Monday, September 30, 2013

WRITING A NOVEL - The Main Character

This week I visited with my main character. Flight Trilogy readers might be surprised to know that, at this point, the main character is David Mitchell. For those who have not read the trilogy, David Mitchell is the son of Ryan and Keri Mitchell. He was born August 31, 1983. At the close of Book #3 of the Flight Trilogy, David was 30 years old, single, and a pilot for Mercy Flight, Incorporated based in Atlanta.

You might ask, "I thought the setting was going to be in Dothan, Alabama?" Well...sorta. I told you there would be changes. David's twin sister, Martha, married Ronald Darby. Martha and Ronald live in Dothan and have a beach house on the Gulf Coast. So, the settings will be Atlanta, Dothan, and the Gulf Coast...among other locations.

Your next question will most likely be, "So is this a series?" Sorta. The Local will be a stand-alone novel. Readers do not have to read the trilogy. However, those that have will obviously have a deeper connection with the story. Every time I contemplated who might be the main character for The Local, David met the description of the perfect character to cast for the roll. His character was not well developed in the trilogy which makes him the perfect candidate. I'm thrilled!

When David and I first met to discuss the story, I asked him to tell me a little about his life in 100 words or less. Here is what he said:

I’m thirty years old, single (never been married), no noticeable physical flaws, and by the worlds standards, a wealthy man with a great career. I don’t smoke, drink, chase wild women, and I workout three to five times a week. The few friends I have tell me that they have never met anyone so dependable, honest, and responsible. Oh, I also floss every night. The one thing lacking in my life is a relationship. My mother tells everyone she meets that I’m “well preserved.”

I think David is the perfect character (at the moment) to carry this next story. As you can probably tell by David's introduction, it will be a relationship story written in first person point of view from a man's perspective.

One more thought to pass on about writing a story. There are basically four elements to the writing: Narration, description, thought, and dialogue.

Narration is used as sparingly as possible and only to help the reader transition from one point to the next.

Description is a must to keep the reader aware of the visual surroundings. If possible, it is best to have the description "shown" to the reader not "told" to the reader. Example: TOLD: It was a hot, humid day in south Alabama. SHOWN: Standing on the ramp, waiting for his passengers to board the jet, David's long-sleeved, white shirt stuck to his skin as sweat dripped from his chin.

The reader needs to always know what the character is thinking. This is what is so wonderful about novels that is not possible with film or stage. The thoughts of the character are what pulls the reader into the story.

Dialogue is the most effective way to "show" the story. Dialogue breaths life into the story as it reveals emotions: worries, hopes, and fears of the characters. Readers must "see" the story develop and this is done through dialogue and thoughts.

The details about the life, motivations and feelings of a main character should be shown in his or her point of view, dialogue, thoughts and feelings, and in the story as they change, rather than only in the author's narration.

Now that the setting(s) are taking shape and the main character has been selected, I must develop and refine David's great want and present growing obstacles to his satisfying his want. This is the conflict of the story. It will be shown in each chapter, among all the characters, and in the story as a whole.

Formula for a good story: CONFLICT (want, obstacle)—ACTION (reveals the character)—RESOLUTION—EMOTION (worries, hopes, fears)--SHOWING

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