QUICK FIX: Whose story is it anyway?
(Writers’ Forum October, 2008)
Sometimes it is easy to begin a story with one main character, only to discover that a secondary character has taken over the plot. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you have two strong characters with two scenarios and there is ample opportunity to end up with two stories instead of one.
If you can’t decide exactly who your main character is, think about which character has the most invested in the story and the most to lose in the outcome. This must be your main character.
• Before you begin, decide exactly whose story it is.
• Your main character should be present at the beginning of the story and remain at the forefront of the action.
• Ensure that the plot continually revolves around your main character.
•Don’t allow secondary characters and sub-plots to take over.
• If this does happen give secondary characters stories of their own. You could well end up with two stories out of one idea.
• Alternatively, how about two main characters? Just ensure that they are well balanced throughout the story.
• A good writing exercise is to write the same scene from the viewpoint of more than one character. This will highlight who has the most invested in the outcome – and may give valuable insights.
• Never give up on a character – each has a unique story to tell.