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-Alocasia
Scratcher
100+ posts

SWC workshop: 'Character Introduction'!



Welcome to the SWC ‘character introduction’ workshop!

When introducing characters, there are three main factors you can use – which I’m going to call physical description, physical action and others’ reaction.



Physical Description:

This is the most basic level of introducing your character – but when I say ‘basic’, don’t think I mean bad! Without a physical description of your characters, your reader will be completely in the dark as to what they look like – which doesn’t make for a memorable character. Iconic characters all have recognisable features which have been described to us – like Harry Potter’s lightning scar to Red Riding Hood’s cape. How far you go on describing your characters physically is up to you, but here are some things your readers might like to know:

Eye colour
Skin colour*
Hair colour (and texture)
Clothes
Any unique defining physical features – e.g. scars or skin conditions?

*A word here: please don’t compare your characters, especially any characters who are POC, to food – eg, chocolate, caramel, coffee, etc. For explanation on why, please check out this blog post by the awesome people behind ‘writingwithcolor’: https://writingwithcolor.tumblr.com/post/95955707903



Physical Action:

This is your character’s action – how they move, how they act, and even how they speak. Just body language can tell you almost everything about a character’s core traits before you even let them speak a word.

Let me show you what I mean:

‘The girl was standing by the phone.’
A bit boring, right? We don’t know a single thing about her, and this hasn’t really enlightened us much either.

Let’s switch things up.

‘The girl was standing by the phone, gripping it so tightly her knuckles turned white against her skin, and gnashing her teeth like a tiger.’
This, no surprise, is an angry character.

‘The girl was standing by the phone, bouncing up and down lightly on her tiptoes with a massive grin on her face.’
This character is probably energetic and excitable.

‘The girl was standing by the phone, still and silent, staring down at the floor as though she wanted it to swallow her up.’
This character is quiet and shy – and perhaps even a little sad.

We have not yet heard the character speak, nor do we know anything concrete about her appearance – but we already have an indication of what sort of character they will be.

A Quick Body Language Guide:

Narrowed eyes, folded arms, tilted head: Suspicion
Shuffling, tense shoulders, eyes darting around, stammering/stuttering, high pitched voice: Anxiety
Shaking shoulders, tears, lump in throat: Sadness
Blushing, hiding face in hands: Embarrassment
Pacing back and forth: Worry, potentially even fear
Wide eyes, unsteady breathing, physically shaking, trembling voice: Fright
Moving around energetically, bouncing up and down, laughing: Excited
Gritted teeth, folded arms, hands on hips, red face, creased eyebrows, shouting: Anger

Feel free to use other descriptions too. My word isn’t gospel ^^

Also, a quick reminder: body language is like salt. ‘Show not tell’ is a good thought process to have when it comes to writing, but please don’t go and jam all these words in the same sentence. That’s the metaphorical equivalent of decanting the entire salt shaker. Sprinkle them throughout your writing, and taste as you go to make sure it’s seasoned correctly.

…And that is by far the weirdest metaphor I have ever, ever used.

A final note: another thing to think about is how your character walks. A shy schoolgirl shall move a very different way than to a 6’2 wrestler.

Alright, onto the next part!




Others’ Reactions:

This can be direct reaction or indirect reaction – aka, reaction when the character isn’t even there. That looks a little confusing, so let me just show you; here is an example of Indirect Reaction.


'I don't know. But I'm certain it's there. Alesha knows more - she'll be joining you today.'
This time, I think my heart stopped beating entirely.
'T-the…' I could barely get the words to form. 'The Silver Phoenix?'
'Call her Alesha. Far less wordy. But yes… her. She'll be accompanying you.'
I had a sneaky feeling in the back of my mind that I would rather be the one accompanying her. I think Bruin could tell, as she laughed quietly.
'Don't be scared of her, Detria-'
'I'm not scared!' Fearing my answer had perhaps sounded a little too high-pitched, I shrunk back in my seat. ‘Just- surprised. That - you’d put her with me.'


Despite the fact she never physically appears in this scene, we’ve already learnt a lot of things about Alesha:

- She has an alias - ‘the Silver Phoenix’.
- She is highly respected. We can tell this from the fact that Detria is nervous to even say Alesha’s name, and suspects she will take charge.
- She is intimidating. Detria’s voice goes high-pitched when she says ‘I’m not scared!’, which is an indication of her nervousness.
- She and Bruin know each other well. Bruin uses her real name, and deems it ‘far less wordy’ – which is a pretty informal thing to say.

We might not know what she looks like, or how she reacts to situations, but we’ve already given the reader a vague idea of what she might be like. This technique is especially good for introducing any sort of mysterious, yet influential character in your story, whether they be hero or villain.

However, something that must be considered whenever you use the indirect method of introduction is that this is the first impression that your reader is ever going to get of your character. Are the characters who are talking about the yet-to-be introduced character trustworthy?

Direct Reaction is much simpler – the character is there to be reacted to, and not just thought about or brought up in conversation. For example:

‘The entire class quivered as Mr Reeves marched in through the door.’

The use of ‘quivered’ shows the fear of the schoolchildren, and saying he ‘marched in’ makes us think of soldiers – strict, disciplined, and potentially shouty. Again, we might not know anything of what he looks like, but we’ve already got a good idea of character.



And I think that just about concludes my subtopic. Apologies for the wait, and I hope it was useful for you <3 Please contact me if you’ve got any questions at all, and I hope you have an amazing time writing!

- Alba



Activity: Design an entirely new character (or take one you haven't fully developed yet) and write a story of 600 words surrounding them. Can you use the techniques I mentioned here? I'd love to see it, so feel free to drop me a link or post it in this thread, if you're comfortable doing so ^^



Character Development Subtopic: @Chromesthesia: https://scratch.mit.edu/discuss/topic/456251/
Character Design Subtopic: @pitau, @apart– and @hoiographic: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/447878012/ (part 1)

Last edited by -Alocasia (Nov. 12, 2020 13:07:21)


~ alba - singer, writer and artist ~
dhritikothari16
Scratcher
26 posts

SWC workshop: 'Character Introduction'!

-Alocasia wrote:



Welcome to the SWC ‘character introduction’ workshop!

When introducing characters, there are three main factors you can use – which I’m going to call physical description, physical action and others’ reaction.



Physical Description:

This is the most basic level of introducing your character – but when I say ‘basic’, don’t think I mean bad! Without a physical description of your characters, your reader will be completely in the dark as to what they look like – which doesn’t make for a memorable character. Iconic characters all have recognisable features which have been described to us – like Harry Potter’s lightning scar to Red Riding Hood’s cape. How far you go on describing your characters physically is up to you, but here are some things your readers might like to know:

Eye colour
Skin colour*
Hair colour (and texture)
Clothes
Any unique defining physical features – e.g. scars or skin conditions?

*A word here: please don’t compare your characters, especially any characters who are POC, to food – eg, chocolate, caramel, coffee, etc. For explanation on why, please check out this blog post by the awesome people behind ‘writingwithcolor’: https://writingwithcolor.tumblr.com/post/95955707903



Physical Action:

This is your character’s action – how they move, how they act, and even how they speak. Just body language can tell you almost everything about a character’s core traits before you even let them speak a word.

Let me show you what I mean:

‘The girl was standing by the phone.’
A bit boring, right? We don’t know a single thing about her, and this hasn’t really enlightened us much either.

Let’s switch things up.

‘The girl was standing by the phone, gripping it so tightly her knuckles turned white against her skin, and gnashing her teeth like a tiger.’
This, no surprise, is an angry character.

‘The girl was standing by the phone, bouncing up and down lightly on her tiptoes with a massive grin on her face.’
This character is probably energetic and excitable.

‘The girl was standing by the phone, still and silent, staring down at the floor as though she wanted it to swallow her up.’
This character is quiet and shy – and perhaps even a little sad.

We have not yet heard the character speak, nor do we know anything concrete about her appearance – but we already have an indication of what sort of character they will be.

A Quick Body Language Guide:

Narrowed eyes, folded arms, tilted head: Suspicion
Shuffling, tense shoulders, eyes darting around, stammering/stuttering, high pitched voice: Anxiety
Shaking shoulders, tears, lump in throat: Sadness
Blushing, hiding face in hands: Embarrassment
Pacing back and forth: Worry, potentially even fear
Wide eyes, unsteady breathing, physically shaking, trembling voice: Fright
Moving around energetically, bouncing up and down, laughing: Excited
Gritted teeth, folded arms, hands on hips, red face, creased eyebrows, shouting: Anger

Feel free to use other descriptions too. My word isn’t gospel ^^

Also, a quick reminder: body language is like salt. ‘Show not tell’ is a good thought process to have when it comes to writing, but please don’t go and jam all these words in the same sentence. That’s the metaphorical equivalent of decanting the entire salt shaker. Sprinkle them throughout your writing, and taste as you go to make sure it’s seasoned correctly.

…And that is by far the weirdest metaphor I have ever, ever used.

A final note: another thing to think about is how your character walks. A shy schoolgirl shall move a very different way than to a 6’2 wrestler.

Alright, onto the next part!




Others’ Reactions:

This can be direct reaction or indirect reaction – aka, reaction when the character isn’t even there. That looks a little confusing, so let me just show you; here is an example of Indirect Reaction.


'I don't know. But I'm certain it's there. Alesha knows more - she'll be joining you today.'
This time, I think my heart stopped beating entirely.
'T-the…' I could barely get the words to form. 'The Silver Phoenix?'
'Call her Alesha. Far less wordy. But yes… her. She'll be accompanying you.'
I had a sneaky feeling in the back of my mind that I would rather be the one accompanying her. I think Bruin could tell, as she laughed quietly.
'Don't be scared of her, Detria-'
'I'm not scared!' Fearing my answer had perhaps sounded a little too high-pitched, I shrunk back in my seat. ‘Just- surprised. That - you’d put her with me.'


Despite the fact she never physically appears in this scene, we’ve already learnt a lot of things about Alesha:

- She has an alias - ‘the Silver Phoenix’.
- She is highly respected. We can tell this from the fact that Detria is nervous to even say Alesha’s name, and suspects she will take charge.
- She is intimidating. Detria’s voice goes high-pitched when she says ‘I’m not scared!’, which is an indication of her nervousness.
- She and Bruin know each other well. Bruin uses her real name, and deems it ‘far less wordy’ – which is a pretty informal thing to say.

We might not know what she looks like, or how she reacts to situations, but we’ve already given the reader a vague idea of what she might be like. This technique is especially good for introducing any sort of mysterious, yet influential character in your story, whether they be hero or villain.

However, something that must be considered whenever you use the indirect method of introduction is that this is the first impression that your reader is ever going to get of your character. Are the characters who are talking about the yet-to-be introduced character trustworthy?

Direct Reaction is much simpler – the character is there to be reacted to, and not just thought about or brought up in conversation. For example:

‘The entire class quivered as Mr Reeves marched in through the door.’

The use of ‘quivered’ shows the fear of the schoolchildren, and saying he ‘marched in’ makes us think of soldiers – strict, disciplined, and potentially shouty. Again, we might not know anything of what he looks like, but we’ve already got a good idea of character.



And I think that just about concludes my subtopic. Apologies for the wait, and I hope it was useful for you <3 Please contact me if you’ve got any questions at all, and I hope you have an amazing time writing!

- Alba



Activity: Design an entirely new character (or take one you haven't fully developed yet) and write a story of 600 words surrounding them. Can you use the techniques I mentioned here? I'd love to see it, so feel free to drop me a link or post it in this thread, if you're comfortable doing so ^^



Character Development Subtopic: @Chromesthesia: https://scratch.mit.edu/discuss/topic/456251/
Character Design Subtopic: @pitau, @apart– and @hoiographic: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/447878012/ (part 1)
This is soo helpful, ty Alba

Keep, rocking, keep smiling, but most of all keep scratching,
Dhriti
Summerhunter4203
Scratcher
11 posts

SWC workshop: 'Character Introduction'!

This is super helpful since I'm actually in the middle of writing some character introductions right now, thanks! :33

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