Writing Advice from the Bookshelf: Jordan Rosenfeld on Character-Related Plot Threads
At the same time as you establish that your protagonist is a smack-talking hooligan with seductive eyes and a mop of brown curls, or a lonely librarian who reads mystery novels and winds up investigating an actual crime, in this first section of your narrative, you also need to establish:
Involvement. What is your protagonist’s relationship to the events of the significant situation? Is the event his fault, centered around him in some way; did he accidentally stumble into it, or is he integral to it? The stakes. What he stands to lose or gain as a result of the above-mentioned events will create necessary tension and drama. Desires. What he desires, from material goods to deep and abiding love, will inform the stakes and his intentions. Fears. What he fears, from bodily harm to not obtaining his desire, will also inform the stakes. Motivation. What reasons does he have to act upon the events of the significant situation? What is he driven by? Challenges. How does the significant situation challenge his life, views, status, other people, his status quo, etc.?
Rosenfeld, Jordan E. Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 2008. 169. Print.
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