Friday, May 7, 2010

Writer, Heed Thyself

“If you do not know why your characters act the way they do, you do not know your characters and, sadly, neither will your readers.” --Jessica Page Morrell in Between the Lines.

I read a few stories over the past couple of weeks (both submissions and in workshops) where I felt the author didn’t know why a character acted in a certain way. In a couple of cases, I challenged the authors by saying I didn’t believe the reason given at the end of the story as to why a character did or didn’t do something. It was too easy, too unemotional; and I was left wondering if the authors had spent enough time with their characters to understand what made them tick. This happened in one of my recent stories also--and an editor challenged me on my ending. I gave it some more thought, tried to get deeper inside my character’s head, finally changed the ending, resubmitted the story (as requested), and Bingo! It will appear this month at Bartleby Snopes. I’ll let you know when it’s online.

So, my new goal for the rest of this year--and beyond--is to spend more time learning about my characters, listening to them, and letting them lead me through the story. Actually, I think I’ve said this before, but this time I plan to heed my own advice!

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