Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Writing A Novel: Writing Character-Driven Stories

This New Year's Eve, I rang in 2013 by watching the SyFy Channel's annual 48-hour Twilight Zone marathon. No, I didn't watch all 48 hours, but I did catch a good number of episodes. Many I've seen before, but I still enjoy them the second, third, fifth, tenth time around. This is why TZ is such a classic program.

What I really like about The TZ's stories is that most are very character-driven. Yes, many are science fiction and involve aliens, space travel, etc., but because they didn't have great special effects in the 1950s, the show had to depend more on people's reactions to things than on actual action sequences. My favorite episode, for instance, is called "The Midnight Sun" and is about a group of survivors dealing with the inevitable end of the planet as Earth gradually moves closer to the sun. In many ways, this is very topical as we deal with global warming and climate change. But what I love about this particular episode is that every scene takes place in one woman's apartment. We never see shots of the Earth barreling towards the sun or of the oceans drying up. All we ever see are the reactions of the woman and her neighbor as they suffer from thirst, dehydration and fear. However, this approach is so effective -- and frightening. You can feel the ladies' pain and confusion, and I often think about this episode on really hot days.

That said, I try to make my stories character-driven. I love a good action sequence, but it's difficult to make readers feel emotions if they can't connect with the people whom the story is about. So for me, getting into my characters' heads is of the utmost importance; I make that my priority and then write the more plot-driven scenes.

I don't know if I'll ever come close to writing something that's as brilliant and thought provoking as The Twilight Zone -- but I can at least try to create stories that are deeply moving.

Please read and review REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

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