the character lie fights
Adventures in NaNoWriMo

Character Lie NaNoWriMo Day 12

The character lie fights back

You’ve just challenged your character lie, now you need to determine how the lie fights back. Your character’s response depends on the plot structure/hero type. The number of possibilities varies by opinion, but I’ll cover the three most common.

The reluctant hero

Portraying the character lie-www.themanuscriptshredder.comThe reluctant hero takes many forms, but the unifying feature is the need to be forced into action. As a result, his first instinct is to retreat. He didn’t want to be there anyway, so at the first sign of trouble, he gives up. This does not mean your hero is weak. Katniss qualifies as a reluctant hero. When she finds Peeta in the river mud, she retreats into the cave. For a while, this allows a break in the action and a chance for Peeta and Katniss to develop their relationship. But the games cannot be ignored, and eventually, Katniss is forced back into action.

The One or Hero’s Journey

In the classic hero’s journey, the first plot point is the moment when the character first learns that he cannot ignore the quest the Fates have chosen for him. Luke returns to find the Empire has destroyed his farm and murdered his aunt and uncle. In the hero’s journey, the hero will respond to the first plot pinch by turning to the mentor for help. Luke turns to Obi-Wan. As the hero begins his training, he will become reliant on the mentor further strengthening the false belief that he is not good enough.

The stubborn heroCharacter lie

The stubborn hero will either misinterpret new info or disregard it. Why? Stubborn heroes have reached their lies through life experience. Revenge is a common example. Heroes with revenge goals are not ready to give up their anger. Just having someone tell them revenge won’t make them happy is not going to have much effect.

Another good example of the stubborn hero is Joy from Inside Out. (I know I’m obsessed with this movie, but the examples are so clear.)

Joy’s lie is based on her personal experience. Consider, when a young child is upset, usually making her laugh is enough to distract her from whatever her disappointment was. This experience has taught Joy that happiness can solve any of Riley’s problems. Now that Riley is growing up, she’s becoming more emotionally complex. Joy’s solution no longer works.

Stubborn heroes aren’t stupid.

When you give your character his lie, make sure it is a logical conclusion to his backstory. Even if it isn’t the choice you would make, make sure the reader can follow the process the character used to reach his conclusion. The lie must be the result of a logical progression.

Your characters false assumptions are still ruling their actions.

Make sure you keep your character’s faults alive and well. One challenge isn’t enough to erase a lifetime of experience. The journey has only just begun.

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M.L. Keller is a freelance writer and editor. Her blog "The Manuscript Shredder" is focused on helping emerging writers hone their craft.

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