He’s a fat, sassy rooster the way he struts.
Scorn distorted her face as it always did.
His walk was more like a stumble, as if his long, lanky legs were stilts he had mounted -- for the very first time.
Tears blurred the movie screen and added more salt to her buttery popcorn. It’s a freaking Disney movie, she thought.
Her midnight hair trailed down her back and glistened like a million stars.
When he spoke he bowed his head and shuffled his feet.
Her lips were drawn into a permanent pout.
She never looks you in the eye.
He’s a lone bullet in a chamber just waiting to be shot.
All the above statements emphasize character. What is character? Character is who someone has been, who he or she is now, and who he or she will become. Character is every feature and trait that forms an individual’s nature. Character covers a multitude of sins as well as moral and ethical qualities. Character is what one is or isn’t made of. Without character, only an empty shell remains. You can pen the greatest story every told, but without vibrant characters, your manuscript will be as hollow as a sewage pipe.
What would the sinking of the Titanic have been without characters? Or the volcano eruption at Pompeii? Even the parting of the Red Sea wouldn’t seem quite so miraculous without characters crossing over to the other side.
This course teaches step by step how to pour character descriptions, personalities, emotions, gestures, and dialogue in that empty shell, and form an unforgettable character.
WHAT DOES THIS E-MAIL COURSE INCLUDE?
*This is a six-week course
*Lessons posted on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with Friday’s sessions including critiques
*Live chats are available with instructor and classmates regarding class work and publishing opportunities
Session One: Introduction. Overview of course. Creating the shell of your protagonist and antagonist. Go shopping for character descriptions and record what physical traits you desire for your characters. Research names in phone books, newspapers, and magazines, or purchase a baby name book. Name your characters, describe physical characteristics, and occupations. Prepare a simple plot outline.
Session Two: Creating character personalities. Here we begin to fill that empty shell. Who are your characters? What are they like? What are their hobbies? Likes and Dislikes? Is one an introvert and the other extrovert? Quiet and shy? Loud and abrupt? Liberal? Conservative? Does one move his hands when he speaks? Does one avoid eye contact? During this session, your characters begin to breathe.
Session Three: Creating character emotions. In this session you learn that stories and books are emotional journeys. Circumstances drive the characters, but character emotions drive the reader. Character emotion pours into your character shell. Your protagonist will handle anger quite differently from your antagonist, and must in order to produce conflict. Now, your characters learn how to move.
Session Four: Creating character dialogue, finding your character’s voice. Dialogue in fiction has to be realistic without being too real. Useless, wordy dialogue, common in everyday life, is a no-no. Still, you need to listen to those around you, take notes, and get idea of how your characters will speak. Women speak differently from men, men from boys, and boys from girls. An attorney won’t talk like a farmer or vise versa. We’ll see how dialogue fills your shell even more as characters act and react with words. Your characters learn how to live.
Session Five: Putting your characters into action. Students will write a 500-word confrontation between the protagonist and antagonist putting to use Sessions One through Four. Character expressions, gestures, thoughts, and words that you have already made unique to each character should drive your sentences. Now your characters learn to respond.
Session Six: Here we will pull it all together and write a 1,500 words short story or scene from your book that portrays both characters. Your characters have now become unique individuals with their own personality, dialogue, gestures, and physical appearance. Now you must reveal them to your fellow students and readers.