Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Character Action

Lately, I picked up a book and knew within a few pages that wasn't going to like it. Usually, it's the storyline or the character has different priorities than I think they should, but this book wasn't the sort. I mean, it had a decent premise and it actually seemed like my kind of book. Action, adventure, a little romance on the side, but I couldn't quite place what I didn't like. And then it hit me.

The character doesn't do anything. 

I mean, yes, tons of these random opportunities fly by them and the characters take them, but they're not deciding for themselves. They aren't going out and searching for these opportunities, fighting to keep them. They're a passive bystander in their own story. 

My problem with this is that you can't just wait around for things to happen, because they won't. How many times do you sit on your couch, waiting for someone to show up and clean your house? I'm not saying your characters are going to be in this situation, but they're going to have to do the things they need to too.

A common problem that writers run into is giving their secondary characters action, but letting their MCs fall short. Maybe because they want their main characters to seem heroic or godly by making them calm. Or maybe they feel more free with the emotions in their minor characters. Whatever it is, secondary characters get more freedom than the story's star, and given its their story after all, it's something we need to change. 

Just remember, your MCs are not perfect. Let them get angry sometimes, or cry, or pull a joke. Go through all of your chapter and make sure they are doing something at least every five paragraphs, and doing something they choose doing, not because it happened and they're just going along. You'll know the difference, if you have to convince yourself its actin, then its not. Measure out the big decsiions. Are they active or passive decisions? You should have a healthy balance of each.

I cannot tell you how far a little character development can go. It should help you with the kinds of decisions that each character would make. For some great stuff on character development, Annie at The Epic, The Awesome, and The Random has some great posts. 

I hope you're stories are better for this post. Have a nice day and keep writing!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post! I'm doing my best to give my MC active action, but it's hard. I tend to give it to my antagonist, lol. :D


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...