Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Writing: Bold Characterization

When I teach character development in fiction writing, I rely on an exceedingly clever (personally assembled) acronym, TOADS.

To show what a character is experiencing from the inside, use that person's:
*Thoughts, in the ragged language of thought
*Observation, what the person notices

What not to do: explain and summarize the person's personality.

I like to make the TOADS point clear in the most vivid, bold, and tangible way. I've done this before by bringing a live toad to class and setting the little fellow loose.

Lately I've been gathering a collection of thrift-shop toy toads, to give students or clients as memory devices.

Here are a few of them on my arts-and-crafts spot at home, irresistibly colorful and distinct, every one of them a real character.

In addiion to offering writing advice, any one of them can be a desk toy reminder to be one's own vivid self.

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