The Casting Couch for Character Development

Jessica Alba as Max in Dark Angel

Who Do You Want To Act The Role Of Your Protagonist?

An effective way to increase the connection you have to your characters is to sit on the casting couch. There are thousands of talented actors who could be cast into the role of your protagonist. Who would be their ideal counter and play the role of your antagonist? You could even select your supporting cast and run the credits through your mind.

Jessica Alba is going to play the lead role when they turn my current work-in-progress into a movie. Well, in a perfect world she would. Of course I’m sure she’ll love the script. It’s not finished yet but it’s going to be fantastic and it’ll be exactly what she’d want to do next. I picture it; I visualize and see her eagerness and anticipation. She knows the role is right for her and she’s looking forward to spending months in this characters skin.

Who will star in the book-to-movie adaptation of your novel?

As our characters develop during the writing process they grow in our mind. They start off as simple sketches. Insubstantial figments that act on strange whimsy. As we flesh out these strange creatures we discover personality, history, motivation, and depth. In time they take on a life of their own. We hear their voices in our heads and they begin to push the story rather than being resistant followers to our commands.

Visualizing these stars acting out your book can help you delve into character and story. With an actor in mind scenes become almost movie-like in the mind’s eye. As I write a scene I see Jessica Alba as my protagonist. She becomes my character. She mirrors her spunk and fire. Her dark hair and eyes reflect the sense of disturbed darkness within my character. I see the scene unfold as if I were watching in high-definition and surround sound.

Could Paul Walker be my next book's leading man?I haven’t cast my leading man yet. I’m considering Paul Walker but keeping my options open until someone feels “just right”. I find my hero much more difficult not only to picture in my mind’s eye but to feel and know. He’s still fragmented. I can’t “get” him. Perhaps that is why I haven’t been able to cast him. If I could find the perfect actor to play his part would I find myself more connected and attached. Who is this man and if any actor could play his part who would I choose?

Who would you cast in the movie of your novel? Does having your star in mind influence your writing and your sense of connection to your characters?

Career and the Direction of Life

Choose your future, choose your life!I was recently re-reading a guest post, “Learn it, Live it, Write it!“, written by Jenny Greenleaf about this time last year. In the post, Jenny talks about this mantra and how learning to live it and write it helped her career grow. In 2008 she continued to do amazing things as she learned, lived, and wrote. As I read over her post again, I started to really think about the questions she asked last year.

What Are MY Future Goals?

What are YOUR future goals? Have you thought about the direction your blog, career, or writing will take in the coming months? I have!

The fact is, I want MORE! In 2008 I made some significant leaps forward. I had some wonderful commissions, committed to a few long term projects, and began to step away from freelance writing to encompass my love of editing and web technology. I grew as a freelancer, and it was wonderful, but what I have today is not enough to sate my appetite for the work I do.

In 2009, I am dedicated to maximizing my potential. I am putting a great deal more of my every day energy into my current projects and spending several hours a week actively seeking new job leads, marketing my services, and socializing through the community.

What turn can you take to re-awaken your snoozing career?

I will develop strong, balanced, and giving friendships. Freelancers often lead rather solitary lives. I’ve found that embracing others enlivens me. I need to be able to turn to a friend when I’m struggling with fear or to share my joys.

I’ve never truly felt comfortable reaching out to others. As such, making friends is a constant struggle. This year I want to learn more about making and sustaining enriching relationships. I want to embrace friendship with people who share my passion for freelancing, web technology, writing, and more. Do you want to be a part of that with me?

What can you do to propel your career in the direction it wants to go?

I am committed to finishing my current novel. I will be in New York from the 26th of May to the 2nd of June, 2009 and will pitch my book at the pitch slam following Writer’s Digest’s Writer’s Conference. A great deal of work remains to be done. I really need to knuckle down and GET IT FINISHED!

This project has been hindered a great deal by fear. I fight against an anxiety attack every time I come to the screen with the intention of writing another scene. I don’t understand what causes this fear. There are a thousand reasons and yet none of them compare to the prospect of NOT finishing. To propel my career forward I must finish this book and fear is no longer permitted to stand in my way.

Are you working on projects that have become stale?

My plurk friend, Shelley Heath, recently said, “Maybe your heart is not really into it as a topic anymore. Maybe you need to spread the wings further and catch something of interest“. Honestly, I don’t believe it the case on that occasion but there are elements I’ve become disheartened with. As freelancers, we must be involved in the sales aspect of our business. It is vital to be able to sell yourself and your services. This is an aspect of the business I’ve always struggled with.

Part of what I do in cooperative effort with Miss Michele and Serenity Bly of is write copy for their weblog. SALES copy. There are fantastic readings available but the copy on the page needs to ‘call to action’ those who visit, it needs to entice them to buy, it needs to SELL itself. I know I can write sales copy but for some reason the prospect has been leaving me stale.

The project itself is one I LOVE, either I need to find a way to get beyond my sales copy blockage, or hire a writer to write the sales copy for me. I would much rather focus on the web technology and maintenance aspects. That is one fact that leads me to Jenny’s final question:

Do you need to find a new niche?

Focus On Direction, Find Your PathI have spent a great deal of time focused on the idea of myself as a freelance writer. I write very well and I can admit that, but my heart isn’t really in putting words to a page. Writing non-fiction is something I feel dispassionate about. I NEED to create, and web copy, sales copy, non-fiction articles, magazine articles and etc. just doesn’t spark my fire of creativity.

I need to focus on those elements where I can FEEL my creativity thrive. The design and programming I do as a Web Technician, for example, creates something real and visually tangible. It also caters to my need for instant gratification because every time I write a new program or edit a design element I can SEE it in action immediately. THAT is where I want to put my focus. That is the niche I feel most comfortable within.

Ask Yourself These Questions

How are you feeling about your career and the direction of your life going into the coming months? Can you answer Jenny’s questions, make changes, and buoy your hope that this year will be one for fantastic change and growth?

Personal Insecurities And The Quest For Success

With the New Year firmly upon us the web is alight with New Year Resolutions and inspirational goals. It is time to examine the year gone by and look ahead to decide what 2009 will bring.

For me, 2009 holds fear and uncertainty. With any opportunity for major growth and development there is an element of risk. This year, my youngest starts full-time school; expectations rise for all of us.

This is my final year to establish my freelancing career to a self-sustaining level before all other income sources are withdrawn. This, I suppose, is my primary concern. For two years I’ve tinkered through good intentions. Each month I would vow to make headway towards regular and steady income opportunities but I look back and find myself no closer to my goals then when I set them.

I’m inspired by the success of my friends and colleagues but challenged by personal insecurities and emotional retardation. I try not to allow myself to divert responsibility but every hurdle challenges my faith in myself.

What inner demons challenge you in your quest for success?

Bloggers And The Wall: Breaking Through Barriers

Writers And Bloggers Confront The Wall
After a year of blogging I’ve noticed that growth happens in spits and bursts. There can be long periods of stagnation and during these it becomes hard to keep blogging. This phenomenon echos a challenge writers come across known as “The Wall”. These days, weeks, or even months of stagnation are the hurdle before massive growth. If you keep pushing onward you’ll break through that wall and skyrocket into success, or at least the next major leap forward toward your own perspective of success.

The pro-activeness of each blogger plays a large role in the growth and potential of their blog. A blogger who can settle into a niche and feel comfortable posting a quality blog entry every day might find their blog boom earlier than one who chooses to post every other day or three times a week. If you can maintain the integrity of your posting schedule you’ll find your growth more stream-like and steady.

Committing to a niche with which you remain passionate is a key element in maintaining the momentum and motivation to push through challenges and break through “The Wall”. Understanding your personal boundaries, potential, and resistances will help you know the best way to approach your blogging goals.

Recently, I asked readers Why Are You Here? In my way I was attempting to get a feel for Writer’s Round-About’s audience. Writing a blog is never something you do as a solo except in life and I wanted to make sure what I wrote here was productive. Nobody likes spending several hours a week on a pursuit that has zero potential for growth, it’s the true loathing I have for housework that makes me so certain of this fact.

Reflecting on this time of personal turmoil and indecisiveness I recognize, “The Wall”. It rears it’s ugly head and is familiar at this point since I’m facing it with my current novel-in-progress also. In fact, many of those who faced National Novel Writing Month are perhaps intimate with “The Wall” right now. You might be hitting the 29th of November firmly face-planted into it or are rejoicing in the rush of energy having successfully broken through.

Move Forward, Move Upward, Break Through The WallFor writers and bloggers the solution is the same. The only way to get beyond “The Wall” is to move forward, push ahead, keep writing, keep blogging, and put one foot firmly in front of the other. If your blog feels stagnant, if you are struggling to maintain a consistent posting schedule, if you’re facing the blank page with horror and remorse, if you’re looking back over days or weeks when there have been zero updates, take comfort in the fact that there are others around the world facing the same thing each and every day.

Of course, in the end the only solution is to BIC (Butt-In-Chair). Sit yourself down, decide that you really want to accomplish this goal, and begin. If it helps, return to your Goal Setting Workshop notes to discover why this accomplishment is so important to you. If you haven’t created leverage do it now. Then get back to the grindstone, write onward, move forward. The rush of adrenaline and euphoria is just over that wall.

Break through the barrier with me!

Getting Hits: “Build it and they will come”?

In the ever-expanding universe of cyberspace, one of our greatest challenges is attracting visitors. When it comes to blogging our visitors are a vital element that breathes life into our corner of the cyber galaxy. Visitors will, hopefully, turn into regular readers who comment and offer an interactivity that increases our enjoyment as bloggers. Does anyone enjoy talking to an empty room?

Creating a website or blog simply isn’t enough to carve out your own nook. These days you must get out there and spread the word. There are so many ways to attract visitors and some are more successful than others. What works?

Search Engines: Do you Google?

Search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, are overloaded with sites and web pages. From millions of results it takes a great deal of effort to ensure your site registers in the first few pages. For bloggers interested in gaining the most benefit from their search engine listings I recommend keeping on top of the latest Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. Terms such as: keyword placement, meta tags, robot.txt etc. hold meanings that could equal significant traffic if you learn to use SEO techniques effectively.

Socializing, Community and Participation

Networking Is The Key To Building Dot NetCommunity participation is another way to develop inbound links. By befriending others in your sphere you can create a social circle on blog rolls, forums, groups and blog comments. It is important to be an active member online because we all learn from each other; constantly expanding our experiences.

Social Media – Connect and Interact

Social Media is one of the newer innovations to bring people together. With websites such as Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, Myspace, Digg, LinkedIn, Del.ic.ious, MyBlogLog, StumbleUpon and many more we link together as a community sharing interests, making new friends and discovering other hemispheres on the web.

Hit and Miss? No More! – Be Valuable

There Is More To Building A Dot Com Then You Might Think!These mediums can be a hit and miss experience when trying to build your brand or grow your blog community. Members are often more interested in what they can get out of their participation. It is important to offer potential readers value but it’s equally important to give value as a community member. When you give to others you’ll find you receive in return.

Never Enough Hours – Finding Balance

With the many pressures involved in ensuring your blog continues to grow it can sometimes be challenging to find the time to factor in all of these elements. Creating content should always be your primary concern because the myth, “build it and they will come” is true to some degree. Without anything other than content you will gain readers, slowly, almost imperceptibly. With great content everything else is optional. Each moment you spend in marketing however will increase the speed of your growth exponentially.

Find a balance and make sure the demands you put on yourself don’t go beyond your boundaries. There is no point treating your blog like a full time job if you already work full time, especially if you haven’t monetized your pages. It is true that with hard work and dedication you could turn blogging into a full-time career but it is often better to start slow, enjoy the process of establishing your readership and create a true bond with your visitors and your topic.

Find or Establish a Local Writer’s Group

Have you ever participated in a local writer’s group? In some areas it can be challenging to find any group of writers who gather regularly let alone the right group to suit your individual needs. Thankfully, there are online communities that can create an ideal home, but can it compare to the camraderie and rhetoric that a group of local writer’s generate?

Becca from Write On Wednesday asks her readers,
What would be your criteria for the perfect writer’s group?

In the past I’ve searched for writer’s group that meet these five musts for my own needs:-

  1. Meeting together an a convenient time
  2. One of the hardest challenges when finding a local writer’s group is having the time available when others are gathering. For me this means trying to fit into hours when both my children are at school or finding a group that welcomes children. Do you prefer to gather for a morning group? Or an evening? Accomodating a time that suits everyone interested in joining the group can be difficult and this can be a good reason to create a group at a time that suits you.

  3. A blend of experience levels
  4. You certainly don’t want to develop a group of “Blind Leading Blind” novices. There also wouldn’t be much point to a group consisting entirely of writer’s who believe they know all they need to know. Developing a blend of experience levels gives members an opportunity to follow their mentors or aid mentees. More experienced writers can learn a great deal from those who are just finding their feet, and vice versa.

  5. Similar genre or type interests
  6. Those writers seeking poetry critique will find better advice from fellow poets. Those who write non-fiction may prefer to read other non-fiction. Genre specific writers may build a stronger foundation with other writers of the same genre. This is another good reason to begin your own group rather than join an existing one. If your preferred type or genre doesn’t have an exclusive group perhaps it is time to begin one.

  7. A firm basis for acceptable critique
  8. set the rules early. In a group environment it can be confusing if some writers rip in and others offer only polite nods. It is important to have a solid foundation for the kind and style of critique acceptable. Never join a group that is abusive or derogative to anyone. Your ideal writers group needs to share supportive, constructive critique with a balance of encouraging comments.

  9. A commitment to encouraging growth and motivation
  10. Just as you want to ensure a foundation for critique the lifts writers your group focus should be on the encouragement of growth and motivation. You should leave your regular gatherings with a renewed passion and drive to return to your individual writing. Share experiences, invite lessons, and push each other forward with love and consideration.

Finding a group that adheres to these five traits might be difficult. That doesn’t mean you cannot found one of your own. Find a location that suits your needs, arrange a time that works best for you, decide the type and genre you wish to focus upon, and write a foundation for critique and encouragement.

Show up for your writer’s meeting regularly. Meet with yourself. Advertise the group to others. Be welcoming as newcomers tread the waters of your group. It may be slow to grow but in time you’ll gather a sampling of writer’s who blend with your ideals and who bring a new element to each others work.

This new kinship is a true gift that will be cherished long into the future. From the humble beginnings of a writer’s group you all progress to greater things.

Have you found your ideal writers group? Do you have experience with starting your own? What is it you look for when gathering with local writers? What other local writing experiences have you enjoyed?

Are you a Western Australian Writer?
Every Thursday afternoon from 12:30pm until 2:30pm I gather at Seville Grove Library (formerly Westfield). I’d love to welcome other science fiction / fantasy novelists. Children are welcome, as are laptops.

Do you gather with an existing writer’s group?
Share your groups details in the comments so other local writers can visit!

SG1 Series Part Two: Character Development

Characters are an elemental part of every story. An intriguing plot with a good story-arc is important but without approachable characters your story will never connect with an audience. Readers need characters. Characters are the socket for your stories power supply. It is through your characters that readers can plug into the plot and experience the life of your story.

The Stargate series introduces a multitude of characters in various stages and of differing quality and consideration. Some play bit parts as extras or body count but others grow into the story, we come to love them or hate them, we come to care for the part they play in the story, their injuries and deaths bring anguish and grief or heartfelt cheers.

SG1 – Jack, Daniel, Sam and Teal’c

The original SG1 is a team of four diverse characters. Their differences create an initial challenge; they struggle as a unit until they learn to use each others strengths to counter their own weaknesses. It shows the importance of bringing opposites together. These characters are unique in their own fields. It is their united purposes, each individual to their character, which brings them together. A bond is formed that gives this eclectic community a solid friendship. We see the bond develop and grow with the characters as the series progresses.

It is important to blend characters but avoid carbon copies. Each character should be unique and individual. Distinguish them with separate goals, established histories, areas of interest and technique.

The SGC and General Hammond

The Stargate Command is an entity in its own right. It is actually a collection of individuals that work in regulated ways to create a standardized base of operations. There are many faceless characters lead by the General. Most of the time we don’t connect with these individuals but General Hammond represents the unity. His personality molds the actions of the SGC.

Larger forces need a strong head character to represent their interests. Armies can seem like a long column of faceless men but a charismatic leader will show a distinguishing command of his forces. Each of his men is ultimately the voice of this man and a solid leader is one whose men will lay down their own lives to support the orders he puts forth. This is true of the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ guys.

The Goa’uld

While the Goa’uld are a nasty bunch in their own right they are an ideal antagonist. They aren’t evil. They have solid reasoning and a collection of emotional reactions that allow readers to associate with them. The Goa’uld act entirely out of an arrogant sense of self preservation and domination. As a people (um… symbiotic race) they act with rational, intelligent thought. They are challenging but not insurmountable.

Antagonists should be normal people. You can create more impact with a sympathetic antagonist then with a diabolical freak. If a reader can see themselves in a protagonist you have a good story but if readers can see themselves to some small degree in the antagonist then you have a charged situation that will keep a reader tied to the outcome.

There are many more characters involved in the Stargate series. Each new person (or group of people) is shown in snippets. Base motivations appear and personality traits are revealed but characters always have an element that remains unseen. It is impossible to know everything and it is important that characters can still do something unexpected or unpredictable.

Over time, we get to know the main characters. Their own personal stories are revealed and delved into. The primary characters are challenged with personal situations forcing them to make choices that distinguish them. Whole episodes play a vital role in adding depth to these characters and introduce situations that push their qualities forward.

  • Use time in your story to slowly reveal your characters.
  • Allow their actions and reactions to portray the depth of their beliefs and desires.
  • Each scene should use your characters strengths and weaknesses.
  • 3D characters have sides we cannot see.
  • A characters relationships reveal vital clues to their personality.
  • Characters always continue to grow and change based on the situations that occur in each moment of their lives.

Finally, just because your story has reached ‘The End’ does not mean your characters have. Characters should still be imperfect in the final scene. Their growth remains incomplete. Some of your characters may have died but most will live on beyond your closing paragraph and while they began at one point and progressed to another in this story there should always be another world to save, another enemy to fight, another day to live and another dream to follow.

Related Articles: