Writing Smarter Radio, a Podcast About Writing for Creative Writers
Transcript: Why I Podcast and Character Flaws
Speaker 1: (00:12)
Speaker 2: (00:13)
Welcome to Writing Smarter Radio. This is Deb Schwabe. Today, I wanted to talk about my why, we’re also going to talk about storytelling, but I think that explaining this might make sense as to how I came about doing this podcast and how it has to do with writing. I’ve been writing and self publishing for almost 15 years. Now. I started with a nonfiction book, like I mentioned before. I got into fiction writing and have been doing that for well over 10 years now, one of the things I found was the further I got along and the more pen names I grew, I ended up losing my way. I lost my joy and when you’re involved in it and working full time, and it’s your job, you find you’re chasing ads, having to deal with marketing and social media., and you’re worried about all the pieces and your graphics and your writing, and are you doing it the right way?
Speaker 2: (01:13)
And you have a mailing list. It can get a little overwhelming. Of course you’re just starting out. So it’s not that big of a deal, and it’s not going to turn to that. But what happened to me is I jumped lanes. And one of the things I would highly recommend when you’re writing your first book, and you start to think about a second book. If you want to do this for a business is to stay in your lane, know what you want to write, what genre and style. And we’ll talk about pen names too, at some point a little deeper. But when I first started, I wrote in a pen name that was romantic comedy, and I still use this name, but the problem is I started going through something within my family, a difficult situation, and it was really hard to write funny.
Speaker 2: (02:03)
And I write over the top silly, funny, and it was really hard to do that. Going through this family trauma we were going through. So I jumped lanes. That’s how I got into writing cozy mysteries. I had never written a mystery before, but you know what? I decided that I was going to learn. I was going to figure it out. As I went, I was going to read along, I was gonna take notes, read books, and do all that. And I actually really enjoyed it. I started writing shorts and I still write cozy mysteries today, but I did it under another pen name because it didn’t match my romantic comedies. And because I’m a creative and I get bored easily and jump around and want to do something different. I also decided I was going to go back to writing some romance, but this time I was going to do clean wholesome romance, I just did not feel like writing the sex scenes at that point, because I was at another point in my life where I just didn’t to dabble in that so much.
Speaker 2: (03:01)
So I started another name because putting out wholesome, clean romance, doesn’t really blend with over the top silly romance that might have graphic sex scenes in it. So I had to separate them. Well, now I’ve got three mailing lists, I’ve got marketing for all of them, graphics for all of them, yet, I’m going through all these different things. And I lost my joy. I lost my way. I really just wanted to write my Ava stuff again, which is where my focus has gone, but they COVID came along. And I decided to jump into freelance writing as a side gig to do some extra stuff. Well, it took off like crazy and I was doing so much of it and I am doing so much of it still that my focus changed and my creative side ached to get back to focusing on creative writing. I’ve done this full time for 10 years.
Speaker 2: (03:59)
This is where my brain lives is in this creative juicy stuff. I love to build and write and plan and plot and come up with characters and scenarios and scenes and all sorts of goodness. And Oh dear goodness. I love the graphics and the covers and bright colors and all the different things that go with it. But the problem is I lost my way and because I lost my way, I jumped around way too much. And if I had stayed in my lane and found a little more focus, I probably would have found more. I would have been more content and satisfied rather than jumping around so much. And my career is kind of bouncy up and down and everything. So right now I’m doing a lot of article writing and business writing in between writing my books and doing edits and working with those.
Speaker 2: (04:51)
But I wanted to put that out there. So I thought, let me go back to the basics. Let me simplify the process for other people. Let me serve in that way. Let me help other people get started. And that will at least let me fulfill this creative thing I have inside of myself while I’m also doing business articles about topics that are not things I would normally talk about. So here we are on writer, Writing Smarter Radio. If I could get it out there, and we’re going to talk more about writing and books and stories, but now at least, you know where I am my background a little bit and let’s dig into some other stuff now. So because I’ve mentioned pen names so much, I’m going to cover that in my next episode. So we’ll go a little deeper into that in case it’s something you’re curious about.
Speaker 2: (05:37)
Speaking of story writing. Now, let’s look at things like motives. We were talking about characters and why they might do something. So what I want to talk about is looking at the different reasons we do things. So your character might be reacting or acting out of self-defense greed, hatred, maybe they’re whistleblowing, they’re jealous. It could be a lot of different things. They can be afraid of something. They can be trying to cover up something. When you know why your character’s doing something as we spoke about before it helps you drive your story. Why do we care about the character? I took a class online by Michael Hague and Oh my God, it’s amazing. Anything you can read or see by him. Fabulous. Um, highly, highly recommend him. One of the things he talked about was needing to like your character and early on in the beginning is very important to showcase a couple of things so that we’re empathetic about the character.
Speaker 2: (06:44)
Why do we care about this character? So the things that he mentions are they should be at least two of these items so that we care what happens to the character. If we don’t care about the character, we don’t care about the story. So the character should either be likable. We should feel sorry for them. They should be good at what they do. Maybe they’re in jeopardy or they’re sympathetic. And he recommends choosing at least two of those in your beginning so that you can connect to the character and have your readers connect to who that character is. If we don’t care, we don’t care. And then we don’t read the rest of the story. So creating your character early on, he recommends choosing two of those five things. And if you have any opportunity to read his stuff or see one of his courses, I streamed one, I think it was a video one.
Speaker 2: (07:41)
It was amazing. And he’s really, really good. So that’s a great resource for you. Okay. We’re going to talk about something else, just a second, but I got to grab my notes. Give me a second here. Okay. I’m back. I was trying to cover up the page turns here of the things that I wrote down, which is kind of funny because here I’m talking about it would have just been faster to flip page, right? Okay. I went to a writing seminar conference and Gina Ardito spoke about some different things. And one of the tricks that she mentioned, I really liked. And I wanted to share with you a really simple thing that I never really thought about was changing the inflection of a sentence. So in her example, she was saying, why are you mad at me? That gives you one angle on a scene, but say you want to change it by changing the inflection of why are you mad at me?
Speaker 2: (08:36)
You’ve now changed the direction of what you’re asking. You can do it again. Why are you mad at me? Why are you mad at me? And this was a great tip from her, um, lecture. It was, you know, about a 45 minute lectures, a lot of interesting stuff in there. But one of the things you can do is when you’re stuck on a scene and you have your character and you’re starting to build is re question or reframe that question and see if one of those trigger something that gets you moving. The next thing we’re going to talk about is character flaws. Nobody wants to read about a perfect character who had a perfect day and nothing happened is boring. Nobody’s interested. Okay. So what we’re going do is we’re going talk about flaws. This makes the character relatable. It makes the character real, your character’s resistant to change.
Speaker 2: (09:30)
We all like to be in our comfort zones. Getting out of that comfort zone is difficult for most people. So your character can’t be like, I need to change. Okay. I just changed. They’re going to struggle. They’re going to be resistant to that change. And they’re going to have flaws. They’re going not going to be perfect. Deciding what your character’s flaws are, will dictate how they react to things and why they react to things. So you want to think about something they need to learn to overcome. And they’re going to become a better version of themselves by having a flaw. It means you need to struggle a little bit and struggle leads to growth, leads to change, which is what a story is basically about in a story. When you’re creating a scene with your character, something has to happen to that character. So you’re going to choose.
Speaker 2: (10:29)
If you’re going to write in the point of view from the first person point of view or third person, point of view, doesn’t really matter. You choose whatever you’re comfortable with, but something has to happen to your character. That starts your story in motion starts every scene emotion. Something happens to that main character. Then they’re going to have a reaction when something happens, we react, but we do it physically. First, you say, you get in an accident or you’re about to get in an accident and you have a near miss. And you’re like, phew, that was close. Your physical reaction comes first. And then you react to it emotionally. You have a response. So when you’re building a scene with your character and you’re starting out, I want you to get in the habit of doing it in the right order, because it will read in a more real way that people relate to.
Speaker 2: (11:24)
If you get in a near miss, you’re not going to get in a, near miss and be like, wow, that was close. It wouldn’t read realistic. So think about the way you actually do it. You know, if you need to play out the scene in your mind and how you would react to something. So something happens to your character. They’re going to react to it. Physically. They’re going to look at the perspective of what’s going on and then emotionally react and respond. So that’s the order. Something’s going to happen with your character. And because they have a flaw, they’re going to react based on how they see the world. Think of it this way, a divorced woman is going to think about love differently than a newlywed. They’re going to have very different perspectives. That’s where your flaw comes in. It’s how we see the world.
Speaker 2: (12:21)
I see the world differently than a young child sees the world. I’m in my fifties, I’ve lived a lot of life. So I see things differently. I’m also going to see things differently than somebody who maybe was raised in the country, all their life and somebody who was raised in the city, all their life. When I’ve lived in the suburbs, all my life, we all react to things differently based on the things that we’ve gone through in our life and our unique perspective, our flaws are what gives us our way of looking at things. So somebody might think of one thing as a flaw where somebody else might see it as a total gift. It really depends on unique situation. So I want you to think about these different things. When you’re building and creating a character, to make them more real, give them dimension and depth that comes from flaws, realness.
Speaker 2: (13:14)
Our perception of the world, make your character come to life by making them real. Next week On Writing Smarter Radio, I’m going to go into pen names a little more in depth reasons. You might want to use one why he might not. If you write in different markets, how you want to handle that, how does your personal and professional life touch it? So we’ll dig into that a little bit deeper, and I hope you’ll join me. If you haven’t yet, please subscribe or leave a review. This is Deb Schwabe and Writing Smarter Radio. We’ll see you next week. Thanks. Bye. Bye.