The Nameless Horror

Lessons In Plotting 2: Character

Characters should change over the course of the story. This is known as an “arc”, which you and me should really already know, but if you read some of my initial drafts you’d be forgiven for thinking I was writing for AVATAR, where NOTHING CHANGES AT ALL. Even if they ultimately return to their original state, the ride between should be up and down if there’s to be AWESOME CHARACTER DRAMA!!!

In planning, write the name of each main character. Describe each of them in terms of their personality at the start of the story. Then describe each of them as they are at the end. What they’ve learned and how they’ve changed.

If you can’t do this, your characters need work. (You moron, John.)

I may refer to this in future as the Harry S. Plinkett Rule, after the brilliant “describe the characters in THE PHANTOM MENACE without using their physical appearance or role” part of the equally brilliant 70-minute Phantom Menace review.

I’m sure some of you can think of brilliant examples of fiction with a pitch-perfect, ‘this could be real life’ sense of place running through it. The LA of Michael Connelly’s novels. The London of Billingham. The New York of SEX AND THE CITY.
I indulge in a spot of guest writing at Guilty Conscience. Terribly good fun, you know.

[What bugs me most about thrillers or SF novels is] either the stock main characters – almost entirely rugged Sam Fisher/Jack Bauer types, with or without a criminal past, or else thinly-veiled Mary Sues of the author – or else the stakes. It’s always the whole world/universe/humanity/US at risk if Stubble McChin/Feisty McBoobs doesn’t punch a lot of guys in the face/eyestalks/cybernetic death appendages.
I get interviewed by the good folk of SFX mag online.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVORGr2fDk8

Somehow I was unaware of the existence of this until now. JourneyQuest - Episode 1: Onward from the people behind THE GAMERS movies. THE GAMERS 2: DORKNESS RISING remains unashamedly one of my favourite movies of all time. (via Vince Keenan on FB)