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Monday, January 24, 2011

Nugget of Wisdom: Characterization

I found an article on craft by Vicki Hinze weeks ago on Fiction Finder. I want to share it with you because there was this one nugget amongst many in that article that stuck out to me.

I hope you'll appreciate it's simplicity the way I do. Here it is:

Here's a simple formula for creating an unforgettable character:

Find the character's Achilles' heel--their greatest fear or weakness or vulnerability. That's the character's internal conflict. Then stomp it. That's external conflict in the book. The stomping is your plot.

Have you ever read such genius summed up so succinctly? This was actually pretty revelatory to me. I guess in an innate, writer's way, I knew that this is what I wanted to do in my stories, but I really like having a rhyme to any reason, and this provided that.

It's almost like having a life verse that you memorize from the Bible to guide you in your day-to-day living. This is like a writing verse to guide you in keeping your head straight when you sit down in front of your computer to write.

By the way, you can tell that Hinze and Debra Dixon are friends just in how Vicki phrased this nugget. Dixon's Goal, Motivation and Conflict book is all about the internal and external merging, and she lays this out plainly in her quite infamous GMC chart. (Click here for a downloadable .pdf copy.)

Hope this little nugget made you go, "Wow. Never thought of it quite that way." Happy writing!

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Jennifer Shirk said...

I love that analogy. I'm going to check out that article. Thank you!

Raquel Byrnes said...

Sounds like not only an informative read, but entertaining as well. I shall click over. =)
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Kenda Turner said...

What a most helpful nugget at a most opportune time as I'm getting to know my newest MC. Thank you! I'll be checking out Vicki's article for sure:-)

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I really appreciated this. It's perfect for me, right now. I'm developing two separate WIPs--one YA, one MG. Thank you. I hopped over here from Stina's. Great place. I'm following you now. Nice to meet you.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

thanks for visiting salarsen! i'll look forward to "seeing" you around. :)

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Both comments and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed your time on the couch today.