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Casting Your Story by Will Zeilinger

November 3, 2021 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , , , , ,

You’ve heard of “casting directors” in the world of film, TV, and advertising.

I was an art director for ads and commercials, and selecting the proper models or actors for a job was key to the success of each project. Likewise, as an author, you are the casting director for your story, and casting the right characters is crucial to keeping the reader interested.

If you have the casting correct, any two characters can be put in a scene together and keep the reader interested. This requires that each character is already interesting on their own and that they have an opinion about every other character. They don’t have to say anything about the others, but they can have an internal view that will affect their behavior toward the other members of the cast.

Each character should have a purpose in the story. If not, then they aren’t needed. They can interact with each other independently or confront one another through the main protagonist.

The types of character can vary, but in Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey,” he identifies eight archetypes. You can vary these to fit your needs.

1The Hero Your protagonist
2The Mentor The one your protagonist goes to for advice
3The Ally The BFF or loyal friend
4The Herald The one who tells the protagonist they must change
5The Trickster Can function as comedy relief or goof (i.e., Gilligan)
6The Shapeshifter Not who you or the protagonist thinks they are
7The Guardian Tries to discourage the protagonist (to play it safe)
8The ShadowThe opposite of the protagonist – evil?

Think about the age, ethnicity, gender, education, and socio-economic background of each one. Are they a proper fit? Are they believable?

In the end, each of the character types I’ve mentioned have a unique of your plot and the rest of the cast. Consider the extent to which they interact, and consider using some aspects of the types above. Each character has the ability to move the story along.  You don’t necessarily need all of these types, but you are the author, so use who you need. You can even write a story with only one character.

While the easiest way to build characterization and personality in your protagonist (main character) is to surround them with people they must interact with, if you isolate your protagonist, then developing depth and interest becomes a challenge. 

Take the film, Castaway featuring Tom Hanks. He’s stuck on an island, alone, for four years. Writing a story featuring one character is an excellent exercise in character development. When writing a story like this, here are two things to remember, but this holds true for any type of story you tackle.

1. Your reader needs to care about your character

You must give the character a reason for the reader to care about what they do or what happens to them. As in a fully populated story, your main character doesn’t have to be “good” for the reader to care about them. Villains are just as interesting as heroes.

2. Have a conflict

Conflict kickstarts the story plot. Without conflict or a problem to solve, there’s no plot and no story. How your protagonist reacts to the conflict helps the reader to guess what they’ll do or not do next.

Here’s a tip I use to cast my stories:

I like to clip photos of different people and use them as my casting catalog when developing a story. I can always look at their faces and consider how they’ll look or what other characters think of them. If your casting doesn’t seem to be working, you can always re-cast a character.

Have fun. You’re the Director.

Some Book by Will Zeilinger and Janet Elizabeth Lynn


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Old Friends–Making Your Characters Memorable

July 17, 2021 by in category Ages 2 Perfection Online Class, Online Classes tagged as , , , ,

Presented by: Kathy Otten
Date: August 1 – 31, 2021
Pricing: A2P Member fee: $15
Non-A2P Member fee: $30

About the Workshop:

In this workshop we’ll delve deep into your character’s psyche. We’ll look beyond eye and hair color to dig deep into each character’s motivation, frustration, and fear. We’ll look at how fear and frustration create the motivation that can drives your character toward their goal or away from it. Then with some creative thinking and writing exercises, we’ll explore ways to weave it all together into a story filled with memorable characters your reader will remember long after they close your book. I hope you will join me.

About the Presenter:

Kathy Otten is the author of multiple historical romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Her most recent short story, Heart of Ash, was released in January 2021. She is currently in the first draft stage of her next historical romance and has a YA novel on the back burner. She teaches fiction writing and is a workshop presenter and developmental editor. Kathy has been married for 38 years and has three grown children and one grandchild. She enjoys taking long walks with her dog and reading e-books while on the treadmill. You can email Kathy at kathy@kathyotten.com

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