Whew to the Dragoncon.
I miss it. I miss my peeps. It is always awesome seeing my fellow magical words family although Dragoncon is SO busy we only get to spend minutes together. (Lucienne, I still owe you that drink and AJ I didn’t even SEE you) But after Faith and John ‘s excellent con reports I have decided that this will NOT be about Dragoncon.
Instead I am going to talk to you about writing. (Inspired by a panel at Dragoncon)
I know, crazy right?
Let’s talk about character. Character is story. Some of you are looking at me going: “No James, PLOT is story. Characters are the subject of story.”
You’re kinda right, but not really. You see your plot is determined by your characters decisions. Every character, from the main protagonist to the most minor walk on character can radically change your story if they make their own independent decisions. Imagine if that nobody character, the one who exists in your universe as a one-paragraph-appearer had their own story they were acting out and decided to walk up behind your main protagonist and shoot them in the head.
It could happen. My character Deacon Chalk is a hero….if you are on the right side of the story. On the wrong side of the story, he’s a monster.
I address this in CIRCUS OF BLOOD. There is a moment wen Deacon is in the medical office where the local lycanthropes go for their medical care, because if you have a supernatural disease that transforms you into an animal you cannot just roll up to your local minute clinic and get some help. You need a specialist who knows about your condition. He’s in the waiting room, surrounded by lycanthrope mothers and children and he realizes they are all looking at him strangely.
A moment of clarity dawns on our big damn hero and he understands that while he has saved some of these people a lot of them know him as the one who comes to kill you if you step over the line as a lycanthrope and become a danger to humans. Somewhere in each of their experience he has shown up to kill one of their relatives that have lost control.
To them HE is the killer, the murderer, the MONSTER.
Now what if one of them (one whose name you never even know) decided Deacon needed to be killed, pulled a gun, and shot him in the back of his head?
BANG! totally different story.
Often times as writers we get our plot in our heads and we push play, forcing our characters to act against the personality we have established for them because it fits the plot. We have to be able to make our plot more fluid to make it conform to the decisions our characters would make. Don’t toss it out, but if you want your book to really feel organic and complete, allow yourself the ability to adjust events according to the personality of the characters involved and you will see a cohesion and a magic occur that you have missed before.
Characters rock harder.
Go forth and be successful. Write your asses off.