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 May, 2003

Lifecycle of a Character: Adolescence

by Sandy Tritt



Adolescence is when our character begins to show his psychological profile. And we want him to be multi-dimensional. He will have certain personality components that he will show most of the time, and others that he will show only in the presence of certain people or in specific situations. In other words, the personality his brother sees may not be the same personality his boss sees — or the one his girlfriend sees. For characters to feel real, they must be inconsistent — in a consistent way.

First, make sure you understand fully your character’s main personality — the personality he has when he is alone or when he is with the people he is most comfortable with. Use the Personality Component Worksheet in Section 8 [see Workbook] to highlight in yellow the three to six adjectives that most strongly describe your character on a normal basis. Then highlight in blue those adjectives that also describe him on a normal basis, but that are not as predominant. Then try your character out in different situations and in the presence of different people. When does he behave differently? When he is tired? When his mother is present? When he wants to impress a girl? After a few belts of whiskey? When he is angry? Assign a highlighter color to these situations and highlight the adjectives that best describe your character in these special situations.

Sometimes it is hard to "flesh" out a character in this manner. If you are having difficulty, it is time to cheat. I use a good book of the Zodiac that includes both sun and moon signs as a "cheap" way to add dimension to a character. Following are the supposed characteristics of people born between certain dates. Notice that I only chose the three or four adjectives that were the strongest for the sign. Within a book of the Zodiac, you will find many more characteristics, including a breakdown of how he behaves in romance, in the office, and at play.

We can use these tools—and our overly active imagination—to conjure up a character who is multi-dimensional and who will walk off the pages of our novel and into the hearts of our reader.

(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. May 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 at tritt@wvadventures.net for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.

   Keep writing!

Sandy Tritt

Inspiration for Writers tritt@wvadventures.net

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Critiquing Special

  • Limited time special, one cent per word.  Just mention Publishing New Writers  Newsletter (May, 2003).

    Critiques by Sandy Tritt

  • 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 writers.

  • 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 appropriate, line-by-line.

  • 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 strengthened.

  • 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 email.

  • Provide my telephone number for a personal follow-up, if you desire.

For Sandy's success stories, see http://tritt.wirefire.com/Manuscript_Critique.html

Write Sandy at tritt@wvadventures.net

(See Sandy's article above.)























In Search of Feedback

by Jim Colombo

My definition of feedback is constructive criticism and/or praise. When we play team or individual sports we win or lose and have feedback. Someone once said that the heart is a lonely hunter. Writing is a lonely task with self-doubts, a desire to learn the craft of writing, and determining our level of skill. How good am I and how can I become better?

Feedback should consist of constructive criticism noting weak points and suggesting improvement. It should not be negative, but offered as help. Critics have the obligation to be honest and justify their opinions. I would not say what was bad, rather what was weak and how to improve it by telling what was lacking and offering direction. It is not a "how to" exercise. As authors we want to know at what stage we are in our pursuit of our craft and what is needed to become good writers. Feedback has to have value, by that I mean, it has to be constructive, like a doctor telling what is wrong and how to get healed

I have submitted to this web site and others hoping to obtain feedback. Some web sites require a writer to critique five stories prior to submission. The critiques are quickly offered with little thought. Sometimes a critic will use the occasion to rewrite the story.

I have discovered that most feedback lacks direction with regard to the format. An author will evaluate the criticism and quickly determine its merit. There is little value offered by someone who is not qualified. The only constructive criticism accepted is by a professional source.

I think most writers will pay for valued criticism to further learn their craft. The writer should know that the format would consist of an evaluation of the writing with respect to a scale of one to ten, good and weak points, the beginning, the body, and the end of the story, the narrator's voice-- is it creditable and compassionate, and the style used by the writer. Then feedback will have value and contribute towards writing as a learning process. Also it is important for learning writers like myself to read and learn from good writing.


I think two areas are critical: description and the narrator's voice. How aware are you of the world you live in, the people you meet, and the events that happen? What detail of description is used? The narrator's voice must be knowledgeable, honest, and compassionate. A reader will be turned off by a narrator's voice if it is not true and entertaining.

Much can be learned from rewriting. The first draft captures ideas. Rewriting cultivates ideas to stories. Reading good storytellers, learning from rewriting, and constructive criticism are the means to attaining satisfaction from writing.

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 the world.

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Publishing New Writers,

May, 2003 (no. 405)

Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

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When Aren't you Writing?


by Kenneth Mulholland (Australian Editor, AuthorMe)


When aren't you writing?

Yes, it is a serious question.

And before you attempt to answer it, let me ask you another question, the answer to which will give you the solution.

What is the writer's single most important tool?

Computer? Dictionary? The Internet? A Thesaurus? A good education?

Peace and quiet? Time? Dedication? Patience? Application? Persistence?

Determination? A hammer? (Just wanted to see if you were still reading.)

Answer. The one thing that is unique and inimitable to each and every one of us: the human mind. Your very own personal conscious and unconscious mind.

It belongs to only you, and what it contains and continues to gather with every passing moment is the source of all your perception: memories, responses, experience and emotion.

Within your mind are the vast library vaults of intelligence that contribute to making you who you are.

And one very important section is labelled 'Imagination'.

And in 'Imagination' are other subsections: the abilities of the imagination to manifest pathos, humour, violence, subtlety, inspiration, drama.

So the list continues.

From The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.


The action of imagining, or forming a mental concept of what is not actually present to the senses. The result of this, a mental image or idea.

Scheming or devising; a device, scheme, plot: a fanciful project.

That faculty of the mind by which we conceive the absent as if it were present. The 'reproductive imagination'.

The power which the mind has of forming concepts beyond those derived from external objects. The 'productive imagination'.

The creative faculty; poetic genius.

The operation of the mind; thinking; thought, opinion.

Imagination is the well from which we draw inspiration.

The answer to the question, 'When aren't you writing?' is, 'Almost never'. 

The reason is, 'Because the mind is almost always sentient.'

In other words, you don't need anything else but your mind, to create.

Oh yeah, a pencil and paper helps to get the end product down, but that is just the end product.

When did I begin to conceive this article? Probably many years ago, perhaps all my life.

When did I consider committing it to print? Two, maybe three, months ago.

And the next article? That has been swirling around in the ether for a couple of months.

Could I write it now? Yes. Because it's all in the 'Mind-planning.'

I already know what it will be about and how I am going to present it.

However, there are such things as priority. And priority is yet another part of the organization of writing.

When aren't you writing?

During your waking hours you can, and must, be working.

Constructing, planning, inventing, rejecting, re-thinking are all an ongoing process that will take you to the keyboard or the typewriter with something ready to say.

Sitting at a blank sheet of paper, or a keyboard, waiting for inspiration is (at this point I sigh, because so many people say to themselves, 'I have set aside this time to write and now nothing is happening',) a waste of time. Go and mow your lawn or bottle fruit. You will produce more from the mind by doing that than perching on a stool and staring at nothing.


You can do this through the days, at almost all times, because you have the ability to do more than a single thing at once.

There are, of course, times that require your complete concentration: driving, attending your children, working with power tools, to name a few.

But while you're peeling the beans, washing the car, cleaning the house, showering, sitting on the toilet/john/privy/, changing the diaper/nappy/liner, while you're doing...

(I am now leaving this project, because I have other pressing things to do. And if I hadn't told you and simply deleted this note, you would not be aware that I had picked up again in a day or three. I will have, however, been thinking all the while.)

...many other basic tasks, your mind can, and should be functioning on another level. Not the kind of romantic clap-trap where you have to be severely shaken to bring you out of your author's reverie, but the sort of orderly thinking that can be interrupted constantly and yet still focus and be productive.

That is where much of the work of broad construction is achieved.

Later, it will be time to do the research and iron out the details that will finally become text.

So okay, when aren't you writing?

When you're asleep? You aren't writing then, right!


Dreams are often a great source of inspiration and if you can capture those fleeting visions before they vanish like so many brightly coloured birds, you can build on the shimmering foundations of the subconscious. That's why it always pays to carry a small notepad and pen with you and leave it on your bedside table at night. That one inspirational thought or detail or answer to a question can be lost because you failed to do this, and have forgotten by morning.

What about when you're involved in (how can I put this delicately) SEX!

Subtle? No. Alright.

They say that sex is eighty percent mind and twenty percent body.

(That's what THEY say, and who am I to argue.) And if that's the case, then there must be some pretty lasting cerebral impressions.

All grist to your mill, especially if you're writing a Mills and Boon bodice ripper.

And this is where I think it is time to leave it to your 'IMAGINATION.'

Next month the article is titled 'Tips, Two-Handers, Three-handers-plus, Sentiment, and Cameos.'

And it breaks my heart to say it, but I'm out of time again.

Consarn. Just had another thought...Oh well...

Ken Mulholland

Country Editor - Australia

AuthorMe.com Group











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