Thursday, 19 January 2012

Amazing Writing Tips #8: Characterisation Through Dialogue

Well rounded characters
Creating characters is hard. Despite your best efforts you'll just end up with a plank of wood; Just look at Downton Abbey. So here's a neat trick to add some extra 'character' to your characters. Give them a nationality and accent. In my last fifty (unpublished) books I've used this very method, here's how I go about it.

Once I have an idea for a story I place my characters into it. I have two stock characters; Gestapo Officer and Sexy Lady French Resistance Fighter. I use these over and over again. The added bonus is that I have a fifty book series revolving around these characters. They've fallen in love, fallen in love on the moon, fallen in love travelling forward in time, fallen in love in Pride and Prejudice times, fallen in love as vampires.

I know you're thinking this doesn't work, but the very strength of their characters/accent carries it off, as you'll see from this scene from Herr Flock and Mitsy Paris in 'Big Lake Cats':

"Are you going to put zat avay?" Herr Flock said, limping slowly into the room.
"Flefluffie flue, I will do whatever I want with it, my petit Lobe de l'oreille," Mitsy said, peeling the garlic.
"Vell I'm afraid I shall have to keep it, Achtung!" Herr Flock said,  unbuttoning his long leather coat.
"Non, non, non, thank heaven for little girls," Mitsy said, picking up her gun.
"You shoot me in your dreams, you had better vake up and apologise," Her Flock screamed, eyes raging with rage.

Just make sure you don't stray into stereotypes; like Downton Abbey.



Thursday, 12 January 2012

Flash, ahhhhhhhhhh!

"Yes, Flash! Flash Fiction. It's not about you.
Well, not all of it," said the sultry princess
How do I fill the void? Every week it's the same. I need to do something.

Then the answer came.

Nik Perring's Flash Fiction - An Online Course

When I don't have anything daft/interesting to say on this blog I can write some daft/interesting flash fiction. I'm a genius.

In case you are some cave dwelling hippie, flash fiction is fiction (obviously) that's really short. Not many words. Some people probably take it to the extreme and tweet it.

 So I signed up to the course and last week I completed my first assignment, part of which was the short, short story that is below.

Nik Perring
The course covers everything, from generating ideas all the way to being an efficient storyteller, sent via email so you can fit it in whenever you like, before work, after work, during work if you're really naughty (the last option is not advisable). Robert Mitchum look-alike Nik is friendly and quick to respond to any questions you have and  the work you send to him. It's like you've got a new best mate.

So moving swiftly way from the edges of stalkerdom, here is the first bit of FLASH! AHHHHH fiction I've written. It does not feature Flash Gordon, sadly. Though he may appear at a later date.

Here's the story. Just here. Bit nervous, like. It features me and Lauren.
Robert Mitchum


“I think you’ve missed all the major themes.”

I look up from the story at Lauren. She’s sat there, wide brown eyes looking back through curly black hair, head turned slightly away from me, corners of her mouth dipping slightly. They do that when she doesn’t want to upset or hurt me.

“What do you mean?”

“You don’t mention her sadness, her ontological insecurity in this situation—”

I squint, nostrils flare; all the danger signs.


“Ontological insecurity?”

“You made that up,” I say, smile and shake my head. There were way too many syllables for me to understand.
Onto- what?!

“It’s when…” Lauren pauses, watching my face, reading it. “Maybe you should look it up.”

She thinks I’ll shoot the messenger.

My fingertips trip over the keyboard and I’m reading about it, on Wikipedia; a source of truth as undisputed as the early Catholic Church. Yep, I definitely don’t understand this.

“Hmmm,” I finish reading and look at Lauren.

“What’s it say?”

“Insecurity that things will change, I think.”

“So yeah, she’s insecure that her lover—”
She's sad!

“I’ve only got one sentence to summarise it.”

“Oh,” Lauren says, and sticks her bottom lip out. I look back at the story.

“I’ll just say she’s sad.”

The End?

So there you go. If your interested in Nik's course you can find out about it here.

I'm thinking of decorating every bit of flash fiction I do with pictures from Flash Gordon. It's the future.