Friday, September 2, 2016

Going Over to the Dark Side . . . Sort Of By Ann Haywood Leal

Character flaws.  We all have them.  And so should your characters.

Like our children, we want our characters to be perfect, so we naturally want to give them streamlined, worry-free lives where they do no wrong.  But really, where’s the fun in that?  We have to have growth and change in our characters, otherwise, there is no story.  It’s a great big yawner from the first page.

A long time ago I got a handwritten note on my returned manuscript from an editor.  I can still remember it, word for word:  “Your character has no redeeming qualities.” 
Wow.  I guess I went completely to the dark side.  Basically this editor was saying she hated my main character, and not necessarily in a Voldemort Darth Vader love-to-hate sort of way.  

So . . . we need to be somewhere in the middle.  The only way we can do that is to really know our characters.  I used to think I could get to know my character as I schlepped through my story.  But that can get me in a whole world of trouble, sending my character every which way in a confusing story world. 

I will now defer to the late great Ray Bradbury who once said, “Find out what your hero or heroine wants, and when he or she wakes up in the morning, just follow him or her all day.” –THEN start your story.  Some of that information about your character will never make its way into your book.  It will stay inside your head, simmering there as you write.  It will, in fact, affect all of your writing, because what you know about your character will come out in bits and pieces with their dialogue, with the way they walk across the room, the way they interact with the other characters, etc.

I am going to leave you with a writing prompt to get you started:  Darth Vader and Pollyanna had a baby . . . Go!




4 comments:

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  2. Good one Annie, Would love to see that character on the page...

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  3. Ditto what Holly said. Thanks so much for sharing that tidbit of Bradbury's writing wisdom.

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