I may have gone a bit C Crazy but once I started, I just couldn’t stop.
As we all know the very best stories spring from the motivations, needs, strengths and weaknesses of the Central Character. The most important part of the word Character is the ACT in the middle. Action reveals the truth of who this person is. Not what they look like, though this gives us clues. Not what they say, though this can be great and very useful if juxtaposed with what they do.
The Character must ACT, not react. They must Choose an action at some point, and they must Change or refuse to Change. This is what makes a protagonist the main character really.
So, the C WORD METHOD.
A Character needs to have a CURSE, a CAUSE, CRAVING or a CALLING. They can have all four if you like but they must have at least one. This Curse, Cause, Craving or Calling – which in not C word terms would be your story goal or the character’s “desire” – usually springs from a CRISIS in their past. A wound or scar in their backstory that has shaped who they have become.
For example, Madonna the pop star may have been a neglected middle child, always searching for her father’s approval so she CRAVED attention and sought it from the applause of strangers.
Harry Potter has a CURSE – the lightning bolt on his forehead is proof of this imbuing him with a piece of Voldemort. He also has a CAUSE – to save the world from the curse of Voldemort’s darkness and a CALLING – to lead the forces of good and defeat Voldemort.
A story I recently wrote set during the reforming of the Catholic church through Vatican 11 in the 1960s was about a nun who CRAVED divine connection, was CURSED by her childhood in an orphanage and had once felt a CALLING but now found it lacking.
Figuring out your character’s C words will help form the plot of your story. Whether it’s flash fiction or a full-length novel.
The C WORD METHOD continues as follows:
Start with your CHARACTER with a Cause, Curse, Calling or Craving
Then throw them a CALL TO ACTION – otherwise known as the inciting incident (also nice use of Cs) or CRISIS that spurs them to pursue their C word.
Then all you have to do is pile up COMPLICATIONS, CONFLICTS OR CHALLENGES into a CRESCENDO until you reach the
CLIMAX and then show us the CHANGE in the CHARACTER in the
A cacophony of crazy Cs to create a cool, character-driven, competition-catapulting (fingers crossed) story!