free the pen, a blog for writers

October 15, 2011

Do Your Main Characters Have This?

Filed under: Uncategorized — freethepen @ 8:32 pm

You might or might not make an outline for your book. It’s okay either way. Ken Follette, author of Pillars of the Earth, takes two years to write an outline. He maps out every detail and character before he begins to write. I almost can’t breathe when I think of it. Outlines don’t work for me. They restrict me, confine my characters, put the life of the page in a box and I can’t move into a place of creativity having such tight borders.

I start with only a general mental plan and then begin to type. Inevitably my characters take over the page and where they want to go. Inevitably my plans change, and giving my fingers total permission to feel my way in the dark allows me to be creative and see what develops. It might be the only time in my life I like being lost.

That being said, there is one thing my main characters must have: a purpose. And my main character leads in that purpose. I’ve read lots of interesting story lines without the main character leading with a purpose and I find that those characters usually feel slightly one dimensional despite the interest I have for the plot.

If the main character of a story is an ordinary person with a purpose, a mission, a drive to accomplish or overcome something, the plot thickens, as the saying goes.

A book is much more powerful when the main character grounds you in the story with a purpose because they give you a suspenseful reason to continue reading. Make your characters extraordinary. Give them a clear purpose so the reader can endear to them rather than just be interested in how life unfolds. Characters are richer and hold more of our dreams when they carry the baton. Hand it to them and allow them to run with it.

To check out my novels, the main characters, and their purposes, go to:
Kate’s Way (also in kindle $5.99)
The Basket Weaver



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Published on October 15, 2011 13:23• Tags:          purpose-of-main-characters, writing-tip

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