Elsa Winckler presented a talk on Character Development in Afrikaans at #ROSACon2014. The talk was poorly attended, but we hope to see a good del more Afrikaans writers join us next year!
Report by Erich Viedge
It's one thing reading about how to create and develop characters in a book. But somehow when there's a live Romance author sitting in front of you, telling you how she does it, the lessons sink in faster and deeper. Winckler (like every author I've ever met) was at pains to point out that this is the process that she follows; every writer has to find a process that works for her.
She spoke Afrikaans, and the content was so engaging and her passion so evident that the language difference didn't intrude on the session at all.
Her process is very structured. She had hand-outs with scores of questions to consider about your character, from the obvious traits like hair colour to the family dynamics in the character's family of origin. For example, she asks: is your character the black sheep of the family? Or if it's another relative, what did the character do to earn them that title?
One of the many tips that stuck with me is that your characters should have a somewhat contradictory nature. For example, she said, one of her main characters was arrogant, and at the same time, he was sentimental. He collected items that reminded him of important relationships in his past.
This makes for a more rounded character, and one that is more believable.
After designing the character, Winckler gave us tips on how to develop the character. She spoke of the importance of putting a character in an external situation that mirrors her internal conflict -- and she illustrated it with examples from her own work.
Just those 10 minutes helped make my own characters more believable, and helped drive the action of the first scenes of my own first novel.
It was a tough choice, having to choose between different breakaway sessions. But I felt this one has made a tangible difference to my characters, my novel and my readers' enjoyment of my writing.
You can find out more about Elsa Winckler at her website: elsawinckler.com