Monday, May 23, 2011
The Active Hero and Thoughts on POV
Corwin and his brother Bleys are discussing their family and each sibling's respective claim to the recently vacant throne of Amber. Bleys says to Corwin:
"I wish Benedict were here. I wish Gerard had not sold out."
"Wishes, wishes. Wish in one hand and do something with the other, and squeeze them both and see which one comes true."
This struck me as being very applicable to writing. Every character has wishes and things that they want. Their desires are what make them who they are. But a story happens when a character does something about it.
Right before the above conversation Corwin was in a position where he had just gotten back his memory and was able to use a certain magic to go anywhere he wanted. He knew that he brother Eric was trying to find him and kill him. He could easily have reacted to that danger by hiding in Shadow until he was safe. But Corwin doesn't use the magic to run away. Instead, he uses it to take himself to the city of Amber its self, Eric's stronghold. While there he fights a sword duel with Eric and tries to kill him. Only when the situation is beyond hope and Corwin is about to be captured does he retreat. But he doesn't let his defeat stop him. Immediately after this conversation Corwin raises a freaking army of 100,000 soldiers to attack Amber.
That, my friends, is an active hero.
I'm glad I've taken this opportunity to study Corwin, because I think a strong, active POV/Main character like him is extremely important. But it's also something I've really been struggling with.
My WIP has multiple "main characters" though there's one in particular that drives the plot forward. Kamose is a forceful personality with strong desires and he goes to some very extreme lengths to see his goals accomplished during the story. However, he is not my POV character.
My POV character is his friend and close companion, Setekhpenre. Setekh basically gets taken along for the ride as Kamose carries out his plans. Uh oh. Did you hear the warning bells going off in your head? Gets taken along for the ride. Yeah, talk about a passive character.Now, Setekh isn't always passive. He's very involved in eventually rectifying the destruction that Kamose unleashes, but I can't escape the fact that in the beginning he's pretty darn boring. And I don't know what to do about it.
Some might say, just make Kamose the POV character. But I don't want to do that because I don't want his voice telling the story. Kamose is... a bit crazy and his perspective isn't the one I want readers to see through. Setekh's role in the conclusion of the story is important and he's the one who will be able to illuminate the themes I want the story to explore. So how do I make him more interesting in the beginning? How do I make him more active but still a good foil for Kamose?
The answer is probably in what I mentioned before. Our characters' desires make them who they are and give them the goals that drive them forward. So what does Setekh want? What drives him forward? I'm note really sure. This is something I'm going to need to spend some time thinking on. I think I need to get to know Setekh better. Time for a week of character exploration.
Cally Jackson Writes and Rachel Morgan Writes. This cool blogfest give us 5 whole days to post a snippet of writing that showcases strong use of tension. My post probably won't be until Friday, the final day, because I am a procrastinator of epic proportions. Still, be looking for that. I'll have a scene from my WIP to post.