Notes on Writing

By team SISU | sisu | 26 Dec 2021

Dear writers, this could help inspire and dig deeper into your characters, too. These are notes from a craft book I own. You may discover these points after you write. I have many references from classes, workshops, and webinars; I'm sharing some that I feel might be useful to you.


⁌ Relevant details of the past that make a character's wounds and beliefs believable. ⁍

The wound is an unhealed source or continuing pain the hero(ine) believes is behind her, but is actually only suppressed because it is not healed. It can be a single event, usually occurring in adolescence, or an ongoing situation. A painful emotional event or repeated events that created a belief. May also be a hang-up based on the way a character was raised, one that is outside the norm (i.e., entitlement or prejudice). ⁍

"The belief is what caused the wound, how the world works, etc.” E.g. Say you’ve got a guy whose mother walked out on him and his dad when he was 6, on the day they found out he (the kid) has a serious illness/flaw/whatever. He forever might believe that that weakness/trouble was what caused his mother to walk…therefore, women walk when weakness/pressure/bad happens. Whatever “belief” the character develops stems back to that one event." Rules to keep a character emotionally, and sometimes physically, safe. Formed mostly by emotional wounds, but also by upbringing or societal views. If possible, break down beliefs into If/then statements. If (situation), then I will be (specifically) hurt. ⁍

Coping Mechanism:
The behavior that allows them to live with the belief and keeps them behaving consistently on the page until beliefs are successfully challenged and growth is achieved. ⁍

External Conflict:
The situational challenges and obstacles your character faces on their way to achieving their Story Goal. Situational examples: winning the race, thwarting the villain, saving the ranch, or earning a promotion. Don't forget the consequences of failure. Make the stakes high enough that your audience roots for your character's success. ⁍

Internal Conflict:
The moral dilemmas a character faces by pursuing the Story Goal. Examples: having to trust an enemy, facing a fear of heights, etc. Generally, in order to achieve the Story Goal their Beliefs must be challenged, which makes achieving their objective that much harder. ⁍

Character Growth:
Exists when a character's belief at the end of a story is different than it was in the beginning. The path of this change is sometimes referred to as a Character Arc. Remember, some characters don't grow or change, and that's okay. But to increase the emotional impact of your story, consider having at least one character grow. ⁍

A wound or upbringing creates a belief and a way of coping to keep messy emotions (big or small) in check. It doesn't matter which idea or details come to you first-the Schema or the wound, the belief or coping mechanism. Always check your logic-does the wound, belief and coping mechanism fit the Schema? Longing The longing is the deeply held desire the hero(ine) is paying lip service to, but not pursuing because it is too frightening. ⁍

Because of the wound, a belief is taken on, and that causes fear of it (the wound) happening again. ⁍

Identity (Lie):
The identity is the hero(ine)’s persona or false front presented to the outside world. It is the mask they wear that protects them from the fear happening. Answering the following question will find the character’s identity: I’ll do whatever is takes to [achieve my goal], just don’t ask me to ___, because that’s just not me. ⁍

The longing is expressed, but not pursued. The need is not expressed. It is generally a need for connection (you do not have to have both a longing and a need for your characters, but you must have at least one). ⁍

Essence (Truth):
Who do they have the potential to become? Remove all the protective stuff, his/her emotional armor and the essence is what is left. ⁍


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Described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness.

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