Once Upon a Time By Barry Mitchell
Write Your Own Stories Part 3
Welcome back to more inspiration for you to start writing your own stories. In part 1 we discussed our motivation to give story writing a try. In part two we discussed the first tool of a good writer, the match, which is the spark of an idea.
In this issue let’s discuss the tool of “Character Development.” I don’t want to keep you in suspense too long so allow me to share all the storywriter tools so you know where we’re headed. 1. MATCH – the idea 2. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT 3. CONFLICT 4. RESOLUTION 5. MORAL. These are the tools I use when writing stories for my magical children’s shows. I’m sure there are other examples of tools that would be beneficial.
Think about your favorite movie, TV show, or book. Can you describe the main characters? Of course you can and most likely in great detail. I’m a fan of science fiction and my top three favorites are Star Trek, Stargate SG-1, and Doctor Who. Sometimes when I tell people I like these shows they respond, “I just can’t get into that stuff.” My response is always, “I like the characters and once you like the characters it’s easy to come back to see them again.” I believe this is true of all stories. If a character is developed well and likable or even deservingly dislikeable we’re more likely to remain interested. A poor story may be nothing more than a poorly developed character problem.
Let’s take a brief look at the four personality types to help us as we consider character development. I’ve found the easiest way to explain the personality types is by using four recognizable Disney characters. Our stars are Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, and Eeyore. If you have any memory of these characters then you know that each animal’s attributes is completely different. Winnie the Pooh is friendly, laid back, and never meets a stranger. In technical college words, he’s phlegmatic. Tigger is bouncy, talkative, and full of life. He’s almost annoying. He’s a classic sanguine. Rabbit is a worker, driven, and responsible. Getting the job done seems to be his highest goal. He’s choleric. Eeyore is a little gloomy, the exact opposite of Tigger and a great example of melancholy. Notice how each of these characters create conflict against each other and therefore make for more interesting stories. You can see how the distinct characters can help to push a story along. Now consider your favorite books and movies and see if you can relate these personality types to your favorite characters.
As you increase your understanding and awareness of these character distinctions you’ll find it easier to develop your own characters for your own stories. In part 4 we discuss the greatest tool for excellent story development, conflict. If you ever have questions or thoughts feel free to email me at BarryMitchell@aol.com. Stay tuned until our next once upon a time.