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For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.

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Oct 21, 2011

Excuse me miss, your are out of Character...

Once upon time there was girl, she was kind, sweet, loving, wonderful and she never thought a horrible thing. One day this girl went to the market and robbed a bread maker before shaking a little kid upside down for all he was worth, she got sixteen cents.

Stage one of a story varies depending on who you ask. Someone might say that stage one is getting the idea, or that it is creating the plot. Since this blog is my unadulterated opinion, Stage one is what I say it is ;D. Stage zero is getting the idea and stage one is Character development; so we can avoid writing like the story above, saying one thing and doing the other.

I'm one of those believers in protagonist over plot and by that I mean I write character driven plots. It has been my thing seen I noticed, through reading countless YA novels, that in our modern fictional world there is no such thing as consequences, just happy endings. But that is not so for us in real life, ask anyone you want "what happens after A?" and they'll say, "B" not "uh, nothing".

I think stories should reflect that. Yes, fiction should be an escape from reality but the reason it is an escape is, despite all its complexity and amazing feats of imagination we can still find some familiarity and that allows us to get lost in it. Which is why movies with an emotionless robots, or an insect as the protagonist don't do very well. Where is the relatability there?

Now while having a character profile is great you can't exactly just foist it on you readers and say, "you see, here's Alfonso's issue, kids". I did mention, when introducing them, that character profiles are one of the many things writers must write that are never seen by the reader. This is when character development comes into play.

Let's take a look at Alfonso's profile, though it doesn't directly state it you can tell that he is weak, fearful, selfish, greedy, spiteful, and he hates who he is. Now all that is left is to show all this in the story without blatantly stating it as so. This is Character development. It can be shown in how characters react to Alfonso, how Alfonso acts around others or in any given situations. In a way Alfonso's character profile was also character development, it showed his character without saying it. So if you do profiles my way, you really kill two birds with one stone. You get your character down and you already get a feel for how you are going to develop his character in the story later on.

It all goes back to my style of writing. People will say you can't judge a person by their past because people can change. But I don't care how you look at it our past affects us! If we acted one way to an event previously we are more likely to act the same way to a similar situation. If we learned from our mistake then we will do things differently but we are still affected.
I guess you could say I'm fascinated by the emotional baggage we carry around on a daily basis. So my plots are generally born out of a character's past mistake(s) or action(s).

So this is why all the writing that doesn't technically get seen is important, because it does show, it is the difference between a two-denominational character and a complex character.


  1. Very interesting thoughts - if I don't *like* a character, or at least admire them in a way, when I'm reading then I find it very difficult to get into the book - so I definitely prefer a character driven book.

  2. So true! Character development is all too important.

  3. I like that you put so much thought into crafting your characters.

    I think Catcher in the Rye is the perfect example of character over plot. On the face, the story is just of some teen getting kicked out of school and spending a few days alone in NYC. But because of character development the story is so much more.

  4. I love your style of writing. And it's so true that people's past affects them. Even if you may act different in a situation it all is an evolution of where you've come from and your past experiences :)

  5. I certainly enjoy how you begin your posts to get your point across. Yes, the character is sooooo important. Otherwise, why should anyone care? And emotional baggage is what makes human beings so interesting. Like you said, so many movies and books have unrealistic happy endings. That is probably why I don't care much for those. I like the way the old fairy tales were written by Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, ETA Hoffman, etc. The characters reflected humanity and their plight. Hmmm, you have got me remembering "The Little Match Girl" because of this ...

  6. Where were you when I first started to write??? I totally plan like you do. I couldn't imagine doing it any other way.

  7. I like that you're about character driven plots, to me these are the only thing that matter. I remember in grad school they used to say that if you didn't care about a character there was no point making a movie about it. I still think that's very true both in film and literature.

    xo Mary Jo

  8. I think you raise such an incredible point. Fiction is an escape; but we have to find a bit of ourselves within it to truly feel the desire to keep reading! :)

  9. Interesting - yes, so important to truly understand a character you write about - how elese can the story sound true? And good stories capture the magic of life ...

  10. Hello there sweetie! Thanks for the lovely comment; it means a lot to me!
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  11. sooo emotional pictures, love love love them all especially the one on the mountains, the one on the canoe and the one wearing a wedding dress.. enjoyed your blog..following you now.. hope you could visit my blog too.. kissess!!!!