Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chess piece characters

It's Wednesday! So I'm getting back into writing Wednesdays.

I've been thinking about character and plot, and how sometimes they can work at cross-purposes. You want your plot to move in a certain direction, but if you force your characters to conform to the plot the story isn't believable. It's like your story is a chess board, and you're picking up your pieces and plonking them where you want them to go. It suits the larger gameplay, but your characters should not act like chess pieces. At least, not like normal chess pieces.

Sometimes you just need to give a few nudges in the right direction. Figure out why they might act the way you want them to, and slip in some details to smooth the transitions. You don't want a reader questioning reactions or motivations, or being jarred out of the story.

Other times you need to do a bit more work. You've plonked your character in a square they'd never normally go near, so maybe you need to think a few moves ahead. Figure out what story beats you want to hit (what squares you absolutely have to get to) and let the character guide themselves to the square. You might not need the squares you were trying to force them into.

You want walking, talking chess pieces that move themselves across the board, rather than doing exactly what they're told.

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what do you think?