Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Protagonist vs. Author

     My favorite novels have always involved characters with real struggles, in real life, making their lives better somehow by the end. In my earlier days, I was an aspiring songwriter, and I have stacks of journals from the age of 7. Perhaps that is why in this novel my protagonist, Livy, is similar to me in a lot of ways: a middle-aged woman, (or from the Middle Ages, as my seven year old likes to say) married with kids, in suburbia, trying to make peace with her life. I like characters I can relate to. Here's the thing, though: recently I've run into a problem of not being able to let Livy really "do" anything in the climax of the story. I've had to break apart from Livy and realize several things: first, this is a novel and if she doesn't do drastic, memorable things, it won't be interesting. Second, I can't worry about anyone judging me as the author. Just because Livy may make choices people may not agree with, it doesn't mean I would make those same choices. Her struggle is real but it is not my struggle. My struggle is in getting her struggle on the page.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Character Development

     I can't tell you how much my novel has changed along the way. I am always learning something new. For example, I've learned it's important to know who your character is not only in the beginning but also by the end. Usually, this person has changed for better or worse. Developing character arc is like planning a route on the map. You want to get from here to there. Internally and externally, what needs to happen to the character along the way to get them to end of the novel? Just like people, their change must be gradual and plausible. The events that happen to them along the way shape this absolute and irreversible change.