It’s been a few days since I’ve posted, so I thought I better pop on and explain the absence. Plus, I found another good article by agent Donald Maass, who has always made good sense to me.
This week I’ve been on an outer journey. I didn’t go anywhere, but I’ve been stepping outside of my comfort zone to understand a new and complicated software application that leaders at my day job want to implement the use of. The person who was working on it is gone and there is no documentation of what they did, so I’ve been tasked with learning it to a system administrator level of comprehension, and finishing up any undone tasks so that the application can launch.
The result? I’ve been exhausted–physically and mentally–which has affected my ability to string words together at night and help my character through their inner journey. (Does my subject line make sense now?)
Speaking of a character’s inner journey, this is the topic of Donald Maass’ blogpost . If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you have probably run across this a time or a million. But what does it mean?
Essentially, it’s this: people like to read about characters who do something, and who become changed in the process. In the very first Star Wars (now listed as Episode 4), Luke Skywalker starts the movie a naive, simple country boy. Again and again, he is faced with challenges where he has to make choices, sometimes getting a positive payoff, often not. In the end, he becomes transformed into the beginnings of a Jedi warrior. On the way there, we cared about him. We rooted for him. We held our breath when things got bad. And we clapped like crazy when he and Han Solo walked triumphantly past all the other rebels to get their medals from the princess after they saved the day.
What made this spectacular was not the special effects. It was the character arc, the inner journey of Luke as he made his way from childhood to being a man.
This is what Donald Maass is writing about, and he gets into specifics with questions for your character to answer about themselves. But don’t take my word for it. Read it for yourself.