Monday, April 8, 2013

Of Character Correctness

One of the things I did wrong in my first novel was that Lizzie, my MC, was always right. She found the true meaning of every clue right away. This does not make for a good story. It makes for an okay story, but it would have been better (and will be, when I pull that manuscript from the dungeon again) if she'd misinterpreted a clue or two, or only realized half of what it meant.

Why? you ask? Because my friends, that makes for plot twists of awesome.

Think about it. You're reading along, what the MC says makes sense, and then KABLOOIE, the condemning footprint couldn't have belonged to the postman, or the dead guys isn't really dead, or that chandlery isn't just a cover for a bad guy on the run - it's a smuggling ring too, or the man who everyone thought was the father of the illegitimate son is actually covering for the real father, or the MC has two potential villains to follow, and she picks the wrong one.

Or, you're reading along, what the MC makes sense, and what do you know? She's right. She's so clever. She followed the right guy, and fit every clue together perfectly, and thanks to her, the bad guys will rot in jail for eternity.

Which is more fun to read? The first.

Readers like being proved wrong (as long as the new explanation makes sense). Or they like figuring out the true meaning of the clues before the MC, and being proved right.  Either way, proving the MC wrong will throw him/her for a loop, and make the story that much more interesting.

As a side note, characters with secrets are an excellent way  to prove the MC wrong. Henry lied, and the MC believed him, or Agnes told the MC the truth, and he/she didn't believe her. The MC builds an idea around what s/he believes, and then POP goes that idea, and in the soap suds of its death, a new idea is born, and this one is one step closer to the truth.

What do you think? Feel free to debate and expound upon this idea. I'd love to hear your input.

And a good night/day/afternoon/morning/whatever to you.

12 comments:

  1. Lol, great post! I loved the "plot twists of awesome"

    ~Sarah Faulkner

    www.inklinedwriters.blogspot.com

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  2. Yes, yes, extremely yes. Good post.

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  3. Ah. The perfect character. I do believe I heard that is what was wrong with the former Head Phil, may he rest in peace.

    Good post. :)

    ~Robyn Hoode

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    1. I heard the same. However, I do not think I will result to measures quite that drastic when it comes to Lizzie.

      Thanks!

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    2. I am glad to hear that you will not be resulting to that. I do hope that Liam has not started a trend. If we aren't careful, we'll have dead MCs and ficticious personalities dead all over the place!

      ~Robyn

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    3. Oh, goodness, that would be tragic, not to mention messy.

      Though I do admit, Lizzie was the first character I ever created, and she was based off of me.

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    4. Though, maybe the next big thing in YA lit is MCs that die and don't stay dead. Wouldn't it be interesting to see everybody try to imitate Fathoming Egression?

      ~Robyn

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    5. MCs that don't stay dead. Hmm. Interesting idea. Might be too close to vamps.

      I don't actually remember/know much about Fathoming Egression . Do Liam's characters not stay dead?

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  4. That first chapter question he asked in the post Questions. I think that was Fathoming Egression he was talking about.

    ~Robyn

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    1. *Goes back to reread post and comments*
      From what he said to me in response to my comments on that post, I assumed that was for the next Phil Phorce episode. Perhaps something to do with Quirk's new found immortality.

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