19 August 2013

Use Setting to Deepen Readers' Appreciation Of Your Protagonist's Character Emotional Development

A story is about a character transformed over time by the dramatic action.

To make this character transformation more dramatic, great writers convey who the character is within the safety of a world that is familiar to her before thrusting her into a new world. The ordinary world gives the reader insight into the values, background, and habits of the protagonist (or lack thereof).

Usually the protagonist has a life before the story begins, although some stories such as Ursula Hegi’s Stones of the River begin on or nearly at the protagonist’s birth. The reader, in the first part of the story, gains a sense of the main character’s framework of relationships and the degree to which she’s governed by them. This gives the reader a starting point from which to evaluate the emotional change in the protagonist as she is forced to break away and rely on herself in the middle of the story.

In her usual life, customs, dogma, rules, and regulations come from outside the protagonist. They often form a kind of inner protection for her.

In the middle of the story when this protection is stripped away, she becomes vulnerable.

If we grasp the comfortable, safe, and well-fed environment the protagonist has always known, it’s easier for us to sympathize when she wonders why she left it in pursuit of a solitary, difficult, and dangerous new world.

Cut out a magazine picture that represents the setting of the protagonist’s ordinary world (her house, community, country, planet, depending on the needs of your particular story). If you can’t find something suitable, draw one or use a photo of a place you know that embodies the qualities you envision for your protagonist’s home, neighborhood, community, and so on. Affix this visual representation of your main character’s usual world above the beginning section of your plot planner to stimulate ideas.
(Excerpt from The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master.)


1) Track Your Plot at the Scene Level Webinar
Learn to Maximize the 7 essential plot elements in every scene (one of 7 essential plot elements in every scene is CONFLICT) from the comfort of your own home.

Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot reinforces daily writing practice and allows for more productivity in your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts inThe Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today, I write.

To familiarize yourself with the basic plot terms used here and in the PW Book of Prompts:
1) Watch the plot playlists on the Plot Whisperer Youtube channel.
2) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3) Fill out the exercises in The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
4) Visit:
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
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