It’s said that life is stranger than fiction. Indeed, fiction is mostly based on real events. Last week I spent a fascinating day in a creative writing workshop and it made me consider how we all write our own stories, whether we realise it or not, so can therefore take a moment to review whether we are writing the kind of story we’d like to read.
When developing a character in creative writing you are advised to spend time answering questions about them to build a well-rounded picture of the person who is the lead role in your story. I’ll share a few with you, and see if you can answer them about yourself.
– What is your characters belief system – or lack of belief system – and how did they come to believe these things?
If you take a bit of time to look at your beliefs, and where they came from, you may be able to decide for yourself whether they still serve you positively, or whether they are holding you back in some way. Perhaps looking back on where those beliefs came from with hindsight and bit of detachment you will notice that some negatives beliefs were always flawed.
– What are you characters most significant character strengths?
It’s often easier for us to admit our own flaws than strengths. Perhaps you’re witty, conscientious, honest, trust worthy or brave. Maybe you’re fun, thoughtful, strong willed, polite or kind. Whatever your strengths, take a moment to recognise and celebrate them.
– If your character were to die today, what would they be remembered for?
Look at yourself from other people’s perspectives for a moment – or go and ask a few people this question. Is the answer you get the answer you want? If not, the good news is you have some time to change. The bad news is that you don’t know how much time, so start making the changes you want to right now!
The basis of most creative writing, is to take the character you’ve developed, find out what they want, notice what is stopping them from getting it, and following the adventure as they go about over coming those obstacles. Then there is usually a review of what the character learns when they get (or don’t get) what they want.
Does that sound like your life? Nah, mine neither.
But then would you read a story where the protagonist just worked in a job they got little joy from, went home and watched TV, ate a combination of the same 4 meals every day and went to bed? Then repeated pretty much the same thing for 40 years? Nah, me neither.
Start by figuring out what you want. Then set about the adventure of overcoming those obstacles. Remember to review what happens when you do, or don’t get what you want – even if what your learn is what you wanted ISN’T what you want. Then repeat.