marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

tricks and techniques and depth

Am pondering a couple of techniques I have heard of writers using.  Both of them for depth.

One comes from industry:  the "Five Whys."  Whenever there is a problem, you need to ask why five times.  I can see the applicability to fiction:
  • Theodora must go to this planet.
  • Why?
  • to perform a certain ceremony
  • Why?
  • Because if it's not performed by a member of the royal family, the kingdom will cease to be ruled by the king
  • Why?
  • Because it's the law from pre-Unification days.
  • Why?
  • Because the Unification was an immensely chaotic business and this law was not one of the most urgent to change.
  • Why?
  • Because it wasn't going to affect anything for nearly a century.
Ok, I think I did the world-building deep enough on that question.  And I can see its being helpful on plotting questions, like why that problem will slap your hero upside his head.  (Five is not the required number; you can do less, or more, as needed.)

And then there's character description.  I've heard this twice with two different criteria.  One was to test how deep a character is by whether you can describe them without their name or attire.  The other was the same, without their name, occupation, or appearance.  Hmm.  Occupation can be a rather significant element, whether you chose it yourself or were forced into it.  Has anyone heard of a different list?
Tags: characterization, complexity, description, world-building: other, writing technique
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