I bit the bullet and bought an e-document “10 Keys to Writing Stories that Sell” and discovered something I had never heard of before. The dossier. I really have no idea how this term had passed me by for so long.
I spent the better half of my writing time today working on finding and creating information about my characters based on the dossier that Rizzo had included in the help-book.
1. Write primary character’s name across the top of your paper like a banner.
2. Determine age, sex, marital status.
3. Extrovert or introvert? Shy or out-going?
4. Personal appearance: color of hair, eyes, height, weight, etc. What hero likes of
dislikes about self.
5. Likes and dislikes: (allergic to chocolate, hates his freckles)
6. Unresolved issues in his life: abused as child…
7. Idiosyncrasies and habits: British accent? Fingers a rosary? Bites nails?
8. Hobbies, personal interests: knitting, gardening . . .
9. Personal history: education, family, locale, experiences that would apply to the story,
10. Career/jobs held:
11. Main conflict the hero will be forced to face:
12. The way he normally faces problems in his life:
13. Motives for his actions:
14. Incidental goals that may or may not apply to the story:
15. The way he/she relates to other characters.
16. Changes you want the reader to see in him/her by the end of the story:
Even though my ‘characters’ are real people, and I can fill in many of the questions with information that I know about them for a fact, there are many missing holes that I am forced to create myself. I had a lot of fun today creating some of those ‘tidbits.’
On the other hand, while going through this list, I’ve realized I have several problems within the story that I didn’t realize I had until I wrote through my character’s dossiers. Which is a good thing, oddly enough. Though for the moment its more work trying to think of different conflict and resolutions, transitions and beefing up the character’s personalities as I see and interpret them, it will mean an easier time writing, a better story when I’m done.
I have spent the last several days of my allotted writing time getting a lot of work done on this project, but with things like the dossier, and finding my thesis and creating a summary and synopsis, not to mention the outline for the whole book . . . I haven’t had much of any writing writing.
However, as sad as that makes me, I have a feeling all the work I have been doing is more important than diving in head first before realizing there’s no water in the pool.
All in good time.