#DIYMFA Homework Assignment #2: TADA! Character Compass

Posted 4 April, 2011 by DLWhite in WIPs, Writers Write 0 Comments

Today’s lesson at DIY MFA focuses on showing, not telling, and using the TADA  (Though Action Dialog Appearance) Character Compass.

In the (very teeny) diagram to the left,  the outside of the compass represents the maximum amount of that attribute. The closer to the center, the less that attribute was used. In the example from today’s lesson, the compass represents an excerpt that is heavy on dialog and action, and moderate on thought and appearance– so we’re saying how we feel about things and not talking about what our characters are feeling or how others are reacting to what our characters say or who they are.

Our homework assignment was to choose a passage and do a compass to indicate the levels of TADA used. I chose a passage from Nowhere Man, since I just finished it and know it best. And it’s short. HA. This is the passage I’m analyzing and below is my TADA compass:

I purposely chose a dialog heavy snippet because I want to see, when I am in the thick of conversation between my characters, if I am doing more telling than showing. From my diagram, it looks like I am big on dialog and action. My character is the tortured type, so there is some thought, a lot of self talk and introspection. Not a lot of appearance, or reaction of one character to another, though it is there, like when she is pacing.

I see , though, that I could probably use a little less talky and a little more showy… but overall, I think the dialog works for them because it’s back story and I’d much rather have my characters give hints and clues via dialog than type up three long boring paragraphs about their family histories.

Hopefully my fellow DIYMFAers will come tell me if I’m right in my analysis or not!

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