Characters and Storyline

On our three page list of discussion points, our book club leader lists first: Characters and Storyline.  “The way the author develops his or her characters affects our responses to them; at the same time, our response to characters is driven by a myriad of personal experiences.  Why one person finds a character despicable and another sympathetic turns the wheel of a good exploratory discussion on character analysis- the study of human nature”.

Tom Hallman Jr indicates, in his “5 Reasons Writing Small Can Help You Make it Big” 2010 Writer’s Digest article, that the key to remember that readers turn to our  stories is not for information, but for the emotion and the chance to explore and learn from others lives.  He reveals in this article how a publisher he knew of by the name of Janna Mock-Lopez would often use this approach in her time working as a freelancer for newspapers.  Her suggestion was to look for the “unremarkable” people in the community, the ones that do not appear to strive for attention.  The people who live real, meaningful lives raising children, caring for their elderly parents, working long hours so that they could give their families the dream life they envisioned, or volunteering every sunday at the local church. Those are the people who have stories to tell, and they are the stories the readers relate to.

We often ask ourselves; Were the actions of these characters a result of fate or free will? Did our protagonist have the freedom of choice to act a different way or was it her destiny.  The attitude of the readers, based on who they are and how they think and feel, will reflect the way they assign moral responsibility for what happens in the novel.  Therefore, Hallman made a valid point in his theory, that the reader turns to the story for her own emotional opportunity to search for a link between her own world and the world she dives into when she opens the first page of a story.  And if the author of that story did his job, the reader will find meaning behind the story, enlarging her unremarkable life with the help of someone else’s.

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