Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Character Stories - Orson Scott Card
Once again looking at something learned from How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. This is about stories that focus on Characters. All stories have characters but not all stories are character stories. What makes the difference?
A Character story is about change or transformation. There are many stories where the main character remains essentially the same at the end as he or she was in the beginning. I've had critique partners tell me in some of my stories that the character hasn't changed. This is especially true when I'm writing a series with the same character. The traits of the character are established in the first book and remain the same in the last book in the series. This can often drive people who don't know the series in entirety but come in during the third or fourth story. But that's something the writer knows. These are not character stories.
A Character story begins when the main character realizes he or she must change. In some matter they have reached bottom and must change. Not always an interior change in their nature but this can also be a change in how they relate to their environment. Character stories look at the hero or heroine in depth. This doesn't mean other stories don't have characters that change but other elements of the story are more important. In a Character story, the character's change or development is the story.
The Character story begins the moment the main character realizes there is a need for change. The reader needs to be shown what or why the character has come to this conclusion but not for pages and chapters of the character's life leading up to the moment. Begin at the beginning or the triggering moment. The story ends when the character has made the change or when they sink back to their old ways and refuse to make the change.