Monday, September 28, 2015

How an internet meme can help you write a better story~

I'm sure you've read a million quotes on the internet by now. Some of them are great advice, but you've read them so many times you don't even notice them anymore, do you?

One of the most ubiquitous is "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle you know nothing about." or some variation on that idea. I saw it again the other day, but I had to google it to find out who actually said it. (It's Ian Maclaren for the record.)

Obviously, it's always good to be kind, but what does the saying have to do with writing? Its the second truth in the quote that struck me - "everyone is fighting a hard battle."

When you craft the characters of your novel, each one should be fighting their own secret fight, whether it's obvious what that is or not. Even better if its a secret that's revealed to the reader along the way.

Think of all the people you know, in real life and online. All of them have secrets they're keeping for some reason. They may desperately love someone who doesn't know. They may be hiding a mental illness or a sexual orientation. They may have unhealthy addictions or even harmless ones. The point is, you don't really know, do you? But these secret struggles or preoccupations are the motivation for our actions and behaviors, whether we admit it or not. They form the fabric of our character.

So if you want to create a living, breathing fictional character, it makes sense to ask yourself "What secret fight is my character fighting? Do their friends and family know what it is? What would happen if they found out? And how does that affect the plot?

Steven King says a good book doesn't give up all its secrets at once. Neither does a good character.

In my latest southern Gothic novella, The Color of Water, Samantha is fighting many battles with herself and her past. I hope you'll check it out on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

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