Building character

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Paula’s Post #48 (Again!) – I cannot tell a lie. When I published last week’s post #48 “So Far out of my Comfort Zone…” I realized I’d only posted 47 posts, not 48. This is actually post #48. Whatever. Mea culpa.

But I’ve confessed my sins and I’m back on track.

With my California driver’s test behind me (Yeah, I passed!) I can finally settle down and get back to writing. It’s been a long break for me. If you’ve followed this blog, you’ll be familiar with my litany of tired excuses-that-weren’t-really-excuses. My ‘reasons’ for not writing all summer.

Maybe trying to write a novel in 5 months had something to do with it. A giant case of burnout.

Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Maybe it was just not being settled. Veteran mover that I am, this summer’s move really threw me for a loop. With boxes piled all about me, I couldn’t concentrate at all. Couldn’t find a way to feel ‘settled’ enough to write with the impending move looming before us.

Maybe it was just not being in love with the finished result. Whatever. I needed to either get back to work on the second draft of my 5writers YA Novel or move on.

I picked ‘Move on’.

Sure, I hear you. Admittedly a very Tigger-like thing to do. Duck the hard work,  throw my self into the fun work.

I hear you. And I do feel a tinge of guilt. I know I could have embarked upon a major rewrite of my YA novel. It had merit and at some point I may come back to it. But not now.  As fun as it was to write, I just don’t believe enough in that story. Just don’t love it enough to feel it has the ‘legs’ to be a winner. I just wasn’t feeling the love.

But just because I wasn’t writing this summer doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about writing. For me, a necessary precursor to actually writing.

All summer long, characters and ideas have been swirling around in my head, clamouring to get out.

Now, they’re getting their big chance.

Which now that all my true confessions are out on the table, brings me to the real subject of this week’s blog post: ‘Building Character’.

I’m the first to admit I have more to learn about ‘building character’ – a quick run through of comments from my dear 5writer colleagues is enough for me to know that even if my next novel is a lighthearted mystery novel, I still need to rev up my character development.

So, time for a little research. I love research.

For my 5writers YA novel, I used StoryMill software for the first time to outline my novel and even though I’m not picking up where I left off with that project, I know it helped me organize my novel. So why not other writing software?

Google and a lazy afternoon at my laptop provided no end of options. In the end, I downloaded a trial copy of Persona from Mariner Software, the makers of StoryMill. I played with it a bit this afternoon. So far, so good.

First impressions? It’s fun. It’s got me excited about writing again. But I fear this may just be a giant time waster. Another distraction from the actual business of writing. For me, I’m going to t continue to tinker with it, and also with Scrivener as an alternative to StoryMIll.

How about you? Are you a fan of story writing software?  How do you go about ‘Building Character’?

3 thoughts on “Building character

  1. I also picked up Persona over the summer and played with it, but not sure it will work for me. The problem I found was inflexibility. It seemed to want to pigeonhole characters like one of those corporate personality tests, but not allow them to have flaws, quirks and inconsistencies … or to act in conflict with their character “type”. Pretty hard to create a “psychology machine” for character development. Maybe it could work as an initial guideline, like shaping the characters roughly in clay, but unless you want formulaic characters, I think you’d still have to go off the Persona grid to refine them in order to make them unique. Might be good for building robot characters though! Congratulations on your move, and on your resolve to get back to the keyboard. Go Paula go!

  2. I agree with you Silk, – from playing at it a bit I think it is good for giving you some good upfront guidance about themes you may want to explore, but it is clearly ‘computer generated’ ideas – not to be taken for gospel. I did some further research and come up with a pretty insightful review in MacWorld:

    For me, one of the big sticking points is that lack of integrated functionality with StoryMill – instead of making it a ‘add in’ to StoryMill, which could have been pretty cool, you end up with character profiles you can’t import anywhere, so still end up having to jump back and forth between writing programs. In that circumstance, I feel I would have wanted a much more complex ‘profile generator’. Hmmm… I bet the FBI has something like that….

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