Susan May Warren: The Story Equation
Book 95. Five more to go to achieve my yearly goal of 100 books.
In my quest to read a book about writing each month, I ended up reading two this month. The first was about the business of writing, but today’s is about the craft itself.
When thinking of stories, most people start with the plot. But even the most action-oriented stories are made better with well-developed characters who make you root for them (or, in well-developed bad guys, against them). While plot is fairly easy to outline (this happens that causes that to happen which ends with this result), creating intriguing characters is significantly more difficult.
Too often, writers are coached to think of characters as list-driven descriptions (favorite food/album/book, car they drive, clothes they wear, etc.), but that’s backwards. First, you truly need to understand who the character is and that will tell you those things (if you need to even figure the list out).
For example, the protagonist in my upcoming novel, The Lottery, drives a Ford F 150. Maybe that tells you something about him and you have formed an opinion about him.
But what if I told you that Nathan inherited the truck as a teenager when his father died. And his memories of that truck are tied to his youth when his father would chat with him while running errands. In a couple of short revelations, you probably now know much more about who Nathan is.
Boiled to its very core, that is what the Story Equation helps a writer do—better understand the characters in order to deliver a more compelling story to the reader.
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