Last week we talked about motivation. But we also mentioned something that's crucial to every novel, just as it should be to every person. Evolution. I'm not here to debate the merits of the theory from a theological or scientific point of view. I'm talking about the evolution of characters. Making the characters change as a result of things that happened to them in the story. Just like most people would change as a result of things that happened to them in real life. Do you think that Donald Sterling is quite as trusting now as he was a few months ago? He has evolved. (I just wanted to use that phrase in relation to that moron.)
Characters can evolve for any number of reasons. Let's take an unusual example. We look to our friends in the world of professional wrestling. Terry Bollea is known by the stage name as Hulk Hogan. The giant wrestler was a fan favorite and role model to young kids for many years and used his position to create quite a comfortable life for himself and his family. At some point the character of Hulk Hogan got stale and was starting to lose the interest of wrestling enthusiasts, so they made him evolve from a good guy to a bad guy named Hollywood Hogan. Simple, some would say stupid, but effective. Once again his popularity soared, only this time people rooted against him. If that trick works in something as ridiculous as professional wrestling, imagine what you, as a writer, could do with it in a novel.
I'll use another example, this one from the literary world, however it is currently best known as the TV show Game of Thrones. Anyone who has followed the remarkable series knows that in one of the first episodes, the heir to the Lancaster name, Jamie Lannister, pushes an innocent ten-year-old boy from a tower in an effort to keep the boy quiet after he has witnessed Lancaster having sex with his own sister. If that is not the setup for an old-time bad guy, I don't know what is. I remember watching the show on a Sunday evening and the emotional reaction I had to that putrid, arrogant asshole of the character. I was counting the moments until Jamie Lannister met some horrible end. And he only made it worse over the course of a couple of seasons. He strangled his own cousin in an effort to escape captivity. I cheered when his hand was cut off by a rival. But now, over a long period and through superb writing, I may not love the guy, but compared to the other villains in Kings Landing, I like to see him on screen. That is the mark of a good writer. I tip my hat to George R.R. Martin for his remarkable series of books.
|More info here|
|More info here|
This week's quote is:
“I am always chilled and astonished by the would-be writers who ask me for advice and admit, quite blithely, that they “don’t have time to read.” This is like a guy starting up Mount Everest saying that he didn’t have time to buy any rope or pitons.” ― Stephen King