Saturday, December 31, 2011

Before You Start Part 2

    We’ve talked about the plot of our book and how to create a destination to write toward. We don’t need to know all the details or ‘tourists’ sights along the way but we do need to know where we’re headed.  Things like what is the big event that will create that “all is lost” moment, the moment when the characters are forced to confront their past, or fears, or mistakes and learn and grow? 
    But before you can take you hero and heroine to that point you have to know what caused their issue in the first place and how they will react to events along the way that will force them to reexamine their lives, their faith and their future. To do that you have to know your characters inside and out.

   Knowing your characters ahead of time makes the whole writing process easier. That means knowing how they would react in any situation, knowing what they fear, what triggers their insecurities. One of the best tools I’ve found is Alicia Rasley’s Character Interview. You can find it online.
   Many writers need to know things like a characters favorite color, ice cream, movie, etc. But those aren’t things I need to understand my characters. What I do need to know is, why is my hero or heroine lying to themselves about what they really want? What truth must they realize about themselves to find happiness. Those questions will force you to look deep into your character, and when you do that ahead of time, you have a nice road map for the plot.
   Here’s a few vital character questions to answer for each character:

            What do you want? (Goal)
            Why? (Motivation)
            What’s in your way? (Conflict)

Key question for hero/heroine - I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve my goal. Just don’t ask me to --- Then make them do it!

A couple more things to think about in the beginning:
         What’s the worst that could happen?  Do it and more!!
         Make it bad; not only does this happen, but then this and this too.
        Worst fears realized. What are H/H worst fears? How can they come true?
        Make sure that each characters commitment to their goal is so strong that neither will back out when the going gets tough.

Even if you know all these things ahead of time, there are still plenty of surprises along the way.  Your characters will never tell you everything up front.
   There are a lot of good books out there to help you with plotting and story structure. Find one that makes sense to you. What works for me may not click with you at all. The goal is to write more efficiently. Writing by the seat of your pants can be fun, exciting and magical but if you’re looking at a deadline, having a story GPS system can make the trip a lot less stressful.

Happy Writing.

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