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Exposing character through actions
Thursday, March 15, 2012



Right now I’m working on the second act’s first part of my feature “The Power of Bitterness”.

I get so amazed every time what a little planning could do to make the writing flow.

I have each scene planned. When I begin writing a scene, I take a peek at my planning. All I need to know to write the scene is where it starts and where it should end, and if there is anything special I should expose or conceal.

I can focus on this particular scene and make the best of it. The story is already there.

Like a scene I’m writing right now, I know that my main character gets trapped and leaves as a prisoner. I have notes about the basic idea how she gets trapped too, mostly to have something that I know will work for me to build on when I get there.

Now the work with the characters for this scene begins. How to expose the characters involved? What do I want to tell about them?

There are three characters in this scene. Lets call them Anna, Maria and Stan, just to give them names for this example.

Anna is the main character. Maria is her companion but not her friend. Stan is hunting Anna.

With the help of Maria, Stan gets the chance to take Anna by surprise.

Now what does he do? Does he knock her down, making sure she can’t do any resistance? Does he overpower her by threat of violence – like “hands up” or “freeze”?

There are two things to consider here: what kind of character do I want Stan to be, and how do I want the relationship between Stan and Anna to continue? (So, yes, I need to know a little what lies ahead too.)

If he knocks her down he is effective, goes for safety of the mission, but does not really care about Anna (or other people in the line of his work, for that matter).

If he goes for “hands up”, he takes a greater risk, but shows respect towards his opponent.

If Anna needs to show him trust and respect further away in the story, it will get more complicated if Stan knocked her down, instead of confronting her.

On the other hand if Anna will use him and have no need for him as any form of friend, it will get complex if Stan showed her a great deal of good values towards her.

In this case, Anna and Stan must find trust in each other, and I don’t want to expose Stan as a coward without care for people, so I went for “hands up”.

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