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Character Driven Stories

In character-driven literature, stories focus not on events, but on individual personalities. Plot-driven literature typically utilizes easily identifiable archetypes rather than proper character development.

Keeping each voice consistent is imperative.


After you learn to profile your characters well, and you truly get to know them, you can tell their stories, or rather, let them tell you.  It's hard work being a good writer and bringing characters to life is the hardest part.  But without good characters the story is only mediocre.  Work hard on character development and the stories will almost take care of themselves.  As you get to know each character, story ideas will come and you'll have enough material to last a lifetime.  Using the same characters again and again will allow them to grow stronger and you won't have to begin at ground zero with a new character for each new story--just think about the possibilities for a series of short stories.  Experiment with using the same profiles and see how it goes.

Good quirks grow memorable characters

You can take it all the way through to those precious words: 'The End'--of a character driven short story that could only happen in your subconscious.   Write a few scenes with a couple of the characters you met in the other exercises,  giving each potential MC/antagonist a turn through his POV.   Tweak personality quirks if you haven't already.  Remember Kojak?  The bald detective with the tootsie-pop?  That lollipop reminded viewers of his soft, sweet side.  Hard on the outside, soft in the middle.  His empathy for the injured and mistreated was always evident, and he was tough.

Let these quirks come through in a few scenes until they are a natural part of the personality.  Remember the Village and work on each character profile.  Minor characters won't need as much deep profiling as major characters, but who says they will always remain minor?  At some point, in some story, the minor may be promoted to the Main Character.   I think it would be handy to have bevy of trained, ready-to-go characters to write stories around.  

Gluing it All Together. 

Now that you now know your characters inside-out, and you've played with backgrounds and interaction--it's time to write a story.  Choose a couple of your favorites and a great conflict and turn them loose on a free-written story.  You'll want to guide them a little to keep them on track.   Instead of a patched together plot with so-so characters, you'll have a character-driven story that only you could have written straight from your creative subconscious mind. 

And the best part?  It was fun!