Getting Down to the Truth
I always think of writing a MS as a journey. There’s the linear part of it, beginning to end. And then there’s the descent down into it, deep into the characters, and to the, for lack of a better word, truth of the MS.
Because there’s your surface set up. Your plot. Then there’s the outer shell of a character. I’ll use my coffee magnate as an example.
He doesn’t do relationships. Of course, that begs the question: Why doesn’t he do relationships?
His answer to you would probably be: Because it’s too complicated. I don’t like emotional entanglements.
But why, Mr. Coffee Magnate? (We might press)
He would probably glare at you, a but annoyed, some of his charming veneer slipping a bit. “Because I’ve had enough emotional drama for one lifetime.”
So, you don’t want the drama then, Mr. Coffee Magnate? Do I have that right?
He might shift uncomfortably in his seat at this point. “Sort of.”
Well, we ask him, what if you fell in love?
He would give us one of his infamous icy glares at this point. “I won’t.”
“Because I can’t let anyone mean everything to me.”
And there we have a real answer. And it’s one you really won’t get out of a character right at first, because a real person wouldn’t give it to you right at first. A person may not really know why they don’t want to fall in love, or they might, but they don’t carry that reason right at the surface.
So up front, in the beginning of my Coffee Magnate MS, you have this man who seems sort of charming and unshakable, capable of warmth and friendliness, but without a lot of deep emotion behind it. But down beneath that is his protection, the real hard, armored cover he keeps locked tight over his heart. And the reasons for that protection.
When you uncover it all, he’s a man who’s afraid, because he’s been hurt so badly. That’s the core truth of his conflict, and essentially, of his character. That’s what he has to heal from, that’s what he has to overcome. Not ‘I don’t want a relationship because it’s too complicated’. But the deep, underlying cause of that statement.
As I said at the beginning of the post, this isn’t something you’ll have laid out in the first few pages or even the first few chapter, not necessarily. Because it’s going to take some digging to get the heroine to see it, it’ll take digging to get the hero to see it.
But don’t forget to do the digging into the character. I think that’s what makes a character three dimensional rather than flat and cliche. It gives weight to the decisions the characters have made, it makes it cost them to find their HEA. And that makes for a more rewarding read!
I’m getting close to typing The End on the Coffee Magnate and this song by Adele has been fueling the angst. Please do enjoy!