Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Writing craft

Characterization is what my current craft obsession for me it is the most critical aspect of any story. Browsing around the other day I found a discussion, The Secret to Getting Published, about this very subject by Melanie Melburne on .

My favorite writers are all brilliant at characterization. There are two things I'm sure work to make characters engaging.

1) Detail - there's are a few catches though. They have to be the perfect telling details. And they have to be slivered into the story at exactly the right moment. As if that weren't tricky enough, they have to be repeated, with enough added content not to be annoying, at precisely the right time to drive home the point. The purpose of all these details is character revelation. The reason the details repeat and change is to show character evolution.

2) Emotion - the basic feelings of bad, glad, and mad are universal. The character's inner journey is what makes a story compelling. This is the reason behind the classic advice to open the story with the heroine grappling with a problem. Who among us has never struggled? No one. Therefore struggling protagonist yields instant empathy.

Simple enough - give the reader engaging characters who are believable, admirable, and human. Then place those same story people into situations where they must struggle to overcome conflict. Finally, relate the emotional stakes poignantly and the manuscript is practically sold.

There may be a few other piddling details . . .


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