Tag Archives: writing tips

So what?

Let’s dive deeper

Over the silence

Did you ever spend so much time with a friend that, in the end, what remains between you two is only silence?

That’s not the worst sensation since it’s better than talking just for the sake of talking. So, you and your character are getting good acquaintance, then good friends and maybe best friends after your chat. You really want your fictional friend to strive and have a wonderful meta-existence.

Unfortunately, fiction writing doesn’t work like this. I have a friend that likes to write only real stories with a good ending. he said once, and I quote:

“Why imagine some adventurous sad story when I have a good one in front of me with a perfect happy ending?”

And I answered:

“What do you believe, speaking about Napoleon is a boring topic? But his life didn’t end well, did it?”

That’s the summa of what is behind the “so what?” moment. You need to understand your character better; to do so, you need some difficulties. It’s too easy to be a badass or a choirboy sitting in a bar chitchatting. I’ve met so many of these people in my life, and when it truly mattered, they disappeared like smoke.

Yes, smoke and glass disappear when you reach a certain point in the chat with your character. What remains? The bone, some nerves, you x-screen your character completely.

Let some people enter the coffee place where you’re supposedly chatting with your new dramatic persona. For example, in the movie “Danny the dog”, there’s a scene that depicts this moment. Some criminals enter a shop with guns and beat up a couple of customers. It’s quite a shocking scene; all characters are surprised and shocked. The reaction of the main character?

He appears on the screen and tells his new friend (Morgan Freeman) that he finally found a ripe melon. A ripe melon! There was a life-or-death scenario around him and what he was focused on was a ripe melon? Well, his friend would understand eventually that something is utterly wrong with him.

It’s a turning point in the movie, a powerful scene that tells us a lot, even if we were just tuning in at that moment and saw it alone.

So what?

So what? Graphic by Daniele Frau.

Stress them out

Let’s see what our characters do on a stressful occasion, exactly like Danny. They will turn to us with ripe melon in their hands, or we will find them behind the Kellog’s stand, shaking?

This method will allow you to undercover something that lies way under the surface: the values. Given a stressful situation, will your character react violently or remain as calm as a toad in the sun? 

What these values will uncover? Let’s discover it in our next article.

In the meantime, keep reading my stories here and see you soon!

Daniele Frau

Discover your character

Make your character come to life

We talk about character creation and how important is this phase for the story design. I feel Getting into the character by Brandlyin Collins is one of the best books if you want to learn how to sketch your character.

First, ask questions

Rule number one creating a character.

First, ask questions directly to your character. Treat your characters as if they were real people, and sit down with them to know them better. I’ll tell you about an actual conversation with one of the last characters I created for a story I’m writing. First, I pictured him with the body and face of Alesana Tuilagi, the famous rugby player. That helped me have a tangible person in front of me, but it was like he was standing behind the curtains and I could only see his traits through them.

“Hi, what’s your name?”

Silence.

My character didn’t answer me back. I tried again to notice, to my surprise, that my character didn’t have a mouth; hence, his voice was kind of muffled. I got closer to the curtains and I felt it. A smell that only later I recognized as a snake smell and his voice made me shiver. I asked my question again, this time trying to understand his answer.

“My name is Lasghari, but no one has called me like that since I was 5. I mean, there are all dead.”

So, now I knew that there was a giant creature with no proper mouth that hissed while speaking and had a smell like a snake. Plus, I discovered my character was an assassin and a brutal one since he probably killed his own family.

“And now, how old are you? How can I call you?”

I didn’t dare to call him Lasghari. See, even though I knew I was speaking with an imaginary person, I had to feel it was real if I wanted to discover something interesting. The more we talked, the more I acknowledged in him the characteristics I saw before in people, mainly violent individuals I was unlucky enough to meet in the street. He slurred his speech, as he was drooling, the heavy breathing.

Then, I noticed a detail

His voice wasn’t just slurred and muffled because of his monstrous mouth, but he had something else. My character, I discovered again with surprise, was masked; a thick mask made of cement from crushed bones. I imagined him like an infernal baker, but instead of using flour, he used crushed bones.

Two hours later

We spoke for about two hours since I knew everything about him in the end. Also, I thought about deleting him from my tale because he genuinely terrified me. His background story was so intense and horrific that I asked myself if that was too much. 

No, he was too powerful, and I didn’t just give him the privilege of being the co-protagonist with another character. He turned out to be the perfect alter ego, the best way to speak about what I had in mind when I started writing the story. I wanted to talk about how violence begins in the first place, taking The Lucifer Effect by Zimbardo and mixing it with the thesis by Rutger Bregman and his optimistic history of humankind.

What a trip!

What a trip it was. When I finally let the two characters one close to each other, even though they were well separated by a solid wall, I heard the craziest stories. While they were speaking, I was taking notes, scribbling so fast that my hand was blue with ink by its end.

The second rule we’ll discover in another article is about finding the values that define your fictional characters. This is a very challenging part, so don’t blink, or you’ll miss it!

Keep reading my stories here and see you soon!

Daniele Frau

Build your tree

Start from the roots

We realize how easy it is to start writing a story, having the right tools. But what is the content of your story? It comes from your everyday life, inspired by something you witnessed once, or some social problem? You need to ask yourself where the inspiration comes from to realize which tone is better to use. 

Your roots

Roots, image by Daniele Frau.
Roots, image by Daniele Frau.

These are your roots, the base from which you will build your story and the way you find inspiration afterward. Let’s talk about the inspiration for a moment. We’ve grown with the idea that we need a specific sparkle to write, a magic moment. Without that, we imagine the writers sitting in their rooms, desperate, in front of their typewriters. It’s not exactly like that.

Yes, you can have some blank moments, periods where you have nothing to say. Well, that’s the best moment for you; take this as a vacation, write ideas, and make your life full of experience, so then you’ll start writing again. Inspiration is a myth, solid and difficult to erase from people’s imagination, but still a myth. When I don’t have anything to say on a certain topic, I switch to another one. I start writing about mathematics, science, and economics. I write about topics far from my usual niche, and an idea naturally pops out.

For instance, a few days ago, I wrote an essay about international investments and wham! Something strikes my mind, an original idea about a real estate man that lives in the streets. The main secret here is the first rule every writer always has to keep in mind: 

Write, write, write.

If you don’t write, you won’t be able to clearly understand your limits, your common errors and as we said, you’ll feel increasingly tired of writing. See it like you were going to the gym. The more you go to do sport, the more you want to, because you feel your body is responding immediately. It’s precisely the same when you start writing, then you want to write more and more. 

Solid roots

So, you have an idea of a real estate agent living in the streets. Now you need to understand which tone you will use to describe the situation. It will be something like Jean Claude Izzo in Les soleil des mourants, or you would try a political angle? Do you want to write in a sarcastic-dark humor tone, as Jonas Jonasson? After you realize that everything will be easy, your pen will scribble so fast on the paper, faster than your thoughts.

Then, it’s time to write your characters. But this is a story for another time.

See you, people! As always, send me messages or comments here below and I’ll be glad to answer all of your questions.

Do you want to read some of my stories? Check them out!

Daniele Frau