Characters

So, with a pet emergency landing me at the vet’s office for 3 hours and causing way too much worry, I completely missed posting this past weekend. Luckily, my dog is doing better – therefore I am doing better – and I can finally write my post.

I finished reading Orson Scott Card’s book on characters and viewpoint last week. It was really informative, even though most things were more or less obvious when I thought about them. I found the most helpful sections were those that broke stories down into four main types, each type dominated by a certain one of these four factors more than the others:

  1. Milieu – a story that focuses on the world surrounding the characters (ex. The Lord of the Rings, believe it or not)
  2. Idea – a story that focuses on the idea or information the reader is supposed to discover or learn in the process of the story (ex. any murder mystery)
  3. Character – a story that focuses on a person who is trying to change his/her role in life (ex. Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult)
  4. Event – a story in which the events are of central concern, usually because something of the world is out of order (ex. The Count of Monte Cristo)

Thinking about books in this context made me see them in a whole new light. I realized that I truly love idea stories above all, but my perfect mix would be an idea story that also plays to the character factor as a close second.

My first manuscript was weak on character. They sounded alike, they weren’t deep enough, and they simply didn’t make an impression. This book has completely changed how I think about characters (and viewpoint – can’t forget that!). I really recommend it to anyone at any stage in their writing. Now, I’m on to a book on plot. I’m excited to see what it has in store!

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