Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Character profiles

My natural voice is 'chatty'. It does me well for writing non-fiction for the popular market and the occasional article. But now I'm on a YA I’m finding it much harder. I need to concentrate on the characters' voices. Perhaps I should give each a Jung Myers-Briggs personality profile test. Do they have creative ideas (which are sometime impractical), or are they good at seeing all sides of an argument (but no good at making up their minds), are they the ones that always make sure there's a cake for a birthday or a they 'the delegator', the 'listener', nit-picking perfectionist, party animal that energises the group...

Families, committees, gangs, teams etc all work best when the members know and respect the strengths and weakness of each other, and that there's a mix. So, too, with knowing characters and writing about them. Their voice and actions have to be believable and consistent for their personality.

And look in a train station, bus, exam room, family function - no two people sit in a chair identically. Have you ever tried describing the unique way each of your characters sit?

Some of my characters I know well, but not all of them yet.

I've been told that as I keep writing, the characters will also take some control of the story. We’ll see!

Personality profiles were also an important ingredient for the success and efficiency of the business groups I was with on Monday. I was employed by marketing conference presenters and facilitators Performance Frontiers http://www.performancefrontiers.com , on behalf of Bond University, for whom they were conducting the event. My job was to write down the key words and phrases in calligraphy as they were generated - ending the day with 3 panels each about one and a half metres square. I had about 2 hours to do each. The initial idea was for the university to cut the panels up at the end so that each department kept a chunk as a reminder of their contributions and the outcomes from the day - but they decided to keep them intact (at least for a while).

Many thanks to organisers and presenters Judith, Suzi, Taya and Kate and all at Bond for a superb day!

Back to writing my new calligraphy book, due to be published in 2012.
Peter Taylor
PS My Writing for Children website has just been updated!