Friday, June 1, 2012

'Hi ... Have We Met?'

People, I am on a bridesmaid-dress-saving diet for the next 6 weeks, I got up at the crack this morning just to have my equally unenthused running partner cancel, and my arms are tanned two different colors.

... I think I need a break from my first-world problems, please. Thus, I have created something wonderful to help me dive into my self-created realities – and to share with all of you!

(First, you have to imagine me talking like one of those elixer salesmen from the 1800s who pop up in dusty towns with little carts and ear horns, then dissapear overnight.) (Not that I'm one of those – my stuff actually works.)

Dialogue not working for you? Your characters getting muddled together? Want to throw a drink at that bubbly writer who keeps saying, 'I swear, sometimes they just write themselves!' ??

Look no farther! I offer you:
Amber Plante's 'Hi ... Have We Met?'
character development sheet!

I've scoured the Internet's best sources – acting coaches, English professors, even my own experience – and created the perfect personality profile for discovering who your characters really are in relation to the story you've created. I didn't re-invent the wheel here, folks. It's just a good alternative – or starting-off point – if you are looking to really get to know, remember and quickly recall who your characters are as you're writing. At least, it's really helped me.

The idea is simple: Other character sheets are, at their best, a list of questions. How boring and easily forgetable. Mine, however, is a printer-friendly (set yours to landscape, please) three-page packet that you can easily reference in the middle of a particularly difficult chapter where you desperately need some reminding who – and what – the hell you're actually writing.

And, the best part: It's completely free. Take it – distribute it – please! If it helps one person as much as it's helped me, then I've gained all that karma back from making fun of an Olsen twin for dating a 42-year-old Frenchman with a huge nose (I mean, come on now, girl) and maybe enough to stop wishing Beyonce would show a lipo scar.

Anyway, this character development packet includes detailed physical descriptors, adjective prompts, fun questions, emotional triggers, character arcs and fill-in-the-blank flow-type diagrams – and even an image space to paste or draw in a picture of exactly who you are writing, lest you lose track.

Wait, why the picture part? Because my muses (as explained here) are not to be triffled with. They come on hard, strong and vivid. Why should I (or you) deny it if that half-nekked lead with pants so low he needs to shave is Ian Somerhalder? Or if your heroine has long dark hair and bangs like Zooey Deschanel? Don't worry – I pretend I'm casting them in a film version of my book, and we all get along perfectly.

So please: download, print, peruse and enjoy. The only thing I'll ask is that you please tell me if it's helped you at all. And, if you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments!

Trust the process, writers. The universe knows.