Writing about people has been a challenge. I think in part due to the summer holidays and not having time to spend on study as I would have liked. That said I did struggle with characterization in general, mainly because I’m not skilled in profiling a main character. I tend to have an idea, write the story and see where I end up. I’m first to admit this is not the way forward! From reading the section on characterization in The Creative Writing Coursebook I began to realize that without a strong character there is no story and to get to that point one must invest time to create a character that the reader can empathize and identify with for the duration of the story.
On starting the coursework of assignment two I enjoyed Project 1 – Observing people. Exercise 1 provided me with my character Beattie M. Cartwright from a picture of a girl in a magazine. It was the pose of the girl in the magazine that became the introduction to my short story. As I progressed to Project 5 – Motivating your characters, I became frustrated. I just couldn’t move beyond observing and possessions in characters. I didn’t know who my character was and where she was going.
From Project 6 – Creating a history I decided to make my own main character worksheet. I listed anything I could possibly think of that would make my main character become a ‘real’ person. These included: physical and emotional traits, attributes, painful experiences, goals, motivation, conflicts and flaws. The last question on my list was a sentence on story premise. In all, I listed 49 questions to bring Beattie M. Cartwright to fruition.
Still at that point I didn’t have an idea for a story. It wasn’t until I was note-booking on a bus that I overheard a conversation by a couple of women sitting in front of me that really struck a chord. They were talking about a ‘friend’ who had started ‘sleepwalking again.’ She’d been ‘found making a meal in the kitchen asleep.’
I researched sleepwalking in adults on the Internet and found that about 4% of adults sleepwalk. In some cases it has proven to be a serious condition and the symptoms of somnambulism include: stress, medication and hereditary factors. During my research I read an article in the press about a woman from New Zealand who drove her car whilst asleep. My idea for a story had started. I wanted to create a character that had guts and determination but became debilitated by an affliction, causing a complete reversal of fortune.
I enjoyed writing about Beattie M. Cartwright, however I think I need more experience on characterization as at times I wondered if she sounded too clichéd or worse: bland. I feel there are more complexities to Beattie and will continue working on her within my character worksheet to create a character readers will hopefully empathize with.
Fiction books read:
Lauren Beukes ‘The Shining Girls’ Kindle edition
Khaled Hosseini ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ Kindle edition
Alison Moore ‘The Lighthouse’ Kindle edition
Joyce Carol Oates ‘Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery & Suspense’ Kindle edition
Jesse Walter ‘Beautiful Ruins’ Kindle edition