Today I’m going to be looking at a couple of different worksheets. I’m not going to go through them all blow by blow – that would be boring, and leave you nothing to discover for yourselves – so I’m just going to look at one worksheet that you can complete online and save to the One Stop for Writers website and the advantages/disadvantages of this, and because that particular worksheet is about characters again, I’m going to look at one of the worksheets that isn’t about character.
For the online worksheet, I’m going to look at Character’s Fears. Mostly because it’s the first one in the list, and I handily completed the ‘Character At-A-Glance’ worksheet for my last post, which I can use as a reference for this. So, rather than clicking on the ‘Word Template’ like last time, I’m clicking on the ‘New’ link and it takes you to an online form.
Again, you get the information before the worksheet which gives you some thoughts and advice about character fears. The form itself is just text boxes – very self explanatory, and with type over examples in each of the boxes to give you an idea of the sort of things to write.
By comparison, the word document looks like the above, which is a nice visual representation of the questions and answers. I like this design, and it seems a shame not to use it, but the Word template is less intuitively editable than the last one. It can be done, but it’s a bit more fiddly. Fortunately, as you’ll see below, you don’t need to fuss around with that.
The first thing I noticed about this worksheet is it’s really hard! And I don’t mean that as a negative to One Stop – it’s easy enough to understand and fill in, but the questions really make you think. Hence why I’ve put ‘test’ in each of the boxes, because I know I need to go away and have a really good think about what I know about my characters before I fill this one in. (Which is particularly ridiculous because in this story one of the characters has the ability to make people see their greatest fears when he touches them… I REALLY need to know this stuff!!) Once it’s done, it will be really useful as a tool for focusing my characterisation and also for putting characters in situations which they don’t like.
The image above is what the worksheet looks like in preview, once you’ve saved it to the workspace. It only brings through the questions you’ve answered. However, once you click ‘Generate PDF’ it takes those answers, and the blank spaces, and formats it into the nice diagram, as per the Word template.
Well, minus some arrows, but if you’re really bothered you can always draw them on when you print it out. And, if you don’t like the circles, it gives you the plain list as well, as below.
Saved worksheets will appear under the below page, which you can access from the ‘Open’ button on the Templates and Worksheets. I deleted my test before I took this screen shot, but they basically appear under the text in a list of clickable links.
Next up then is Symbols and Motifs.
There is no option for this to be completed online and no example either. I’m wondering if the team behind One Stop are planning to add these in later, as I can see no reason why this couldn’t be completed online as the others have. It’s early days for the site yet, and I imagine there are a lot of developments and ideas the team still have to execute.
Again you get the intro with advice and ideas. The diagram here is just the questions phrased in slightly different ways, with some hints in the middle as to what the symbols and motifs can be.
I wondered with this one if it was last on the list for a reason. I had just got it in my head that there was no particular order to the worksheets, but looking at this one, it would be much easier to fill in if all the character ones were filled in first. Question 2a is about Character fears, so that will be simple if you’ve done the Character Fears worksheet already.
I think the best approach for the worksheets would be to have a look through all of them then decide which would be best to complete first. I think all provide a solid grounding when thinking about the characters and setting of your story.
To me, I think they aren’t cheat sheets to help you come up with characters and plot ideas, but rather a tool you can use to push yourself to develop your ideas further. If your story idea is in its infancy, you probably need to go away and think of a few key plot elements and outline some characters before coming back to these worksheets to fine tune what you have. For me, revisiting an idea that didn’t work in its original format, these are perfect to help me tease out what I really want to say and how I’m going to say it.
And on that note, I’m off to complete the rest of the worksheets and print them out for my NaNo reference folder. This is probably the last I’ll say about worksheets, but if anything comes up during my filling out process, I’ll report back.