Lesson 2: Discussion

by Nancy

Questions or thoughts about Lesson 2? Post them here, and help other writers by answering their questions.


Comments for Lesson 2: Discussion

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Feb 07, 2011
Great Excercise
by: Shanna

I found that creating the character with all the complexities of a living person aided in writing a story that is very appealing.
My main character is a teacher named Irene Jones she is in her mid thirties.She is married to Henry James who is a truck driver.
The difference in educational background will create tension in the marriage, added to this trene fears she cannot concieve.
Irene's greatest fear however is that her husband is sleeping with one of her younger coworkers who is now pregnant. Irene has always hated confrontation and choose instead to eat junk food when she is upset.

Combining some elements of her character I was able to create a scene that will expose some of her vunerabilities and reveal a side of herself that she never thought she possessed.

Feb 07, 2011
driven by weakness
by: Indiana

I found creating the character starting from a name very challenging. Too many names are associated for me with people I know. I started by defining the biggest weakness instead and that made it fly. Creating the situation, exposing the weakness and escalating it even further gave a real fantasy boost! As a result the story I’m posting made violent transition from the story happened to me into a situation I’ve never been played by complete strangers. Who would expect?

Feb 06, 2011
Lesson #2
by: arayablue

I enjoyed taking notes on my character's weaknesses. It really helps to build the character when writing the scenes. The ten minute writing assignment helped to keep me writing. I'm excited about getting that novel written. Thanks for a great lesson on character!!

Jan 28, 2011
What is the reading assignment?
by: Mel Wardlow


Does anyone know what the reading assignment is in here? Also where do we get the info on that we have to track progress of? Goals etc

Jan 28, 2011
Never Got Lesson 2
by: Mel Wardlow

Hi Everyone!

I just e-mailed the people in charge because I never got lesson 2. They sent me the lesson 1 link again. Does anyone in here have the link for lesson 2 that they can post here for me.

Jan 28, 2011
Re. Your message
by: Meher Ansari

Hi Nancy,
Thahks for your message of concern. I am touched-- I thought it's all automated --. Thank god, you are there; now I have a sense of belonging.
I have received lesson 2. will be posting my assignment soon. Thank you once again. Regards. Meher

Jan 27, 2011
@ Yvonne, Meher, Becky


I'm very sorry that you didn't get Lesson 2 yet. It should have been sent to you exactly 7 days after you received Lesson 1.

It's worth checking your spam folder -- sometimes they accidentally end up there. If you're still missing it, could you please use our contact form to e-mail us? Then we'll resend it to you.


Nancy (Creative Writing Now)

Jan 25, 2011
Lesson 2
by: Yvonne

Have not received lesson 2 but I will go on to lesson 3 until I do.

Jan 22, 2011
by: Meher Ansari

Haven't yet received lesson 2 :(

Jan 14, 2011
No luck
by: Becky

I did not receive lesson two.

Jan 06, 2011
on Rich Povert - lesson 2 submission
by: Linda

i wrote out the characters of the person i wanted to talk about but i realized i didn't use many of the descriptions i listed but used it to guide my story. for instance, i didn't describe caro's dressing but from the description i wrote of her dressing in my jotter i saw her innate quality and wrote about it.
my write up was more than 3000 characters but i couldn't cut away the number that would make it the required number like i did in lesson 1, and so i divided it into 2 parts and submitted. i hope it's okay to do so.
i enjoyed writing about caro like i did the 'dark figure' in lesson 1.

Jan 04, 2011
my character profile.
by: Maddie

Okay, so it turned out that my writing profile was more than twice as much as I can fit in one post, so I think I am not going to submit it.

I actually used the character profiles worksheet that I found on the website somewhere, and it was a lot longer. Since I had planned on filling it out this morning anyway and just happened to check my email and find lesson two, I figured it was ok to fill out the longer form, because I am using the main character for a book I am hoping to begin writing today. (If I can finally make it past those evil first few pages...)

When I did this exercise it made me realize how much I didn't know about my main character, and how much less I know about all the others. So now I'm going to go fill out limited versions of the other main characters. Since I'm writing in First Person POV, I don't think I'll need to know as much about the other characters because I won't be able to get into their heads anyway.

Dec 31, 2010
Nice task
by: Anonymous

Ok, it is a nice task. It gives a really important lesson about fiction. Characters may be the main base of a story. I am happy with that lesson. It insists the point of weakness which is a point forgotten or misunderstood by most of fiction admirers.

Dec 31, 2010
Thanks for Lesson 2
by: Amie Agcanas

I received lesson 2. Thanks! It's agreat exercise! I had a hard time deciding which character to write I've been making so many characters in mind. I decided to write the one close to my heart, inspired by a true to life character. Thanks I enjoyed this so much!

Dec 30, 2010
Great for discovering real feeling conflict
by: James B

I thought this was a great excersise. Having the background that made up a character meant for me as soon as I put them in a situation, particularly where they were confronting their weakness, a true feeling conflict arose. Rather than morphing the character as I wrote to tell the story I thought I wanted to the story came of it's self because of the character which is I guess how situations occur in real life.

There were some really good examples I saw of this on the story posting page but Shawna's one stood out for me. It was simple but effective, it did just what the instructions for the exercise said would come come out of this lesson- it hinted at things going on for the character outside of the narrative on the page. It made me ask more about how she had let herself get in the situation, where had here insecurities come from, what was her relationship with the friend moving in, what were her relationships like with other people. It felt true and so won my confidence.

Dec 30, 2010
Lesson 2?
by: Flo

Hi, yes, I've got to go to lesson 3 as I didn't get lesson 2.

I think lesson 2 is about character portrayal, in other words, not just sketching a character, but making a rounded character with depth and integrity - within a situation which reveals this

so that's what I'm going to do before I start lesson 3

Dec 29, 2010
Lesson 2 what is the subject?
by: Flo

Hi, I do not have the contents for lesson 2. Does anyone know what this is? I see another writer has not received it either.
Perhaps someone could post it up?
Regards, Flo.

Dec 27, 2010
no lesson 2 on my inbox
by: Amie agcanas

I didn't receive my lesson 2. Pls. Send it to me. But i already received lesson 3. Thanks.

Dec 16, 2010
Re : a problem with a character reply
by: Anonymous

hi friend,
if the character you write about is a teacher , change it to a doctor. if he likes tea , then write that he likes coffee etc because this way doesn't affect the character being taken from reality. besides , none would know that you mean your relative. but if u want to write the right simple details then u don't have to show ur story to your relatives so that they may not discover that u are writing about one of ur family. the way u told us about ur story means that u r introvert person because u don't many people, if u know many people then u don't have to write about one of ur family. being a good writer , u must have many friends to have wide world experiences because friends tell each other about their problems from which u can take the details u need for ur story.
ur sincere friend

Dec 15, 2010
by: J. EVE

I've not been able to post writing for lesson 2

Dec 13, 2010
Lesson 2
by: J. Eve

Lesson 2 Building Characters
Comments: I’ve established the exercise of lesson 2 now to write the story and bring out the dimensions of the characters. This is an exciting challenge.
• What is this person's occupation? Migrant farm workers

• What type of home does the person have? Small frame, in a very small community.

• What is the person’s relationship? 1. Diego, a child of nine years old, bright eyed very serious about life. Has many obstacles to overcome because of his station in life. 2. Grandmama Luz, late fifties has only known one lifestyle, orphaned at childhood has had a very hard life. 3. Grandpapa Victor, mid sixties very weathered, head decision maker of migrant group.

• What is his/her family like? Salt of the earth people very honest, but very poor and no education, struggles with English communication.

• What does he/she enjoy doing? Diego daydreams of a better life.

• What are his/her greatest strengths and weaknesses? Very hard worker realizes that childhood is more than just games. Has no one to role model his future.

• What is his/her deepest desire? To learn what life teaches him.

• What is his/her greatest fear? Failure

• What is something the person desperately wants to change about himself or herself? Being poor, unliked by others because he is too serious.

• What is something the person doesn't know about himself or herself? Things can change.

Dec 07, 2010
by: Brande

Jennifer was leaving the restaurant, when she was approached by a crying woman. She listened intently to the woman’s story. Pointing to a car across the street, the woman stated that she needed money for her daughter who was diabetic. Furthermore, the woman explained that as she was entering the pharmacy, a young teenaged boy grabbed her purse and fled down the street. Luckily she had placed her car keys in her coat pocket, or she would have no way of getting home. She asked Jennifer if she could borrow thirty dollars for the prescription and that she would pay her back within the week.

Jennifer pondered upon giving the woman money. She had been taken advantage so many times before. The problem was that most of the people who had asked her for money sounded just as sincere as this woman who had approached her. She noted that the woman kept glancing around as though she expected something to happen. However, what made up Jennifer’s mind was the fact, that when the police car drove by, the woman turned her back to the street so that the officers could not see her features.Jennifer also noticed that a young woman had approached the car that the woman had pointed at.The young girl got out of the car,and walked down the street with the girl that had approached the car.
Jennifer learned by looking around first that she had saved herself from being taken advantage of once again.
Not to make a scene, Jennifer told the woman that she did not have any extra money to give her, and stated that she had to get back to work.-leaving the woman standing in front of the resturant.

Dec 07, 2010
Lesson 2
by: Brande

I also loved this assignment. After answering all the questions, I could see a pattern emerging which helped me to create a character.
For example, i had a young woman approximately 23 years old. She was a secretary in a large firm, and lives on the seventh floor of an appartment building near by. Her name was Jennifer Booth.Jennifer loved the outdoors and was an avid skier, swimmer and such. She was in an relationship, but thinking of ending ir because her boyfriend was not at all reliable, nor honest. She was a foster child which had gone through may foster homes. Her strenght was in the ability to fend for herself, weakness was being to soft hearted that left her open to many scams such as needing money.
What she did not know was that her actual parents were very wealthy. They were killed in a car crash, and the moment that she turned 24, she will inherit millions.

I had Jennifer stopped, by a woman, after leaving the resturant. The woman told Jennifer that she had been robbed, and that the money for the perscription for her diabetic daughter had been taken. She begged Jennifer to loan her 30 dollars, and that she would pay Jennifer back. However, Jennifer realized that the woman was less than truthful and was able to walk away with out feeling guilty.

Nov 01, 2010
by: Wendy

I have really enjoyed lesson 2... what I have written isn't fantastic, probably not good at all, but it made me think, and made me use the imagination that I haven't used for a long time.. in this way anyway. Loving the course, and I agree you are all very talented!! x

Oct 18, 2010
Another Idea for Crystal
by: Lauren

Think about everyone you know, and their strengths and weaknesses, or what they complain most about (ruts). When I made a list of every person I knew (over the last 30 years), I found a nice wealth of characters to draw from.

Oct 06, 2010
Two suggestions.
by: Joseph F. Mazzaferro

(The Problem)

Some difficulty
by: Crystal


I think I am trying way to hard. I am working on the character sketch and I got stuck. When asked what our characters strengths and weaknesses are I drew a blank, I used mine, but didn't want to. I can't think of too many strengths or weaknesses to give my characters. Any advice?

#1 Try mind mapping. Its a tecnique that works for me. List main characters then (the conflicts)
build your storie around the strengths and weakness from the conflict.

#2 Ask yourself questions. Is your character a drinker,a smoker build tension in your story to create conflicts.

Make things go from bad to worst before laying out a solution.


Oct 06, 2010
Some difficulty
by: Crystal


I think I am trying way to hard. I am working on the character sketch and I got stuck. When asked what our characters strengths and weaknesses are I drew a blank, I used mine, but didn't want to. I can't think of too many strengths or weaknesses to give my characters. Any advice?

Sep 22, 2010
joseph- jack the ripper
by: Christel

you should read "Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem" by Peter Ackroyd. I don't want to give away too many plot details, but if you like the idea of Jack-the Ripper with a gendered twist, the story will appeal to you.

Aug 26, 2010


In Lesson 3, we'll talk about some ways to turn characters into stories.

In the meantime, here's an exercise that might have interesting results. Imagine that you met this bossy character whom you don't really like. Think about whether there something that she could say or do that would make you feel differently about her. Perhaps her bossy behavior is well-intentioned, but comes out wrong because she doesn't express herself well? Maybe you can develop her into a character who is sympathetic or interesting, although flawed.

On the other hand, if you really dislike this character and don't want to write about her, then feel free to forget about that character and come up with a new one that you find more appealing.

Nancy (Creative Writing Now)

Aug 25, 2010
where do I go from here
by: IMW

I did the assignment but it left me wondering what's next. I don't know what do to with the character or how to change her bossy habits.
I guess I just don't like her.

Aug 07, 2010
@ Carolyn

That's great, Carolyn!

Nancy (Creative Writing Now)

Jul 29, 2010
2nd lesson
by: Carolyn

Thanks for this lesson. I used it for one of the characters in my newest WIP and I got a very interesting scene out of it!

Jul 28, 2010
@ Joe
by: Martha

[Copied my comments posted in Share your Writing Lesson 2 Area 2 - Sorry about posting in the wrong place]

Your story reminded me of a 3 minute cartoon sketch depicted on The Soloist DVD. (This is the movie starring Jamie Fox and Robert Downey Jr. that is based on the true life of a homeless musician afflicted with schizophrenia who is befriended by a LA journalist.)
The sketch features a little girl's story about losing her parents at a young age, being tossed through the foster parent system, then becoming homeless because everybody in her support system caused her to gradually give up and accept becoming homeless. I think your story prompted the same reminder that short sketch strove for -- that every person has a story. Your character may not have been homeless, but his story draws a parallel based upon the desperateness of alcohol and what happens when one succumbs to that weakness and makes choices with that in mind.

Jul 27, 2010
by: Joseph F.Mazzaferro

To me writing is like breathing when it stops it means I am dead.


Jul 27, 2010
@ Robbie

Hi Robbie -- that's not cheating at all! It's great if you can use the assignment for a work in progress. I hope you found the exercise helpful.

Nancy (Creative Writing Now)

Jul 21, 2010
About my love for writing.
by: Joseph F.Mazzaferro

In a recent E maile I received from a dear old friend Frank Di Meo, he reminded me of what was my motivation. (my Friend Franks) passion has been performing theater.

(Frank wrote me) I am truly happy for you reguarding your true love for writing. You've come a long way from those days where stupid girls called my dear friend Joey elierate.


Jul 20, 2010
What motivated me to become a writer?
by: Joseph F. Mazzaferro

When I was a younger man I had a very bad stuttering proublem (you see all my friends were fast talkers) I was not one day because of my stuttering proublem (As a friend recently reminded me; She called me eliterate something that was very painfull to me. (ever since then I have been proving to myself I am not eliterate.)

Words can hurt leave scars (By the way this is the same friend who taught me how not to stutter.

This is what he taught me.

1. Stop 2. think what it is you want to say.
3. Don't compete with anyone. Speak at your own pace. (And It worked)

Jul 20, 2010
Applying lesson 2 to current story.
by: Robbie

I confess I cheated a bit with lesson 2. I am revising a a story and used a character from it. The list of questions helped me to flesh my guy out a bit more and give him a more realistic personality. By the way Joe, you're not a lone ranger as to age -- I'm almost old enough to draw Social Security. I feel blessed to be embarking on this adventure of storytelling. How about you?

Jul 19, 2010
Hi all, I'm still here.
by: Joe

Sorry to all. I didn't think anyone would notice. I generally am pretty busy, especially when currently I'm trying to finish the last chapter of my novel (first). So many apologies to you all. I must say though I think we have a lot of talent in this little community from what I have read to date. It is all good and I must commend you all. I promise to be more social, just put it down to old age.

Jul 14, 2010
(Entry moved by Moderator)
by: Joseph F. Mazzaferro

Moved to: Your Writing Goals

Jul 13, 2010
(Entry moved by Moderator)
by: Joseph F. Mazzaferro

Moved to: Your Writing Goals

Jul 13, 2010
@ Charles

Hi Charles,

I'm here! I come by the Salon whenever I can, but, unfortunately, it's not possible for me to review it every day.

I hope that you and the other writers in the class will also respond (always in a supportive way) to the comments and writing posted in the Salon so that in addition to a class, we'll have a writers' community.



Jul 12, 2010
Is this still a class?
by: Charles

What happened to Nancy, or Joe now in charge?

Jul 12, 2010
The seed
by: Joseph F.Mazzaferro

A creative writing idea for a story is like a seedn the mind of the writer.

From little seeds big things grow. You water it, provide it with nutrician.

As it grows to see the light of day.

I have a story its in seed form possible title;Judge & Jury from birth to death.

Its about Roman Polanski who wins his fight againt deportation. The victims family hires a team of one hit man and woman to get street justice. As Polanski is gloating over his victory winning case against deportation over the microphone THE HIT GOES DOWN. I see it can you?

Jul 10, 2010
Never have writers block
by: Joseph F.Mazzaferro

When I'm not crearing the story I am revising it with my Roget's International Thesaurus in hand.

Jul 09, 2010
@ Joseph

Hi Joseph,

Thanks for sharing your method to help other writers.


Jul 08, 2010
my methods
by: Joseph F. Mazzaferro

Here is a phrase I coined to describe a method I used in the chronicles of the Secret of Scotland Yard.

The method is called "Implied Image".
To understand you have to free-associate.

When I say Historian, what image comes to mind?
I picture a small man with thick rimmed glasses sitting at a table with a lot of dusty documents and manuscripts. (Can you see it?)

If you want to go a little further; he is bald or has an excessive amount of hair on his face.

Not a well-maintained looking man. Salt and pepper colored hair. Not exactly Indiana Jones.

My goal in chapter one is to create a plot and co-plot with the use of conflict.

Now I am creating mood and setting.

Jul 08, 2010
Lesson 2
by: Lizz

Yes, I got it! Thanks for the tip!

Jul 08, 2010
@ Lizz

Hi Lizz - Each student receives the lessons on an individual schedule, depending on when he or she registered for the course. Lesson 2 was sent to you on July 7th, around 11:00 a.m. EST. Have you received it now?

Jul 07, 2010
About Lesson 2
by: Joseph F.Mazzaferro

Two methods I have been using for the longest time. The what if questions I ask myself.

What if Jack The Ripper was actually a female with a dual personality male/female killing prostitutes.

The second method is to create a back story about my characters. These methods have worked well for me in the past.

Jul 07, 2010
Lesson 2
by: Lizz

Did everyone receive lesson 2? I haven't gotten it yet and was just wondering...

Jun 29, 2010
@ Debra

Hi Debra,

This is a very common dilemma. When you start thinking of a fiction character as being a specific person, it can be very difficult to deviate from the facts. It's as if the character's roots in the real word somehow prevent that character from fully entering the world of the imagination where you, the author, are in control.

Here are some of techniques that might help make the character feel less like the person on whom he or she is based:

- Turn the character into a composite of several real people, mixing characteristics from each of them to create someone new.

- Change the character from male to female, or vice-versa.

- Change some other fundamental aspect of the character.

Just some ideas. Let us know how it goes!


Jun 29, 2010
Problem with a character based on a real person
by: Debra

I'm writing a story with a character based on a real person. Right now the story is so close to the details of this person's life that she or anyone who knows her would recognize the person in the character. Some of the description is less than flattering so I need to change this (the person is a relative).

Every time I try to change the character to hide her identity the changes don't feel right. I think I know too much about the real person. Does anyone have any suggestions for what to do?

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