What ideas were most helpful to you? What strategies do you plan to carry forward into your own work (or maybe you already have)?
So much great insight.
"If there's no surprise for the writer there's no surprise for the reader."
Lean in to whatever you think is different about your work or your story.
"Better done than good."
"A character's attitude is a great way to describe them." - Margot Livesey
"Every character has to want something. . . . Why do they want it and how far will they go to get it?" - HPR
Stakes are everything. I started my novel 8 years ago. There was good feedback and 3 requests for a full, but no agent. There was a secondary character, the protagonist's sister. In a major rewrite the sister got a larger, but still secondary, role. I finally realized she had more at stake and did another rewrite making her the protagonist. I'm almost finished and know I made the right choice.
Today was key. My novel is about "finished" but I'm not sure I have clear enough stakes, early enough, nor is it crystal clear what he "wants," except physical pleasure and perhaps love. I need to read through again and make sure that the arc of the book takes these into account, along with the obstacles along the way and the resolution at the end. In short, as always, Hank has given me much to think about.
My take-away was that I should delve deep into character and get to know my protagonist really well. Did some research on that and came across the Marcel Proust questionnaire. If Proust needed one, well what would that say about me! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proust_Questionnaire
This past week has really made me sit quietly and think about how I approach my characters after I create them. I'm always worried that they'll come across like stage props, just following my direction. This week has made me think more deeply about what characters want and how they approach obstacles. For instance, Courtney Maum said we should ask ourselves, "What is the one story other characters most often tell about your protagonist when they're not around?" I also loved what Steve Almond said about protagonists who are "not very reflective but make a lot of trouble for everyone else." That pegs one of the characters to a T in this novel I'm currently working on. Thanks for an invigorating week!
Asking myself: "What does my character learn during the course of the story or novel, whether it's what the character set out to learn or something wildly different?" Also, blending interiority with external description in ways that reflect one another and add meaning for the reader.
I found the talk on 'character attitude' particularly helpful to creating characters that are believable, interesting and unique. I've been going back over my draft to find areas where I could make the characters more 'their own'. Great series!
I loved: doing voice auditions for characters; thinking about how each character enters a room; "finding the character’s wound and poking a stick at it;” and getting to the bottom of what a character wants, how far will they go to get it and why, and what will happen if they fail.
I am officially back in the saddle. Thank you so much!
Courtney Maum’s discussion of loud vs. soft characters was very useful, particularly the idea of using secondary characters to help reveal a loud, unreflective character’s vulnerabilities. Yesterday, Michelle also said something very helpful in the same vein about using character interaction to communicate backstory. I have a very loud major character in my book whose motivations and backstory will need some work in revision to make her more believable.