This short film illustrates the power of words to radically change your message and your effect upon the world. Think about it!
The word you want is “regardless.” I have no idea where the “ir-” prefix came from, but please do your part to help banish it from the English language.
YES: Regardless of the weather, the wedding will go on.
NO: Irregardless of the weather the wedding will go on.
You can either freeze something or you can thaw it. If you’re “unthawing” it, you’re actually freezing it, so save a syllable or two and just go with “freeze.”
YES: It took 5 minute to thaw the hamburger in the microwave.
NO: It took 5 minutes to unthaw the hamburger in the microwave.
I find this one quite endearing, for whatever reason. It always makes me smile. It’s the word “ignorant” shortened to just two syllables, and in some regions of the country it is used in place of the word “rude.”
NO: That ignernt driver just cut me off!
YES: That inconsiderate driver just cut me off! (“Rude” or “jackass” would also work in place of “inconsiderate.”)
YES: That driver seems to be ignorant of the rules of safe driving.
I know I’ve mentioned this one before, but it warrants mentioning again. The term is “self-deprecating,” and you can hear how it’s pronounced by clicking on the little sound symbol next to the word at dictionary.com.
YES: Her self-deprecating remarks made everyone laugh.
NO: Her self-depreciating remarks caused her to lose value as she aged.
One person from my not-so-distant past used this term exclusively in place of “frustrated.” I’m not the kind of person to correct such habits, so I always let it slide. But just for the record, it’s not a word.
NO: I get so flustrated when my kids fight.
YES: I get so frustrated when my kids fight.
YES: I get so flustered when my kids fight, especially if they fight while I’m on the phone.
6. Flush out.
Well, I suppose you can “flush out” a bird that’s hiding in a dense thicket, but if you’re talking about filling in missing details, you want to use “flesh out.”
NO: This is just a first draft, I’ll flush out the story later. (What? You mean down the toilet?)
YES: This is just a first draft, I’ll flesh out the story later.
7. Igmo- Ignorant moron- I’ll refrain from referring to this, but you know who you are… ; )
And here are a few more:
sherbert (it’s “sherbet”)
perservere (it’s “persevere;” skip that extra “r”)
could of, should of, would of (“could have” is the correct term)
gruntled (you can be “disgruntled,” but not just “gruntled”)
p.s. I frequently use “ginormous”
THE ENTERTAINER is approachable, decisive, concerned and adaptable. They are also considered to be the most generous of the character types. They are particularly well suited to occupations such as teachers, scientists and public relations specialists.
THE ENTERTAINER’S strongest personality indicators are in extroversion, sensing, feeling and perception. Some areas may be more pronounced than others. The following information contains a broad description of THE ENTERTAINER’S key characteristics.
THE ENTERTAINER is highly sociable and freely interacts with lots of people. Their conversations cover a wide breadth of subject matter, since they easily speak their mind and react spontaneously to whatever is said. They feel most comfortable around other people than being by themselves; therefore, they maintain a multiplicity of relationships. In doing so, they exert a high level of energy keeping up on the “goings on”, so that they can efficiently manage their network of people.
This is also a conservative person that doesn’t like to take risks. Decisions are made based on past experience. They work best within the realm of factual or tangible. Spirituality is not a strength. They are considered to be very “down to earth” people. They search for the practicality in everything they do. Problems are dealt with in a timely matter and they seek out sensible and realistic solutions.
In addition, THE ENTERTAINER is a good listener and friend. They are more likely to put themselves in someone else’s shoes before passing judgment. They are empathetic. Values and extenuating circumstances take precedence over policy. They seek out the good in everybody and insist on the humane treatment of all living things. They are well liked by others and have the ability to maintain intimate relationships.
Finally, this character can roll with the punches. They live life in the moment adapting to situations as they pop up. They are not quick to make decisions and like to keep their options open. Others view them as followers instead of leaders; however, their flexibility makes them good team members. Many of them have problems with commitment and prefer to keep things tentative or open-ended. They are often called or called upon at the last minute.
THE LOYALIST is talkative, practical, empathetic and decisive. They are also the most harmonious of character types. They are particularly well suited to occupations such as counselors, coaches and nurses.
THE LOYALIST ‘S strongest personality indicators are in extroversion, sensing, feeling and judgment. Some areas may be more pronounced than others. The following information contains a broad description of the individual characteristics.
THE LOYALIST is highly sociable and freely interacts with lots of people. Their conversations cover a wide breadth of subject matter, since they easily speak their mind and react spontaneously to whatever is said. They feel most comfortable around other people than being by themselves; therefore, they maintain a multiplicity of relationships. In doing so, they exert a high level of energy keeping up on the “goings on”, so that they can efficiently manage their network of people.
They are conservative people who do not generally like to take risks. Decisions are made based on past experience. They work best within the realm of factual or tangible. Spirituality is not a strength. THE LOYALISTS are usually well-grounded characters. They search for the practicality in everything they do. Problems are dealt with in a timely matter and they seek out sensible and realistic solutions.
They are also good listeners. They are more likely to put themselves in someone else’s shoes before passing judgment. They are empathetic. Values and extenuating circumstances take precedence over policy. They seek out the good in everybody and insist on the humane treatment of all living things. They are well liked by others and have the ability to maintain intimate relationships.
In addition, THE LOYALIST is a take-charge person who is well organized, never overlooks the details and plans everything in advance. They work well with deadlines and like to complete one task before starting another. A sense of closure is important so all loose ends are wrapped up. They have no trouble making decisions and like to take care of their own business.
Character In Fiction- The character resume
Plausible, complex characters are crucial to successful storytelling. You can develop them in several ways.
1. Concreteness. They have specific homes, possessions, medical histories, tastes in furniture, political opinions. Apart from creating verisimilitude, these concrete aspects of the characters should convey information about the story: does the hero smoke Marlboros because he’s a rugged outdoorsman, or because that’s the brand smoked by men of his social background, or just because you do?
2. Symbolic association. You can express a character’s nature metaphorically through objects or settings (a rusty sword, an apple orchard in bloom, a violent thunderstorm). These may not be perfectly understandable to the reader at first (or to the writer!), but they seem subconsciously right. Symbolic associations can be consciously “archetypal” (see Northrop Frye), linking the character to similar characters in literature. Or you may use symbols in some private system which the reader may or may not consciously grasp. Characters’ names can form symbolic associations, though this practice has become less popular in modern fiction except in comic or ironic writing.
3. Speech. The character’s speech (both content and manner) helps to evoke personality: shy and reticent, aggressive and frank, coy, humorous. Both content and manner of speech should accurately reflect the character’s social and ethnic background without stereotyping. If a character “speaks prose,” his or her background should justify that rather artificial manner. If a character is inarticulate, that in itself should convey something.
4. Behavior. From table manners to performance in hand-to-hand combat, each new example of behavior should be consistent with what we already know of the character, yet it should reveal some new aspect of personality. Behavior under different forms of stress should be especially revealing.
5. Motivation. The characters should have good and sufficient reasons for their actions, and should carry those actions out with plausible skills. If we don’t believe characters would do what the author tells us they do, the story fails.
6. Change. Characters should respond to their experiences by changing–or by working hard to avoid changing. As they seek to carry out their agendas, run into conflicts, fail or succeed, and confront new problems, they will not stay the same people. If a character seems the same at the end of a story as at the beginning, the reader at least should be changed and be aware of whatever factors kept the character from growing and developing.
The Character Resume
One useful way to learn more about your characters is to fill out a “resume” for them–at least for the more important ones. Such a resume might include the following information:
Address & Phone Number:
Date & Place of Birth:
Parents’ Names & Occupations:
Other Family Members:
Spouse or Lover:
Friends’ Names & Occupations:
Personal Qualities (imagination, taste, etc.):
Sense of Humor:
Most Painful Setback/Disappointment:
Most Instructive/Meaningful Experience:
Health/Physical Condition/Distinguishing Marks/Disabilities:
Tastes in food, drink, art, music, literature, decor, clothing:
Attitude toward Life:
Attitude toward Death:
Philosophy of Life (in a phrase):
You may not use all this information, and you may want to add categories of your own, but a resume certainly helps make your character come alive in your own mind. The resume can also give you helpful ideas on everything from explaining the character’s motivation to conceiving dramatic incidents that demonstrates the character’s personal traits. The resume serves a useful purpose in your project bible, reminding you of the countless details you need to keep straight.
Creating believable characters
One of the greatest delights of writing is conjuring up peculiar people for your tales – but making real oddities into believable characters can be a challenge to get right.
To make your fiction believable, you need to populate it with characters the readers can identify with, from the heroes to villains, saints to rogues. Real people have a multitude of facets that make them three-dimensional – no one is entirely good or bad. We all have flaws that make us the individuals we are, just as we all have redeeming qualities too.
Making your characters believable is simply a matter of imbuing them with the kinds of details you notice in the people around you, from the sanctimonious saints to the splendiferous sinners!
If you’re reading a novel and one of the characters is out of synch with his personality it can be really frustrating and may result in you losing respect for the story. If you want to make your own stories flow, the characters have to be true to type; meaning some serious digging to research curious traits and looking at how and why people behave the way they do.
Craft your character
When creating a new character, first look at the person you want them to be: personal history, family, friends and life experiences. It’s a good writing tip to create a profile for them – you don’t need to include this in the story; it will just help you to build up a picture of who they are.
Describe how they look and sound, explain their mannerisms and dress sense. This really aids continuity and is a useful point of reference. For example; if you map Fred as tall in his profile, you’re far less likely to have him jumping up to reach a high shelf in the supermarket later on in the novel.
At times the complexity of a character may make the profile tough to compile; this is the point where you know some further research is required.
Conduct research out in the field
It’s a useful ploy to go to the type of places where the new character may frequent; sometimes this can be a seedy dive and you may need to take a friend with you for back-up!
Writing increases inquisitiveness and you’ll find this skill to be extremely useful in building up an archive of information about character types. Never plug up your ears when you’re travelling about. Listen to what’s happening all around you – you may get ideas and material for stories. There’s also the added bonus that when you listen more your observation skills improve!
Take notice of the way folk behave; everyone has his or her own special way of moving/ talking/acting and so on. You’ll be amazed by what you see and hear, and may even find yourself having to rewrite what actually happened to make it believable!
Get on the bus
Using public transport is an optimum way to pick up on bizarre snatches of conversation and to observe body language.
Shop and bus queues are also rich sources of potential material; waiting doesn’t often bring out the best in people, sometimes resulting in some seriously weird behaviour.
A subtle display of personality nuances can be lifted from observing other people’s strange habits. Imbuing traits and quirks on your characters can turn them into real people for your readers; it adds humour, interest and can sometimes stir up a memory.
Go online, read, watch and learn
If, for example, you’ve decided to write about an alcoholic and have no experience of addicts, go online and Google ‘alcoholics’ and see what comes up. Look out for films and television shows about the subject; read true life experiences regarding why people turn to drink and discover the impact on their families.
Research uncovers fascinating facts giving a greater level of understanding and hopefully adding more depth to your work.
Ultimately you need to get behind the driving force of the character; to fire them up and bring them to life. If you’re writing about a certain type of person, you need your audience to recognise them for what they are; good or bad.
Find out what makes people tick
It’s always useful to learn a bit more about the human state of being, to add power to your plots. Swot up on psychology; learn about body language traits and how to ‘read’ people.
A lot of management books give insight into dealing with difficult people; giving descriptions of how they behave and how to defuse them if they ‘go off’.
Quantify a character’s behaviour by using this information and turning it inside out; ask yourself why people behave that way – what made them do that? Think up an example; like shouting in public. Write a list of possible reasons for the shouting – is the person frustrated, angry or embarrassed? Could they be showing off; on drugs or could they have a medical condition like Tourettes syndrome?
To add a final touch of realism, try to give all your characters a redeeming feature – even if it’s just lovely eyes or an unusual hobby. It’s what humanises them; adding another level of interest to keep people reading.