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Rated: 18+ · Folder · Fantasy · #2126918
Fanciful Novella about a Princess and Prince
I wrote the three vignettes about Pandora to show an example of the Three Part Character Development Model. This model uses three vignettes (sketches) to audition characters for a potential novel. When I started I had absolutely no idea, not the faintest whisper as to story line and plot. All I had was a name. I used to joke with my wife that if we had three daughters I'd name the Shirley, Goodness and Mercy.... it was only a joke Argh Argh Argh! but it showed a penchant for names of that sort.... like Prudence, Charity and Calamity... So I started with "Pandora" as that was the one that came to mind and I started writing. "Once Upon a Time there was a princess named Pandora."

I know this sounds simplistic, but this is all it takes. It works every time... Then you do the Who What When Where and How thing... I already named her, I titled her a "Princess" the timeframe was "Ancient Times, the place was The Magical Realm and I left the How she got to where she was as an assumption that she was the Daughter of Merlin and Millicent.

The auditioning process involved writing three vignettes as mentioned above. In the first I provided a Before Snapshot... This is an old device or writing trick that shows the Central Character (CC) paddling around in their story world in Chapter 1 of a Novel. This is a readers initial impression of the CC and is very important because as they progress through the novel it will be used as a gauge to determine character growth. It shows the reader two things: The physicality of the CC and the inner qualities and beliefs. Yes, its important to the reader what the hero or heroin looks like on the outside but they are much more interested in what lies beneath the surface. A writer needs to ask themselves, what is it about this character that stands out that makes them unique? I call this their enigmatic qualities.

Physically it might be a large nose, big feet, a weak jaw, whatever. Look closely and take note. It is the enigma of a person that draws the reader's attention. For example Cyrano de Bergerac with the physicality of his nose or the Girl in the Dragon Tattoo, scrawny and unattractive. Then there is the enigmatic qualities of the inner character and these are telling indeed. In Cyrano's case it was his attraction to the sublime... seeing in himself a moral superiority derived from his penchant for sword fighting and absolute adherence to the Code of Chivalry. I often say that an enigmatic character is worth a thousand stereotypical ones. It isn't the superficial stereotype that hooks readers, but all the stuff inside that makes a character really who they are. What is interesting is that everybody is enigmatic to one degree or the other. Another way of look at it is their "Weirdness." Everybody has a bit of this weirdness and when a writer sees it, they need to begin tugging at the thread, pulling it out of the weft and seeing what it attaches to underneath. This is the grist of a great character and the more you tug the more great material emerges. Character is everything and all that follows in a novel derives from it.

As I developed her Character I told a bit of what Pandora looked like but concentrated more on the enigmatic stuff. As a princess there wasn't much I could do regarding her wants and needs. She had anything she wanted and needed. However, her desires were a fertile ground. Anybody who has ever attended a church service and listened to a sermon knows about the inner conflict between good and evil. I planted the seeds for this struggle in Pandora's character. She is a powerhouse of the metaphors, darkness and light. The reader is shown that beneath the surface is some really dark stuff swirling around that will take great strength of character to control.

So a writer begins with this Before Snapshot. It shows the CC interacting with the Story World. In this process the author is looking for what makes the CC "Tick." These are referred to in the vernacular as Wants, Needs and Desires (WNDs). This is what gets the CC up in the morning. It is their motive force that propels them through the novel.

If "Desire" is to be a motive force in Pandora's life that it was necessary to show the sexual aspect but with a deft touch, suited to a13-plus classification. Since this energy can really amp a novel a writer must not shirk from its use, even if the genre and audience seem to constrain it. Subtext using just enough gloved exposition to convey the essential images should be used and no more. Let the reader fill in the graphic details using their lurid imaginations.

What I generally do is write a scene with a graphic level of detail that borders on pornography. Then I add in the glandular and emotional grease that sedates the flesh slapping into a dreamlike euphoria. This makes it vivid in the one sense but doped down in another. Like the real experience. Then I dull it down editing out about ninety-five percent of what I started with. Believe it or not the energy oft' remains even though the words have submerged into a sea of metaphor, and clinical sterility.

Now this gave me a sketch foer each of the first three chapters of a novel. No it is to the whole chapter but only the briefest glimpse into what it might contain. Still it is enough to provide the boiler plate of what the first three chapters should contain. In vignette 1 These are The Before Snapshot, the story world and the CC's Wants/Needs/Desires. In vignette 2 the CC leaves a relatively placid setting and gets carried into vortex of rapidly changing events. In vignette 3 the CC is swept over the edge into a new vista by a Life Changing Event (LCE). The LCE is often an event of dramatic importance but it can be something that appears at first rather ordinary. The operative word is changing. It changes the direction of the CC's life and puts them on an entirely new course with destiny.

Portfolio -> Pandora
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