Tuesday, October 26, 2010

10 Characters with Character

The following is a list of memorable additions to any story. A common thread within all of us keeps drawing us to these characters. Archetypes? Who cares. Make them your own and put ‘em in. They are great and belong to the world.

1) Grand Dame – The world is her oyster and she wants to bring you along for the ride. She has no time to bother with laws or customs as she laughs her way through adventures. A life of wild experiences in the unrelenting pursuit of fun.

2) Outcast – Shunned by their peers the Outcast does not conform, and leads a richer life along the way. Perhaps they know the best underground rock bands or read poetry in the woods under the moonlight. The key is that their seemingly skewed way of looking at the world is the right way to see what’s going down.

3) Moxie – Sassy, Saucy, irreverent and irresistible.

4) Mystic – Old man/woman with secrets and wisdom, perhaps a shaman, who somehow knows what is transpiring in the story. They have knowledge or magic to aid in the struggle.

5) Hell or High Water – The friend who will be there no matter what. Usually this friend is mired in problems of their own. Death of this friend is perhaps the most devastating blow.

6) Weebol – The character that can’t be kept down no matter how many times they’ve been knocked over. They may waver, but they never give up, never.

7) Fish Out of Water – The ‘farmer’ in the ‘big city’ or the ‘businessperson’ on the ‘farm.’ Whatever the juxtaposition, the characters end up learning from one another, but not until after their drastically different points of view have collided on numerous occasions.

8) Legend – Word of their great deeds precede them. Maybe they are down on their luck and disappoint or maybe they are just tired of having to live up to expectations. Usually at least one character already worships the Legend. Perhaps it is enough the Legend passes on what they know or they perform one last time...

9) Artist – Quirky, free spirit, maybe too attractive for their own good. The artist has a vision and wants to be understood, but usually they are lost in their own world. Circumstance or another character must release this world.

10) Evil Genius – A character so cunning that the protagonist is extended farther than they ever dreamed. The Evil Genius has an edge; they don’t have to play by the rules, laws or acts of decency. They perhaps know science or medicine and are on the loose, so look out!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

'Your Point' The Interview

Writer: Len Bogarad
Interviewer: Skipper Cochran


Cochran: Let me just say congratulations on the completion of your latest opus.
Bogarad: Thank you ever so much.
Cochran: I hear you have an excerpt for us, delicious, but lets leave that to the end. Now straight to the point; what is your novel about?
Bogarad: It is a play. I am a playwright damn it!
Cochran: So sorry. I shall indeed rephrase; what is your play about?
Bogarad: Everything.
Cochran: Could you be a tad more specific? Perhaps the log line, throw in the protagonist and even the main conflict. You know if you keep it under 25 words it would go marvelously as the first line of a query letter.
Bogarad: That which is maximally random cannot be condensed.
Cochran: You are trying to sell this play, aren’t you?
Bogarad: Are you mocking me?
Cochran: So sorry. Let us move on.
Bogarad: Let’s

Cochran: So what are you trying to say?
Bogarad: Say? I am the author not an actor!
Cochran: No what is the point you are trying to make. The very point that you will prove in your climax, the same point every single scene has been building towards!
Bogarad: What on earth are you talking about?
Cochran: Does your play have a theme?
Bogarad: The human spirit is indomitable.
Cochran: Jolly good!
Bogarad: You like?
Cochran: Ever so much.
Bogarad: Good. I am glad.

Cochran: Now, how are you trying to make your audience feel?
Bogarad: Seeking butterflies in the wind.
Cochran: What?
Bogarad: Confused.
Cochran: Why yes I am.
Bogarad: No I am trying to make my audience feel confused.
Cochran: Right! But in the end all is made clear right old boy!
Bogarad: No. Why?

Cochran: Very well. Who comprises your target audience.
Bogarad: Everyone.
Cochran: Now you can be more specific than that can’t you?
Bogarad: I can. Comparative Lit majors who have a thing for chocolate chip cookie dough and Samuel Beckett.
Cochran: Of course.

Cochran: So to finish up, what has inspired you?
Bogarad: Endings.
Cochran: Endings?
Bogarad: For example the end of Mann’s ‘The Magic Mountain’ where the hero, Hans, suddenly leaves the sanatorium and ends up on a battlefield where he disappears into the mist. Of course I am thinking what effing kind of crap ending is that, but just before I launch the book across the room I realize, ‘He is off the mountain and back in the fight. It doesn’t matter if he lives or dies, wins or loses he chooses the struggle even without knowing what lies ahead.’
Cochran: You live in seclusion don’t you?
Bogarad: I am a playwright damn it!
Cochran: So you say.
Bogarad: Well here is an excerpt of the final section of the final scene of the final act of my latest endeavor.

From ‘Your Point’
Richard, Vivien and Elizabeth in a darkened room.

Richard: What gives?
Vivien: I am traveling through time on frequent flier miles.
Richard: Isn’t everyone?
Vivien: Your point?
Richard: Where is Elizabeth Joy?
Elizabeth: I am here flickering in and out of existence.
Richard: That is a strobe light.
Elizabeth: Your point?
Richard: I want an answer!
Vivien: From whom?
Richard: Both of you.
Elizabeth: I will do what ever Vivien does.
Vivien: We cannot marry you Richard. You live in the past.
Richard: Your point?
Elizabeth: He’s taking it well.
Vivien: True, and he can open tightly sealed jars.
Elizabeth: Yes, but you and I can do the same with the handle of a butter knife or even a fork if we are desperate.
Richard: Vivien, you know I love you.
Vivien: You say that to everyone.
Richard: Your point?
Vivien: Lets keep things status quo.
Elizabeth: Yes, no need to rock the boat.
Vivien: Quite right.
Richard: But we’ve only just met.
Vivien: Your point?

Curtains close.

‘Your Point’ by Len Bogarad

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Work Your Mind - Idea Generation

Always ask ‘What if?’
For Example:
What if Mr. Memory lost his hand?
What if Mr. Hand lost his memory?

Brainstorming
The more ideas you can generate the more likely you will land upon a good one (Quantity breeds Quality) - Sounds pretty good
Delay Criticism: Do not judge ideas until after you have generated your share. Perhaps you will let simmer an idea that at first glance is not obviously useful, but lo…
Welcome unusual ideas – Out of the box (You have read this far so this shouldn’t cause you problems)
Combine ideas (Power of Association)
-Derived from Osborn, ‘Applied Imagination’

Deduction:
A conclusion that necessarily follows from a set of premises.
For Example:
All men are fascinating
Joe Bob is a man
Joe Bob must be fascinating
(Perhaps my first premise needs some work, but you get the drift)

Induction:
An extension of knowledge: An educated guess: Not always true
For Example:
I have only seen fat people at McDonalds, thus all McDonalds’ customers are fat
One slight adjustment makes the fallacious statement quite useful ‘thus I should likely find a fat person at McDonalds.’

Start at the end and work backwards. Why? It’s fun damn it!

Insert randomness
Flip a coin
Care to dance? I am taking my driver’s exam. Your point?

Free associate
Free Wild Reckless Necklace Pearl Jam

Observe (With a quiet mind)

Engage (Remember: Flu Shot, Antibacterial hand lotion, Airborne)

Read, Read, Read

Meditate, probiotics, strolls in the park, long showers, call your friend Skip, listen to John Cage recordings…

Take tons of notes