Friday, June 22, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

The Most Unlikely Characters

One element that I'm hoping to improve within my W.I.P. (as I go through yet another revision) is the level of tension in my story. Presenting more challenges in the path of my protagonist is one option. However, as I pondered the other ways that I might achieve this specific goal, I had a light-bulb moment. It is so simple, and yet so profound, that I'm sure many of you are already aware of this tip:

The more diverse my characters are from one another, the more chances I have of creating tension in my story.
A type of internal tension can be maintained simply by creating unlikely characters that become friends. The best example of this that comes to my mind, comes (again) from the master storyteller, J.K. Rowling. Think about Harry, Ron, and Hermione - these three friends couldn't have been more different from one another if they'd tried!

* Harry's lack of family love and support. (He was basically an orphan held captive by his retarded relatives.)
* Ron's insecurity from belonging to a quirky family - even by wizard standards.
* Hermione's somewhat sheltered and spoiled upbringing. (In the beginning, she was a bit of a controlling know-it-all.)
These differences (and more) allowed Ms. Rowling to create and maintain a constant tension throughout the entire Harry Potter series. In the midst of the struggles that these three characters faced, they forged a friendship that was far stronger than if they had all been from the same type of family, neighborhood, or social class.

The diversity in the three main characters even allowed J. K. Rowling the ability to maintain a type of internal tension when Harry wasn't fighting with Voldemort, Draco Malfoy, or Professor Snape!

This revelation has caused me to dig into each of my characters and add a few traits that will increase their differences. Hopefully that will create a bit of constant tension in my story.

I'd love to hear how you create more tension in your manuscripts!

7 comments:

  1. Tension seems to be the topic of the day. I'm a believer that once the characters are created, tension will show itself naturally. There must be that fine line or thing that stands between them...always present. Diversity is a must.

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    1. I agree, Loree. Looking to create more tension in my text lead me back to my characters - not enough diversity!

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  2. Excellent example of creating tension between friends. I'd never really thought of it before. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks, Sara. We'll see if I can pull it off!

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  3. Great post, Victoria. I'm always looking for more ways to add tension to my stories. Thanks!

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    1. In real life we try and avoid tension - at least I do. As writers we seek it out...so cruel to our characters! HeHe! Thanks, Ruth.

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  4. "A type of internal tension can be maintained simply by creating unlikely characters that become friends."

    I almost always do this when I write. I never thought of it as a way to create tension. It's just something I do. Otherwise, I'm not too good at intentionally creating tension in my stories.

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