Characters are critical for stories that resonate. Why? Because characters are the conduit that connects the reader and vests them in the story problem. They’re the emotional touchstone that allows for catharsis, because—when written well—it doesn’t matter if the character is a space alien or a federal agent, we (readers) can relate to them in some way.
We can’t empathize with technology, spaceships, magic, or nuclear submarines. Humans can’t bond emotionally to a place (without the characters as the connection).
For instance, we CARE about Lord of the Rings’ Middle Earth because we care about Frodo, Samwise and Gandalf. And, because Frodo, Samwise and Gandalf care deeply for Middle Earth and the Shire…we do as well.
Story is like the wall socket that’s connected a tremendous power source. But, how useful would those wall sockets be if all the gadgets in everyday life didn’t have plugs? How useful would a bunch of dead gadgets be?
We cannot have story without characters and can’t, conversely, have characters (DIMENSIONAL characters) without story.
Readers read stories, but great stories read the readers.
***I know we’ve talked about all this before, but since I am pathologically honest, I feel the need to tell on myself. I cracked a back tooth and had major dental work last week. With all the drugs? I actually have a completely new post almost finished, but it’s been like pulling teeth…bada bump snare.
Kristen Lamb published a phenomenal blog post about her taste and the reason shame is the beating heart of all great stories. I admire her knowledge and her willingness to share it. Thank you, Kirsten!
I read a ridiculous amount of novels and I’m very picky, namely because I have the attention span of a fruit fly with a crack habit. Like most modern readers, it takes a lot to grab then keep my attention.
Most books I end up putting down or returning to Audible for another. There are books I finish then forget. Most are meh. Good way to kill time not much more. But then there are the ones that stick, the stories I never grow tired of reading and rereading and recommending and as you can see, I have very eclectic taste.
Some of my fondest loves are Heart-Shaped Box, Big, Little Lies, American Gods, Prisoner of Hell Gate, The Joy Luck Club, Luckiest Girl Alive, the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer, and anything written by Fredik Backman Britt Marie Was Here being my favorite.
Yet what do all these great stories have in common? Why do they make me laugh and cry and cheer? What is so cathartic about these books?
To continue reading Kristen Lambs post, please go to her blog by clicking the link below:
Recently, I wrote a guest post This is the Reason All Great Stories are Birthed from Shame. It was a tough post and I needed a nap after writing it. It forced me to peel back layers I hadn’t touched in years. But the post got me thinking about probably the single most important element of great fiction
Since that post was not per se a craft post, I wanted to explore what I began on that blog here today. I firmly believe shame is the critical ingredient for fiction to resonate. It’s the difference between a forgettable fun read and a book we keep and read over and over.
I dig examples. I learn better when I have some to work with, so sharing some goodies with you today.