Reading Richard Skinner’s “Fiction Writing” i just wanted to share with you a small idea that I love
Today’s prompt is:
Post either a setting or character profile from your latest fiction project, a chapter summary of your non-fiction book, or a discussion of the theme or object inspiring a poem, article, or other writing project.
Hmmmmmm *thinks* Well, I’ve shared the character profiles of my first novel (Still) but I’m afraid the characters in Tangled and Sorrento Sunrise are somewhere, within the pages of my 41 notebooks (and at this stage I’m thinking I really should have some kind of indexing system!). So rather than try to trawl through all my notebooks I’ll give you a new one
Last night I wrote the beginnings of yet another story (prompted by something in Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind). Ms Goldberg suggested making a list…
A Colour Blue (the sky over London on a September morning)
A City London
A Street Charlotte Street (where I meet the Faber gang and the location of my story)
A Fruit Mango (what my character finds in his lunch box lol)
A Month September
A Job Newsagent (newspaper seller)
And then to write a piece containing all of them…. So this character profile is from the story I came up with last night.
Bill Taylor is 62 years old. Born and bred in East London he is proud of his roots and his first job at 14 was on a market stall in Petticoat Lane, selling “bits and bobs” to local housewives.
Short and stocky, he is now balding, what little hair he has left is white but he still has the cheeky blue eyes and dimpled chin that made him so popular in the 1960′s.
Married to Marjorie since the 1970′s they have 2 sons who both live overseas, and 2 grand daughters they rarely see. On his left arm he has Marjorie’s name tattooed and on his right arm, the names of his sons.
Bill runs a newsagents in London selling to the commuters as they make their way to the tube station. Business has taken a dip these past couple of years due to the digital age (everyone getting the news on their phones) so Marjorie is trying to persuade him to retire and buy a little flat by the sea. Bill couldn’t think of anything worse! Since his heart attack last year, Marjorie has been filling his lunch box with what he terms as “rabbit food” and insists that he stick to the diet recommended by the doctor.
A very proud man, he is a traditionalist with high morals and strong views of what is right and wrong. A Royalist, his proudest moment was meeting Princess Diana when she stopped at his shop to buy a bottle of water and a pack of sweets for Wills and Harry.
In his spare time (what little there is as he has to be at the shop for 4.30 every morning) he enjoys football (but sadly doesn’t go to the matches anymore…he used to take his sons) and likes to keep up to date with current affairs. He often says “what’s the point of selling newspapers if you don’t know what’s going on in the world” and can often be found reading the papers behind his counter when the shop is empty.
He drives a small old white van that’s constantly breaking down and although he owns his shop (he inherited it from an uncle back in the 1980′s) which is prime London real estate, he has no intention of selling and is adamant that they will have to “cart him out in a box” which causes tension and arguments with Marjorie.
I think that’s it I don’t know what’s going to happen to old Bill, I haven’t got that far in the story yet lol, but, you know me, Bill will probably end up getting his wish of being carted out in a box
if you try Ms Goldberg’s list idea, do let me know, I’d be interested to hear what you come up with.
Photo from Wikipedia
So here’s the final character from Still, Daniel…and no, he looks nothing like Desperate above
Daniel was born in November 1953 to middle class parents who lived in a semi-detached house they owned on the outskirts of Blackheath in South East London. Daniels father was an accountant, his mother a housewife. He had a younger sister who his father adored. The Hopwood’s happy family home looked from the outside perfection itself, but Daniels father was cold towards his son. He often became violent when he was drunk and used a belt to punish Daniel, often for no reason, on a regular basis.
Intelligent but introverted, Daniel didn’t mix well at school, and was often bullied. At secondary school he met Ronnie, who intervened when an older boy was picking on him and the two struck up a friendship. As an adult Daniel had convinced himself that the only reason Ronnie had rescued him was to make himself look good. Daniel would often do Ronnies homework and in return Daniel spent most of his time at Ronnies house, preferring that to being at home around his father.
With mousy hair and grey eyes he was rugged in his looks and awkward around girls. He lacked social skills and preferred his own company to that of others.
After leaving school he trained under his father as an accountant, his father’s choice, not his, and when he was 16 he was with Ronnie when they met Laura. Daniel thought at the time she was beautiful, but unfortunately, it was Ronnie who had the guts to ask her out. Daniel prayed that their relationship wouldn’t last and during the year that it did he found himself falling in love with Laura, trying to keep his distance and his feelings from Ronnie.
When Laura and Ronnie broke up Daniel began to start visiting Laura, as a shoulder to cry on, and it was Daniel she confided in when she discovered she was pregnant. With no hope of reconciliation between Laura and Ronnie, Daniel began to worm his way into Laura’s affections, and became her rock. He stood by her when she gave birth to her daughter and when he finally found the courage to ask Laura to marry him she accepted. He promised that he would treat Laura’s daughter Ruby as if she was his own, and at the time, he meant it.
When Laura became pregnant with Daniels child he began to resent Ruby’s presence. As far as he was concerned Ruby was ruining the happy life he wanted with Laura and taking up Laura’s time…time that she should be spending with him, and of course, she looked so like Ronnie. A huge argument resulted in Daniel lashing out and Laura losing the baby. They were later told that Laura would be unable to have more children. Daniel was ashamed and wracked with guilt but became even angrier with Laura, believing that she was still in love with Ronnie.
He became spiteful, aggressive and domineering, to the point where even though he knew the way he was behaving was wrong he couldn’t help himself.
Laura had a break down and was sent to hospital. Daniel was relieved that Ruby had gone to stay with Laura’s mother and during Laura’s absence he started drinking heavily and sleeping with other women. When Laura returned he tried to make amends but then his father died and all the hurt and pain of his childhood came crashing down on is shoulders.
Laura left him but he persuaded her to come back, truly believing that he would, could, change and that Laura was the only person who understood him. He tried to be kind, gentle and loving. The man he had been all those years ago, but the strain was too great. Believing that Laura didn’t love him, and wondering why she had come back, he found himself attracted to a woman at work and was making plans to leave. But Laura found out and by the time Daniel realized what a huge mistake he was making it was too late.
Laura packed her bags and Daniel knew it was the final straw and that Laura meant it. In his anger he told her that he didn’t need her and had never loved her as she left, but inside his heart was breaking and he knew that he didn’t deserve the woman he had destroyed.
So now you’ve seen all 4 sides of the story. These 4 characters have been part of my life for 2.5 years, and I just can’t let go of them. They don’t talk to me like I know some writers say their characters do, but I’m so attached to them lol
For some reason The Hubster isn’t gelling with our Daniel, but can’t say why. Is there something missing? Should he be more dislikable?
Tomorrows post will be a little bit late….as I’m up at Faber all day
I bet that title has confused you *snigger*
The third (and probably my favourite) character from “Still” let me introduce you to Ronnie, but I guess he could have been a Ronald Please excuse any errors, this is taken from my note book.
Ronnie was born in February 1953 to an Irish father and English mother who were never actually married. His parents lived on a Council Estate in Lee, South East London. The youngest son of 4 boys he was a tear away (so his mother Liz said) from the moment he could walk.
Curly auburn hair when he was a toddler (which, as an adult only begins to curl when he needs a haircut) and deep blue eyes like his fathers, his ruddy complexion meant that he always looked like he’d been dashing around, but then, most of the time he had. He always had an abundance of energy that continued into adulthood.
Not doing well in school he preferred to play truant and found himself in detention frequently. His mother despaired, but he was her favourite. When he was 12 his father Patrick left the family and went back to Ireland because he couldn’t find work, leaving his mother to bring up the four boys on her own. At secondary school he met Daniel and they became best friends. Although from very different backgrounds the boys shared a love of fishing. It was the only thing he could really remember doing with his father.
At 15 he left school and got himself an apprenticeship with a local builder. He enjoyed being outside, the manual work and the banter with the other workers. But with two of his older brothers involved in petty crime it wasn’t long before he found himself with a police caution.
At 17 he met Laura, a girl who served him in a local café where he and Daniel often met. He asked her out and within weeks they become “a couple” spending a lot of time at the local pub and having a weekend away at his aunts caravan. They were inseparable for a year.
Ronnie started to get friendly with a group who knew his brothers and they introduced him to drugs. His relationship with Laura suffered, and Ronnie moved out of home and into a squat. He and Laura split up and his is mother Liz contacted his father because she was worried.
His father Patrick returned to London in 1972 and with their parents back together the whole family moved back to Ireland, his mother agreeing as she wanted to get Ronnie away from the drug culture he had become embroiled in.
Ronnies father was a struggling builder, but with the help of his sons they made a success of the business and it thrived. He often thought about Laura and Daniel, wondered what happened to them, but as the years went by he put them to the back of his mind.
With a huge zest for life he likes to play practical jokes and to be the center of attention. In his early 20’s he married an Irish girl, but they divorced after only 3 years with no children. Ronnie threw himself into work and with 7 nieces and nephews he was content to stay single and still play the field.
He still walks with the arrogant swagger he had as a teenager, but at 45 he is lonely, realising that he can no longer chat up women like he used to. One of his brothers has suggested he use a dating agency, but he is too embarrassed. Loyal, attractive for his age (although grey and balding) and with a successful business, he is still hot headed. He plays golf with his brothers.
He receives a letter from a young woman in Kent called Ruby, who thinks she may be his daughter and they speak on the telephone. The old memories of Laura and Daniel come flooding back and he immediately makes plans to travel to Kent. He is excited at the prospect of being a father, but even more so about seeing Laura. He regrets the way he treated her and wants to make amends.
So what has my character Ronnie got to do with Bedtime for Bonzo? I’m kinda thinking that Ronnie’s mum had a bit of a thing for Ronald Reagan
Or rather hello Ruby Morgan
I’ve always loved the name Ruby, so it was a no brainer that one of the main characters in my novel would end up with that name And as The Stones released Ruby Tuesday in 1967 it fits perfectly
Ruby was born in 1972 to single mum Laura who still lived at home with her parents above a café in Blackheath, South East London. A happy pretty child with chestnut curls and deep brown eyes she was adored by her grandfather until his death when she was two years old.
When she is a little over one her mother marries her stepfather and all 3 move into a flat a stones throw from her grandparents. She is registered with her mother’s maiden name as her own surname.
Ruby doesn’t remember much of her early childhood, apart from the arguments between her mother and stepfather Daniel. Her stepfather virtually ignored her unless she was naughty, then he would take off his belt. Her mother came between them and always saved Ruby from receiving a beating.
A bubbly talkative child she was made to spend her time in her bedroom when Daniel was about. She had an imaginary friend at home and although popular at school, she was never allowed friends round for dinner. She becomes a rebellious teenager, staying out all hours and getting drunk.
She spends lots of time with her grandmother, preferring to go there after school than to her own home. As a small child she didn’t really notice that she hadn’t got a father like the other children at school and when she asked her grandmother she was told, “Ask your mother”. When she was 14 her mother had a nervous break down and ended up in hospital. Ruby goes to live with her grandmother and refuses to go back home when her mother is well again. She realised that her mother was in no fit state to be asked about her father.
When she is 18 her grandmother dies and she managed to persuade her mother to leave her stepfather. The two move in together but her stepfather convinces her mother to go back to him. Ruby refuses to go back to her stepfather’s house and her relationship with her mother deteriorates. They have a huge argument and Ruby walks away from her mother, travelling to Kent where she makes a new life for herself. With the money her grandmother left her she is able to rent a flat and gets a job at a local restaurant as a waitress. Whilst working one evening she meets Sam Townsend and they start dating.
As an adult Ruby has turned into a beautiful young woman with a clear English Rose complexion. Full of energy and always smiling, deep down she is insecure and finds it hard to accept love. She gave Sam a hard time for the first year of their relationship. But now, once shes accepted Sam does actually love her, what she wants more than anything, is to get a nice little house and have a family. Determined that her child will have a loving upbringing.
When they are engaged and organising the wedding Sam can’t understand why Ruby wants to go away and get married abroad on their own. She tells him about her mother and stepfather but Sam thinks she should get in touch with her mother. Ruby can’t stand the thought of going through the hurt and disappointment again. She realises that she has no one to give her away at the altar, but knows, to contact her father, whoever he may be, will mean having to speak to her mother. Who, she is convinced, doesn’t care about her.
Out of the blue she receives a large Jiffy bag. Inside is a letter from her mother and a notebook. She reads through the notebook, which tells her all about her father. After much soul searching and with Sam’s support she contacts her mother and visits her in hospital.
She decides to find her father and after much searching finally tracks him down. He denies knowing of her existence but is thrilled. They arrange to meet and get on well. Her father would like to arrange a meeting with her mother, but her mother refuses.
Ruby plots to bring her parents together.
Next time I’ll tell you about Ronnie
Tomorrows post will be a bit later than usual, as I’m off to Faber. Tell you all about it tomorrow evening
Well, I didn’t make it up to my Faber class last night A combination between snow, freezing temperatures and my tutor being called away to Wales on a family emergency. We were offered the opp to sit in with the other class, but I decided not to go.
But hey, it wasn’t all bad…there was cake!
So instead, today’s post is some character work. I’ve been working on the new version of the WIP, Still and because I’m trying to edit the first 5000 words for submission for my critique I’ve decided not to write any more until the editing is done. So I’ve been working on the characters instead, which is one of my favourite parts of writing to be honest.
Here is Laura’s (Still has 2 main characters, mother and daughter) story with dates so I can keep track
Laura was born in May 1954 in Blackheath, South East London to parents William & Rose Morgan. William was a Black Cab driver and Rose ran a small café/tea shop in the village. The family lived above the café in a flat.
Laura was a loner as a teenager with no real friends and worked in the café when she left school at 15. She liked listening to music but wasn’t fashion conscious. A plump girl (she had a healthy appetite) with perfect pale skin, her eyes are the colour of a copper coin, her hair, muddy brown. She was shy, quiet, and spent her evenings reading. Bullied at school she bites her nails and has a tendency to allow people to walk all over her.
At 16 (1970) she met Ronnie Quinn, her first boyfriend and became pregnant. But Ronnie became involved in drugs and they split up. Laura’s parents were supportive and she decided to keep her baby. After her daughter Ruby was born (1972) she married Daniel Hopwood, a friend of Ronnie’s and they moved into a rented flat.
Initially, things were great, and Laura discovered herself pregnant again. Unfortunately, Daniel had become increasingly verbally abusive and during a fight he pushed Laura down the stairs, which resulted in a miscarriage and Laura unable to have more children.
Life with Daniel was emotionally exhausting and after her father’s death (1974) Laura sank further and further into herself, neglecting her daughter Ruby who spent a lot of time with her grandmother. Daniel manipulated her quiet gentle nature and lack of self-esteem to the point where she felt that there was nothing in life that she was good or successful at. She lost all will to even get out of bed.
As an adult, Laura still bites her fingernails, chain smokes and has developed deep wrinkles around her eyes. Her hair remains shoulder length with a fringe (she cuts it herself) and she rarely eats. Preferring to live on tea. She loves animals but Daniel won’t hear of having a pet. She feeds the stray cat who hangs around the garages without her husband knowing.
At the age of 32 (1986), with a teenage daughter to cope with, no money of her own, no job, not even her own bank account and constant threats of violence from her husband she had a break down and became hospitalised. She recovered but her daughter Ruby had gone to live with her mother.
When her mother died (1990) Laura summoned the courage (with Ruby’s help) to leave Daniel and move into a small flat with Ruby. Unfortunately Daniel persuaded her that he loved her, needed her, and that he would change. She goes back to him but Ruby refuses to live under the same roof as her stepfather and after a huge argument the mother and daughter fall out (1994).
Laura left Daniel again after she discovered he was having an affair and tried to rebuild her life with the encouragement and support of a friend (neighbour) she’d made. She tried searching for Ruby several times.
Diagnosed with breast cancer (1997) and the prognosis looking grim she asks her friend to help her find Ruby so that she can try to sort things out. The friend manages to track Ruby down and Laura sends her a letter, along with a notebook she has been writing in, recording events of her life since before Ruby was born.
Ruby receives the package while Laura is having chemotherapy, the double mastectomy having been a success and the two women are reconciled.
Awwwww, that all seems really sad doesn’t it lol, ive really put her through it But….that’s not the end of Laura’s story….if you want to find out exactly what happens you’ll have to buy the book lol
Next week…Ruby’s story
Well, I discovered that trying to write when you have a hangover is a big no no for me. Never mind, I did however manage to catch up with 300 e mails…only another 100 to go now lol….but anyway…..
I few weeks ago I went to The Victoria & Albert Musuems Hollywood Costume Exhibition
I’d never thought of the idea of costume designers being storytellers. Isn’t that the job of the scriptwriter? But movies are about characters and their costumes play a crucial role in bringing those characters to life.
The costume designer must know who a character is before they can design a costume. One that makes the audience believe that the character had a life before the start of the movie. The clothes then transform a character from being written and two dimensional to a point where an audience will actually believe they are real people.
The exhibition has over 100 iconic costumes from Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garlands Dorothy dress (plus ruby slippers) to what Keanu Reeves wore in the Matrix and Robert Downey Jnrs Sherlock Holmes attire.
It’s a fascinating exhibition in its own right, but, as a writer I found it very interesting *eyes light up*
If that’s all true (I’m not actually doubting it) then surely, it works the same for a writer? We want our characters to be real to our readers. We want them to be believable don’t we? So how important are your characters clothes in a work of fiction? It’s perhaps not important in a 1000 word short story, but in a novel?
Didn’t someone once say “clothes maketh the man.”? You can tell a lot about a person by the clothes they wear
Do you describe in depth what clothes your characters are wearing?
A recent session at Faber, Kidnapping A Character, brought up a very interesting question.
Most writers have their own way of working. They either start with a story idea, then make up characters to fit it. Or they start with a character and then make up a story that fits.
Personally, I’ve done it both ways, and I can’t really say which one I prefer.
But I’ve never tried the method where you come up with 2 totally unrelated characters and write a scene where they meet. It was amazing to hear the interesting stories that had started to develop from 2 complete strangers having a chance meeting (during a 20 minute writing session). It’s definitely a technique I will be trying out again in the future.
courtesy of jscreations/freedigitalphotos
Like most things in writing there is no right or wrong way to do things, but out of curiosity which do you start with?
- I’m a pantser. (smpauthors.wordpress.com)
- Where to Get Story Ideas (shelleywidhalm.wordpress.com)
- Facing your character(s)… (diedreblake.wordpress.com)
- Know Your Character (thewearywriter.com)
- Writing Character: Challenge of the Character Most Like Yourself – Part 1 (elissafield.wordpress.com)
I never thought when I arrived at class this morning that I’d be asked to do some stalking lol
But that’s exactly what Tim asked us to do today. We had an hour and a half this morning to go out, find a character (somebody we found interesting), and follow them. We had to make notes on their clothing, the way they walked, talked (which meant if we had to resort to asking them directions so be it!), what they looked like…. Everything we could possibly observe about them, to build up a picture.
I found a guy in the British Museum who walked in a very distinctive way. I followed him and his family around the museum, out to a book shop, and then through the streets until he got into a taxi. I learnt his name, who the other members of the family were, plus got most of the physical details Tim was looking for.
When we got back to Faber everyone admitted they had initially been apprehensive about the task, but most of us had loved it. It was really good fun! One girl even got on a tube to follow her character! There’s dedication!
Tims advice had been “try not to get busted” ha ha ha! And there was me wearing a bight red coat! Lol. I’m sure my guy was thinking “why is that woman in the red coat everywhere I go?”
The afternoon was spent doing work on our characters, including pairing up and creating scenes where our characters met for the first time.
So I had a good day, which included Sushi from Wasabi mmmmmmmm
Back home relaxing now….I’m shattered
I just can’t wait to go stalking again
Would you do it?