Saturday, May 02, 2009

It Really Is About The Characters

As I started thinking of how to revise Danger, I decided to go back to my copy of Tami Cowden's Heroes & Heroines Archetype book. The first thing I noticed as I thumbed through it was a question: "Do you remember plots or characters?" My first reaction was plots, definitely plots since I love action/adventure stories. But then I took a moment, thought about it some more and realized that it's the characters I remember. BUT it's through the rich characters that I also tend to remember the plots.

For example, if you've read this blog for a while you know I love the Bourne movies. I love the action, suspense, chases and fighting. I love watching Jason think his way out of trouble. But is it the plot that draws me in? No, it's the character of Jason Bourne who pulls me along on his exciting and often terrifying adventure. Another example is the movie Troy. I LOVE Brad Pitt in that movie, love the fighting, Achilles' stubborn behavior. But is it the plot that draws me in? No, I love watching the relationship and emotions between Achilles and his enemy's cousin.

As I set out to make changes to the manuscript I need to ship off to a waiting editor, I realize even more that I can have the best suspense scenes in my manuscript, but my characters need to be solid. They need to be lovable and worth rooting for. They need to be well-rounded people. Cowden's book, since I bought it, has been like a gold mine for me. It's helped a bunch of the "rules" of writing finally make sense. It's all clicking and for the first time I'm approaching my work from a strictly professional point of view. I'm not afraid to drop scenes or phrases that don't support the growth of the characters. I can look at a scene with a critical eye, rearrange it and see what's missing (or what's done well!). I'm willing to sacrifice ideas I had for my plot or characters if they don't support the crafting of a great book. In a matter of weeks, it's helped me take my writing (and revising) to another level, one I hope is closer to getting me published. In short, I'm no longer writing just for my own pleasure. I am an author.

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