Sunday, 12 January 2014
Yesterday I attended a day long workshop put on by http://wildseedstudios.com/ a really interesting Bristol based company. Over the next 3 years Wildseed will make investments of up to £10,000 in creative works "The areas we are focusing on are character comedy (i.e. not stand-up or comedy quizzes for example), animated sitcom, kids 6 to 11 and genre fiction (i.e. sci-fi/fantasy/horror)." Check out their website for more details.
Due to the fact that "good characters are a prerequisite for any idea that is invested in" they invited Laurie Hutzler to give this workshop. Laurie is a creative consultant who has created "the Emotional Toolbox®, a unique method that offers a set of specific techniques, exercises and tools to create and strengthen emotion-based creative content." The workshop introduced her character map. Again more details are on her website.
Overall I'd say that it was a useful and entertaining day but I can't help but think that if you write to a formula then you are in danger of your writing being formulaic. However the character map is an interesting tool to add to a writer's toolbox to get you thinking about your characters. I think the "leap of faith" character journey that Laurie described can be a useful way of looking at characters in fiction. Like any personality test though I believe it is flawed as "real" people don't generally fit into neat boxes, I know I don't. See for example the Meyers Briggs personality test http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator which some companies subject their potential employees into completing as a method of choosing if they are suitable for a role.
As an example, and I confess I have not watched the Big Bang Theory but am judging this from what little I know and the clips Laurie showed in the workshop. Sheldon, in the show, is highlighted by Laurie, as a good example of a "Power of reason" character http://www.etbscreenwriting.com/nine-character-types/power-of-reason/ whereas I would say that he is a caricature & exaggeration of certain character traits gathered together in one person. I have known a lot of nerds, he is nerd to the power of ten. An entertaining character on screen no doubt but a fully rounded character?
Still this is me being nit-picky and I think Laurie's workshop and the further info in her books and on her website could be a useful tool but not something that you should slavishly apply I think. I welcome comments on this from other writers - do you use a formula in your writing? Laurie's?, the Writer's journey (based on The Hero with a thousand faces) or any other?