Characters vs. Plot

They say great themes make great novels. But what these young writers don’t understand is that there is no greater theme than men and women. ~John O’Hara

It’s Friday morning, the turkey has been turned into bones, the stuffing has stuffed the belly, and the slices of pie have widened the hips, and I sit here with a cup of Starbuck’s French Roast coffee, pondering how thankful I am to be able to button my pants this morning.

I love quotes from writers, it makes me feel that my writing journey is not unique. It is a craft laden with heartbreaks and disappoints, but it is one I cannot live without. As I think of John O’Hara’s quote, I have decided to really concentrate on my characters better. Are their relationships endearing? Can I give them a little more draw? Can I build the tension between them until they are so uncomfortable, my readers have to read on to see what happens? Of course, I can. And so can you.

Sure, plot is important. However, it is, as my girls tell me, secondary (they don’t use this word, though). Young girls want the tension that Eward and Bella have. The forbidden love, that no force in the world can stop. My literary ladies in my book group want tension between mother and child, husband and wife, siblings, or even between victim and disease. Something so intense that when you’re done reading it, you are changed forever.

I don’t believe I’ve accomplished this, as well as I could with my secondary characters. So today I will concentrate on them and really get to know them better. Yeah, I’ve been with them for a long time now, you’d think I would know them better already, but like a neighbor you say hello to in passing, some of my secondary characters’ desires are vague to me.

How well do you know every single character in your stories? If not as well as you like, sit in your favorite spot, have a cup of coffee with them, and get to know them better. Your writing will be better for it. That’s it. Slurp!

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