I couldn’t let February pass by without focusing on the theme of love. But I’m not only talking about the romantic kind.
I read somewhere that the word love and the concept itself is both overused and undervalued, and I totally agree. And it’s the undervalued part that I want to talk about, as I think this is especially true when it comes to both character and story development.
Through both character development and storyline, you have the opportunity to show your readers all kinds of love, so don’t let such a great opportunity pass you by.
And when developing that story, or more to the point, your plot and conflict, always keep in mind that everything must be plausible and have a logical reason behind it for both the character and the story itself.
Now, there are the four types of love found in Scripture and seven as described by Ancient Greeks. But let’s skip over the obvious such as romantic love or the love for family and friends, and get creative.
When you’re developing those characters and asking yourself, “What makes this character different from the others?” be sure to ask the character what they are passionate about.
Is it money, possessions, or power, perhaps? Maybe they’re passionate about animal rescue or collecting something unique or quirky. Maybe it’s flying, traveling, or something as every day as gardening. Then again, it might be that your character is a workaholic who has yet to discover what they are truly passionate about, and that’s where your plot comes in.
Just imagine how much further your storyline can go when you dig deep into your character’s loves.
Also, ask yourself, is that love an obsessive one? And does that obsession cause conflict or twists and unexpected turns in your storyline? Just imagine what a little jealousy, envy, or competitiveness might do for your plot. Or how that passion itself might cause all other kinds of problems for this character.
As Dr. Seuss once said, “Oh, the places we can go!”
Just imagine a character’s love for travel taking them to some out of the way place where they end up either getting kidnapped or ensnarled in some criminal activity. Or perhaps their love of food unexpectedly lands them a job as a food critic, which leads to them finding the romantic love of their life.
Maybe your character is so obsessed with healthy eating and exercise that they overlook that something obvious and end up being diagnosed too late to save themselves. Or perhaps that obsession causes them to be over-judgmental about others who are not quite so passionate about the same thing.
So, if you’re planning for your character to end up the victim of a hostage situation while touring the Vatican in Rome, be sure to give that character not just a reason to be there but an interesting one.
Nothing should simply be by chance or coincidence. While crafting your story, always keep two questions in your mind: What’s the cause, and what’s the effect?
Everything happens for a reason, or it should, even in a fiction novel. And as the author, you alone have the responsibility to make absolutely certain there’s a reason behind everything and that every cause and effect leads to the next. At the same time, as I mentioned above, everything should make sense and be in keeping with the character. And what better way to do that than to expand on your character’s development?
So, again, when developing those characters, don’t only ask what their goals are, but what are they passionate about? And not just who do they love but what?