I had great plans for Pure Spec this weekend, but life got in the way (sick kid, headache, all that good stuff) and in the end I could only manage to get there for long enough to take Jo Walton‘s character creation workshop. Still, for me, that workshop was worth the price of admission. Unfortunately when I walked into the room it was taking place in, the first thing I saw was a video camera, and it was pointed directly at where we were all sitting and working. I hate being videotaped. I especially hate being videotaped when I don’t know what it’s for and when I haven’t signed a release. That camera pretty much guaranteed that I would be doing a minimal amount of talking, however, luckily for me I listening and thinking are two skills I have which are unaffected by video cameras 😉
For the workshop we sat in a circle (there were about 20 of us) and each of us wrote down three character traits or descriptors and then put them in a hat. I wrote:
- Addicted to chewing chalk
- Um…I don’t remember what my third one was lol
Jo (feels weird to write that name and not be talking about my husband LOL) mixed the sheets of paper up and then pulled three out. She made up a character using those three character traits (I think she got ‘Has a pointy tail’, ‘Sad eyed’ and ‘Expects to be cheated’), then she passed the hat to the person sitting next to her who pulled out three pieces of paper and made a character with them, which was going to be included in the same story as the first character.
Still with me?
So, we went on like that, passing the hat around the table until everyone had created a character with the three random traits they’d pulled out of a hat. At the end of the hour we had 20 unique characters who were all interrelated and who it wouldn’t be difficult to write about. I could tell you the whole plot of a novel based on them, in fact.
The character traits I pulled out were:
- Has a mane on their back
- Career Student
When I first looked them over I thought the mane was the most interesting feature. My first impulse was to go with a cursed person, then perhaps a hybrid cat-person, and then a were-something… but those all seemed too easy. At Jo’s direction I looked a little more at the ‘Career Student’ trait and, within the context of the world created by the characters who came before mine, that actually became the most interesting feature of this character. I’m hoping to write a short story with this character… but not anytime super soon 😉
Anyway, I enjoyed the workshop. It was especially cool because I’ve a novel idea I’m brewing that will require a huge cast, and I am going to try this method to create them.
When I got home I went on a search for a ‘hat’. Originally I’d planned to get a mason jar and decorate it, but then I found it. A rose bowl my grandmother gave me. I gave it a place of honor on my desk then cut up a bunch of pieces of paper and tucked them, along with a pen, right beside it.
Now as interesting character traits occur to me, I jot them down and toss them in. When it comes time for me to populate the town for my next novel I’ll pull them out, three at a time, and let the magic happen. I’ve also invited other people to contribute to my fishbowl, just to keep things interesting. Jo and Danica have both contributed several character traits to the bowl. I hope they’ll enjoy seeing what I do with the traits they’ve given me.
I’d love it if you’d like to add something to my fishbowl. Just leave a comment or drop me a line and I’ll be happy to write down what you tell me and put it in the bowl. Also, if you create a fishbowl of your own I’d love to help you fill it up 🙂
In other story news, Shadows is still going well. It’s up to 29,497 words and I haven’t worked on it yet today.
Lastly, Niteblade. The December issue of Niteblade is a special issue, not only is it all poetry but it’s also not only online. That’s right, if you want a copy of Niteblade you can hold in your hands, this is your chance. Best of all, we’re having a pre-sale right now so you can pick up a copy for 25% less than it will cost when it’s officially available in December. I’m really hoping these sell well, so we can look at potentially doing print versions of every issue to come. I like physical copies 🙂
Anywho, if you’re interested just click on the awesome cover and it will take you to our pre-sale page.