Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Character Profiles

No, this isn't the story from the promt. I'm still working on that. School's been pretty crazy and teachers have been loading me down with homework, leaving no time for writing. But the semester is coming to a close (YAY!) and once finals are over, I'll hopefully have a lot more time to work on it. In the meantime, I decided to post about something that's been on my mind. Character profiles.

I've been reading a lot about the importance of writing character profiles. This is never something I've been inclined to do, and in fact, I never have done it. I always just come up with a story idea and roll with it, hoping my characters develop and become likable. But from what I understand, character profiles help with keeping a character's actions and beliefs consistent. And they're handy when you forget some information that you've previously written about a character. For instance, their age or hair color. So instead of having to scroll, or flip, through the pages of your story to find the info, character profiles make it easy to find. Now, I've been writing this modern western/love story thing and have some characters with complicated pasts and somewhat complex personalities. Also, I don't get the chance to work on it that often. The combination of these two things made me realize that I might not be giving my characters very consistent personalities. Every time I feel like working on the story again, I forget certain aspects about their pasts or appearance and have to search the chapters to find what I am looking for. I also think that I've been subtly changing the character's personalities throughout the chapters. So, for the sake of consistent writing, I decided to start some character profiles. Only, now I have a dilemma. I don't know what information, exactly, to include. I mean, appearance and age are obviously important. But how much of their personality should I include in the profile? Should I write their likes and interests? Their dislikes and phobias? I'm probably over thinking this, but I want some second or third opinions. What information do you include in your character profiles? Do you even write character profiles? And if you don't, how do you keep their actions and personalities consistent?


Saturday, March 31, 2012

"The Diamond's Encouragement"

Okay, so this post isn't a story I wrote. I must admit I have not yet finished mine. I misplaced the first few pages of my story and just recently found them again, so it will be a little bit before I post my story from one of the previous prompts. However, a reader of my blog, Dr. Watson, wrote a story using a combination of all three of the prompts I gave in my last post. She emailed me her story and I enjoyed it so much that I want to share it with you. I hope you like it and please leave comments for the author! 

The Diamonds’ Encouragement
[The character I chose was Susan Bones, a Hufflepuff from Harry Potter, and my items were: a fake diamond necklace, a picture frame, and a ribbon.]

I did the cowardly thing. Any normal witch or wizard wouldn’t have tossed a magical diamond necklace into the lake. But that’s what I did. Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

    It was the day that the students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were allowed to go into Hogsmead—the little wizarding village near Hogwarts. Most of the other fifth year students, including my fellow Hufflepuffs, had gone to the Hogshead pub or to Zonko’s Joke Shop, but I went to the book store. Hogsmead had a little book store nestled between two shops on a crowded street. Most people just walked by it, unless they needed books for school. The shop sold mostly school books; Defense Against the Dark Arts books, potion books, but the ones I was interested in were the fairy tales. The books about witches and wizards from long ago, fighting dragons out in the wilderness with only their wands and their wits, beautiful witches being rescued from dark sorcerers by young and handsome wizards in flowing robes. Those were the kind of books I liked. They almost always had a happy ending—not like my life had been.

    Maybe that’s why my favorite classes at Hogwarts were things like Transfiguration and Charms. In my opinion, those were real magic. They weren’t just mixing potions, or defending yourself with your wand. They were required practice, and real spells—they were the most magical. I don’t know why I felt so drawn to that kind of thing—I’d grown up in a family of witches and wizards. Perhaps it was because, somewhere deep inside me, even then, I wanted to make things better for my family than they had been. Ever since He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the darkest wizard of all time, had come back, my life had been getting worse and worse. Recently, my own aunt had been mysteriously murdered. We all knew who was behind it.

    That day had just seemed like another normal Hogsmead weekend. I left my friends near Zonko’s, and headed toward the little bookshop. I had curled up in my usual corner and read one of my favorite old fairytales. I’d lost track of the time reading, so I didn’t notice how late it was until it was almost too dark in the dim shop to read. I stuck the ribbon from a box of chocolate cauldrons into my book to mark my place. Then I quickly left the shop to meet my friend before we walked back to the Hogwarts castle.

    “There you are, Susan,” my friend Ellen, also in Hufflepuff house, said when I caught up to her heading out of Hogsmead. “What kept you so long?”

    I was explaining to her, my mind still on a particularly intriguing story about a wizard who discovered a cave full of treasure, when something sparkly glinted in the setting sun in the corner of my vision. I thought it was just the bright white snow piled about the streets, but for some reason, I looked back anyway. That’s when I saw it.

    A diamond necklace was lying, half-buried in snow, on the cobblestone rode.

    “What is it, Sue?” Ellen asked, noticing that my voice had drifted off, and that I was staring at the ground a few feet off.

    “There,” I murmured. I stepped forward, trance-like, and picked up the necklace by the chain.

    Ellen gasped. “That’s not…?”

    “Not what?” I asked, still staring at the necklace.

    “My mum once told me about necklaces like that,” Ellen explained. “They supposedly have magical powers almost as amazing as that Resurrection Stone in the old children's story. What are you going to do with it?”

    I looked around to make sure no one else had noticed what I’d found. Then I slipped the necklace into my robes. “I don’t know yet,” I murmured.


I had a hard time concentrating in classes the next day. I kept thinking of the necklace I found. At last, after classes were over for the day, Ellen and I went down with some other students to the lake.

    “What are you going to do with it?” Ellen asked again. “With that kind of power the necklace must have…”

    “I know, I’ve been thinking about it all day,” I said, rather weary of the necklace by now. “But something just doesn’t feel right about that kind of power.”

    “You might even stand a chance of protecting your family from You-Know-Who with that,” Ellen added.

    I thought about what she’d said. I thought about my aunt’s murder. But then I spotted a black haired fifteen year old boy with bright green eyes under a tree by the lake. I thought of something I’d read in the Daily Prophet. Supposedly, this boy, Harry Potter, was the only one who could defeat You-Know-Who. I pulled the necklace out of my robes again and studied it. Then I threw it into the lake as hard as I could.

    “What was that for?” Ellen exclaimed, staring at me as if I’d gone mad.

    “I can’t do it,” I murmured. “There’s no way I can stand up to You-Know-Who. There’s a reason the Sorting Hat didn’t put me in Gryffindor, Ellen. I’m not brave. I know I could never do it.”


Later that day, I was back in our dormitory putting a photo my parents had just sent me of us all on Christmas holiday into a picture frame, when Ellen rushed in.

    “You’ll never believe what I heard,” Ellen gasped, out of breath. “I overheard some Slitherins talking, and they said that they’d tried to steal a fake diamond necklace from Zonko’s earlier!”

    I stared at her, the picture frame still in my hands.

    “But they lost it,” she added. “Don’t you understand, the necklace you found—”

    “It wasn’t one of the real ones your mum told you about,” I finished, the truth dawning on me. “It was just a fake diamond necklace from Zonko’s.”

    It made sense. Ellen rarely went into Zonko’s, and I never did, so we wouldn’t have known they were selling fake magical necklaces.

    Now that I knew the truth, I didn’t feel at all heroic about the way I’d acted. I’d tossed a fake necklace into the lake, just because I was afraid of what it would bring me. I’d been afraid that the rumors about Harry Potter would turn out to be about me instead, and I’d have to fight You-Know-Who. I hadn’t even offered the necklace to Harry Potter, when it might’ve helped him—if it had actually turned out to be real. I’d done the cowardly thing. I hadn’t wanted to be involved at all.

    Ellen seemed to be working along the same line of thought as me. “Harry Potter was in Hogsmead today,” she said thoughtfully. “He wants to start some kind of wizard army.” She said the idea like it was crazy, but I looked up at her, and suddenly everything that had happened with the fake necklace and all my worrying seemed laughable.

    “I’m joining,” I said.

    “What are you talking about, Susan?” Ellen asked.

    “This wizard army,” I explained. “I’m going to fight with them. Maybe I was a coward before, with the necklace, but I’m not going to stand by anymore. Imagine if that necklace had really been magical, and I just threw it away! That’s not going to happen again. I’m not the one who will fight You-Know-Who in the end, but I’m not going to let him hurt me anymore without fighting back.”

    And that’s the story of how I did the cowardly thing. I’m not saying everyone should act the way I did. But for some reason, call it fate, even though I didn’t do the brave thing, that act of cowardliness egged me on to do something more—something that turned out to be far more important than a fake diamond necklace.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March Prompt

Okay, so I decided that every month I am going to make two posts. One of which will include a prompt or two for everyone who feels so inclined to work on. The other will be either something I've written, or random thoughts I have about writing. Like how it can be so difficult to remember to include sensory details...

So, here are your first prompts:
1. Start a story with the first sentence: "I did the cowardly thing." I just came up with this sentence while I was on a walk today. I was thinking how all of the characters in books end up doing the brave thing and everything eventually works out. I wondered, "What if the character did the cowardly thing? How would the book have turned out then?" And the sentence popped into my head as a perfect starting place for a story.

2. Pick three objects from the following list and write a story using them. They can be background pieces or  the focal point of your story, it's up to you. Here they are: picture frame, diving board, hanger, chalk, a single ski, ribbon, flood light, cookie, fake diamond necklace, rubber bands, teacozy, bottle of shampoo, dentures, microphone, clock, rubber gloves. My professor used to give prompts like these in my creative writing class and I always enjoyed them, so I decided to make up a list of my own and see what you all come up with.

3. Pick your favorite story and pluck a minor character from it. It can be any story, but make sure the character is hardly in it, barely mentioned at all. A single name could be given, but you have at least that. You're job is to give them importance. Write their story, where they came from, and how they view the events that occur in the book they come from.  For example, I could pick Harry Potter for my book and write a story about Fleur Delacour's little sister whose name I've forgotten. There might be some information on her and I could use that as a starting place, but I'd have to develop her character in light of all of the background events that occur over the seven Harry Potter books. Would this be classified as fan fiction?

Please share what you write in the comments or by email! I hope you have fun with this, I am already working on a prompt for one of these, but you will have to wait to find out which one I chose.


Thursday, February 23, 2012


I've been wanting to create a blog for some time. It took me a long time for two reasons. 1. I couldn't decide on a topic for a blog. I am interested in so many things, I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to share with the world. I once contemplated making it a "cornucopia" of a blog with a little bit of everything in it. But that was just too broad. And it would take up too much of my time and yours. So I decided I must narrow my subject area. I decided to make it about something I'd like to improve upon, something I plan on going to school for, and something that would benefit me by sharing my creations while hopefully entertaining a growing audience. I decided to make it about writing. Once I had that figured out, problem number 2 arose. I needed a name for my blog. After thinking of the most ridiculous and complicated blog titles, I decided to stick simply with a name and a subtitle. I chose "imagination is essential" for my subtitle because I believe that it simply is, especially for reading, writing, crafting, and learning. Things I enjoy doing. Now, as for the actual content of the blog, I hope to share some of my writing and hear from others about theirs. I might write using prompts from other blogs or sources and post my efforts or make up some prompts to challenge my readers. I'm just going to try to have some fun writing while hopefully improving my skills. So I hope this is fun for me to keep up with and enjoyable for you all to read!