Friday, January 22, 2010

Fiction-focus Friday: Character building

So last night I worked on my workshop and realized: Crap, this is a lot of stuff to think about. 

One bit o'stuff I touched on is your character tag.

 I'm not sure where I learned about the character tag formula I'm about to show you so I can't give credit where it's due. Somewhere out there, is a writer who came up with this:

adjective+noun+name=character description


devoted mother Clarice O'Banshee

Using this device, it's easy to wrap your character into a neat little package. Even more so, if you somehow manage to incorporate your character's goals and motivations into their adjective/noun combination. "Devoted mother", for example, tells you a lot about Clarice. You know that she's got a child, that she'll do anything for that child and--maybe--there's going to be some story-problem involving her child which will propel her into some serious external or even internal conflict.

Maybe the child is kidnapped. Maybe the child is injured. Or maybe she's created an evil monster whose faults she can't see:

Spoiled brat Austin O'Banshee

But wait! Does she see her child as a spoiled brat? No! However...the hero of your story might:

Confirmed bachelor Dr. Stu D. Leeman 

Incidentally, this is one place where cliches and stereotypes aren't a bad thing. Now if you write something like this:

Confirmed bachelor, Dr. Stu D. Leeman isn't wild about his new neighbor. Or her kid.

you put your reader in Dr. Stu's  point-of-view, which helps to put a little life--and your voice--into your query or synopsis.

But that's something we can discuss next week. Think about your character tags. Do you use them?


  1. I've never used a character tag in my life. Up until I read this, I'd never 'eard of 'em. ;-)

    I shall have to think about my characters and how to "tag" them now. ;-)


  2. I do use charactor tags, I love them in a weird way. I think because we tend to tag people in the same way.

    My recent charactor tag was: Shy and awkward Addison Rose...

    Yep, love them.

  3. Actually, I'm going to try this, because mine... suck. (And not in a good way lol)
    Thanks Cyn!