This episode's vocabulary
- A great deal - a large amount.
- Frankly (adverb) - in an honest and direct way.
- Adept (adj.) - having a natural ability to do something that needs skill.
- One-dimensional (adj.) - boring or showing few different qualities.
- Detrimental (adj.) - causing harm or damage.
- Ownership (noun) - the fact that you own something.
- Progress (noun) - movement to an improved or more developed state, or to a forward position.
- Character-driven (adj.) - of a book, play, film, etc., or its' narrative) chiefly concerned with, and developing through, the depiction of the personalities of one or more characters.
- Right off the bat (phrase) - if something happens right off the bat, it happens immediately.
- Well-rounded (adj.) - involving or having experience in a wide range of ideas or activities.
Questions and Answers
M: Rory, bring it on.
R: I've been thinking about it a great deal lately, actually. And I quite like to get better at character writing and development in fiction writing, frankly. Since I started doing it at school, I've been quite adept at writing and telling stories. But when I go back and read everything I've written, I'm a little disappointed to find that characters are quite one-dimensional or flat in some way. And that can have quite a detrimental effect on how people engage with my writing. If all they see is a sequence of events happening to people, and not much growth or ownership of situations, then there's little of them to get invested and little of the characters to get invested in that as. I always think that practice makes perfect or practice makes progress, actually. But before trying to write a few character-driven short stories, I thought I would read a few books and see how other authors develop their characters. It's quite a difficult thing to observe, but I'm getting better at it. And hopefully, I'll have picked up a few workable strategies soon. And if not, then it's hardly a disaster because I don't really write books anymore. I don't really publish stories, but it's something that I should probably try and work on. Unfortunately, perhaps because of this, I'm not terribly confident of any success right off the bat. But hopefully, after a few years, I'll manage to write something that has better characterization, though I doubt it will be perfect. On the plus side, at least I know I'm better at writing story-driven pieces, but it helps to have, I suppose a more well-rounded approach to such things. I mean, everyone should try and at least aim for having a well-balanced story, you know, between story-driven elements and character-driven ones. I think that's what makes good stories when you think about it. If you look at what other authors do, they seem to get this quite right. Then again, I'm not very good at one of them. So maybe I'm just reading into this the wrong way.
M: What about your friends? Do they think that it's a useful talent to improve?
R: Um, I don't think my friends have commented on this at all, actually. They probably don't even notice it. But I do and that's the most important thing.
M: Thank you Rory for your talented answer.
M: So the cue card goes describe a natural talent that you want to improve. Oh my God. So Rory, what can our listener talk about here? So in brackets, we have sports or music. So a natural talent. You talked about character writing.
M: In fiction. What else can our learner, listener talk about?
R: Well, maybe you play an instrument, for example, and you want to talk about that. Most people play an instrument or at least attempted to. Or if we talk about sport, then you could talk about getting better at like improving your gym routine, for example. I didn't talk about either of these because I'm pretty sound in my understanding that I have no natural talent for music. And I'm very happy with my gym routine right now. So, the next logical step was to do was to talk about something that I'm, well, at least trying to be good at, trying to practice more, which was writing, and a specific aspect of writing. So I'm quite naturally talented at writing and characters in particular, but their development needs a bit of work. So that's the line that I'm going now.
M: Yeah, dear listener. So you can talk about singing. Perhaps you would like to be a great singer and work on your voice, or some sports. If you enjoy playing tennis, you want to be better at playing tennis, or football, or cricket. I don't know. Billiards, darts in a pub. Any kind of game.
R: So there's probably two ways that we should approach my answer to this. The first one is to look at vocabulary and grammar that's good for talking about improving or talking about this kind of process of improvement and then we can look at more specific vocabulary that I used to describe what I wanted to improve.
R: So immediately we can say, I'd quite like to get better at...
R: So, in this way like it's already, to get better at something is already quite a good structure to have. And then we have I'd, I would, contraction, so you get your pronunciation and you have "would" - modal verb.
M: Yep. So I'd quite like to get better at cooking, I'd quite like to get better at singing.
R: And then, if it's a natural talent, you've done it in the past. So all the time in the past up until now, since I started doing it, or since I've started doing it for the time in the past, and then quite adept at, which is just another way of saying I'm quite talented at something, but we're paraphrasing. So to be adept at something - to be talented at something.
M: Yeah, yeah. So, adapt. Yeah, I wanted to ask you about that. So when I was a child, I was quite adept at singing, or I was quite adept at writing poems, or, I don't know, playing football. And also, Rory, we do need to mention that natural talent for something, right. And it's always for, for music, or for playing the piano.
R: Yes. But you could always say I have been naturally talented at something.
M: So I'm talented at, or yeah, but here in this topic, you should talk about natural talent, it's something like you were born with, right? Or what is like a natural talent?
R: It could just be telling stories in general. There's lots of people that are very good at telling people about events or giving presentations, for example, but maybe they notice a particular aspect of doing presentations isn't so good. Either way, you've been doing it for a period of time, so perfect tense will be good for this.
R: And and then, now, this is a conditional structure. If all that people get is blah, blah, blah, then the consequences, blah, blah, blah. So then we talk about why you want to improve it, which is talking about if you don't improve it, then things will not be so good.
R: That's probably why people improve things. It's like the main motivation. Um, and then we talk about how to do this. And then you can pick up so not literally pick up something, but you can get the idea of something, pick up a few workable strategies. So a workable strategy is just a way of doing something successfully.
M: And then we should speak about how we want to improve it. And you said, like, I always think practice makes perfect. But before, but you said practice makes something else you said.
M: Progress. Yeah, practice makes progress. Nice.
R: I'm reading a book right now about studying things. And that was one of the things that came up. It said like, practice makes perfect, but actually practice makes progress.
M: Yeah. So how you want to improve it. So more practice, obviously, I thought I would do something or you thought in the past that you would in the future, then you can say I'm getting better at something. And I've already, I don't know, booked lessons or I've already bought a guitar. If you talk about playing the guitar, for example. And you can say about picking up a few workable strategies.
R: Yes. And that just basically means finding ways of doing things. But obviously, it's much better to say this, because workable is a good adjective and strategies is also a good noun. But you can talk about not being bothered about the outcome. And then you can say if it doesn't work, then it's hardly a disaster. So that just means it's not going to be a problem if it doesn't work. But we should also comment on, well, if it does work, which is success. And you could talk about being successful right off the bat, which is just another way of saying immediately. Um, and then, because it's not possible to get perfection, you can say I doubt it will be perfect. However, we should talk about more subject-specific vocabulary as well. So for example, we have characters can be one-dimensional. So if something is one-dimensional, it's not really well developed. Or we can say it's flat. And then we talk about things being story-driven or character-driven. That just means that your story is either, it's created by what the actions of the characters are and their development for character-driven, or if it's story-driven, then it's driven by what happens to the characters. And you can have different kinds of short story. Well, you can have different kinds of story, short stories, long stories, books, and this process of developing characters is called characterization. However, I think that we have done developing our character of story writing, and talking about how to develop your talents. So we should leave it there. Join us in part three, where we're going to talk about talents next time.
M: Yes, dear listener, make sure that you do know a talent that you want to improve and get better at. So make sure that you take notes on the vocab. Or you can make it up, you can just talk about singing, or playing football or cooking. Thank you very much for listening! See you in part three!
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