Yesterday’s weekend update put me in mind of some craft type thoughts so I thought I’d follow up today. I’d mentioned my discovery, upon watching THE AVENGERS, about how even comic book characters can become three-dimensional with deep emotions and motivations that lead them on a personal journey that also feeds into the plot. To me, this is rather like tugging on Superman’s cape. While the casual observer might decide this is a bad idea, I say tug and tug hard! Especially when it comes to your writing. Readers, forgive me for a moment. I’ll get to y’all later in the week! Promise.
Now, what do you tug on? EVERYTHING! Look at all the threads running through your plot. You need to tug on each one to make sure they hold. Do they add to the overall picture? Do they take your character(s) someplace that character(s) needs to to be? Or do they take the character someplace s/he wants to be? There is a difference, and that difference is reflected in the tone of your story. You need to make sure you know which one is important before you leap off tall buildings. If that cape isn’t tightly woven, it won’t fly. Just sayin’.
You also need to tug on the threads of your characters lives. What’s their backstory? Where do they come from and how does this affect their current motivation? Motivation. That’s the bottom line for characters. It can establish their personality, their actions, and gives you–and thus the reader–insight into what makes them tick, what is important to them. Why? So you can take it away. At least for a bit. You should find their Achilles heel and then use that knowledge against them. Swathe them in that cape, and then jerk it away, leaving them vulnerable. This makes for good story telling.
Just like super heroes have layers of costumes, so does your story. Tights. Tunic. Cape. Boots. Shield. Hammer. Metal suit. Inner demon. Duty. Battle. Sacrifice. And finally, the ability to beat the odds. That’s the HEA, if you are writing a romance. It’s the payoff at the end of the book if you aren’t.
That’s my “craft lesson” for the week. For what it’s worth. 😉