reviews which struck a particularly deep chord with me.

As writers, I think we all have an innate fear, “What if no one is interested. What if no one reads it.” If the appetite for diversity is as strong as it seems to be, I take that as my cue and as my challenge to dig deeply for the stories that can matter and that can resonate.

The appetite for diversity is a sign to me that people want to see themselves in a story, someone to relate to, someone who has felt Continue reading

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How Bewitched Was Your Day?

Bewitched DVD As far back as I can remember, Bewitched has always been one of my favourite classic TV shows. Elizabeth Montgomery starred as the beautiful Samantha Stephens, a good witch trying to live like a normal suburban housewife, despite the intrusions of a colourful cast of relatives on her mortal marriage.

Over the years, I found my imagination and creativity spurred by the fun visual effects and magical sound effects depicting their fictionalized version of witchcraft. As the show replayed in reruns, decade after decade, the characters became a permanent fixture in my subconscious and still pop up in my life when I least expect it.

A few days ago, I was having one of those days where nothing seemed to go right. Technology wasn’t working as planned, inanimate objects weren’t cooperating, I bumped into a wall. The day was such a write off that I thought to myself, “Man, am I ever having an Aunt Clara kind of day”, which seemed rather appropriate given the circumstances.

When I gave it a little more thought, I figured out that you could equate a day to almost every Bewitched character, given their very unique qualities.

How was your day today? Was it…

A Samantha kind of day
A keen problem solver and peace keeper who can rely on common sense, resourcefulness and intuition to get out of a bind… but an occasional eye of newt or bat’s wing is not out of the question.

A Darren day
An unfailing spirit who would do anything for the love of his life, even if it means getting put through the ringer, having limits tested daily, and being turned into every species of animal known to roam the planet.

An Endora kind of day
The queen of the hive, the lioness, a powerful defender whose power should never be put to test. Could be perceived as meddlesome even though everything she does is TO HER, with the best of intentions and to protect the ones she loves. Continue reading

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New Writer, New Set of Insecurities?

Writer’s Digest, a top resource for writers, has been sending out emails announcing their 83rd annual writing competition. It sounds like an exciting opportunity and frankly, I have been seriously thinking about throwing my hat in the ring and giving it a try this year.

The timing seems good as I appear to be developing consistency in my output, publishing a new blog each week and steadily working on a few other stories I am juggling.  There is no rush to finish any one of the latter products, just a clear commitment to putting words to paper and seeing parts of stories come to fruition.  Maybe tackling a special assignment like a writing competition is what I need to keep things interesting and seeing a short story through to the end.

What to write about is a bigger dilemma. And with it comes a bit of writers’ stage-fright!  Continue reading

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