Friday, February 26, 2010

A Character Day

So I posted on SWS' Blog a day late today, and it was about characters derailing the storyline.

Now I want to discuss what I as a reader like in characters and how this might help in writing and revisions. I like struggle, internal to the character. A lot of writers like to approach this from a moralistic perspective and that can make for an exciting story. My favorites are battles against expectations (usually social) which force characters to confront and or develop a stronger sense of self. (Yes, I'm a sucker for self-discovery). This can also tread the moral ground when a character has to stick up for what he/she "knows" is right, but the society (of which they are a part) disagrees. Or, perhaps the achievement of the goal forces some moral flexibility or unavoidable actions which creates a crisis in the hero's self-image (they could not avoid some terrible immoral act). This creates the gray area, or the gray character.

But I don't always need or want this grayness. Sometimes I want the author's word choice to shape the characters just-so-much that I care. How do you do that, though?

In revisions of Novel One, I am stepping far closer to characters than I ever have. I am trying to to see the world through their eyes. I have everything so neatly drawn in my mind. I know so much. But what do the characters know? In an effort to bring the characters to the fore, the story lines change. I want the reader's interest in the characters to pull the story through, but I have never taken this tact before (exactly) because I was afraid that "nothing would happen." The path the characters might take me on might lead through an insane number of details that may or may not pull the reader into the story.

So is the answer as simple as keeping the characters morally ambiguous or otherwise in crisis, to keep them interesting?


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