Point of View and Character Development

Well-written, compelling characters keep your readers immersed in your story, unable to put it down. In autobiography, you are the main point of view character.

  • Creative Writing,  Point of View and Character Development

    Part Three — The Seven Universal Emotions

    In Part One, I mentioned that, through the work of psychologist Paul Ekman, we’ve learned that there are seven main expressions common to every culture.    Emotions occur in response to some kind of stimulus (actual, imagined, or re-lived) such as: a physical event a social interaction remembering or imagining an event talking about, thinking about, or physically reenacting a past emotional experience No matter where in the world we live, no matter how remote, we all display the same expressions for the same emotions. Even congenitally blind people who have never seen these emotions on other people’s faces spontaneously show the same facial expressions.    Anger When things go…

  • Creative Writing,  Point of View and Character Development

    Part Two — The Seven Universal Emotions

    In Part One, I mentioned that, through the work of psychologist Paul Ekman, we’ve learned that there are seven main expressions common to every culture.   Emotions occur in response to some kind of stimulus (actual, imagined, or re-lived) such as: a physical event a social interaction remembering or imagining an event talking about, thinking about, or physically reenacting a past emotional experience No matter where in the world we live, no matter how remote, we all display the same expressions for the same emotions. Even congenitally blind people who have never seen these emotions on other people’s faces spontaneously show the same facial expressions.   What Are Facial Expressions?…

  • Creative Writing,  Point of View and Character Development

    Everything I Know About Character Development, I Learned From My Dog

      In a recent conversation at the dog park, some of the owners were discussing the idea that when it comes to sussing out the intentions of other people (and dogs), our dogs are far more perceptive than their owners.   It occurred to me that I too, trust my dog’s instincts more than my own. At the very least, his response to other people gives me a second opinion I can factor into my first impression.   On more than one occasion, my dogs have alerted me to questionable characters in time to avoid uncomfortable situations, and now that I’m better attuned to their body language, I can see…

  • Point of View and Character Development,  Thoughts, Opinions and Philosophical Discussions

    Karma and Character Development

    Karma’s a bitch!” We hear that all the time. Somebody does something good, they get good karma. Something bad happens to someone, it’s because they have bad karma. It’s justice, retribution and balancing the scales of right and wrong.   Right?   Wrong!   Karma is commonly understood to mean our actions, words or deeds and their outcomes. But I believe that this interpretation is specious. Karma’s more profound than that.   Believers in spirituality come a little closer. For them, karma refers to the spiritual circle of cause and effect, often called the “Principle of Karma”, wherein intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that…

  • Creative Writing,  Point of View and Character Development

    Emotional Significance

    or — How to Manipulate Your Reader’s Feelings Over many decades of reading, I’ve come to realize that one of the most powerful things a writer can do to keep a reader glued to the page is to create a deep yearning to be in the story and experience the emotions that the story’s characters feel.    Running like an underground river beneath the needs and desires of the characters we create is the reader’s need for something only the character’s experience can provide. We read in order to become a part of the story world, to escape the everyday and immerse ourselves in an environment that satisfies something we…

  • Creative Writing,  Organization and Research,  Point of View and Character Development,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Cause and Effect

    One of the most effective ways to create a compelling plotline with a strong narrative drive is to make sure your cause and effect chain remains unbroken.   What do I mean by the cause and effect chain?   In stories, as in life, things happen because other things happen. If you fall down, you skin your knee. Your knee would not be injured if you hadn’t fallen down. That’s cause and effect.   In stories, cause and effect are a kind of glue that holds your story together. Without it, your story is merely a collection of random incidents and your reader eventually becomes bored because things happen for…

  • Point of View and Character Development,  Thoughts, Opinions and Philosophical Discussions

    Lying to Yourself — Self-Integrity 101

    “This above all: to thine own self be true,And it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not then be false to any man.” — William Shakespeare, “Hamlet” Self-integrity What does it mean?    Is it the meaning of the Shakespeare quote above, or does it mean something more, something deeper?   Perhaps it’s our conscience, speaking to us in the “still, small voice” about right and wrong. Perhaps it’s our core values telling us about our most profound self-identity. Or perhaps it’s a limiting belief, attempting to keep us safe in trying times or confusing circumstances.   Or maybe it’s a lot simpler than any of those. Maybe…

  • Point of View and Character Development,  Prompts,  Thoughts, Opinions and Philosophical Discussions

    “Kindness is Never Wasted” — Anonymous

    At this time of year, most people’s focus is on Valentine’s Day, and while romantic love is a valid point of interest, there’s another point I think makes a lot more sense for us to celebrate.   February 17th is “Random Acts of Kindness Day”, and to my mind, is a much more relevant and valuable quality of being, as well as a better focus for our behaviour.  In fact, why limit it to one day a year?  Why not build a habit of doing one kind thing for others every day?   Think about it…when we engage in an act of kindness, either as giver or receiver, we experience…

  • Creative Writing,  Dialogue,  Point of View and Character Development,  Training, Lessons

    When It’s Okay To Act Out

    Okay, so you’re writing away and you have no idea what motivates your main character (or yourself at age twelve).   Or you can visualize your MC’s best friend, but you can’t hear her voice.     Or you’ve finally finished your fifteenth draft and you’re ready to share with your beta readers or your writing group or your editor or (gulp!) your publisher, but you have a niggling feeling there’s something missing.   Take a step back and try a couple of editing techniques that are a little different.   When we read, we tend to “hear” the words in our heads.  If the story’s well-written, we “see” the…

  • Memoirs,  Point of View and Character Development,  Training, Lessons

    How Not To Be A Wimp

    Using Blind Spots and Limiting Beliefs to Power Your Memoir In my memoir classes, one of my favourite things to do is ask questions of my students to get them thinking more deeply about their stories, their characters and ultimately themselves. One of my students brought up the topic of fear of success the other day.  She mentioned that she had a crippling fear of being successful, ie. “a public figure”. When I asked her what she thought was scary about that, she couldn’t tell me exactly, although, for her, it was tied up with public appearances, maybe interviews or readings of her work.  They terrified her.  It came down…