Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fiction Writing Lesson #4 : Characters

At this point of our classes, we will spend more time writing and discussing the merits of our works so there is less theory to share moving forward.

Yesterday, we studied how to create believable fictional characters and once again we were introduced to two concepts, that of an archetype versus a stereotype. Once again, my engineering instincts kicked in and produced an equation to make understanding fiction much easier for us Techies type.

Archetype = Stereotype - Exaggeration

An example of an archetype commonly found in fiction is the The Artist, someone who is cast as somewhat eccentric, angsty and wants to bring something from his internal world into an external representation like a book or a piece of sculpture. Some experts claim that there are about 45 standard archetypes in literature and fiction writing.

Archetypes makes characters more believable.

A stereotype is an archetype on steroids. Add exaggeration to an archetype and you will get a stereotype. The character loses his political correctness and becomes more unbelievable. imagine a story of multicultural Singapore where Chinese gamble, Indians drink and Malays take drugs, and you catch the drift.

The best value from the course comes from the idea that a character becomes much more interesting if you introduce contradictions into his character.

Instead of a starving artist, perhaps the Artist in the story is a vulgar drill sergeant who imposes a life of strict regimentation his recruits who actually secretly paints in his spare time. Once an author finds a way to twist a character, the character becomes much more memorable.

No comments: