Thursday, August 1, 2013

Character Transformation

I'm looking forward to the intensive at the North Ohio SCBWI conference in September. Presenter will be Rebecca Barnhouse. She'll be teaching us things about characterization.

I just finished an article by Gerke from Writer's Digest. It's called Craft Your Characters Transformation. It was a great article. I'm using these articles as a kind of test for my own writing, with specifically 'Blue' in mind.

I started out with a fuzzy knowledge of who my character was, but the overwhelming impression the Muse sent me was her struggle. Her inner struggle. I am still such a neophyte that I never considered my character's transformation. I was, and still am, more concerned with the story. 1) I need to know the beginning and ending. 2) I need to feel tension. 3) I need to have a character I feel kinship with. 

I was grateful to find, after reading this article, that my Muse was correct with my main character and with one of the villains. My villain is caught between boyhood and manhood, good and evil, compassion and greed. I like him a lot. I still haven't decided, when the last book of the trilogy is written, if he'll chose good or evil.

For my hero/heroine, I knew straight away that she was an orphan and ill-used. I knew she wanted to grow strong and break the fear that imprisoned her. However, I knew her transformation wasn't going to be 'usual.' She sees boys being rewarded for everything and free to do what they want, while she strives for non-existent affirmation and is constricted by her aunt's iron rule.

In his article, Gerke describes five phases in the character's inner journey. My favorite is 'the knot.' The knot is basically what makes the character likable or not: her flaws. I'm not particularly fond of perfect people. I like to see people like me, struggling against my own inner demons. What is 'messing up' Kathleen is her not knowing what she is. She longs to be a boy - for freedom's sake - but is that the real reason - or the real answer? 

Of course, as in every story, there is the need for the inciting incident and I've got a good one. Thank goodness. Next is the escalation. Got that, too! The Moment of Truth - I've got that, but I'm wondering if the scene is strong enough. I'll be editing that chapter shortly. Good things to look for. Finally, the final state.

I'm encouraged, when I read articles that I can use to judge my own writing by. However, and this is a big one, I temper my enthusiasm with caution. I've read articles that I don't agree with. And that's ok. It's like gleaning wheat:  save the important and discard the useless.

Life is full. 

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