Over the years of writing instructional information, my fiction muscles have definitely atrophied. So now that dear Hubby John and I are writing fiction together (he’s the brainstorm together part, I’m the writing part) I’m on a constant lookout for things that will help me hone my skills in that department.
I’ve been very frustrated to discover that the beautiful, smart and funny people I can see in my head are having a hard time looking quite so beautiful, smart and funny on my pages.
I know that I’m supposed to know my characters inside and out. I know that it’s important for me to understand their motivations, their hopes and dreams, their fears and flaws. But to be totally honest, I’ve been feeling a little bit…blocked. (Yes I’m sure that reveals something about MY hopes and dreams and fears and flaws.)
So I was very happy when my friend Lynn Johnston asked me to review her new product: Dynamic Characterization.
When I opened the zip file, I found 27 PDFs. Yes, 27. And I was a happy camper, because they included a bunch of worksheets…or should I say playsheets? Because this is fun stuff!
13 PDF Lessons (an Introduction + Lessons 1-12.) The lessons run anywhere from 4-12 pages, and include instruction, examples, and then a homework exercise (usually one of the worksheets.)
There are 12 worksheets + one that is filled out as a sample. Worksheets are 1-4 pages each except for one that is 7 pages, but that’s because it has more columns and is in landscape orientation.
And finally, you get a list of personality traits.
If I could make one suggestion to Lynn, that would be to number the worksheets to match the corresponding lesson, but that’s just being nit-picky. It clearly tells you in each lesson which of the worksheets to use, and if you print this out, like I intend to, you can arrange things in the order that works.
That’s the way it’s really intended to be used anyway, as a lesson-by-lesson course or workshop. Go through it in order and don’t just try to fill out the worksheets without reading the lessons. You won’t get nearly as much out of it!
If you prefer to just read a book that tells you what to do, this is not it. But if you like to take things in bite-sized increments and then do the practice, you’ll really get a lot out of Dynamic Characterization.