a Character: Birth
by Sandy Tritt
Birth is when we pick up that limp character that we
assigned physical attributes to, hold him in our arms, and breathe the
breath of life into him from our very own souls. It is also the turning
point—his actual birth—and we cease having absolute control over him.
The first breath of life
is when our character has a goal or “character statement.” This is
what our character “wants,” and before our character has a want, he is
nothing more than a description. The process of “wanting” is what gives
life. So, what, more than anything else in the world, does this character
Some examples from my
To become wealthy so the love of my life will
return my love.
To have fun.
To be the best teacher I can possibly be and
to give my students the desire to continue their education.
To keep my family together.
To break into the Rock ‘n Roll charts and
become a rock star.
To know and do God’s will.
As you can see, a character’s goal can be as deep or as
vapid as the individual. Note that for some characters, this statement may
be a life goal, but for others it may change as the character matures.
Regardless, this is what motivates our character and we must understand
this motivation if we are to continue to add depth to his personality.
Every major character should have a character statement.
Now, if our characters achieved their goals immediately and
without effort, we wouldn’t have much of a story. So, we must throw
obstacles at them. Someone or something must be at work trying to prevent
our character from his dream. This is called the character conflict,
and it can be external (another character, an act or condition of nature,
an act or condition of circumstance, or a physical problem or condition)
or it can be internal (an emotional or psychological problem or
condition). Many times, our character must resolve an internal conflict in
order to defeat his external conflict.
For example, Joe wants to marry Janet, his life-long love.
His external conflict is that Janet doesn’t respect him. His internal
conflict is that he has an explosive temper. In order to earn Janet’s
respect, he must learn to control his temper.
Not every character must have a conflict. However, our
protagonist (our main character) must have a conflict in order to have a
Which brings us to the resolution. Will our
protagonist achieve his goal? If not, why not? While it is generally
assumed that the achievement of the goal translates into a successful
resolution, it is not the only successful resolution. Perhaps in the
process of achieving his goal, our character grows beyond it. Perhaps as
he learns more about what he must give up, he realizes it isn’t worth it.
Or he realizes that he doesn’t want what he thought he did. So, the
resolution can be many things, as long as the reader understands why.
The resolution should also make obvious how the protagonist
has changed during the process of the story. In a character-driven novel,
it is imperative that our protagonist change in some way. In a plot-driven
novel, it is still preferable that our protagonist learns something or
grows in some way.
A reproducible Character Growth Chart is provided in
Section 8 (in Sandy's book, below). It covers the character
statement, the character conflict, the resolution, and the character
growth. Space is also provided for comments.
So, let your characters have dreams. Let them want, let
them strive, let them achieve. But most of all, let them grow.
(from Section 3, Workbook)
Want more great tips and techniques? Our
Inspiration for Writers
Tips and Techniques Workbook is now available. Expanded tips, more
topics, reproducible worksheets, exercises to practice what you learn and
much more--check it out! Free shipping anywhere in the United States.
(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved,
except for those listed here. April be reproduced for educational purposes
(such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in
conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
Go Back in Time!...
our new all - immersion Life of Jesus (Part 1) from David C. Cook
III. You'll become a true believer. Visit...
is dedicated to the memory of David C. Cook III.
This Just In – From Paul the Apostle
By Kurt Schuller
inspired work recreating
This is Dianne Ochiltree's
site for children, parents,
teachers and writers for
young readers. Dianne is an
author of books for young
readers (birth to teenage)
and she is also a children's
book reviewer. She's been
writing professionally for
over 25 years---about 18
years in public
and the last 7 years as a
children's writer. Dianne
has two books published to
date, with Scholastic and
with Simon & Schuster.
http://tritt.wirefire.com The Inspiration for Writers website offers help and encouragement to writers of all levels. Tips and Techniques give practical advice about frequent writing blunders. The Writer's Prayer, inspirational quotes, and essays about the writing life add insight and inspiration. The Fiction Showcase offers short stories for the reader's enjoyment. And, for those serious about improving their writing skills, manuscript critiques and coaching services are available. Visit http://tritt.wirefire.com today!
Critiques by Sandy
Unlike most editors, I consider my role
to be a mentor or a coach. Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I
explain how to correct the problem, and I work with you to teach you how
to write effective prose. More than 50% of my business is repeat
business, and I relish establishing long-term relationships with other
Treat you with respect and compassion.
All criticism will be of the "constructive" sort. My purpose is to
improve your writing, not to destroy your confidence.
Mark your manuscript, correcting
grammatical and spelling errors and suggesting alternative wording where
Highlight areas that are especially
well-written, so you will know where your strengths are.
Where appropriate, offer suggestions for
plot development, character development or other areas that could be
Return a two-to-four page written
analysis of your work. This will include evaluation of: plot, setting,
characterization, dialogue, special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks,
etc.), voice, point of view and any other areas particular to your work.
If appropriate, recommend reading or
resources to strengthen your areas of weakness.
Answer any questions you have via
Provide my telephone number for a
personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at
(See Sandy's article above.)
Give an Author
by Bruce Cook
New authors crave
feedback on their work. Sometimes they
are thin-skinned, and react
defensively. Usually, however, they
know there’s a need for criticism. But
what can the reader do to help?
When you give an
author your comments, do you simply
say, “Best in the world. Great job!”
If you do, stop to think.. Are you
doing anybody any favors that way? On
the other hand, you shouldn’t be
hypercritical, especially with a
The rule is – if
there is a rule – heap on the praise
first. Then point out the exceptions.
usually include systems for feedback,
and AuthorMe is no exception. We have
experimented with the proverbial
“click to contact author” line, but
have seen disappointing levels of
response. We put our readers on a
guilt trip, saying “ if you read,
please make comments.” Then we tried
various forms of critique exchange –
one author’s comment in exchange for
another’s – a discussion board. We
even developed a sophisticated
readership survey instrument. Now we
are developing the kind of system
Amazon.com provides for books.
question remains: “If I comment, what
should I say? If I enjoyed the story,
and want to tell the author, that’s
fine. But what could I do to help him
or her improve their work?”
First, start with
the good things. Tell the author what
he or she is doing right.
Next, choose from
several options.(A few of these terms
are from the philosophy of aesthetics,
so they may seem to mean something
Take a subjective approach.
Comment on how well the piece does (or
does not) accurately reflect what it
purports to reflect. For example, a
historical novel should accurately
reflect its time period and
characters; a story set in New York
should truly reflect New York. (You
might think the creators of legends
and fairy tales would get off scot
free – but no, once they create
setting and time and characters, they
must remain true to those things just
like anyone else. Consistency – the
hobgoblin of perplexity.)
Take an objective approach.
Examine the work as a work in itself.
In isolation from the world. Does it
have unity, balance, and contrast?
What about pace, language, tone? Does
it resonate with you? (And don’t think
this doesn’t matter!)
Comment on the story’s message.
Is its message plausible or flawed?
Was it written to prove a point? Was
it intended for the author’s peer
group, or for the readers? (Ahem – if
you have to write a book just to
impress your peers, isn’t there
something else you rather be doing?
Trust me on this. A successful book is
written for its readers. Not for the
author’s peer group.)
Ask whether you care about the
characters. Are they real? For
example, does a sweet, innocent
character do something terrible? Does
a really terrible character behave
admirably? Do the characters stay in
character throughout the story? Do
they all sound the same?
Does the writer show respect
for the language (and grammar) of the
How is the opening, the
conclusion, and the plot?
What can the author do to
improve the work?
are but a few options. Please print
them out and store them in your shirt
pocket. Next time an author asks for
some feedback, you’ll be ready to make
a useful answer.
Read... Move Over Maharishi
By Dee Landerman
An ordinary housewife is catapulted into the unknown. For over twenty-five years with one foot in the other dimension, experiences visions, apparitions, and visits from the divine. As a Christian Intuitive with the ability to see into a person’s spirit, she experienced first hand where the departed go.
She shares her life
openly with you, with the intent to
give answers and direction for you to
find power, peace and acceptance in
your own life. Dee reveals the ‘Heart
Of God’ about organized religion and
today’s churches, sharing God’s
concerns and desires for America and
Click here for more info...
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Publishing New Writers,
April, 2003 (no. 404)
Publisher Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.
Fax (847) 428-8974.
Submissions and comments to email@example.com. Links are
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Mulholland (Australian Editor, AuthorMe)
'WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
'What is it Robby? Report robot!'
'IT APPEARS TO BE...CREATURES FROM THE ID! NO... WAIT ONE
IT IS ROBERT BLOCH!'
'Oh no! We're all doomed!'
Ah yes, Robert Bloch, Colier Young, author of the now famed 'Psyhco.'
He was...just a second.
That should be 'WRITERS BLOCK!'
Well, sometimes, working into the wee small hours, a cigarette dangling
from my lips, an empty bottle beside a half empty whiskey glass, an
ashtray full of butts, I...well, you know, smoke gets in your eyes.
But since it's only five thirty in the afternoon and I've just
finished putting in the new fish pond on a very warm and sunny day, I
guess those tired old lines wont cut the mustard.
So, instead, let's talk about The Creatures From The Id.
Now the word Id has a few meanings, but the one to which I refer is
mentioned in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary as: 'The inherited
instinctive impulses of the individual, forming an unconscious part of the
And, if you were Walter Pidgeon in the 1956 sci-fi epic 'FORBIDDEN
PLANET' (Crediting Allen Adler and Irving BLOCK for the basis of
Cyril Hume's script) you would indeed have pause for extreme caution when
a deranged, loose-cannon robot informs you that 'The Creatures Of The Id'
What has this got to do with WRITER'S BLOCK?
Robby the Robot was right.
The Creature's From The Id are there, and they always will be.
And They reside in the mind of every human being that has ever walked,
or will ever walk, planet earth.
They belong to all of us.
They are always different, and always the same.
They cannot be entirely defeated.
They will never go away.
And yet...and yet, They can be overcome.
Subdued, if you like.
Because They are a part of us.
And They are a part of Writer's Block.
So much a part that we fail to see these creatures for what they are.
They are our own minds in limbo, drifting, disconnected. Behaving in
such a way as to convince us that we are not in control, that we have not
the ability to gain that control over the conscious part of us.
That the subconscious wins, and in winning, leaves human beings bereft
and adrift, with no way of reviving the conscious will of exploration,
discovery and triumph.
So much mumbo-jumbo? Maybe.
But if you are a writer, (Remember, a writer is one who writes. Don't
have to be published and successful, just writes.) then you will have to
learn this lesson.
Never allow the dreaded 'Creatures From The Id' to invade your mind to
the point of 'Writer's Block'.
Write, if you will, 'What I did on my holidays', or better still, 'What
you did on your holidays'.
Write about your dog, about the postman whose leg your dog is hanging
off, about the letter he (not the dog-the damned postman) is striving to
deliver. What could that letter contain?
What could the dog contain? Well, a bit of uniform and a skin sample at
And what about the mailbox?
Just a box for receiving mail?
Hell! Who knows where the timber for that thing came from?
And who knows where the postman, the dog, the letter and the mailbox
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
ASTONISHING NEW WRITING COMING IN!
PREPARE TO RECEIVE!
Oh, that reminds me. I also wanted to make a comment about 'when aren't
You know, I figure that...consarn it!
Outta time agin!
Editor - Australia