The more I read about story theory, the less competent I feel I become. Decades ago, I was confident I could tell a story; today, I’m not so sure. Still, the trying of it keeps me off the streets and out of most trouble, so I don’t think I’ll chase off after Chicken #42,567,890.
I’m in the middle of creating new characters for an older story line because the characters I created years ago did not fit parts of the story theory I’m now learning, and I still want to write about the main character. The difficulties I had putting stories together for this group may have been because the characters were not as well-constructed as I’d hoped. Luckily for me, not all of the characters were fatally flawed so I’m not in need of an entire cast. The setting also stayed the same, so I don’t have to reinvent it as well.
To add to my slowness today in getting down to work making these new characters, I saw a reference to “character flowcharts” in an interview of Meg Waite Clayton, an online SheWrites colleague. Using flowcharts seems like a natural addition to my notebook-upon-notebook style of composition, but I think flowcharts are more formal than the bubble maps I already use. I’m not flowchart-trained so the research-junkie part of me went looking for more information. My first search didn’t produce any links to a useful flowchart/storyline explanation, although I’m not done looking, but I did find a chart of stereotyped female characters. Humor distracts me every time, and this example at least has one useful path to follow for any of the important women in the stories, and many more to avoid:
Can she carry her own story? Yes –> Is she three dimensional? Yes –> Does she represent an idea? No –> Does she have any flaws? Yes –> Is she killed before the third act? No –> Congratulations! Strong female character
The up-side of of my chicken-chasing today is that the distractions gave me this blog post. I can check that job off this week’s to do list for writing and get back to inventing people, their world, and the stories about the trouble they get into.