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Blog: Character Mapping

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Last night was a school night - on Wednesday we ALTERNATE between two modules, "Dramatic Writing" and "Storytelling". The former is ACE but the latter has been a bit... well, let's just say "less ace". Or "often rubbish". It's a big lecture that we share with all the other Creative Writing courses, and it has a mix of people from different backgrounds talking. Sometimes it's vaguely interesting (although usually whatever we learn gets repeated in our other classes anywhere), but often it's pretty pointless. It's been noticeable that NUMBERS attending have dropped off through the year - it used to be a FITE for space in the lecturer theatre, now there is SPACE APLENTY!

So I was surprised when I arrived yesterday to find the room almost FULL. Someone told me that the speaker was Highly Prestigious and it was usually EXPENSIVE to attend her courses, and this was reinforced when our lecturer, clearly THRILLED,introduced her.

And BLOW ME DOWN but it was AMAZING! The speaker was Laurie Hutzler talking about "The Emotional Toolbox For Writers" and yes, I know, it sounds like it's going to be a very American psychotherapy style thing that would make you cringe. And it sort of WAS - but also FANTASTIC. She STORMED into the lecture, wandering the room, throwing out statements, making REMARKS and generally being GRATE! It was like being lectured by my Auntie Christine on a MISSION. If a British person had given the talk it would have been full of caveats and apologies but she ROCKED ON THROUGH and thus, I thought, getting a lot more information across a lot more convincingly.

Or to put it another way: I SURRENDERED by MASK of British Cynicism and took a LEAP OF FAITH towards my TRUE SELF of ... um... agreeing with her. For LO! the main part of the talk was about Character Mapping, which had DIAGRAMS and ARROWS and all of the words above. It looked a bit POTTY to start with and I think we all EDGED AWAY from it to begin with, but the more she explained it the more convincing it was. She was describing a way to develop characters for films, and how these characters then completely drove the PLOT. When she got to the point of explaining how this all worked I thought I could actually SEE the diagram start to CHUG, with everything springing into action.

It was SO GOOD that I actually TYPED UP my notes this morning - something I have NEVER done before, but i wanted to preserve the knowledge and try it out. Reading it all back, with the STATEMENTS and QUOTATIONS (when she said something important she said it TWICE so a) we knew b) could write it down, which was IMMENSELY helpful) it did read a bit like I'd attended an ALPHA COURSE meeting or something, with the exhortations towards FAITH and TRUE SELF and such like, but it still felt very exciting. And CRUMBS, when I actually USED the system to work out a character for my next bit of homework, it worked AMAZINGLY well. Suddenly the whole story was THERE, all based on a vague idea of what they might be like.

I'm a bit WHOOZY with all the BRANE FILLING that went on - I pity the poor person who has to do the NEXT lecture in this series, they've got a BIG ACT to follow!

posted 7/3/2013 by MJ Hibbett

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