Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Something I Don't Usually Do

I just finished rereading 9 of the 12 or so books by Terry Brooks having to do with Shannara fantasy series. I did something I don't usually do - not only did I read for content, but I read with a mind to see what he did right with both the hero's journey and characterization. I have to admit I am a huge fantasy fan, so this was right up my alley.

Now maybe you do better at that than I do and already read to learn about your genre. But I usually get so swept up in the storyline that I forget all about reading to learn.

In the "Voyage of the Jerle Shannara" series (of 3 books), I followed his characters. The books were actually quite rife with them, and doggone if every single one of the main characters had a flaw to overcome, even many of the more minor ones.

I had three choices: I could just be impressed, or I could allow it to change my writing, or I could say what nice books they were, and leave it at that.

Fortunately, I am only about 40 pages into a new middle grade urban fantasy, and stopped at that point because I knew my characters were rather flat, and needed a fresh infusion of life and variety. I sure don't think I can do as much with my characters as this author did, but I plan on making fledgling attempts for more vibrant, richer characters.

What about you? Are there ways you know of to create vibrant, flawed characters who overcome much by the end of the story?

7 comments:

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Katie,
I like the idea of flawed characters. You can always get plenty of mileage out of them in your stories. The dark tortured heroes are even better, although probably best suited to historicals.

Cheers

Margaret

madcapmaggie said...

Katie, interesting post. I do find myself putting pieces of folks I know into my characters .. my aversion to drying dishes, my MIL's annoyance with same, my oldest son's early obsession with chess and legos, etc ... I find my characters talk to me. I do find myself struggling a lot with plot, perhaps because at least up til now I haven't outlined my plots.

Gotta do better on that next time ...

Peggy

Joylene said...

A very helpful blog on plotting and 3-Act plays is Alexandra Sokoloff As a matter of fact, her current blog post is on Rewriting. It's a must read, Katie, and certainly worth your time.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AlexandraSokoloff/~3/Y_2Dumc7FDQ/rewriting.html

Ann said...

good tip...Katie...and helpful as I am re-writing...
Blessings,
ann :o )

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi Katie, just wanted to stop by and say hi! Look forward to reading more books by you in the future. I really enjoyed reading Guardian. Have a great week!

Cheryl said...

Great topic!

I can't say that I know if what I'm doing is right, as I'm not finished with this manuscript yet; but the feedback from both my critique groups has been good.

I'm currently in the midst of a MG historical, where there is a spinster aunt. I thought a lot about Marilla Cuthbert from the Anne of Green Gables series when I began creating Aunt Martha. With Aunt Martha, however, she has a big secret, a secret that changed the person she became. People who knew her before the bad thing happened, have been hinting to the MC that the old woman is more than meets the eye. So, even though Martha is a stern, miserable, extreme disciplinarian, the reader can still sympathize with her somewhat.

Hopefully it works.

Cheryl said...

Great topic!

I can't say that I know if what I'm doing is right, as I'm not finished with this manuscript yet; but the feedback from both my critique groups has been good.

I'm currently in the midst of a MG historical, where there is a spinster aunt. I thought a lot about Marilla Cuthbert from the Anne of Green Gables series when I began creating Aunt Martha. With Aunt Martha, however, she has a big secret, a secret that changed the person she became. People who knew her before the bad thing happened, have been hinting to the MC that the old woman is more than meets the eye. So, even though Martha is a stern, miserable, extreme disciplinarian, the reader can still sympathize with her somewhat.

Hopefully it works.