Thursday, January 10, 2013

No Cookie Cutter Characters

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie
I would offer you a cookie, 
but blog cookies are bland. 
Let me share my homemade treats through words.

Gooey chocolate chips
 surrounded by 
 warm and chewy
 peanut butter
with a hint of

Recently, I learned a whole list of new ingredients. Turning my kitchen gluten free has been a challenge. Instead of using basic white and wheat fours, I experiment with other grain, bean and nut flours. Who knew chickpeas and chestnuts are ground up into flours? The baked goods these flours create is different in flavor and texture. 

This new way of baking has lead me to different approaches in my writing too. I'm questioning my characters' physical and behavioral traits. Do any of my characters have cookie cutter blond hair and blue eyes? Or sound like stick figures under a cloudless sky?

After reading through several character development lists, I created one that focuses on middle grade writing. By using this writing tool, I'm less likely to mix up physical characteristics. Also my characters have greater range of movement and thought. 

I'm focused on current world conflicts. This means world building, time travel and aliens named Orb from the planet Gorb are not part of my list.

Middle Grade Contemporary - Character Development
A. Basic info & appearance
  1. Name and nickname (meaning)
  2. Age and birthday
  3. Height - average, tall or short
  4. Weight - average, over or under
  5. Hair - color & style
  6. Eye color (glasses or contacts)
  7. Skin tone - tanned or pale
  8. Unique physical traits
B. Family
  1. Parents – names and appearance
  2. Parents - living arrangement, occupations
  3. Siblings – names and ages
  4. Extended family
  5. Pets
  6. Missing or dead members of family
  7. MC's relationship to family members

C. Living Conditions
  1. Computer and cell phone
  2. Bedroom - where MC sleeps
  3. Food - who cooks
  4. Layout of living space
  5. What’s on the walls
  6. Smells - inside and outside
  7. Sounds - traffic or woods
  8. Clean or dirty

D. Friends
  1. Best Friend(s)
  2. Boyfriend, girlfriend, crush, flirting
  3. Social circle - insider, outsider, floater
  4. Communicate - cell, text, email
  5. Ex-friends or pretend
  6. Enemies
  7. Secrets
E. Likes and Dislikes
  1. Favorite color
  2. Preferred food and drinks
  3. Books, computer games, movies
  4. Music and instruments
  5. Sports and exercise
  6. Favored words or expressions
  7. Bad habits
  8. Scared of
F. School
  1. Public or private
  2. Grade level
  3. Self image
  4. Personality
  5. Good at
  6. Bad at
  7. Goals
  8. Bus, car, walk
G. Childhood memories
  1. Significant event
  2. Holidays
  3. Vacations
  4. Birthdays
  5. School event or group
  6. Embarrassing moment
  7. Injuries

H. Big picture
  1. Main Character wants
  2. MC major conflict
  3. MC minor conflicts
  4. MC react to conflicts
  5. MC's beliefs
  6. MC's wishes

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