Thursday, September 16, 2010

Your Characters

Writing a story can seem easy until you have written one and it stinks, at least to you. There are some questions and elements to writing that might help in your journey as a writer.

Where is your story going? This seems like a common sense question. Sometimes we write and write and then read what we have written and wonder where the story is taking us.

How do you hook your readers? The protagonist needs a conflict. The main character is known as a protagonist.

The main character needs to have a problem (conflict) which they want to resolve so this leads to a goal. A goal helps the reader root for the character.

But to reach the goal, the main character needs to overcome obstacles. Don’t use convenient coincidences to get the character out of trouble. It rarely happens in real life.

The antagonist in the story is the one who opposes the main character. An antagonist can be man vs. nature, man vs. self and man vs. man. The stronger your antagonist, the stronger your story. The more pages your reader will turn!

What are the consequences of failure to your protagonist? Your main character can not give up. Different consequences might be: the world coming to an end, death, loss of true love or family, etc.

Here’s a exercise that might help:

In each scene find:

  • The goal/s of the protagonist or main character
  • The goal/s of other characters
  • The obstacles
  • The consequences of failure

What is the biggest obstacle for your main character?

1 comment:

Scott said...

Sometimes, when planning a project or even a scene, I'll use a free program called yWriter. What I like about it is that it's scene-based, and for every scene, you specify the goals of the main characters involved.

Really, the only difference between the protagonist and the antagonist is that they have conflicting goals, like they want the same thing and only one of them can have it. Sometimes neither is actually a good guy or bad guy--they just want the same thing and the story is told from only one of their POVs, so that one becomes the protagonist.