I’m not sure why it’s so hard to get the protagonist right. After all, she’s the character the story’s built on, she should be the no-brainer in the bunch. But possibly because I’m so closely connected to her–she’s my best friend while I’m writing the book–and because I don’t want to hurt her–throw rocks at that woman, Jenny–or because I’m viewing the plot so closely through her PoV, I have a heck of a time getting any distance on her. Which means that common sense is my friend. That is, I look at what she’s doing and ask myself, “Is this what a normally intelligent person would do in this situation?” Then I look at the pressures of the situation–a normally intelligent person does not rush into a burning building, but my protagonist would to save her dog–and at her character arc and try to go from there. What I’m trying to figure out now is how long it would take Nita, an intelligent cop, to accept that the supernatural is real. Continue reading
So, as promised, here are the handouts and notes from the two lectures I gave today. (For the record, I wore make-up and underwear, but drew the line at pantyhose and heels. I felt that was a fair compromise.)
Character arcs – how do you know if you have a strong one for your character? How do you winkle it out of a character that is refusing to tell you what theirs is?(!) And is there a diagrammatic shape/structure that you use for character arcs? Do characters have separate arcs for different aspects: i.e. an emotional arc and a mystery plot arc or should those be welded together as aspects of each other?
Let’s break this down into its parts first, says the teacher. Continue reading
“The Bottle Job” is one of the last episodes in Season Two, the season of Nate Ford’s descent into darkness, and it’s the clearest indication that Nate is close to hitting bottom because it’s the clearest illustration that Nate’s internal conflict is hurting the way he directs the team’s external conflicts and, by extension, hurting the team.
Leverage has five members in its community which is a problem if you want to arc your characters by showing how the events of their stories change them and make them grow. One solution is to skip the character arcs and just do action stories, but that leaves a story with characters who become boring because they always react the same way, always do the same thing, Trying to arc each team member in every episode is just as bad; it results in truncated, chaotic plots and not much growth. A third option, giving an episode over to a single team member, would be almost as bad because it would kill the focus on community that makes this show so strong. The Leverage writers went with a different solution: giving characters their own subplots at different times in the series, making sure those subplots are integrated completely into the main plot so the character growth stuff never stops the main con plot in its tracks. “The Juror #6 Job” is a great example of this use of subplot. Continue reading