“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” Willa Cather
This quote was introduced to me during a class, Creating Rich Characters, taught by the talented author and illistrator, Angela Sage Larsen. Ms. Larsen is becoming a St. Louis icon who has published numerous children and young adult books. You can check her out at AngelaSageLarsen.com
There is comfort in knowing that every story has the same infrastructure, a beginning, middle and end. What makes the difference is the writer’s ability to develop interesting characters and present a plot that takes the reader on an unexpected journey.
There have been many posts in reference NANOWRIMO recently. One in particular that caught my eye dealt with whether or not to develop an outline before initiating a novel.
For me, I can live without an outiline, although I often scribble notes that come out looking like one. It is more important to decide what my main character wants more than anything else. There must be an objective, otherwise there is no need to write the book.
Once that is clear in my head, I need to know the obstacles that will create conflict for the character while in pursuit of the prize, otherwise the story is boring. Finally,I must decide whether or not the character will achieve his or her goal.
I tend to write stories where ultimate happiness or contentment is the goal. There may be plenty of action to keep the reader interested, but I’m a sap for happy endings.
If I have done my homework in identifying what my character wants, how he or she will react when challenged and how the story will end, the characters take it from there. Some writers say it is best to write the ending first. I haven’t attempted that yet, but I might some day.
What do you think? Do your characters take charge?