Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Focussing on Your Characters
Borg admitted that for a long time writing the novel was a struggle. He found he couldn't get past the first few chapters because he didn't know what the plot was. I can relate to that.
After putting the novel aside for ten years, he decided to try a different approach: he'd start by focussing on the characters. He wrote a page about each one, who they were, where they were, what they liked, etc. Then he put them in a setting to see what would happen. "It was the breaking of an ice jam," Borg said, "and I finished the book in eight months."
He likens writing non-fiction, his usual field, to carpentry work. You know the sequence of the subject matter, and you know what topics you'll cover in each chapter. Then you just fit it all together.
I agree with what he has to say. By focussing on the characters in your fiction you know how each one will react in whatever situation he finds himself. You don't have to think about plot; the characters will help that to unfold. Then you can go back and make sure that it moves along as it should.