Friday, April 17, 2015

A to Z Challenge: O is for Objects of Desire (OODs)

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Welcome to April. With its customary showers comes the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For those who are unfamiliar with it:
The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day. (Source) 
The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE 

My theme this year is EDITING

I'll be posting practical advice for editing any story, novel, or other piece of writing. Editing is something most authors struggle with, and after years of doing my own as well as that of others, I have a pretty good eye for what needs work. I'll be doing short posts on editing topics and (hopefully) dispensing simple, valuable advice to help everyone out there self-edit.


O is for Objects of Desire

Objects of Desire are about what they sound like. They're the things your characters want. In order to have a fully fleshed-out story, each of your important characters need two OODs: a tangible and an intangible one.

Tangible OODs: What the character is actually trying to accomplish in the book. So, finding the chamber of secrets, throwing the One Ring into Mordor, winning the hunger games, etc.

Intangible OODs: What they want out of life in general. You know, world peace, to become a good, decent wizard, the safety of the Shire, the safety of family members, etc. This will speak volumes to a character's...um, character.

Editing for OODs:

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1) Make sure that any character with any kind of impact on the story has both of those things. We may not actively see them, but they need to be there and you, the author, need to know what they are. You might be surprised how often you'll be writing characters whose motivations you don't have nailed down. 

2) For every chapter or scene, go over which characters are present and what each of their tangible and intangible OODs are.

3) Make sure everything they do in that scene--every line of dialogue, every action, every reaction--matches their OODs. Every time they appear in your story, everything they do should be moving them toward the accomplishment of their OODs.

4) Play with your ending. One of the most fun things about OODs is deciding whether, in the end, your characters will attain them or not. (And how they will react, especially if they don't.)

Once you have the OODs  hashed out, you'll be amazed how much easier it is to write your character and how much more solid they come across on the page.

What do you think of OODs?

8 comments :

  1. This is crucial. More than once (more than a hundred times, probably) I've been halfway through a story or scene and realized it's not going well. Guaranteed, if I go back and ask myself "what do does this character want?" I won't have an answer for it, which solves the problem of what's going wrong.

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    1. It's amazing how simple the fix is once you know what to look for, isn't it? I've been there plenty of times, too. :D

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  2. Figuring out what the character wants (or thinks he wants) is one of the first things I do.

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    1. Which probably makes writing ten times easier for you! Go you! :D

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  3. oh i'm so glad i stopped by from alex's recommendation! i am coming back after the challenge to take some serious notes on editing - my nemesis!
    great to meet you!

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    1. LOL. Glad it's helping, Tara. I think, at least to some extent, editing is everyone's nemesis! :D Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  4. This is a great tip and I'll add this to my list. I agree about listing an OOD, even if it's not in the story. When I write a story, I create character sheets. Listing likes, dislikes and so forth. Even when I don't discuss it in the book, it always seems to help when I'm writing characters. And there have been a few times when I assign one character something to do or say in the story but I'm reminded by another character that is their department. Does that makes sense?

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    1. Yeah it totally does! I've done that before as well. I don't usually do full character sheets, as I find they distract me too much, but I definitely define the important things. Like OODs. :D Thanks Jeffrey!

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