Sunday, September 21, 2014

A few thoughts on "Why"

In my novels, I write about bad people who believe things strongly -- so strongly they're willing to do everything and anything to accomplish their plan. I also write about the usually average people who have to push their own limits to stop them. Great fun.

But whenever I sit down to pull together a new villain, I have to work and work to get back to one idea. The why. Until I understand why a particular character is doing something, I usually have a hard time coming up with the specific things he or she might do.

Trust me, I write pages of outline, discard the pages, keep digging, keep trying to understand until I finally get deep enough inside the character that I understand 'why.'

With 'why,' a key unlocks all the troubles I might be having. A 'why' says what a character might plan, how a character would react to adversity and outright failure. A 'why' is the soul of a character.

Also much more, like in real life. Here's an interesting YouTube/TED video on the subject. Good stuff:

Lately, I've been on something of a reading binge. I find myself putting down books and wondering about the 'why' more often than not. The book might have been exciting (or, sometimes, dull), but usually the 'why' is still a mystery on the last page.

I think that's almost a failure if a careful reader can't get the why. It reminds me, in my writing, to work harder.

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