Skip to main content

Post Topics

Show more

Focused Character Bio and Rough Outlines...

... are crucial to have before you start, but they're not what you think they are.


Notes from Lisa Cron's Wired for Story: My notes from around page 91

Focused Character Bio's to answer only TWO questions.

Having no character bio to start is just as bad as having one that's too detailed or robust. One gives you no thread to weave into the story, no "why" or "what" to hang on to. The other gives you so many details these are still obscured.

Page 91:
That's why, when writing your protagonists' bio, the goal is to pinpoint two things:
1. the event in his past that knocked his worldview out of alignment, triggering the internal issue that keeps him from achieving his goal;
2. and the inception of his desire for the goal itself. 
So that's an order for

1. One worldview altering event (broken soul, pain point, causing a fear) that keeps him from his inner lifelong goal. This event can happen before the story proper and we may only catch glimpses of it.It may not even be referenced at all, but it will weave through every action's motivation and reaction we see.

2. The inception of the goal itself, prior to the worldview changing event. The goal is deeper than the fear, but the fear has him/her stunted.

Rough Outline of the starting Why's and What's.

Once you have:

He's always wanted:
His internal issue keeps him from attaining what he's always wanted.

You then need a "situation" to put him in that will bring him to a place where what he's always wanted and his internal issue MUST be forced to battle each other within him until he's either defeated or he overcomes.

The story then forces him to reassess his internal worldview and his goal and find they were both off the mark.


Do's and Don'ts


  1. Do keep in mind that the story is about the characters internal change from his old worldview to his new one. 
  2. Don't be uncomfortable digging deep into your characters psyches.
  3. Don't try to write the bio well, you are looking for raw data, not pretty prose.
  4. Do write a SHORT bio for each and every character.


THE BEST pre-outlining work I've ever seen is in this book starting on page 95:

  • The Premise: "What would happen if...." Once you have that, you need to ask OK. HOW would that happen. We do that by...
  • Asking ourselves: "Why?"
    • What does she want, what is she afraid of it?
  • Drill from the general to the specific. If you can't see it, it's not specific enough yet.
    • What's her life like now? What's she really want? Why is she afraid of it?
    • Are there any subplot things happening in her life that could tie into the bigger plot?
    • What clocks can we set on timers about to go off?
  • Figuring out the what.
    • What would happen to put these two in the same place, each for their character's own separate reason, at the same time?

A focused pre-outline


A focused outline doesn't set the entire stage, every plot point, every turn. It simply lays the groundwork for who is doing what, where and why. Maybe a little how, but that comes as you write.

The WHY


It knows the (internal) end goal, the fear preventing that goal, and the question that needs an answer. The answer will be the conclusion, but you need not know the answer up front, just the question you want the answer to.

If the groundwork is properly laid, the answer will be a series of events in which worthy characters are transformed.


WHY does the premise make sense for this character? Why this person, at this time, doing this adventure? What is the internal desire and fear at war within him/her that sets them on this adventure?

Specific WHY, it cannot be general. If it's too general, you can't envision it. Keep drilling down into more and more specific why's until you begin to see a story unfolding before you... THEN you start writing.

Background, background, background, but only around the WHY. Favorite color, parents' names, where he went to high school are ONLY relevant if they answer the WHY behind this story. Focus only on the WHY(s) in the background and drill further and further into it until you get the clear picture.


The WHAT

The WHAT happens must have a story reason. It's very convenient for two people to end up at the same place at the same time. Each person must have their own story reason for being there, not just because the plot needs it to happen.

Use the WHYs to understand their reason for doing the WHATs.


The story is in the specifics


If we can't see it, we can't feel it. We are hard wired to ask "Is it safe, or not?" Therefore, every story is our chance to live a dangerous situation (physically, socially, emotionally dangerous, it comes in all kinds), without the actual consequences.

We want to know what it FEELS like to be a:

  • Spy or Soldier
  • Gangster or Mafia Boss
  • Defuse a bomb
  • Be in love
  • Leave a bad relationship or find a new relationship
  • Travel the world in search of treasure
  • Face the school bully
  • etc.
All of this, we want to feel. We can't feel it if we can't see it. We can't see it unless we are living inside the skin of our protagonist. We want to live vicariously through him/her, without consequences of our own.

Consider the 10,000-foot view vs the up close view.

In October 2006, nearly six thousand people worldwide died in hurricane-induced floods.

Does that make you feel anything? Maybe a little pity or shame (unless you were close to one of those people). 

A mother stands at the shoreline. She sees the wave coming, and there is nothing she can do. They cannot run in time. She holds him close, she says I'll never let you go. The wave collapses upon them, they are ripped from each other's arms. Just before she is taken down again, she sees it in his eyes "You lied, you said you wouldn't let go?!", then the water engulfs her again. She wakes on the shoreline, he is nowhere to be found. She lives with that haunting image, and comes back to this shore every year to mourn, and ask for the waves to take her instead.

Did you feel anything more that time? Probably, because it broughtt it down to the specific, down to a one on one level.

That's what story must do. It's not the struggle of class warfare, it's Kevin's struggle. 



By Darrell Wolfe

Storyteller | Creative | INFJ | Intellection | Ideation | Input | Learner | Achiever | Multipotentialite

    Comments

    Connect With Me

    Popular posts from this blog

    New Post at Wolfe for Office

    I wrote a new post: I am a Conservative-Liberal | Republicans and Democrats are actually the same party, here's why I'm a #ChristianLibertarian







    Darrell G. Wolfe

    Story Teller | INFJ | Futuristic | Intellection | Learner | Ideation | Achiever | Command | Input | Focus | Multipotentialite

    Book Review: Name of the Wind

    So a while back, I was walking through Auntie's Bookstore, in Spokane, WA. I've read pretty much everything ever written by Ted Dekker, Bill Myers, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and many others.

    I told her I like the Fantasy & Science Fiction genres, and I was looking for a new author.

    "I have just the one," she said. "Follow me." She came out from behind the counter and we meandered up and down a few aisles. "Here it is," She turned and handed me this book:



    "Hm. I've never heard of him," I replied.

    "He's Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Chronicles of Narnia all wrapped up into one amazing story," she was quite excited. "You'll love it!"

    The woman handed me a few others to consider and then went about her duties. I took pictures but didn't have any money to spend that day.

    Later, because I'd mentioned it, my boss bought it for my birthday.

    I just finished all 713 pages, and I am AMAZED!

    This migh…

    An Open Letter: John Stumpf, Wells Fargo Board, and Policy Making Departments

    On 12/28/13, I wrote the following letter to the then CEO & President of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf. It was in part, a response to the LA Times Article and the poor response from Wells Fargo leadership.

    I later worked for the executive office and saw how they handle these letters. They assign them to a paper-pusher who could care less. They draft a form response, and it gets tallied in the statistics.

    By the time it makes it to the CEO, it's only data in a pie chart. "We had 365 complaints this month. x number of complaints about checking, y number about sales practices, Etc." They tally it up, if it's not a big enough stat, it gets zero attention. Most things that do require attention get just enough to make it go away, but never deal with the root.

    I was one of many hundreds who spoke up loudly and actively for years before 2013 and years after. The news cycle of 2016 showed that it cost them $185 Million dollars to ignore the feedback their frontline Team Membe…

    White Nose | Scene 3

    The Aleve took effect with the help of two breakfast whiskey sours. It had been three days since his tussle in town and he still couldn't sleep, despite the nighttime cocktail.
    Beams of light broke through the trees outlining Ash's house, tucked back off of the main road by a mile long rock driveway. One such beam was tanning his pale country face as he rocked on an old wooden chair he'd carved himself. Whittling was one of his most relaxing and profitable talents.
    One look in the mirror each summer reminded him that he only retained two colors, pale Irish freckle and redneck red. Ash was careful to avoid too much contact with summer's star.
    Dust down the drive revealed the presence of a visitor before the sound of tires on gravel confirmed it. Ash hasn't been visited by more than three people in the eight years he'd been back in town, so he picked up the hunting rifle, just in case.
    The scope showed the local sheriff, his friend Dan. He didn't usually com…

    Order. Chaos. In Between... The Bible

    The Dark Ages were primarily due to religion.  Religious leaders had the audacity to claim that only they could interpret the Word of God for the simple-minded laymen. Even clergy of lower stature couldn't read the bible. This led to the strange fantasies, whimsies, and odd ideas of any number of so-called "Priests". 
    Enter Martin Luther, circa 1517 A.D. He had the outrageous claim that all men were saved by Faith, and not deeds required of them by Religious Leaders. How did he get this idea? Reading the bible for himself.
    The Reformation directly caused the Enlightenment.
    When men were allowed to read the Bible for themselves, instead of being told what to believe by so-called leaders, they found a God of order. Therefore, the Earth created by this God would have order.
    This thought led to Newtonian Physics, printed books, engines, light bulbs, Einstein's theory of relativity...
    All science, medical advancements, everything you drive, see, eat...
    The next time you …

    Dreaming Blue: Faith and Hope Expounded

    Hebrews 11:1

    English Standard Version (©2001)
    Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

    American King James Version
    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    Douay-Rheims Bible
    Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.

    Weymouth New Testament
    Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see.

    Young's Literal Translation
    And faith is of things hoped for a confidence, of matters not seen a conviction,

    Interlinear Bible

    1Nowfaithis the substance of things hoped for , the evidence of thingsnotseen . ~estin{V-PXI-3S}de;{CONJ}pivsti?{N-NSF}ejlpizomevnwn{V-PPP-GPM}uJpovstasi?,{N-NSF}pragmavtwn{N-GPN} e~legco?{N-NSM}ouj{PRT}blepomevnwn.{V-PPP-GPN}
    _________________________________________

    Hope: Greek Elpid'zo
    to expect or confide:-(have, thing) hope(-d) (for)

    Faith: Greek Pistis
    conviction …

    What is a Topos? A strategic position of opportunity and influence

    What does Topos mean?Topos is a Greek word meaning: "Place, or Opportunity"
    Properly:Any portion of space marked off, as it were, from surrounding, space Metaphorically: The condition or station held by one in any company or assemblyopportunity, power, occasion for actingA spot (general in space, but limited by occupancy; whereas chora is a large but participle locality). As used by me: Topos is a strategic position of opportunity and influence
    Topos: Your Calling Everyone has a God given calling on this earth. There is something you were created and designed to do. What you are doing now may be "The Calling"; or, it may be the calling for this season of your life. Either way, you are either in your Topos, or you need to find it.

    As you read the stories of biblical heros like Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Nehemiah, Peter, and Paul... etc... you find that God put them in the right place to do the right thing at the right time.

    They ended up in their Topos, …

    Focus... Unfocused

    There's a version of my writing that is organized, thoughtful, researched, helpful, even inspired at times... And then there's the other stuff. The other stuff is wild, incoherent, off the cuff, straight from my mind to your eyes, unfiltered, unedited. I've tried to separate these into different sites, combined them again, separated them again.... *sigh*I have too many thoughts, too many opinions, I know too much to ever make any of it make coherent sense on one website.So, here's my newest attempt to make it work... My blog, the one under my name, DarrellWolfe.com, it's for my randomness. This is where I'll post whatever I want, whatever thinking about, randomness.I'll link out to posts at my other sites, be they few or many, and you can find the organized stuff there. Let's see if that helps me keep some semblance of order.Darrell Wolfe Version 1,037



    Topic: No More Facebook... for 28 days or more?

    I Deactivated Facebook... for 28 days.
    I'm not sure why yet.
    I wasn't using it much, and when I did I found it distracting, in a non-productive way. I left Twitter up for now, and Google+ is so pervasive that I'd have to delete ALL my Google activity/accounts in order to walk away from it.

    Deactivating is not the same as Deleting, that would be permanent. I set Facebook to auto-reactivate in 28 days. I want to run this as an experiment. Can I make it 28 days without Facebook? I think so. I may come back. I'm not sure yet.

    What could I accomplish in the next 28 days? Write a new book? Publish some new posts? Work overtime at my job? I don't know. I'd like this to be more purposeful.
    28 days from Dec 27, 2014Want to figure out the date that is exactly twenty-eight days from Dec 27, 2014 without counting?
    Your starting date is December 27, 2014 so that means that 28 days later would be January 24, 2015.
    You can check this by using the date difference calculator to meas…

    Topos Transitions

    Transitions are rough. I've been through many seasons of my life where I had to make a transition. At each and every stage it was tough. There are always things you miss about the last season, things you are hoping for in the next season, and things you can't wait to be rid of in the season you're leaving behind.Whether you are sensing the winds of change blowing you out of your current situation, you are in the middle of the trip, or the winds are at your back and you settling in to your new spot... Remember this word: ToposTopos is a Greek word and it essentially means:Your strategic position of opportunity and influence.Make your Topos count today, wherever you are.Darrell




    About Me

    My photo

    Hi! My name is Darrell G. Wolfe. I am a wealth of random information and I make complicated things simple at DarrellWolfe.com.

    I have a knack for absorbing information, breaking it down to its root elements, and teaching it to others.

    Most importantly, I help purpose-driven people to understand their place in His-Story and provide them the tools they need to fulfill their unique position of opportunity and influence in this world (their Topos).