Characters: what does one character know that another doesn’t?

truth jigsaw

They say the camera never lies, but it never tells the whole truth either. You think you can see what’s real but there are all sorts of things you can’t see just beyond the frame of the photograph and beyond the moment when the photograph is taken. That happy smiling person you can see may have troubles in their life that you know nothing about, that idyllic scene may have mountains of rubbish and a power plant just out of shot making it a nightmare wasteland instead of a beautiful landscape.

There is always something missing even in the fragments of our own lives – we can never know the whole story that makes up any truth. It is only as we perceive things at the time that we make our own truths.

Truth is made up of many fragments and they are all subjective. Your truth is not my truth. My perception of things is not your perception of the same things.

It will be the same for our story characters. What one character understands as the truth won’t be the same as another character’s understanding. This leads to conflict and misunderstanding.

If everyone presumes that another person knows something that is known to all the others no one thinks of telling that other person. Consequently when that other person finds out what everyone else knows it can come as a shock to them and alter the way they see things and what their subsequent actions and reactions will be.

You need to ask yourself ‘what does one person know that another doesn’t’, ‘how does that character find out what the other person/people know’, and ‘what happens when they find out’?

This might be a bit of a philosophical discussion but you need to have it when writing your characters to make them seem real.

 

Show Don’t Tell: Describing emotion

Woman wiping her eyesHow often have you read something like: ‘He felt embarrassed’? or: ‘She started to cry’? and not really felt the emotion yourself?

When was the last time you started to cry because a character in the book you were reading started to cry? Have you thought about why you felt the emotion strongly enough that it touched something in you?  Continue reading

Making your characters believable: Body Language

Body Language

When you watch other people you don’t always need to be told what their relationship is with each other or what that relationship is like — you can see it in their body language, their eyes, and hear it in the way they speak to each other.

Using descriptions of body language in your story shows your reader what is going on between two characters rather than telling them. It helps to create an emotional response in your reader, which reflects the emotional responses your characters are experiencing.  Continue reading

Active Voice or Passive Voice? What’s the Difference?

What is meant by Active or Passive voice?

Active voice is clear and direct. It stamps out what is happening in a dynamic way. It tells you who or what is doing the action (subject) and who or what they are doing it to (object).

Passive voice can be clear as to what is happening to the subject but usually sounds weaker as a statement. It loses the strength you want to give to your words (and strength in your words is important when you are writing for others).

Let’s take a few examples to show you what I mean.  Continue reading

Writing Prompt: A Samurai Warrior

A Samurai Warrior works as a waiter in a Mexican restaurant in a small town in Essex. Why is he there in such an unlikely place and in such an unlikely job?

From whose point of view are you going to write the story?

Fancy you can do it in 500 words? Go on, give it a go.

Feel a poem coming on? Or a song?

Want to try writing it in dialogue only?

No rules. How you write and what you write is entirely up to you.

The important thing … is to WRITE.

The eyes have it when it comes to conveying complex mental states

Our facial expressions give away more of what we’re thinking than we thought. New research shows that people’s eyes, in particular, are a dead giveaway.

The function behind a facial expression mirrors the person’s emotional state. So if someone is narrowing their eyes as if they are scrutinising something they are likely to be feeling thoughtful; wondering about something. If you feel as though you are being scrutinised then you probably are.

In Psychological Science we read that:

The research reveals, for example, that people consistently associate narrowed eyes – which can enhance visual discrimination – with discrimination-related emotions including disgust and suspicion.

Continue reading