I suppose that's what I believed when I began writing. The baddie should be uber bad. The hero should gleam like new snow.
With the years, comes experience and, if I must admit, boredom. I've read a whole lot of novels. Who wants to read another Darth Vadar v. Luke Skywalker type book? Wrong vs. Right? Black vs. White?
I've put a hold on writing, temporarily, to dig into story structure and character arcs using KM Weiland's book Structuring Your Novel. And what a book! I'm in awe at the depth and scope of each chapter.
Confirmed Panster that I am though, at first I rebelled.
You want me to do what, now? Outline my entire novel? Really?
But once I dug in, cued up my Kindle and went to work, I became intrigued. It's starting to make sense. I can see where I've messed up in draft number 4 of Fairless. Really. Draft number 4!
KM suggested the closer your antagonist's and protagonist's goal, the stronger the narration. If you give them similar traits or objectives, you show what the hero could become if they make the wrong choices. I'd been dutifully taking notes. Here is a quote:
"Share common personality traits. What????!!!!"
It took my soggy brain a moment to process what in the world this could possibly mean. In my wip Fairless, the baddie is the Shadow. The goodie is Tipper Jones. They hate each other! How in the world could I make them similar? And why would I even want to?
Then I started thinking. They really do want the same goal- survival for their planet, but both seek it through opposite ways. The Shadow believes keeping the Balance via keeping Traditions intact. Tipper questions the Balance, the Traditions and the manner in which she's controlled by these rigid standards. She believes change is necessary in order to improve the lives of everyone.
Turns out, Tipper's just as stuck in her beliefs as the Shadow. She's dogmatic in her own way too.
I dug deeper. The Shadow's invested in maintaining the status quo and will do anything to protect what she believes is right. Her life has been defined by this system- who will she become if it's destroyed? Perhaps its fear lying beneath that harsh exterior propelling to her to stop Tipper.
Tipper has been defined by the same system, but for her, the limitations are stifling, confining, oppressive. She doesn't find safety or security in the strict rules governing her society so she questions and, ultimately, sends her world into upheaval at great cost. Fear drives her, pressing her forward. Fear she'll never understand who she is within the confines of this rigid structure.
I'll push this as far as I can before I write a word of draft number 5. I still have a section on character arcs to study. Who knows, maybe when it's finished I'll have a publishable draft.
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