THE “C WORD” METHOD OF CREATING CHARACTER DRIVEN NARRATIVES

Lucille Ball – one Crazy Character!

I may have gone a bit C Crazy but once I started, I just couldn’t stop.

As we all know the very best stories spring from the motivations, needs, strengths and weaknesses of the Central Character. The most important part of the word Character is the ACT in the middle. Action reveals the truth of who this person is. Not what they look like, though this gives us clues. Not what they say, though this can be great and very useful if juxtaposed with what they do. 

The Character must ACT, not react. They must Choose an action at some point, and they must Change or refuse to Change. This is what makes a protagonist the main character really.

Don’t go too crazy!

So, the C WORD METHOD.

A Character needs to have a CURSE, a CAUSE, CRAVING or a CALLING. They can have all four if you like but they must have at least one. This Curse, Cause, Craving or Calling – which in not C word terms would be your story goal or the character’s “desire” – usually springs from a CRISIS in their past. A wound or scar in their backstory that has shaped who they have become. 

For example, Madonna the pop star may have been a neglected middle child, always searching for her father’s approval so she CRAVED attention and sought it from the applause of strangers.

Harry Potter has a CURSE – the lightning bolt on his forehead is proof of this imbuing him with a piece of Voldemort. He also has a CAUSE – to save the world from the curse of Voldemort’s darkness and a CALLING – to lead the forces of good and defeat Voldemort. 

A story I recently wrote set during the reforming of the Catholic church through Vatican 11 in the 1960s was about a nun who CRAVED divine connection, was CURSED by her childhood in an orphanage and had once felt a CALLING but now found it lacking.

Nuns having fun 🙂

Figuring out your character’s C words will help form the plot of your story. Whether it’s flash fiction or a full-length novel.

            The C WORD METHOD continues as follows:

Start with your CHARACTER with a Cause, Curse, Calling or Craving

Then throw them a CALL TO ACTION – otherwise known as the inciting incident (also nice use of Cs) or CRISIS that spurs them to pursue their C word.

Then all you have to do is pile up COMPLICATIONS, CONFLICTS OR CHALLENGES into a CRESCENDO until you reach the

CLIMAX and then show us the CHANGE in the CHARACTER in the 

CONCLUSION!

Have fun creating chaos!

A cacophony of crazy Cs to create a cool, character-driven, competition-catapulting (fingers crossed) story!

Have a go. What is your character’s C Word?

Lots of love

Edwina xx

10 SUPER STORY STARTERS

Trees as big and beautiful as this one start as seeds. Stories start from seeds too.

Here are some story seeds to plant in the garden of your imagination or memories.

These prompts can be used for both memoir pieces and fiction. For fiction just invent situations for a character, not yourself.

  1. A moment of joy. Big or small. Where were you? What was happening? Use all five senses to describe what was going on. Go into your body – how does the emotion of joy feel in your body? What happened just before this? What happened just after?

2. Shame. Not for the faint-hearted but great story material. A moment of shame, maybe one you’ve carried a long time. Get it out of your head and onto the page – or give it to a fictional character.

3. The biggest lie you’ve ever told and why. Again you can write from your own life or give it to a character.

4. The best decision you’ve ever made. Why was this decision so important? Great stories are born from these moments that change us.

5. An oxygen mask moment (or light bulb moment). A point in your life when you suddenly felt like you’d had a blast of oxygen, or a light had been turned on and you saw the situation you were in clearly for the first time.

6. A piece of clothing from childhood. This could be something you wore, (like my favourite Donald Duck T-shirt that I wore until it was in shreds and my mother threw it out), or a piece of clothing someone else wore. What story does it have to tell. Why do you remember it?

7. A smell you love, a smell you hate. Smell can open all sorts of doors. What story of yours starts with a smell?

8. Witnessing an act of small cruelty. Once, when I was living in Singapore, I saw a harried young businesswoman dragging her screaming five year old across the street, screeching at her, “After all I’ve sacrificed for you!”. It’s stuck with me all this time. A teacher at school? A mean girl at a party? Start there and see where it takes you.

9. A found object. Next time you’re on a walk, keep your eyes open for something. Anything. A scrap of paper with a few words on it. A rock. A piece of rubbish. A leaf or a feather. What story starts here?

10. Rewrite a favourite religious story or myth, updated to present day.

Okay! Pick one (or maybe two – see Thing 1 and Thing 2).

Now set a timer for ten minutes and write like a fury. Don’t stop for anything. If your pen breaks, write with your fingertip. Find your momentum and just keep going. If you’re still going when the timer goes off, ignore it!

Have fun and let me know how you go 🙂

Lots of love

Edwina xx