Sunday, August 8, 2010

Passionate Characters

“Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping... waiting... and though unwanted... unbidden... it will stir... open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us... guides us... passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love... the clarity of hatred... and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we'd know some kind of peace... but we would be hollow... Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we'd be truly dead.”

I'm starting today by quoting Joss Whedon because in the words' of Captain Malcolm Reynolds, "He's my hero." (Okay, so that is two quotes.) All kidding aside this quote speaks about us all. From the aspiring novelist, the short story expert, to the NY Times Bestseller each of us have a fire in our bellies that keep our butt in a chair and write. It doesn't matter if we write to make money or for our mothers we WANT to do this.

In school we learn the difference between wants versus needs. We need food. We want that big house on a hill with a pool. Writing for me is a need. When their is a lag or I procrastinate, I get cranky. An uneasiness creeps in. A hunger builds inside until I cannot contain my self-control any longer. I grab the nearest writing utensil, a piece of paper (or my hand if a scrap is not available) and I write something, anything.

Passion not only drives us, but consumes our characters as well. These compulsions stretch further than romance. It compells a gumshoe to sniff out a murderer. For the starship captain it pushes him/her to put their crew's lives in danger to discover the wonders of the universe. Don't even get me going on Captain Ahab.

As an author I need to write. As a reader I want to embrace the character's soul. Let their passion not only fuel their quest but push the protagonist to experience all the ups and downs we put them through. Our job is to combine our need with the reader's want. Find the place where the character's passion, expressed through great deeds and even larger mishaps, and your own vigour, which comes out in carfeully chosen proses. If done properly the two will meld with seemingly effortless ease, and every reaches 'The End' satisfied.

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