Wednesday, January 1, 2014

THE WINTER OF MY CONTENT

As 2014 begins, I find myself in that wonderful place where anticipation and hope hold hands. I will soon be doing the final edits on THE LIFE WE BURY, and the countdown to my first book launch in November ticks away. I attended a writers conference in November taught by Christopher Vogler, James Scott Bell and Donald Maass.  I came away with a deeper understanding of some important aspects of writing, many of which I had been doing intuitively but didn't fully appreciate. If you are a writer and have an opportunity to catch this program, I recommend it.

As I sat in that conference room, contemplating character and Joseph Campbell's seminal work THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES, a thought struck me. I realized that the characters and themes that Campbell (and later Vogler) wrote about are concepts that can transfer from one character to another. For example, a novel needs a protagonist--a hero that the reader can cheer--but that hero is a concept that can jump from one character to another. Similarly, a villain can change stripes so long as the reader has a new person to fear or despise. 

For example, in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, Hannibal Lecter is a truly fearsome villain in the beginning.  However, as the story progresses the reader warms up to Lecter because he treats Clarice Starling with more respect that her peers do. As the reader begins to like Lecter, the specter of Buffalo Bill rises to take over as the one to be feared. The antagonist is not bound to a particular character, rather, the concept of the antagonist can move from one character to another, so long as the concept exists in the story. 

This idea intrigues me. I have put this notion to a test in my next novel, which I just sent out to my beta readers. So far, the reviews are coming back great. I am looking forward to getting feedback from my agent and editor.

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