Daily Archives: August 11, 2011

Tools of the Trade

Bending aka Breaking

Come close. I’m going to let you in on a…secret. Make certain no one is peeking over your shoulder. All clear?


Writing is hard work.

There. I’ve said it. Maybe you know someone who doesn’t share this view. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so. I believe there are others that feel the way I do.

We create these people, give them a set of torturous problems to deal with, and watch how they handle the ca-ca we throw at them. And hey, it has to torturous because we are forcing them to transform their lives.

When we create these people, they need to be dimensional. They need to breathe. They need to speak to the audience. They need to be people we can relate to. We all know they can’t be perfect because perfection gets old. Does anyone remember the television show, The Rockford Files? James Garner played a private detective. He wasn’t perfect by any means. He lived in a trailer on the beach, had some questionable contacts, and had a patchy relationship with the police. Tom Selleck had a few guest starring roles as another detective, Lance White. He was perfect. Honest. Respected. Handsome. Rich. The guy was too perfect. Lance drove Rockford crazy with his positive attitude and sunny outlook on life. I kept waiting for the network to spin off the Lance character. It never happened. The suits knew Lance would be a hard sell in the starring role.

When we create our characters, we are forced to give them…baggage that keeps them from living life to the fullest, something that is holding them back. The instructor of Discovering Story Magic, Robin Perini, refers to it as a Relationship Barrier. It’s a demon the character must battle in order to get their life in order.

Since I’m sharing secrets, I’m going to tell you something else. I don’t like this part. I think I am a kind and caring person. I hate to see others in emotional pain. Yet, my job is not only to inflict pain, but make certain this pain is strong enough to rock the foundation of their lives. I’m supposed to strip them of all their defenses, have them experience death of their soul so they can be reborn.

We call this the character arc.

In order for our characters to move from one point to the next, certain things must happen. If we are to have a believable resolution, we have to show the character’s growth, as well as their inner struggle to let go of their demons. Better to live with the devil you know, than deal with the unknown.

Check out your WIP. What scenes have you used to take your character from point A to point Z? How have you shown your character’s growth?


Posted by on August 11, 2011 in Idaho