CHARACTER


CHARACTER

Natalie Bright

 

“What is character but the determination of incident? What is incident but the illustration of character?” HENRY JAMES

 

As David Morrell reminds us in his book LESSONS FROM A LIFETIME OF WRITING, plot and character are intimately related. Every character that comes on scene has interaction with your main character and will establish a relationship with that main character. Your protagonist will interact with each of those minor characters in some way, and their actions and dialogue move the plot along. Is that relationship from the past or a new one? (Be sure to add Morrell’s book to your writing reference library.)

According to E. M. Forster, main characters are multidimensional. They surprise us, they are complex, and they are difficult to describe succinctly. They are defined by who they are.

The iceberg theory is a style of writing coined by American writer Ernest Hemingway. “The dignity of the movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above the water”. Same is true for characters and their stories. What is obvious to the reader implies a much larger truth and depth. That is why the majority of your character profile will never appear in your story, but you know your characters intimately. As one workshop instructor explained, the writer should know what is in the main character’s closet.

What does your character want, and what obstacles can you throw in their way to prevent them from achieving that goal?

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Why, Oh Why?


Why, Oh Why?

Don’t Be Afraid of the Journey

By Natalie Bright

A feisty eleven-year-old by the name of Silver Belle consumes my thoughts. She lives in 1887 Texas in the fictitious frontier town of Justice, Texas.

She’s the main character in my western middle grade novel, and she’s so demanding. Thoughts of her adventures interrupt me without notice, day and night. Several weeks ago, for example, I realized her grandmother does not like her.

WHY is there conflict between Silver Belle and her grandmother? WHY must Silver Belle explore her Mexican heritage by visiting a sheepherders plazita in the Texas Panhandle? WHY can’t their issues be resolved and does this story end well?

I have no idea as to the answers to any of those questions, but I do know for a fact, just as true and real as this blog I’m writing, that Silver Belle’s grandmother refuses to acknowledge her own granddaughter’s existence.

The journey as a writer is in finding out the WHY.

At this point, I have total sympathy and a better understanding as to WHY Hemingway began drinking every day at noon.

www.nataliebright.com

Natalie Bright