April 4, 2017

Character Development: It's the Little Details (and a Contest!)

Contest!

This week's post comes with a giveaway.  Read the post to learn more about it.

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It's All In the Details

"I wanted to know what kind of jeans she was wearing."

I received this feedback during a workshop I participated in last October.

Unlike me, the other participants had MFAs and considered themselves literary writers. I don't consider myself literary, but I do believe I can learn from all genres, so I attended the workshop.

At first the question baffled me. Afterall, I'd said she pulled on and old pair of jeans and a T-shirt. To me, that fit the situation--cleaning out a house--and nothing else should matter. So I asked, "Why?"

The answer I received made perfect sense

Is she wearing Levi's or Lucky or maybe even Wrangler? Each one of these brands tells me something about the character. Lucky jeans imply a level of income and social or fashion status for my character.  Wrangler, on the other hand, are serviceable jeans. Nothing fancy. You can buy them at WalMart. Someone who buys Wrangler jeans sees them as working jeans or doesn't believe their jeans should make a fashion statement or can't afford anything more. If she wears Levi's, she probably likes jeans and wears them often, but she doesn't spend a fortune on them. They probably aren't a fashion statement, but they do hint at her income and practicalities.

I gave my character Levi's. I, also, gave her a pink "Save the Ta Ta's" T-shirt.

With a few extra details, I managed to develop my character more.

Now It's Your Turn

Can you take a sentence in your writing and add a small detail that expands on character development?  In this post's comments, type your original sentence and your revised one with an extra detail or two.

One lucky winner will receive:
  • Writer's Editing and Critiquing Tips pdf (based on several of my blog posts)
  • 25% discount on a manuscript edit or proofread or a free 50 page edit*
  • An issue of moonShine review featuring my short story, "Just Me"

Every one who enters will receive a pdf of the 10 Grammar Rules Every Writer Should Know and a few other grammar goodies.

Next week, I'll post the best entries, and let my readers vote on their favorite.

Here's What You Do

  1. Pick your sentence.
  2. Add a detail or two that adds character development to your story.
  3. Post it in the blog's comments by midnight (EST) on Monday, April 10 .  (Do not post your comment on Facebook. It must be in the blog's comments.)
  4. Post a second comment (that I will not publish) that provides your name and email address.
  5. Return to the blog between April 11 and April 17 to vote for your favorite entry.

I promise I won't publish your contact information for the world to see. All comments need my approval before they appear.

What are you waiting for? Get writing!

*Fine print:
Manuscript must be double-spaced, 12 point font, one inch margins. 
A single manuscript of up to 200 pages or up to 50 pages for free.
 Pages in excess of 200 will be billed at full price.
Editing offer expires June 30, 2017.

6 comments:

Rose said...

"The sleeves were rolled up to show off the patterned tattoo on my right arm."

"The sleeves were rolled up to show off the tattoo on my right arm, a pair of angel wings sprouting from a cross."

Tbh when I wrote the first draft I hadn't even decided on what his tat should be but EY this is much nicer already.

Valerie Keiser Norris said...

)Historical novel)
“Supper’s leftovers,” Millie Wentworth said from her place at the head of the table. She still looked barely presentable.

“Supper’s leftovers,” Millie Wentworth said from her place at the head of the table. She still looked barely presentable, with top buttons still undone and her bun in disarray.

Monet Jones said...

(Scifi novel)
He carried Erica to the far side of the rock formation and laid her between two large boulders.

He carried Erica's limp body to the far side of the rock formation and laid her between two large boulders.

Arisia said...

Joel skipped and bumped his way over to the Commander, too excited to fly straight.

Too excited to fly straight, Joel held his iridescent wings folded tightly against his slender frame and skittered over to the Commander.

Emily said...

"She was alone in a rental car, single, and with one suitcase to her name."

"She was alone in the car. It was a rental, bluetooth, back-up cameras, all the bells and whistles, and also a Black Chrysler Voyager which was the biggest and most unnecessary car available on the lot to give to a single female with one suitcase."

Bob Strother said...

She had frizzy, shoulder-length red hair.

She had a fright of crinkly red hair that cascaded haphazardly past her face and stopped just short of her shoulders.