Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How Well Do We Know Our Characters?

Today is officially the first day of Summer! YAY! Or BOO! Depending upon your perspective, this is a great day or a sad day. Great because it means summer is really here or sad because this is the longest day of the year, which means it’s all downhill from here as we roll back towards winter. Hmmm. Are you an optimist, a pessimist or indifferent? Do you prefer summer or winter? Do you care? What about the characters you write about? Do they care?

So much of what we do and how we interact in the world depends on our perspective and viewpoint. It may seem like a subtle question- The first day of Summer- Good or Bad? But it can reveal a great deal about us as individuals OR about the characters living within the pages of the books we write. In life, it would be improbable to be surrounded by only one type of person. It is much more likely that we are surrounded by complexity of competing values, opinions and even points of view, in the sense that not everyone can view the world in the same way. What a boring place that would be. Even as individuals we may find that we are both optimistic/pessimistic/indifferent depending on the circumstances around us or the subject we face. A mixture of these attributes amongst our characters adds interest and complication to our stories. It adds angst, conflict and depth. Without these qualities, a story will just be words on pages that don’t really speak to or move anyone. So, take a look at your current characters. Are they the same? Different? Are they cheery? Do they have a fatal flaw? Are they optimistic or pessimistic? Can they change? Should they change? Answering these questions and many more will help us to truly know our characters and make our writing more enjoyable and the experience for our readers more meaningful.

Oh, one more thing. Don’t forget about the inaugural Storymakers Midwest Conference on September 15th. Find out more information here.
I had originally planned to attend the Provo Storymakers Conference this year but was unable to attend so I’m thrilled to have a second shot at meeting many of my favorite LDS authors. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to attend a great conference near Kansas City. I am also very excited about this as I will be presenting two workshops: 1) The First 5 Pages  and 2) YA genre. It should be loads of fun. Sign up today!


Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Knowing your character I guess is a good first step to being able to anticipate dialog in the least.

Steve Westover said...

Dialogue--behavior--motivations. You're right Michael, knowing your character is critical.