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Archive for the tag “character problems”

a word on inner consistency

When we first start to tell a story keeping the events in the right order is no big deal. However as the word count rises so does the probability of getting events or conversations out-of-order. Even one of my literary heroes Carlos Castaneda fell foul of this when he invented the mythos surrounding his meetings with the enigmatic shaman Down Juan Mathus. It was DeMille who first pointed out that his diary dates and events did not hold true. So how can this happen?

I think part of the problem stems from having an overall idea of the story which while not fully defined, we carry round in our head while writing. It can be all to easy then to allow a character knowledge of an event which either has not happened yet, or more subtly, which they could not yet know about.

Then again, inconsistency might creep in if we have a couple of weeks rest from the story. It is not all that easy to pick up all the threads straight away (especially with my aging brain). I’m sure there are lots of other reasons just waiting to trip me up in the months to come.

As I get further into the novel I find this a growing problem. I just noticed a bit part character which I started off by calling Kevin has miraculously turned into Steve! Now I shall have to go back to find out where this name change happened.

I have thought of other measures I might take, such as background notes giving more detail to the locations, characters and events. I might also construct a timeline of events with times and dates. Although Writeitnow4 supports this, it all seems like a lot of work but at the moment I cannot think of a viable alternative.

So, what do you do on works of over 30,000 words? How do you avoid these inconsistencies?



Character worldviews

I was teaching my students this week about worldviews; that is, the perceptual filter we all adopt to make sense of the world around us.

The fact is, we do not experience reality in the raw – we experience a filtered version of reality, the filter consisting of our values, beliefs and experiences (our worldview). And everyone’s worldview is different, hence everyone’s reality is different.

What has this got to do with writing? Well, if the characters are to be believable, then their worldviews will have to be different. They cannot all interpret events in the same way.

The problem is firstly it is damned hard to think of reality through a worldview that is not our own – sure, I can tinker around the edges value here and a belief there, but a wholly different worldview? Hmm.

Secondly, how much of a characters worldview would I have to map out in order to make a believable character, and do I need to do this up front for consistencies sake?

Has anyone¬† out there thought much about this? Do tell…


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