Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday's Writer - Give ALL Characters a Reason to Live

The other day I read some great writing tips given by Josh Whedon, most famously known for creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I highly suggest you check them out when you get a chance.

There was one tip I liked the most. This one:

"Everybody has a perspective. Everybody in your scene, including the thug flanking your bad guy, has a reason. They have their own voice, their own identity, their own history. If anyone speaks in such a way that they’re just setting up the next person’s lines, then you don’t get dialogue : you get soundbites. Not everybody has to be funny ; not everybody has to be cute ; not everybody has to be delightful, and not everybody has to speak, but if you don’t know who everybody is and why they’re there, why they’re feeling what they’re feeling and why they’re doing what they’re doing, then you’re in trouble."

I never thought about this in depth before. Usually my focus is only on what my main character wants, his/her goals. I never really explored why my "side kick" was in certain scenes, just that she was the best friend.

Some of the secondary characters I've written about are strong because they came easy to me. I immediately knew them, knew what they would say, what they would do. As for others, I didn't take the time to get to know them, which made them a puppet. A one dimensional character and it shows in the dialogue. I did what Whedon said, created soundbites not actual dialogue.

I think this advice is what separates an average book from the kind of book that lingers with readers for days after.  I think of the book Hunger Games. Each character had their own motives and they weren't all centered around Katniss. You see this especially as the books progress.

Such great advice from an amazing writer/director. Now I have to go back to my current project and get to know a few characters. I know exactly who they are because at this moment I feel nothing for them, which means my readers won't either. 

Happy writing!

1 comment:

ilima said...

I'll have to go check that out, I LOVE Josh Whedon. And this is so true. I always want my characters to do and say things for a reason...that's probably why I have so few in my books. My poor brain can't keep track of them all. :)