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Starting Your Novel With Character: 3 Strengths and 3 Challenges

Today’s post is by regular benefactor Susan DeFreitas( @manzanitafire ), an award-winning author, writer, and notebook tutor. She offers a first 50 -page review on works in progress for novelists striving counseling on their next pace toward publishing.

In my work as a bible coach-and-four, I’ve found that columnists of fiction generally fall into three cliques: those who start with character, those who start with plot or storey idea, and those who start with theme. In the course of this three-part series, I’ll address the natural backbones of each type, together with challenges faced in revision.

Writers who start with character tend to be empathetic people–“people parties, ” you might say. A new legend for these kinfolks may arrive in the form of a certain voice in their manager, or a line or two that seems promising.

Or they might be struck at first by a type of character–for instance, a attribute who’s a bit like an curious party they happen to know, or a little like a attribute in a work or movie they loved.

Regardless of how the character arrives, when given a name and a situation, that courage quickly develops a cogent backstory and three-dimensional depth, taking on a life of their own.

Often this type of writer has had this reference in her head for years–sometimes even decades. She knows the specific characteristics well, including their family dynamics, early childhood traumas, excitements, phobiums, confidential anxieties, you worded it. This type of writer is also prone to carrying over the same characters from one notebook to another, because they’ve come to know those personas so well.

Starting with person can be a very effective way to begin a tale, and writers who do so have these natural advantages on their surface 😛 TAGEND

Strength: Characters start us help.

A twisty plot, obligating themes, and fascinating regulate are all great resources for a story, but reference is what impels us certainly be concerned about the story.

Writers who start with character don’t struggle to create characters who seem alive on the sheet, whose clashes touch upon universal themes, and who exhibit the sort of complexity that prepares us as readers really feel what it is to be human. All of this comes naturally to this type of writer, because her reputations are so real to her from the get run that they only become more complex and making over multiple drafts.

Strength: There’s a solid sell for character-driven story.

The vast majority of novels that fall into the genres known as contemporary story, women’s fiction, and literary myth are character-driven. Which is to say, there’s a solid event of readers who read fiction for exactly what novelists who begins with character are generally able to deliver, on every single page: The feel of being someone else, ensure the world countries through their seeings, and going through a meaningful conversion or change over the course of the story.

Writers who start with character generally don’t struggle to determine if there’s a market for the sort of thing they do, because that busines is broad and well defined.

Strength: There’s no question whose floor it is.

Other types of columnists may deplete some time in the planning stages of a story fighting with the question of who their protagonist should be. But for scribes who start with character, this generally isn’t an issue( unless there are so many compelling characters in their intelligence that it’s just hard to choose among them ).

These type of scribes are not like superintendents looking for actors to play a part in their story–they’re more like heads making a biopic, with the tale as a whole built around a certain character.( Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge is another example .)

That said, there are several challenges writers who start with character tend to face.

Challenge: Too countless POVs

If you do something well as a columnist, why not do more of it? That’s often the position taken by columnists who start with character, whether they realize it or not, by adding many different POVs in their novels.

Taking the points of view of other attributes comes easily to such scribes, and they generally find it recreation, because they don’t struggle to get inside the heads of the protagonist’s husband, for example, or her boys, or even the checkout clerk at the convenience store where she shops.

And generally speaking, these other POVs are obliging and well written. But that doesn’t mean that including them dishes the legend; sometimes these other POVs are no more than game paths that leading the story off on tangents without contributing anything in particular to the main story line, and, as such, should be avoided.

Challenge: Lack of arc

Sometimes columnists have so much better adore and sympathy for their exponents that they have a hard time imagining a real flaw for that persona, or some real issue in the way that person attends the world.

But without an issue or flaw–what story tutor Lisa Cron calls a “misbelief”–there’s no real basis for a courage arc , no clear direction that the narration will push the booster to grow and conversion. The first drafts of such novels tend to explore situations, happenings, and issues in the protagonist’s life without necessarily moving a clear arc of change.

Challenge: Episodic or gradual patch

Yes, books in general find depth attribute direct forcing. But that doesn’t mean a novel can precisely rely on character to keep the reader turning the pages. For that to happen, there needs to be a causally linked series of events, with feeling posts, that intensifies during the course of a tale to a distinct breaking point–in other words, a real plot.

Because such columnists often start by essentially following their personas around to see what they will say and do, they often face a real challenge in their second draft, which is to find a stunning arc for the events of the narrative. This may involve moving affairs around in time, finding ways to link them in a more causal style, and/ or works out a climax for the storey and then restructuring it, so it constructs to that pitch from multiple angles.

None of these issues are in any way hopeless, and the more you get to understand yourself as a columnist, the more pleasant you’ll become with your own process, both in drafting and revising.

Do you consider yourself a scribe who starts with character? If so, I’d love to hear about your process in the comments below.

Read more: janefriedman.com