Jan 23 2010

Opinions Make the Character

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Hopefully your writing sounds more interesting than this: “I called my agent for lunch.  I went to Panera.  I tried to find him there but he was late.”  This is just a bland list of facts. As a writer, it’s your job to make the story as interesting as possible by bringing in details that shake up the narrative.  One possibility is opinions.

In the above passage, the narrator doesn’t have any interesting opinions or any other thoughts about what’s going on around him.   He doesn’t have to be that invisible.

My agent was late to lunch.  Probably getting seduced by some cold-eyed harpy with a Twilight-meets-Eragon manuscript.  Sparkly dragon vampires.  He fell for bestsellers every time.

Notice that the narrator/author hasn’t said anything about himself, but he has shown much more about his personality and why he’s an interesting character.  We also learn more about the missing agent, even though it’s all just opinion.

PS:  If you can remove unnecessary details, like where they were meeting for lunch, please do so.  Alternately, find a way to make the detail useful.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Opinions Make the Character”

  1. Wingson 24 Jan 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Congratulations, you have just made me smile for the first time today. “Bestsellers”, ha!

    – Wings

  2. k1dorkon 24 Jan 2010 at 8:01 pm

    How would this work for third peron narrative?

  3. B. Macon 24 Jan 2010 at 8:34 pm

    With third-person narration, you could…

    –Have the narrator tell us what he’s thinking. “B. Mac called his agent for lunch. She was late. Getting seduced by some cold-eyed harpy with a Twilight-meets-Eragon manuscript, he assumed. Sparkly dragon vampires–he shuddered at the thought. She fell for bestsellers every time.”

    –You could switch to internal monologue with italics. “B. Mac called his agent for lunch. She was late. Probably getting seduced by some cold-eyed harpy with a Twilight-meets-Eragon manuscript. Sparkly dragon vampires. She fell for bestsellers every time.”

    –You could have the character show us what he’s thinking through action or dialogue. For example, if we’re trying to show that the author in this passage is a bit paranoid and jealous of what his agent might be doing, he might start repeatedly texting his agent so that he knows exactly where his agent is and when he’ll be in. Alternately, you could have him interact with other people. It’s usually pretty rare to have a scene with only a single character. Depending on how psycho/jealous/paranoid B. Mac is (note: very), we might write this scene with him accosting the waiter and demanding his assistance to make sure that the agent hasn’t sneaked away.

    I hope that helps!

  4. k1dorkon 24 Jan 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Cool. Thanks, man.

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