2 Useful Views of Characters


This fall will be the first act of the 3-Act Retreat: Characters & Plot, Revision and Marketing, featuring Elaine Marie Alphin. I’ll be teaching the Second Act next spring and then in the fall, we’ll have an editor and agent talk about Marketing. It’s a great way to take a novel from the beginning stages through a major revision and then to marketing–in JUST ONE YEAR! I’m excited. (There are a couple spots left–not many! But if you’re interested contact Nancy Sharp from the page above.)

In preparation for the first act, the group is reading Elaine’s book on characterization, Creating Characters Kids Will Love Creating Characters Kids will Love. I’m going to read through it and try to work exercises, too. It will be interesting to see Elaine’s take on characters for kids. One reason she wrote this book is because so many books about characterization deal with the adult sexuality issues and wind up being useless for kids’ books. Her book is squarely focused on the children’s market, including YAs, and appropriate characters for them.

The second book I’m going to read is Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot. This is written for screenwriters, but I think it will have lots to say for novelist, too. He definitely has a certain take on story structure that won’t fit every story. For example, he uses the concept of a co-protagonist, a supporting character, who pushes the protagonist toward change. This character is more than just a sidekick and is integral to the plot that Dunne advocates. But not every plot structure will have a co-protagonist.

Still, even with his preference for a certain plot structure, I think his focus on the emotional arc of the protagonist will be fascinating to work with.

I’ll try to post Character Observations from these two books and the exercises I do with them as the fall progresses. Join me if you want and we’ll discuss these two useful views of characters.

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1 Comment
  • Liz
    August 15, 2007

    I’m glad you’ll be working through Creating Characters Kids Will Love.
    Are you going to also read some of the books she mentions that highlight what she’s mentioned in each chapter?

    Do you think Chris Vogler’s book The Writer’s Journey — is helpful for studying characterization?

    I’ll look for the other book you mentioned.