alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
Writer Jennifer Crusie always thinks characters and conflict when she's building a plot, so she can't help analyzing books, movies, and television the same way. Here she tears apart the plot for "Lucifier" and if you checkout her LJ, she then comes up with a much better series idea.

Maybe she'll write it.

Originally posted by [ profile] jennycrusie at Questionable: Character Chemistry with the Reader

This is another one from Draft Vault, and it included this note: “Somehow I hit “Publish” while this was still in draft form. Therefore, whatever went out in the RSS feed was a rough draft. Sorry about that.” I’m pretty sure I cut almost all of the previous draft, so this shouldn’t be a re-run at all.

Cate M asked:

“Could you do a post on a character chemistry? Not necessarily romantic chemistry, although that would be helpful too. Basically, once you’ve got your checklist of goals, motivation, conflict, how do you make sure the characters are actually fun to spend time with, and better together than they are apart?”

So when you say “fun to spend time with,” you’re talking about the reader, right? You want each character to be fun for the reader to spend time with and then the relationship to be more fun for the reader to watch?

In my opinion (not to be taken as a rule or fact or anything like that):

• Readers want to spend time with characters who are fascinating, which means different from the norm but not so weird or awful that they’re off-putting. (“I don’t like this guy, but I can’t take my eyes off him.”)

• They want characters who are active because action is interesting and because action characterizes. (“Now that I see the things he’s doing in this story, he’s even more interesting.”)

• They want characters who are under pressure because pressure peels off layers of protection and makes them vulnerable. (“Boy, move him outside his comfort zone, and he’s a whole new character.”)

• They want characters who are struggling with other characters because while they want to see the human heart in conflict, they also want to see two human hearts in conflict with each other, desperately vying for the things that define them and make life worth living. (“She really moves him outside his comfort zone; he’s even more interesting with her.”)

• They want those struggles to suggest outcomes that are interesting so that their expectations for the rest of the story are as fascinating as the characters, especially when they’re together. (“I can’t wait to see what happens when these two get together again.”)

So fascinating, active, vulnerable characters in conflicted relationships that set up fascinating expectations.

Yeah, not easy.

As an example, I just watched a TV pilot that failed on almost all of these things.

Read more... )
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
Here's a short rant from bestselling author Jennifer Crusie about set-ups. Her point is, set-ups are not story. And if you spend too much time with a set-up, you lose people. I try hard to jump into a book, even when I write lyrically. People will figure it out, and I hope delight in their discovery. If my first reader doesn't figure it out, well, then I have to slide more info in. But I don't add an additional three chapters at the front of the book!

Crusie uses recent television to make her point, so if you're watching TV drama, you will get this immediately, and even if you aren't, you will still get it. Take a look.

August 2017

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