Thursday, August 17, 2006

Create a Character Clinic by Holly Lisle

Way back in February I posted that I had won a free copy of Create a Character Clinic by author Holly Lisle. It's in e-book format and I printed it out and popped it in its very own binder.

I haven't done any first draft work since Nano, so I haven't had a solid opportunity to work through the clinic until recently, when Krin popped into my head.
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Here is a photo of our campsite last week. Note that I am all set up to work hard on the prep work for the novel! Hubby's reading here, but he alternated that with fishing, eating, and napping. We both got to relax.

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Here's a close-up of the picnic table. I've also got the 2ynovel workbook out. And a mocha. It's a necessary part of the morning routine, in case you didn't know.

Holly Lisle is an established author with over 25 novels out at the moment. I do believe she is a master of creating characters and this clinic provides a different approach than other writing books I've read.

Holly breaks up the character building into three sections.

The first is called: Ask Them Anything.
In it she talks about the type of needs this particular character might have, and how it affects what he does. She talks about his past, present and future. I've looked at the past a lot with my characters before this, because (amongst other things) I believe this is where their fears and phobias come from. Holly takes this to a deeper level. Other chapters in this section have to do with the character's relationships, stakes, moral stance, and culture.

The second section is: Bring Them to Life
Good idea. Sometimes those characters we've drawn up lay flat on the page. This section gives oodles of tips for giving them that third dimension, from first person interviews to exposition, dialogue, and action.

The third section is: The Sins of Characterization, and How to Commit Them Right. There are plenty of ways to incorrectly use dialogue, action, and exposition in a novel. Holly guides her student through the various options and shows how to make effective use of the tools.

That picnic table and I worked through a lot of Krin's personality during the two days we were camped there...and the camper table got some as well when it rained and the wind blew. I felt like I was far away, though. I was directing a movie where a teenage girl learned her parts--learned how to perform her story--while an experienced director guided ME while I guided HER.

I'll certainly be using Holly's book again for other creations of my mind in the future. If you believe your characters could stand some deepening, I highly recommend Holly's book. She also provides a great affiliate program for folks who provide links to her e-store on their websites or blogs. I haven't gone that route, but that doesn't mean I don't recommend her book highly. While you're in there, have a look around at some of the other fine e-books for writers that Holly carries, some by other authors.

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