Character Comes First

I pride myself on being a writer of character-driven work.
Not sure why, but lately I’m putting plot ahead of character. Not so much in my thinking, but in what gets on the printed page. I have pages of notes, MacJournal scribblings, and Scrivener scrivenings of various lines of dialogue, character monologues and other things that I need to do for me when working on stories, but they’re not making it into the pitches. At an increasingly alarming rate, I’m putting too much emphasis on plot.
Character has to come first. The second you find yourself asking what needs to happen next instead of what a particular character (with a goal or dramatic need) would do in a given situation, you’re going to run into problems. And, of course, action is character. What your character does defines who they are. Not how cool they talk, what they wear, etc. That’s just posturing. Put a character in a situation and let them deal with it. The rest of it… trappings.
Been busting my ass on a pitch today. It was supposed to be the thinking day where I made notes and then tomorrow I did all the writing, but I haven’t been able to get the right thoughts into my head. I’ve considered at least eight different angles for this story, and I’m still not settled (and I have a framework the publisher digs, so go figure).
I keep starting with character and motivations, then forgetting it and following a plot. It’s fine at this stage, but not fine for solid writing. Character first, if you’re doing a character-driven story. And with a few exceptions, they’re generally the best kind. I mean, where would Fast and Furious be without Paul Walker’s character?
A lot of good advice from a lot of smart people on twitter of late in terms of breaking into comics, writing, and the like. There’s plenty of bad advice, but some good stuff as well. I’ll re-post some I found particularly choice later in the week. For now, here’s what I threw out there tonight:

If you have an idea, run with it. Push until you can’t before you start editing or worrying if it’s good. Writing = RE-writing.


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