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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Level Up

For the last week, I have been reading Orson Scott Card's Characters & Viewpoint. Mondays post as well as today's are based on me learnin'.

When writing our novels, there are a host of characters that come along for the ride. They increase the level of realism, create greater connection to the story & keep readers moving through to the end. The level of importance placed on each determines where they fall in the pecking order.

Third String - The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. These are the stereotypical people who serve drinks, open doors, drive carriages, or perform some other inane function. They do nothing more than provide the impetus for moving through to the next part. They don't have names. They do their job & then fade into the wallpaper.

Second String - These folks are good for one or two simple acts that twist or drive the plot in a small way. They make a difference but readers don't get emotionally connected to them. They can be eccentric, exaggerated or obsessive. It's all about playing time; the more time on the field, the more important the player.

Heavy Hitters - These are the emotional investments. These are the heroes/heroines, the movers & shakers & heart of the story. They make choices & are powerful motivators in the tale. The lens is in focus on them, their actions & their reactions. They take up the bulk of the piece. They are active participants. If the reader cares, the reader dares. It's all in the POV; narrator or POV character, these are the actors that bear the most weight.

From the page to the busty barmaid to the knight errant, writing involves a cast of people that populate the pages. The more we are devoted to them, the more readers will care about them. And, a writer's level of focus will determine the a reader's level of emotional investment.

Happy Writing,



  1. This is great information for characters. Thanks for sharing. :D

  2. Great analysis! I read his book, and altho not one of my favorite writing book, it's alright. I had some trouble relating to how he explained things. My favorite is On Writing by Stephen King.

  3. Karen,
    I love On Writing. Who knew that guy was so funny??!! But, Card's book is more academia than humor. Having read more textbooks than I care to count, I pull out my analytical underwear & settle in for the long haul. Thanks for the comment.

  4. This is one I still need to read. Thanks for the reminder. :)

    Angela @ the Bookshelf Muse

  5. Angela,
    You betcha! I am still working my way through.