“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!”
The above quote is from Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451). As a seat-of-the-pants writer, I read the quote and thought, That’s exactly what I do!” I create a multi-dimensional protagonist, then stalk him or her through the pages of my manuscript. And, in nearly every case so far, that pesky main character does or says something that catches me by surprise.
There have been scenes that I’ve set up for the sole purpose of testing my protagonist’s metal. I mean I’ve uped the ante, dropped the hammer, and sharpened the knives. Why? Because I want to find out how my main character will react under extreme pressure. And I love to see him or her squirm. It makes me laugh like an evil scientist. I’m just wired that way.
And when my lead escapes, I chase him out the door…and the stalking continues. Man it’s fun!
But the key to a good character is I–the writer–have to know what he wants. And I have to stalk him and do everything I can to keep him from getting it easily…or at all. And then something will come out of his mouth, or she will do something, that makes me go, “Wow!”
What has one of your characters do that caught you by surprise?
NOTE: This friday’s post will be another “Top Ten” list. I think it will be “Top 10 signs your writers conference has picked the wrong hotel.”