Here’s the thing, Somerset Maugham (if you haven’t heard of him yet, you will. He was a great writer) said: “There are three rules to writing. The trouble is, no one knows what they are.” True words? Yep. Everyone writes differently. There is no one correct way to write a story. But, here’s the thing, all stories have three things in common, three essential C’s.
Character, Conflict (or Crisis) and Change.
|Mango. He's quite a character|
This week we will take a look at these three important C’s individually to see how they mesh collectively into a cohesive story. How many C’s will you count in this post?
Character is of course the person or people who populate your story. One of the things you will hear as you continue on your writing journey is that there are two kinds of stories—Character Driven and Plot driven. Well now, I’m not sure. I think it works like this: Character IS story, and story IS character. In other words you really can’t have one without the other. Now it is true that some stories focus on the inner journey of character development, on both a conscious and subconscious level while other stories focus on the plot, usually a slam-bang, thriller spy type story with car chases and crashes. But the thing is, characters can’t and won’t grow their individual selves without a story in which to mix it up and a story cannot be told without a character to act it out. So there’s your first thing. Find a character. The Who of your story. And then develop this character on several layers.
Okay, got your character? Who is she? Or he? Or it? Take some time to get to know your central character. Ask questions, journal, take an inventory of his or her physical qualities, emotional qualities, psychic baggage, hobbies, all that good stuff that goes into making a compelling character that your readers will relate to. Readers love to and need to identify with a story’s central character.
Later on this week (I hope) we will take an in-depth look at the inner character which is so very important in the third C—Change.
Who are some of your favorite characters? And why? What do you remember?
And hey, contest alert. I will award one free critique of a short story or the first ten pages of a novel to a random person who has correctly counted all the c’s in this post.