Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's in Your Wallet?

What’s in your wallet? If you’re a fiction writer, that’s what you need to ask your main character. Look! He just dropped it on the ground. Let’s go take a peek!

Of course, he has the usual driver’s license, insurance information and at least one credit card. Wait! What’s that? Interesting, it’s a Visa that expired three years ago. Let’s keep looking. Aw, there’s a nice picture of his family. It’s a bit faded, soft and worn around the edges. One corner’s actually stuck to the plastic holder. Must have been there awhile. Looks like something’s tucked in behind it. Weird! There’s a pink string off his wife’s favorite blouse and a crumpled gum wrapper with “I love you” written on it. I think we know enough. Let’s return the wallet to its owner now.

What you find in your main character’s wallet are the things that matter most to him. The things that matter most to him are the things that define his character. His character is what drives the story, what makes the reader care. In fiction, something happens to someone. If the reader doesn’t care about the someone, he won’t care about the something either, and he will close the book.

So what about the wallet’s contents? I think what’s in there explains the fight he has taken to City Hall. If he can illegalize dump trucks and get them off city roads, maybe, just maybe he can prevent the death of another innocent mother and her children. If only that one hadn’t barreled through the traffic light on Main Street three years ago…

What’s in your main character’s wallet is what makes your reader laugh—or cry—it’s what makes them feel the character’s angst. Help us get to know your characters as well as you know them. Take another look in that wallet!

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I'm so glad you stopped by!

This sums it up ;)

This sums it up ;)