Wit 'n Wisdom of Janice LaQuiere

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

WTBN Chapter 5: Characters

Chapter 5 Breakout Checklist (summary):

1. All stories are character driven
2. Engrossing characters are out of the ordinary
3. Readers' sympathy for characters comes from characters' strength
4. Larger-than-life characters say what we can't say, do what we cannot do, change in ways we cannot change
5. Larger-than-life character have conflicting sides and are conscious of self.
6. Dark protagonists appeal only when they have sympathetic sides; e.g., they struggle to change or have hidden sensitivity.
7. The highest character qualities are self-sacrifice and forgiveness.
8. Build a cast for contrast.
9. Build complex character relationships by combining roles.
10. Choose a narrator based on who is changed most by story's events
11. Build depth of character with tools like character biographies, author-character dialogues, etc.
12 Differentiate characters with character charts.
13. Breakout characters are deep and many-sided.

Identify what is extraordinary in ordinary characters (it might help to look at the people around you and identify the extraordinary character traits they show.)

How are my characters extraordinary?

What makes a character larger-than-life?
Inner conflict
Wit and spontaneity (larger than life characters do things that "we" would not do. In the mouths of your characters is the time to use the "perfect comeback")
How can your character act against the stereotype you've established for her?

Fully rounded, 3-D characters have many sides, complex motives and act/respond in ways that surprise us.

Define characters by making them individualized, by providing contrast between them.

The more complex the relationship is between characters, the more interesting the story will be.

Flawed characters need hints of the same qualities that maker heroes larger-than-life.

Secondary Characters:
Need to amplify the story.
Should do more than sympathize with protagonist, but should produce friction.
Should share their opinion of the other characters

How does Stan/Tricia react the first time the catch a whiff of the scents that set each other apart?


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