Evening Out

Most love getting out for an evening. Recall how you feel when you get dressed up to go to the theater, visit friends or go into the big city for a frolicking night of fun.

When you dressed, were you thinking of what you’d eat for dinner? The great conversations you’d have? Seeing the people that you haven’t seen for a long while?

Your characters experience the same emotions. When you plan an evening out for them, remember to include details about the range of feelings that pass through. There will be a bit of anxiety, a bit of nervousness, a bit of dread if this isn’t something that your character enjoys.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character and another are preparing for a night out. Think of all the possible preparations involved. If there are children, then perhaps a babysitter is needed. If it’s a potluck, food has to be cooked. Clothing has to be chosen, hair done and makeup applied. Perhaps a bottle of wine is opened and another brought to the party.

Write several pages, then reread, looking to see if you captured the emotions. If you did, great. If not, what’s missing? Reread again, this time looking for places to amplify and expand emotions. Consider adding dialogue so that we see and feel the interplay between characters. Make the dialogue realistic for your story.

Have fun with this one.

The Intruder

Imagine.

There is a party. Tons of people are there, clustered in groups in the backyard, around the pool, in the pool, spread out throughout the house.

An argument ensues between two. Maybe a man and woman. Maybe two boys/girls.

Things get pretty heated verbally.

A person comes over to break things up. What does this person say/do?

Your task is to write the scene before the intruder gets involved. Include tons of dialogue. Details, such as facial expressions, body movements.

Then make the intruder notice what’s happening and walk over.

What happens next?

Have fun with this one.

Using Your Family Tree

Last week your task was to create a family tree for one of your characters. If you didn’t complete the task, now might be a good time to read last week’s post.

Your task this week is to use that tree to write a multigenerational story in which your protagonist interacts with at least one member of the extended family.

A fun story might be a conversation between a grandparent and grandchild. Think of the questions the younger person might ask and the responses the older would give. This might lead to fantastic stories of what grandpa did during the war or why grandma chose to go to nursing school.

Your story does not have to be long, but it should contain hefty amounts of dialogue so we get a feel as to how each character speaks, thinks and listens. There should be enough depth that we understand the relationship between the two as well as the different experiences each has had.

Have fun with this one.

Secondary Characters

 

Before the story begins, not only does our protagonist know what she wants, has known what she wants and has struggled with getting what she wants, but her friends and family have also struggled with their desires.

The overlap is what concerns the reader. Secondary characters are not just in the story in order to allow for dialogue, but to impact what happens to the protagonist, in both positive and negative ways.

Consider the so-called best friend who feeds the protagonist gossip about the boyfriend that causes a breakup so that now the friend can date the boy. The friend has an agenda that negatively impacts the protagonist, causing pain and anguish and forcing her to do something that she didn’t want to do. Now it may turn out that the breakup was a positive step, especially if the boyfriend is hyper-controlling or abusive, but in the immediate, the pain of separation is real.

Your task is to think of secondary characters that could populate your story. Make a list of who these people could be and their relationship to the protagonist. For example, a young person might be influenced by a teacher, an adult by a boss, a sick person by a nurse and a contractor by an engineer.

Make another list of issues that each secondary character brings to the story. For example, the teacher might be emotionally drained due to the illness of her husband, the boss might be up for a promotion if a project is well-received, the nurse might be struggling with paying the rent and the engineer might have lost important designs. The more issues you come up with, the better your options become.

From both of your lists, choose one character and one overriding issue. Your next step is to list ways in which this issue will affect your protagonist.

Your background work is now done. When you write interactions between your protagonist and your secondary character, do not fill space with the issues. Instead, consider the feelings of the secondary character facing the issue, and how those feelings affect the ways in which that character talks to your protagonist.

Write a scene rich with dialogue. The protagonist wants something because all protagonists must want something or there is no story. She meets her friend. They talk. The protagonist is hoping to hear words of reassurance or advice, but the secondary character is consumed by her own desires.

Imagine how fulfilling the conversation will be and what each character gets out of talking to the other.

This will not be an easy task.

Have fun with this one.