Friday, January 15, 2010

INSIDE THE READER'S MIND: Character

Yesterday, someone asked me what I look for in evaluating whether to recommend or pass.

So step inside my mind and let me give you a tour.

The four main things I look for are: Character, Structure, Conflict, Dialogue.

Why this particular order? I've learned that dialogue problems are usually conflict problem. Conflict problems are based in structure. And Structure issues almost always crop because the character traits are weak.

So it makes sense that that is my 1st stop.

Here a few tips:

- When you get a note that say your character wasn't "sympathetic enough, " that's the nice way of saying he/she was boring. That's my way of saying I didn't want to root for your character.

- I must see a character with a flaw or something he/she is trying to overcome. Perfect characters get an automatic "pass" because it means there's no conflict. Flawed characters make you want to sit and watch to see what happens.

- Antagonists must be as smart as the protagonists. We like to see closely matched games on tv. Why not closely matched characters?

- I saw a character that was sympathetic, had a flaw, had a protagonist. But I still passed. She didn't have that "something extra"...she didn't have a real internal struggle. When you construct your character, give them two traits that fight against each other. ex. She's manipulative, but is guilt ridden. He's brave, but shy.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: If you nail the character, I estimate you have about 50% of the work done.

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