Exercise: Write a short bio for one of your lessor characters
Bio of Marie Marisol
How do you want readers to feel about the character? Are they to have favorable or unfavorable feelings? Will they like the character? Will they be able to relate to her? Probably if the character behaves in a manner that is consistent. A bio can help guide you in how your character would perform in various situations. What she will say and do. So when you need something to happen in your story you know which character is most appropriate to assign that role to, because of their bio.
Marie Marisol was born in Windsor, Canada. Her father was a former French Canadian hockey player who worked as an equipment manager for the Detroit Red Wings professional hockey franchise. Her mother’s family was a minority owner of the team. Marie inherited her parents’ passion for sport and was an all-city athlete in high school. She was on the fencing team at Wayne State University and competed for Canada in the Olympic Games. Marisol has a PhD in Native American Studies from UC Davis. Before becoming the college chancellor she headed the Center of Teaching Excellence at Stanford University. A passionate animal lover, she has a standard poodle she brings to work with her.
Have you thought about lately what you do with the treasures that others have buried inside you?
Quoting an often remembered parable “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
My mother’s love language was acts of service. Without any conscious purpose I have spent the majority of my life pursuing the following professions, military, police, and education. All of which gave me opportunities to help, protect, and cultivate. Now I’m taking the time to consider what it means to be my mother’s son.
One of her defining traits was fostering. Her grandmother showed her what that meant while raising her from infancy. As a child my mother practiced it with her cousins. As an adult she continued it with coworkers, friends and acquaintances throughout her life.
I am humbled by the daily experience where I engage in the same fostering my mother once did. This manifests as a cherished memory now. One I welcome with warm embrace. Thankfully, I have powerfully available visual cues to remind me of how my mother’s spirit remains present in her absence.
It occurs to me that similar expressions will be born out in her other children, grandchildren, and those others whom she endowed with her loving legacy. There is a good sized list. My hope is that in the days ahead that we live without her, each of us still recognize how we operate as an extension of the seeds she planted within us.
What about you? Who do you think about? What do you remember? What do you see in your life that must have come from them? Will the idea of honoring the heritage they passed on to you bring you peace, comfort, or assurance? Will it bring healing and restoration? Will it help you bury your treasures in the right fields?
5 Ways to add tension to my story
Here I want to examine specific ideas which would fit seamlessly into my story. I should do a close reading and determine which additions would be consistent with the themes I have built. How well can these be woven into the overall plot of the story? Do they help build towards a climax or move the story along constructively in other ways? Another use for this practice is to find the right amount of tension. Are you satisfied with the level of tension in your story? By adding and removing you can make adjustments here and there until it tastes just right.
Take one of your stories and try this technique too. Did it help? Do you have a similar technique that works for you?
My protagonist ‘John’ is attracted to a woman. By adding another character to compete with him for her attention I could introduce tension. How does John feel about the idea of losing her? How does John react to what the other person does and says? How does his behavior change because of the presence of competition? Alternatively, does the woman have a job or a family member whom John has to compete with? Would that create guilty feelings in John for wondering if he is being selfish?
2. Work Stress
John has an important position at work. I might have something bad happen on the job. Perhaps an accident occurs where John has to split his attention from his current assignment to help out. Someone could file a complaint or lawsuit which would add pressure on John from both that direction and from his superiors as well. How does he handle pressure from his boss? What are the consequences to John and others if the lawsuit has merit? How can John solve the situation or prevent it from getting worse?
3. Family Trouble
John’s sister is his closest living relative. If she is dealing with a medical condition and needs John’s help that could increase demands on him. She might refuse the help or be a difficult patient. She might have a secret that she is keeping from him causing him concern. How does he feel about his sisters actions? Does she have personality traits that get under his skin? Does he fear losing his sister because he is a widow who already suffers from the death of a loved one?
John has been alone since his wife died. He could have an unresolved issue related to her loss. The anniversary of her death, or their marriage might be a source of stress for him. His son might blame John for her death and act out in dangerous ways as a result, forcing John to resolve the conflict. How does he relate to a son who resists his attempts to heal their relationship? What happens when he thinks about his wife and the times they had, does he remember happy times or conflict? Is he struggling with regret?
5. Personal Flaws
John is not perfect. He makes a mistake or forgets an important event. Now he has to deal with the aftermath. Perhaps he had to choose between two conflicting demands on his time. Why did he make the choice he did? How did having to make that choice affect him? How did the people affected respond to John’s choice? What new challenges does he have to overcome as a result?