Character Motivation - Always Ask WHY
For many years, I've been a tutor for students undertaking courses in writing romance, crime or children's stories. In that time, I've marked thousands of assignments. I've seen hundreds of plots, thousands of scenes, millions of words. And if I had to give writers one piece of advice after seeing all those millions of words, it would be this: always ask 'WHY?'
Because I've seen too many characters forced into ridiculous situations by a careless author. I've seen potentially good plots twisted completely out of shape - because the writer finds it easier to force characters to do dumb things than to sit down and come up with a stronger plot.
Believe me, you don't want your readers scratching their heads in puzzlement and saying 'But why would she do a stupid thing like that?' or 'As if anyone would say that at a time like this!'Once readers start saying stuff like that, your book's a goner.
Suddenly, the reader can't believe in the character anymore. She's become a puppet in the hands of the author. ('Oh,' says Character, 'You want me to agree to meet this guy I know is a psychopath in the middle of the night, in a deserted area of bushland? Without backup, without a weapon, and without letting anyone know where I've gone? Isn't that a bit? well? stupid? Oh, I see, it's necessary for the plot to work? Well, okay then.')
Now come on. What would you do in this position?
"Why" Questions That You Should Ask:
(c) Copyright Marg McAlister
Marg McAlister has published magazine articles, short stories, books for children, ezines, promotional material, sales letters and web content. She has written 5 distance education courses on writing, and her online help for writers is popular all over the world. Sign up for her regular writers' tipsheet at http://www.writing4success.com/
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