Sunday, May 13, 2012

From the Valley Center Writers Workshop

Hi to the Valley Center Writers who have tuned in here to look at the exercise notes that I promised to post!  (And if you're just browsing this randomly, welcome to you, too. )

This is an exercise we did during the second part of the world building fiction workshop on May 12, 2012.  Good luck with your worlds and, once again, you all were fabulous!

A Day in the Life

After every stage, remember to ask yourself how you can make the details of what just happened a little different....

Okay--so you've just written down some notes about a world you're creating.  Let's walk through this world by using a character that you've either created already or a random character.  You can even use yourself, if it's more comfortable.

* Are you male or female?
* What is your name?  (Is it a strange sci-fi or fantasy type name?  "Normal" name?)
*What is your station in life?  (Rich, poor, middle class, something else altogether?)
*What is your job?
*What are the physics of your world (Zero gravity, for instance?  Normal?)

[Look at what you have so far.  How can you make at least one detail of your world a little out of the ordinary?]

Time for your morning routine....
*What do you eat?
*When you look outside (if there is an outside), what is the weather like?
*What are you going to wear?

[Again, look at what you have so far.  How can you make at least one detail of your world a little out of the ordinary?]

*How do you get to work (mode of transportation) if you do work?
*What do you see along the way?  (Different creatures or types of people?  Road signs or advertisements for politics, religious beliefs, signs of what's important to society?  Are there any details you see that will foreshadow what will happen later in the story?  Are there any signs of how society is controlled or not controlled?)
*What is the architecture like?
*How is everyone communicating?

[And...look at what you have so far.  How can you make at least one detail of your world a little out of the ordinary?]

You run into an event on your way to work (or wherever).  Is this event political?  Holiday related?  Something to do with the history of the town? Is it based on a grudge that two clans/businesses/groups have with one another?
What is happening in general?
*And what is happening to you, specifically?*
(This moment can end up being a springboard for your plot--an "into the special world" marker on the Hero's Journey.  If you're writing a contemporary, this might be where the hero and heroine meet, since it's fertile ground for conflict.  Or would this make a good action scene?  If you're writing a historical, this moment could paint a vivid picture of the times if the author uses a real event and sweeps the character into it.)

******How does your world changes at this point?*****

And there it is.  Have fun, and keep on writing!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Character Interview Questions

Hi, EVA writers (and everyone else)!

At today's world building workshop, I gave a sample of questions I often ask about my characters before I begin my actual writing.  I initially developed these so I could go into deep point of view with each character, but these can also help with world building.  (I'll provide comments after some of them, just as I did during the workshop).

*What do you do for a living?  Why?
This can show the different occupations in your world and help you figure out what your world needs in order to function on a daily basis.  Does your character have a low level job--are they in the "dregs of this society"?  Or is it the opposite?

*What’s your family like and how does your upbringing affect you now?
How a character's family functions in this world is important.  Is it a society in which children are valuable?  Or are kids stuck in a high-tech nursery to be raised in order to become a cog in the wheel of your society?  This question will reflect cultural norms.

*What is your worst fear?  (This one figures into the plot because I try to make sure their worst fears are realized.)
Very important.  You'll want to build the possibility (and eventuality) of this fear coming true *in to* your world.

*What kind of clothing do you wear?  Why?
Does the character wear clothing that conforms to your world?  Or are they a fish out of water, and does their clothing reflect that?

*What is your “foil”’s hair/eyes, etc. like?  (Here, I work up descriptions from the hero or heroine’s POV—How would the hero describe the heroine’s red hair, for instance?  What does this description say about him or his experiences?  Is the color somehow reflective of the heroine’s personality as he perceives it or is it reflective something the hero has experienced in his own life?)
As for world building, are there "different" things about your world that can be worked into a description?  For instance, if the hero's eyes are gray, maybe they're the gray of a postapocalyptic sky, and since that's from the heroine's world experience, you're building some of your world right there.

How would you describe your own appearance?  How do you feel about your body?

(I'll leave the rest to you guys!)

*What is your favorite saying/motto?  (This is usually the character in a nutshell. Maybe it’s a cliché, like “What comes around goes around.”  Or maybe it’s something different, like “Screw me once, yea for me.  Screw me over, you’re gonna pay.”)

*What kind of hobbies do you have?  (Anything quirky?  How do these round you out as a person?  Any evidence of them in your apartment or workplace?)

*What would people have written about you in your high school yearbook?  (What’s written beneath your picture?  Any awards or dreams that have since died?  How did other people view you?)

*What is your love history?

*What would you find in your purse or wallet?

*What tangible object would symbolize you? (This could tie in with the theme of the story.)

*What kind of education do you have?

*Where do you live?  Why?

For those who attended the workshop on Saturday the 5th, thank you!  I hope these questions help you.  I hope they help all you other writers out there, too.

Happy writing!