Working on your character development

Whatever experience our character has during the course of your story will be filtered by their memories, beliefs, values and attitudes.

You have probably written copious notes about your character, developing a back story and a set of experiences and memories that will determine how they react during your novel to the various situations you will throw at them. You will know what your character stands for, what is important to them, what they believe in and what drives them. These are all fairly standard processes of creative writing and you will be more familiar with them than I. It’s all about interrogating your character isn’t it and being able to answer confidently how they would respond to different scenarios.

But what are these Meta-Programmes and how can it help you to know about them?

They are filters on our world which will add any dimension to the understanding of your character.

1. Towards / Away from – is your character motivated by what they do want and driven forwards towards their goals or do they focus on what they want to avoid. Do they for example look to achieve something or do they seek to avoid confrontation, avoid failure, avoid risk?

2. Internal / external referencing – do they seek to gain the approval of others, or does it matter more that they are true to their own beliefs and values?

3. Past/present/future – where do they place their focus? Do they live very much in the present, do they think of what they want in the future or do they dwell on the past?

4. Choices/process – does your character thrive on choices or do they just go through life like a ‘to do’ list?

5. Big chunk/small chunk – some people are better at concept thinking, broad brush ideas but are less good at the detail. Where does your character excel? If you have two main characters it may help the pace to have one small chunk, the person who can organise and manage detail and the other with the blue sky thinking.

6. Associate/disassociate – someone who associates is one who can empathize easily and feel the pain of others as if it were there own. Someone who disassociates will notice the others’ pain but from a distance. They will not be affected by it. This distancing can be a useful tool when you want to encourage the reader to stand back and notice something.

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Homeopathy and writer’s block

What is writer’s block?

Endless staring at a blank page or word document, the twiddling of a pen between your fingers, frequent visits to Facebook or the fridge, many cups of tea.

That idea is in the back of your mind, but it’s shy. Somehow it has to be fully formed before it leaps, sparkling and singing, onto your page.

Somewhere between your reticent idea and your fat, beautifully covered novel or red-carpet movie première are a bundle of words that need to be herded together and fed through the pasture gate in perfect order.

But let’s face it, the material reality of the fat novel or the movie première is scary. Is it an impossible goal? Am I punching too far above my weight? Do my words have worth? Will they ever make it into print or on the screen?

Best let them lurk, let them slink, solitary-like, around the recesses of my mind. If I put them down on the page then I commit to action. I commit to my dream. I might succeed, but then again, I might fail, and I’m not sure which is more scary.

The enormity of the task facing writers is probably the biggest barrier to finishing, or even starting, a serious piece of writing. In the course of writing a serious piece of art, your whole self will be jolted, provoked, tested, stretched, piqued. In essence, you will come face to face with yourself. Homeopathic treatment can help you face your demons, understand your grief, unravel your traumas, and clear the way to superb, enlightened writing.

On the other hand, you may be totally sorted and none of that applies to you. It could just be that you are simply blank. You haven’t got a single witty word to say.

So write that down. “I haven’t got a single witty word to say.” Keep going. “My mind is blank. There are no thoughts in my mind.” Keep going. “Oh look – a squirrel has just climbed the tree outside my window. I wonder if it has a mate? Are they going to have a squirrel party? Squirrel parties are cool: they….”

See what has just happened? You have used the principles of homeopathy to lead to writing. Homeopathy rests on the Law of Similars – that which causes the disease can cure the disease. So what cures a blank mind? An even blanker mind!

That is why meditation (or allowing your mind to be empty) before writing is probably the biggest cure of writer’s block, and the greatest engenderer of fine creative thought and writing.

Homeopathic treatment combined with meditation will lead to untold creative fertility. I should know – I do both, and have just completed my first feature-length movie screenplay.

If you would like more information on how homeopathy can help your creative process, or fancy a bit of coaching to get your writing juices flowing, please contact me on 07885 529060

Julia Lockwood BA RSHom, homeopath and writer.

http://marlowhomeopath.wordpress.com/

Julia works as a freelance writer and homeopath for The Alternative Writing Doctor, based in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

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Stretch before you exercise your pen

Do you ever sit at your desk or table gazing outside, hoping that the words will flow and you can move on with your chapter? I know I do sometimes. However disciplined I am, however motivated to complete a project and meet a deadline there will often be times when I find my attention wandering. We were talking about it in our writing group meeting yesterday in fact. One member (you know who you are!) said “Surely that’s part of the writing process?”

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Yes of course it can be, but is it always so? Just as we stretch before we exercise in order to warn our muscles to prepare for exercise and get them warmed up and ready for action, so too should we do the same for our writing arm and our creative brain.

I studied in Creative Writing with the Open University and one of the ‘stretching exercises’ we did, and there were many so sign up as a Blog Follower and make sure you get them, was this one.

Step 1. Write the letters A – Z down the left hand side of a piece of A4 paper.

Step 2. Alongside each one write your favourite word that starts with that letter. There may be several favourites so for the purpose of this exercise just write one of them down, the first one that comes to mind perhaps. After all, you’ll have other opportunities to use other favourite words. Some letters may have you temporarily stumped so just leave them. This isn’t a test.

Step 3. Now make up a story using all those lovely words. See how many you can use in the shortest possible story. Give yourself a deadline. A good deadline could be to say to yourself “I’m going to write my story in the next hour and then have a coffee and get on with my novel.”

By allowing your creative brain to wander off and yet give it a project to do, we offer it a warm- up before the real exercise of the day which is the writing we are working on.

Let me know how it goes. Maybe it’ll be the start of a new novel!

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Top 10 tips for tackling writers’ block.

I belong to a number of Linked In and Facebook groups for writers as well as a local writers group and a national children’s writing group so I am in touch with lots of professional writers as well as many who write for pleasure with no thought of being published. A frequent complaint is that writers get writer’s block. If you sometimes suffer from this perhaps I can help? I am an NLP Master Practitioner and use NLP both in my own writing and to help others by coaching.

writers block

Here are some top tips.

1. Being a writer is your identity, it is not just ‘something I do’. You are a writer whether you write full or part time. Recognise this at a deep level that being a writer is who you are as well as what you do. You write because it matters to you and because it fulfills your sense of purpose.

2. Make your writing space work for you. Make it special and conducive to writing. Be able to close the door on distractions and own your space.

3. Make sure that you always have something to write on and with in your handbag or briefcase. You are a writer and you need to write. Sometimes you may be in the car waiting at the school, waiting for a train, on the train or plane. Use these times to write.

4. Visualise the block. What does it look like? Your thoughts control your behaviour so imagine the ‘block’ as something like jelly that you can easily overpower. Make it a colour you like and one that you are attracted to rather than one that threatens you.

5. Some writers have a problem starting a piece and sit staring at a blank screen. Start anywhere. It does not have to be the beginning, start half way through and add the beginning later.

6. Read! The more you read and enjoy words, the more you want to use them in your writing. Use a notebook to record words you have encountered in your reading. Take 6 of them at random and make up sentences from them. Then turn the sentences into a story. You’re writing now!

7. “I can’t think what to write” is a common problem expressed by writers. Challenge this inner dialogue by asking it “What if you could think what to write?” and then “What would it look like? What would it sound like? What would it feel like?”

8. Have ‘towards’ goals. Aim to write for a certain length of time or a certain number of words. Set the goal at a level you know you can easily achieve.

9. You DO have time to write. Delegate or dump things that have no value to you as a writer so you can do your writing.

10. Your thinking controls your actions. By thinking you have writer’s block you will make it a self fulfilling prophesy. Believe instead that you are a writer with something to write. Just DO IT. Trying to do it will not work as there is built in failure in the word ‘try’.

Judy Bartkowiak runs a Distance Learning course in NLP for Writers. Contact her now judy@hitchamvale.co.uk or Skype her judy.bartkowiak to find out more.