Writing 101: Character

 

 

Hello and welcome everyone to lesson 3 of Writing 101. Today’s topic is one of the most vital elements of your piece: character. Your character is the driving force of your piece. They can make or break your piece. They make readers continue reading because they care what happens to them. So with further ado, let’s get started on character …

 

Character

  1. Know Your Characters Very Well

In order to make your characters rounded and believable, the first step is to know them inside out. You need to know so much more about them then you’ll ever probably put into your piece. Some writers use character profiles, some use notes, some do spider diagrams with their character’s name in the middle while others think their characters out in their head. Whatever way you do it, you need to have a huge knowledge of them. Some basic things you need to know include their name, gender, age, class, nationality, race, sexuality, religion or lack of, job or lack of, political beliefs, beliefs about life, whether they are conformist or not, are they introverts, extroverts or somewhere in the middle, how they dress, how they perceive others and how others perceive them. When you have knowledge like this about your character down, you will know how they will react easily in numerous situations as your plot develops. So get to know your characters very well. Know what they have for breakfast, where they shop, what they spend their money on, what their relationships are like with other characters like their love interest, family, friends and enemies. Make your character your best friend while your are writing them.

 

2. What Makes Interesting Characters?

Interesting characters are real. Often it is difficult to identify with or relate to characters who are too perfect. Examples that spring to mind are in many romances the main character is sweet as sugar while their love interest is simply awful and then they end up with another character who is as sweet as sugar. Another example is the war hero who is brave and unselfishly fights for their country and is without any negative qualities. While a final example is the detective in mysteries who is proper and brave and puts the baddies in their place but has no negative qualities themselves. None of these types of characters are easy for readers to identify with or relate to. In all honesty if readers took them to heart they would feel quite inadequate. Because in reality most of us are not either perfect or completely imperfect. So the same rule applies to villains. Even villains need to have positive qualities. They might be awful in most aspects but do they love their other half and their family for instance? Your characters, in short, need to be as real and as complex as any human being is.

 

3. What About Stereotyping?

It’s a bit of a complex answer so let’s try to break it down. As a writer, you have a duty to represent people from all walks of life and backgrounds and also of all personalities. In real life there is people whose personalities conform to stereotypes and whose personalities don’t. For example some gay men are camp while other gay men aren’t but likewise some straight men are camp while others aren’t. You shouldn’t use a stereotype out of ignorance but if it fits your character you can have their personality happen to fit a stereotype or also not fit a stereotype. But it should never be used in a cliched and one-dimensional way. The bottom line is that everything about your character should fit them and they should be well rounded.

 

4. Should I Tell My Piece From My Character’s POV Or In Third Person?

There is advantages to both. When you tell it from your character’s POV you have more opportunity to incorporate more of who they are into the story and get readers to identify and relate more to them. But it can also limit you. On the other hand, from a third person perspective you have more opportunity to write about what happens in situations with different characters where your main character is not present. Another option is to write from the POV of more than one character which helps you to cover both things. But you must know each character very well. It might be confusing for many readers though as it jumps from one POV to the other. So that’s the downside of that technique but it has many advantages too.

 

      5. Secondary Characters Are Just There For Decoration, Right?

No, they are very vital. Every character must feel authentic and must have a purpose for being there. Especially your main secondary characters. Say, you have a love interest in a story. They can’t just be there to help a reader know how your main character feels about love and life. You need to show how they feel about things as well. Likewise in a mystery as well as why the detective wants to solve the crime you need to show why the killer felt they needed to commit the crime. Every character must be fully rounded and we must know both their inner and outer worlds.

 

Key Points Summary

  • Your character is the driving force of your piece and they can make or break it.
  • You need to have a huge knowledge of your characters. You need to know more about them then you’ll ever put into your piece of work. That way, no situation they face as the plot develops will be a problem for you. You’ll know easily how they’ll react and feel in each situation that happens.
  • Interesting characters are real. They should never be too perfect or too imperfect.
  • You should never stereotype but if a stereotype fits your character’s personality it is alright for them to happen to fit the stereotype. But the character should never be written in a one-dimensional or cliched way.
  • There is advantages and disadvantages to telling your story from your character’s POV as well as from the third person perspective. There is also advantages and disadvantages to telling your story from the POV of more than one character. The best way is the way that brings your story to life the best.
  • Secondary characters are vital. They must be as rounded and complex as your main character. Readers must know how they feel about life as well.

 

The British Soap Awards 2014!

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Oh The British Soap Awards! One of my TV highlights of the year! So many fit men! Oh yeah and great actors of course!

I was very pleased for both Julie Hesmondhalgh and David Neilson who won numerous awards for their roles of Hayley and Roy Cropper in Coronation Street. Earlier in the year they broke all our hearts as Hayley left the soap in dramatic and emotional circumstances when her husband Roy helped her take her life after her struggle with cancer while I was also really happy for Hollyoaks in their win of the big award for Best Soap. I haven’t got to see it as much as I used to because I haven’t Channel 4 but I watched a lot of Hollyoaks growing up and I’ve watched some of the newer scenes online and it’s really good. It’s one of my favourite soaps. I was delighted that Kieron Richardson who plays Ste Hay in the Soap was nominated for Best Actor because I’ve admired him as an actor for years and he totally deserved that nomination. I’m a huge fan. And then of course Kieron did the speech for Hollyoaks when they won which I thought was fitting because he is so long with the soap.

Julie Hesmondhalgh and David Neilson were big winners on the night winning many awards including Best Actress, Best Actor and Best On-Screen Partnership!

Kieron Richardson was nominated for Best Actor on the night!

Hollyoaks won Best Soap!

Phillip Schofield reprised his role as presenter at The Hackney Empire for the 2014 Soap Awards and our Terry Wogan presented the first award of the night to Corrie for Hayley’s death for Best Single Episode beating off major competition from John Paul’s rape ordeal in Hollyoaks, Daniel’s depression in Doctors, Lucy’s death in Eastenders and Cameron’s Woolpack episode in which he inflicted torture on Chas and Debbie in Emmerdale.

David Seaman and David Weir were next up to present the next award. This time the award was for Spectacular Scene Of The Year with Emmerdale been triumphant for The Flood. It beat off stiff competition from the Hollyoaks blast (In which I must say the special effects were amazing), Johnny comes out to Mick in Eastenders and Nick and David’s crash in Corrie.

Ashley Roberts and Myleene Klass presented one of my favourite awards of the night – Sexiest Male. This year’s winner was Danny Mac from Hollyoaks who beat off stiff (ahem) competition from his Hollyoaks’ co-star Ashley Taylor-Johnson, Corrie’s Ryan Thomas, Eastenders’ Danny Dyer and Emmerdale’s Matthew Wolfenden. 

Dani Harmer and the very sexy Joey Essex presented the award for Best Young Performance to Ellis Hollins from Hollyoaks while soap legend Barbara Windsor presented the award for Outstanding Achievement (Off-Screen) to Carolyn Weinstein who is the company manager of EastEnders which was clearly well-deserved. I think I would be dizzy having to deal with that many people on a regular basis.

The award for Sexiest Female went to Michelle Keegan, who was accompanied by her fiance Mark Wright on the night, for the sixth year running. Michelle, who has already filmed her exit scenes in Coronation Street for her character Tina McIntyre which are currently been shown in the soap, beat off competition which included Jorgie Porter, Jacqueline Jossa, Jennifer Metcalfe and Georgia May Foote.

Vic Reeves presented the award for Best Comedy Performance with the adorable bulldog from Eastenders in tow. The winner was Simon Gregson for his role of Steve MacDonald in Corrie but he couldn’t be there so Charlie Lawson, who previously played his father in the soap, accepted the award on his behalf. He beat off stiff competition which included Sarah Moyle from Doctors and Laura Norton from Emmerdale.

Best Dramatic Performance went to David Neilson who bet off stiff competition from Lindsey Coulson from Eastenders and Charley Webb from Emmerdale. He is very witty and he thanked casting director Sue Pritchard who cast him in the role of Roy Cropper in 1995 “From the bottom of my mortgage.” He also spoke about how he had been on a flight and the air stewardess had given him what he was buying on the house because of all the years of joy he’d given via his role as Roy so he didn’t add the Kit Kat he’d been planning on getting too. David later won Best Actor in one of the strongest Best Actor categories in years and was presented with the award by writer Lynda La Plante. He beat off very stiff competition from Kieron Richardson from Hollyoaks, Danny Dyer from Eastenders, Jeff Hoardley from Emmerdale and Jeremy Sheffield from Doctors. Usually I feel there is three, maybe four great actors in the category but this year you could make a case for any of the five nominated actors on why they should win. Maybe it’s just a question of taste. They are all very natural actors and that is the kind of acting I love. There is quite a lot of great actors in soaps right now that that category could easily have had ten nominees but I must mention James Sutton who I definitely think should have got a nomination. Could they not have made it six for one year? 🙂 He’s an incredibly natural actor. Very gifted. David spoke about how he was working on a play in Bristol with Daniel Day-Lewis in a supporting role and his late mother asked him if he regretted leaving the Gas Board. That reminded me of my own mum. 🙂

Best Actress went to Julie Hesmondhalgh who played Roy’s On-Screen wife Hayley. Julie received the award from Colin Salmon and won ahead of other amazing actresses Hollyoaks’ Stephanie Davis, Lindsay Coulson, Lacey Turner and Nikki Saunders. She spoke about the encouragement her mum gave her and also thanked Lancashire County Council in her speech for the “Full Grant” which made me smile. My life story! 🙂

Julie and David also won Best On-Screen Partnership and Julie admitted it had been the one that they had most wanted.

The Outstanding Achievement Award went to Helen Worth who has played Gail McIntyre for four decades in Corrie and she was presented with the award by former On-Screen husband Brian Capron and casting director for Corrie Judi Hayfield.

Best Soap went to Hollyoaks and was presented by the legend that is Ian McKellen. Their speech was given by Kieron Richardson who told how one of thepress officer in Hollyoaks came and asked him to do the speech if they won this year and he was like “Oh whatever.” because they are always seen as the “underdog”. He said this was why he “had nothing except that team Hollyoaks have the best fans out there that have voted.” Brian Kirkwood, the executive producer also spoke. It was unexpected but I am so happy for them. It was very much deserved.

Richard Throp who played Alan Turner in Emmerdale was also remembered. He died earlier last year. May he rest in peace.

There was also a lot of fantastic style which there is every year. Notable looks on the style front came from Michelle Keegan, who wore a casually perfect monochrome outfit for the awards. Every detail ran through the outfit completely perfectly from her amazing blazer down to her monochrome heels. Her hair was also long, wavy and perfect. Best Actress winner Julie Hesmondhalgh also won in the style stakes in an amazing black dress with amazingly detailed floral sleeves. I also loved how she matched her red heels to her red lipstick and black and red are two colours which always go well together. Helen Worth also looked amazing for her big night with a beautiful light blue dress which was dainty and feminine and really suited her. She teamed the dress with simple matching heels and a clutch as well as a beautiful, glittering bracelet. But lads were not ready to be outdone with Kieron Richardson donning  a dark green jacket and black trousers combo. The black elements running through his outfit in the form of his tie and handkerchief ensured he looked very sophisticated and stylish. Eastenders’ Sam Strike also looked really on the night in a casual look with indie rock style elements such as the jacket, trousers and belt. The black shirt with whit dots also looked very stylish in the outfit while James Sutton looked fabulous on the night in a very understated suit. Other impressive style came from Keith Rice, Danny Dyer, Joe Gill, Jacqueline Jossa, Giorgia May Foote  and Ashley Roberts.

Michelle Keegan wowed in monochrome!

Helen Worth went for a demure, feminine look!

 

James Sutton and Keith Rice looked very dapper on the night!

Sam, Danny and co looking stylish!

Georgia May Foote wore a stunning flowing dress with fabulous detailing around the neck!

Here is the full list of winners on the night:

Best Actor – David Neilson as Roy Cropper

Best Actress – Julie Hesmondhalgh as Hayley Cropper

Best On-Screen Partnership – David Neilson and Julie Hesmondhalgh as Roy and Hayley Cropper

Sexiest Male – Danny Mac

Sexiest Female – Michelle Keegan

Villain Of The Year – Anna Passey as Sienna Blake

Best Young Performance – Ellis Hollins as Tom Cunningham

Spectacular Scene Of The Year – The Woolpack Flood & Siege

Best Comedy Performance – Simon Gregson as Steve McDonald

Best Newcomer – Maddy Hill as Nancy Carter

Best Dramatic Performance – David Neilson as Roy Cropper

Best Single Episode – Hayley’s death

Best Storyline – Hayley’s cancer

Outstanding Achievement Award – Helen Worth

Outstanding Achievement (Off-Screen) – Carolyn Weinstein (The Company Manager of EastEnders)

Best British Soap – Hollyoaks

Heartbeats Review!

One of my favorite films is a 2010 Canadian film called Heartbeats written, directed, acted in, styled and pretty much anything else you can think of by the super talented Xavier Dolan. Yes you can rest assured this amazingly focused 24-year-old will never let himself be out of work!

The multi-talented Xavier Dolan!

The multi-talented Xavier Dolan!

The plot of Heartbeats centres around two friends who both fall in love with the same man. Things are about to get a wee bit tense and complicated so, me thinks! The two friends Francis (Xavier Dolan) and Marie (Monia Chokri) fall in love with the very chilled out and sexual Nicolas (Niels Schneider) who they first meet at a dinner party. From there they begin to fight for his affections damaging their own friendship in the process and leading to them needing to re-establish their strong bond.

The very talented Xavier Dolan as the adorable Francis!

The very talented Xavier Dolan as the adorable Francis!

Francis is my favourite character. He’s an intriguing character and Dolan plays him so realistically. Francis is shy, reserved, sensitive and looking for love. However, he isn’t going to find that with the manipulating Nicolas who seems to get a kick out of playing each of them off each other. He puts on this facade of been unaware of what is going on when in fact he is very aware of it and encouraging them both via subtle actions to fight each other for him. Marie is a more chattier character than Francis. While Francis is more a character which wears his heart on his sleeve, Marie keeps a lot of her emotions back and smokes a lot to keep her nerves in check.

Marie is played by Monia Chokri!

Marie is played by Monia Chokri!

Nicolas is played by Niels Schneider!

Nicolas is played by Niels Schneider!

The manipulative Nicolas surrounded by friends Francis and Marie!

The manipulative Nicolas surrounded by friends Francis and Marie!

Three in a bed!

Three in a bed!

Everything about the film is brilliant from the writing to the acting to the style and everything inbetween. I’m obsessed with it. I keep re-renting it from the video store at various intervals in the year because I can’t find anywhere to buy it as of yet!

Skyfall Film Review!

Skyfall is very good!

Ben Whishaw as always is fabulous!

Skyfall is brilliant! The cast is incredible which includes Daniel Craig as James Bond, Ben Whishaw as the young Q, Javier Bardem as Silva, Judi Dench as M, Naomie Harris as Eve, Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory, Rory Kinnear as Tanner, Berenice Marlohe as Severine, Albert Finney as Kincade and Ola Rapace as Patrice.

Daniel Craig is amazing as James Bond. He’s very natural in the role and is definitely up there as one of the best Bonds of all-time. Actually my three favourite Bonds would be him, Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

My favourite character is Q. Whishaw plays him perfectly with humour and nerdiness. I always loved the older Q the best in the older Bond films so I was looking forward to seeing how Ben, who is one of my favourite actors, would protray the younger Q and he did so perfectly.

But the cast as a unit ensured that the film was amazing. Each of them are very natural, talented actors and actresses so it made it very realistic.

And the writing was great. Though I liked the old Bonds I prefer the newer ones. There is more of a storyline to them and I’m a person who values story and character above all else with a film so I enjoy them more so credit must go to Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan for bringing Ian Fleming’s world to life so well.

Almost all of Q’s lines are lines I love so there’d be too many to list but as well as the fabulous Q’s amazing one-liners I also liked the man at the train station’s line about Bond been eager to get on the train when he jumped and onto the back of the train, “ and also when Bond says to his old innkeeper when he meets him about him still been alive.

The song Skyfall by Adele is also so amazing and the way they fit it in at the beginning with the story and the graphics is perfect so credit must go to  Danny Kleinman who did an amazing job.

Another fantastic element to the story is the three strong females. Traditionally in Bond films the females are usually just there to look pretty and show what a big man Bond is but in this film the three women are strong in their own ways with M running the show, Eve been Bond’s accomplice for part of the film and Severine been scared but remaining strong despite her fear of Silva.

It was a fantastic film directed by Sam Mendes bringing Bond wonderfully up-to-date while still retaining the essence of the old Bond films and perfect for celebrating the 50th Bond.

 

 

 

Cloud Atlas Film Review!

Cloud Atlas is fabulous!

Ben Whishaw and James D’Arcy play Robert Frobisher and Rufus Sixsmith to perfection!

I recently watched the film version of Cloud Atlas and I can say that it really is an experience and a half! I personally found it to be a good experience though it is a film that is definitely marmite. You will either love it or hate it and I personally fall into the category of loving it. There is six stories been followed in it and with all the various storylines and genres incorporated into the film you will certainly like certain stories better than others depending on what type of films you like.

My favourite character is Rufus Sixsmith played by James D’ Arcy but I also love Robert Frobisher played by Ben Whishaw. The pair play a beautiful couple in the 1930s with D’Arcy also playing the older Sixsmith. They play their love and their passion for each other to perfection as well as injecting a playfulness to their romance. The chemistry is so natural between them. I find their romance beautiful but the ending to their relationship without giving the story away is so sad. Incredibly powerfully acted but massively sad. Their story is really interesting and definitely my favourite of all the stories.

But I also find the Luisa Rey story which the older Sixsmith is in great too. Luisa is played brilliantly by Halle Berry as she goes looking for the truth as a journalist. Her source is Sixsmith. I won’t give away the story but it has sadness in it and Hugh Grant and Hugo Weaving play baddies while Keith David and Tom Hanks play nice people and Doona Bae plays a woman whose building they run into who owns the sweetest little dog and Ben Whishaw also stars as the guy in the record store.

The comedy element is provided by the Timothy Cavendish storyline. Cavendish is played by Jim Broadbent and is sent to a home by his brother Denholme Cavendish played by Hugh Grant in revenge for him going with his wife Georgette played by Ben Whishaw. It’s so funny watching Timothy try to escape from the home and then try to escape with his new friends in the home. Mr. Meeks cracks me up!

Jim Sturgess plays Adam Ewing in the Adam Ewing story. Well naturally I suppose he would! 🙂 This story is really a story which utilizes the combined talents of Sturgess, David Gyasi and Tom Hanks and together the three play the story to perfection. Sturgess also plays the love interest of Sonmi-451 in the Sonmi-451 story. Their romance is sweet and not giving away the ending again but it’s sad.

While Tom Hanks and Halle Berry play Meronym and Zachry. Meronym is a Prescient female who comes to live with Zachry and his family on the “Big I” for a year so that she can learn more about their society. The stories are told to the kids by an old man played by Tom Hanks though I’m still trying to figure out whether he and Halle Berry who is playing his lifelong love are Meronym and Zachry. That’s how the story begins and ends which isn’t really giving away anything so yeah that’s what’s happening.

I’m not certain I understood the film but I liked it. I think it was about reincarnation but I could be wrong. But in a way you don’t need to understand it because you get to like the characters and want to see them do well and be alright and happy and that gets you invested in the story. Written by David Mitchell and written for the screen and directed by Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski, there is a bit of everything in the film through the mixture of genres. Between the six stories there is romance, aristocratic, action, drama, sci-fi, comedy, futuristic and mystery. Mentions must go to the production designers on the project Hugh Bateup and Uli Hanisch who did all the various locations to perfection which from watching the movie was clearly a massive job. And to the hair, costume and make-up department on the film. They did an amazing job of changing the actors and actresses into the different characters which with so many characters in the movie must have took so much work. Kudos especially for their work on transforming Ben Whishaw into Georgette because I’m a major Ben Whishaw fan and only for I read in advance who he was playing I wouldn’t have known him!

I really enjoyed it and it is now one of my favourite films. It was amazing how all the actors and actresses changed from one character to another. It truly did show off how remarkably talented they are to be able to transform from one character to the next in one film and the crew did amazing with the logistics which must have been crazy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hayley Cropper Dies In Corrie!

Hayley dies in Roy's arms.

Hayley dies in Roy’s arms.

Hayley and Roy in their home!

Hayley and Roy in their home!

Hayley and Roy on their wedding day!

Hayley and Roy on their wedding day!

Hayley and Roy have their last holiday together in Blackpool.

Hayley and Roy have their last holiday together in Blackpool.

Last night one of my favourite soap characters died. There has been incredibly emotional scenes between one of the best and loving soap couples ever Hayley and Roy Cropper played by Julie Hesmondhalgh and David Neilson in Corrie for a while now since Hayley was diagnosed with cancer. The talented pair play these scenes so realistically and it would make you want to cry. 

Last night Hayley took her own life and died in the arms of her Roy. Very sad, emotional and incredibly well-acted as per usual. Goodbye Hayley and thank you Julie Hesmondhalgh for playing her so well over the years and to both Julie Hesmondhalgh and David Neilson for playing the couple of Hayley and Roy so beautifully over the years.

 

Glee Set To Move To NYC For The Duration Of The Series!

Sue Sylvester, played by Jane Lynch, will be sticking around to cause trouble! And we love her for it!

 

Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly has revealed that the rest of my fave show Glee is to be set in New York!

Glee will therefore not be splitting its time between Lima, Ohio and New York City as it has been doing.

Kevin said, “We do have it through next season, and that will be its final season. He’s (Ryan Murphy) got some fantastic ideas on what we’re going to do next year for the final year. Some are going to be graduating and moving; creatively, it would be ridiculous that everybody moves to New York. There will be some that will graduate and move on and they’ll arc back in when we do special episodes. They’ll always be a part of it. The way it’s going to dovetail next season, we’ll see some familiar faces coming around in some capacity. But for this season, there will be a graduation, several of the cast members will move on and a few others will go to New York.”

Reilly kept quiet on the front of which characters will be staying on the Fox hit but did admit that Matthew Morrison who plays idealistic Mr. Shue and Jane Lynch who plays the feisty Sue Sylvester will still be on the show.

He said, “As long as there’s a show, there’s Jane. We’re not going to be in Ohio anymore the rest of this season.”

What do you think of the changes? Are you happy that the show is moving to New York City or do you wish it would stay in Ohio as well? Comment below and let me know! 🙂