Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Beginnings - The characters
Here we have more on the beginnings of a story. I'm re-reading Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V Swain, a book I've found most helpful in my writing career.
Now about characters. Every story needs people unless you're doing something experimental. I once wrote a story with a park bench as the main character. Needless to say this story never went anywhere but I had fun with the attempt.
When introducing characters into the story, one thing to remember is not to introduce casts of thousands in the first few pages. Too many characters makes the reader wonder who the story is about. In the beginning there are a few characters who need to be seen. These include the hero, heroine and the villain. Now they don't have to be shown in action during the early pages but showing them doing something to or about the heroine or hero can add a punch to your story. "Code Blue" opens in the villain's viewpoint and introduces the heroine quickly. By the second scene, the hero is at least mentioned by name.
An impression of the character needs to be shown. Show them in action. Show them through a description that allows the reader to know why they are and what they are doing. Be realistic here. Little bits of description to show who they are. In "Shattered Dreams, the heroine is shown entering her medical office and getting ready to see patients. She is late because of an emergency that kept her at the hospital. The hero is sort of mentioned. All we know about him at this point is that he is a new hospital hire coming in for a physical and her secretary/nurse can't reach him to reschedule his appointment.
Of course, one has to thread in some hints about the back story. This can be difficult to bring into view. Long passages aren't needed. Just a few lines can often do the job. Be careful to keep the back story in the present through a piece of memory. Something in the present that triggers a memory of what happened in the past. In "Prescription For Love." The heroine is introduced to the hero, a new doctor on staff. In a short passage, she recalls their first meeting, one that didn't go well. Just remember to keep this short and simple. Nothing pulls a reader out of a story that a going back in time for pages and pages. Remember the impact on the present is what is important.