The 4Ds

And none of those 4 Ds is for well done, pity

Let’s see what 4 Ds can do for us. We tried to uncover our characters, maybe watching a colleague closely for years or just witnessing an old woman returning home in the metro. Whatever the case, we have the first idea of our characters and a vague idea of the plot.

We decided to tide up our characters (or nicely invite them to a tea party) and started questioning them. We saw how comfortable it is to ask straightforward questions and how uncomfortable it makes us to ask some more deep, strictly personal questions. 

It’s fair but still needs to be more. With your characters, you need to ask questions about their past, their dark secrets, and their manias. Think about how challenging it is to ask a complete stranger any question, even where to find the closest pharmacy.

And now, consider how hard it is to answer a question since it’s still you speaking through your character at the end of the day. That means you have to think as the reader, not the writer, and sometimes even that is not enough. So, why the 4 Ds are so important?

4 Ds shape your characters

Suppose someone is describing a car to you:

“With a maximum top speed of 105 mph (169 km/h), a curb weight of 1993 lbs (904 kgs), the TR3 has a naturally-aspirated Inline 4 cylinder engine, Petrol motor. This engine produces a maximum power of 101 PS (100 bhp – 74 kW) at 5000 rpm and a maximum torque of 159.0 Nm (117 lb.ft) at 5000 rpm. The power is transmitted to the road by the rear-wheel drive (RWD) with a 4-speed Manual gearbox. Regarding chassis details responsible for road holding, handling behavior and ride comfort, the TR3 has Coil springs. Front suspension and Semi-elliptic leaf springs.

De Dion axle. Rear suspension. The TR3 braking system includes the front and rear for stopping power. The TR3 model is a Cabrio car manufactured by Triumph, sold new from 1955. I’m going to sell my apartment to buy it.”

If you are ignorant of car matters, you may find the definition above useless. You have a bunch of information, but anything useful to the general reader, and most of all, no emotions are involved.

No emotions involved means there’s no way for the reader to dive deeper into your story. Also, when that person added he would sell his apartment to buy it at the end of the description, you’d probably thought he was insane, right? There’s no motive. Why would somebody ever do something like that? That’s exactly where our 4 Ds are entering in the game.

The 4Ds, writing pills in, you can always make your character better and more believable, just follow a few simple steps.
The 4Ds, Writing pills by Daniele Frau.

Let’s imagine the same character describing the same car in this way:

“Yesterday, an old man approached me at the market in the pasta section and asked me if I had ever watched La Dolce Vita by Federico Fellini. I’ve never seen this fellow before and found that question really odd. At any rate, I wouldn’t lose anything answering back, so I did. I told him I’m a cinema connoisseur who is mostly into old Italian movies.

He asked me if I remembered the Triumph TR3. Sure, I remember that car, I said. So he told me he had the original car from the movie, the excellent Triumph TR3, well parked inside his garage. You must know that it’s a magical, convertible, fashionable car, as no one does, not a simple car. When you accelerate, you feel the engine calling the attention of everyone in the street, a roar full of stories and magic trapped inside a thin, dreamy metal envelope.

That’s more than a car. It’s an obsession. I left the pasta section and followed that guy. I gave him my number and finally, I convinced him. I’m going to sell my apartment to buy the car.”

Did you see the 4 Ds working? Now, even if you’ve never heard of that specific vehicle before, you probably start visualizing yourself seated in the front seat of this cult car, the engine speaking to you and everyone else in the street. You know this person is a cinema connoisseur and all the information you acquired helps you understand the ultimate decision. It’s still a crazy conclusion to make, selling an apartment to buy a car, but now you know why. There’s a reason behind it. You gave the reader a motive.

4 Ds help better understand your characters and make your story more compelling.
4 Ds by Daniele Frau.

Well, what we’ll do next time is to analyze the 4 Ds that will shape your characters and, therefore, your story:

Keep reading and discover more about the 4 Ds (and some other stuff) in our writing in pills section!

The importance of reading, graphic by Daniele Frau.
The importance of reading, graphic by Daniele Frau.

Reading is crucial because it improves the way you focus, your memory and your communication skills. Here at Flyingstories, we like to write free stories that can entertain you and help you learn Italian or English. You can change the website’s language any time you want, just by clicking on the flag. In this way, you can read stories for free in Italian and English.

Do you think you’re not ready for a long story like Go back to the future or Souls Alive? Please feel free to read our short stories in Italian and English!

This article is written by the storyteller and copywriter Daniele Frau.

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