The Secret to Writing Well part II… Characters are very important, so I'm told.
Understanding conflict is key to writing well. As I said in my last post, Flannery O’Connor, the queen of southern gothic writing and just amazing in general, wrote Mystery and Manners whose first section is literally about why Peacocks are the kind of birds they are before she gives some of the most insightful writing advice I’ve found. But as I was saying she defined very clearly the two elements of Conflict.
“specific characters and events influence each other to form a meaningful narrative” (O’Connor 66)
But as I learned from many times of trying you can’t eat a whole piece of cake in one bite. Let’s look at the first part: Specific Characters
Everyone knows a book must have good characters, but the number of times I’ve heard ‘develop your characters, develop your characters….’ But what does that mean? What needs to be developed? Why do they need to be developed? Now that I have O’Connor’s definition, these questions are a little clearer. Because she didn’t just throw specific words in there to up her word count, you’d be surprised how many classic books are so long because they got paid by the word, but she said the word specific, so characters have to have very deliberate and clear traits.
Basically, know what makes your character tick because humans are human…we all have two arms and two legs and a mouth and most importantly: a Brain. The mind is what sets people apart from one another. Characters are no different. Even if you write aliens from another planet elements of human likeness will show through. So that was what you should understand first: Internal Conflict.
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