Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bigger and Better

Hi, all.

It's back to The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Here's a great bit of advice. "Don't use real people in your story."

"Why not?" you ask. "What other kind of people are there?"

Because real people aren't'vivid enough for fiction. Real people are boring. Real people aren't exciting enough. Oh, you may start with a real person. Or several real people whose traits you want to compress into one character. But you can't simply transcribe a real person into a story. You have to make him (or her) bigger-than-life.

You have to:
  • exaggerate traits
  • construct a hyperbole of a person
  • provide "shortcut identifying characteristics" that stick out to grab the reader's attention

Then, according to Jack Bickham, you'll create a character who looks like, acts like, talks like a real person.

And remember that fictional characters are more understandable than real people. Real people are fickle, inexplicable. Fictional characters do things for motives that make more sense than real-life motives. Fictional characters are highly goal-motivated. Readers have to be able to see why characters do what they do, or your book will be gathering dust waiting ontheir next garage sale.

Fictional characters must be

  • BIGGER
  • BETTER
  • BRIGHTER

They must be

  • More understandable
  • Nicer or meaner
  • Prettier or uglier
  • More fascinating

In real life people don't always make good sense. But in good fiction they always do.

So, start with your Aunt Hazel, or Grandpa Lister, or your boss's ex-wife. But blow that character up to be absolutely unforgettable. So your reader will follow him or her to the ends of the earth. Or at least to the end of your six book series.

1 comment:

Donna J. Shepherd said...

Great blog! Thanks for all you do to encourage writers. Bless you, Donna