I want every book I write to be like a Disney movie. I know that sounds crazy. Trust me for a minute.
What does every Disney movie start with? A character with a huge problem. If my main character has a huge problem, then already I have created depth and hopefully a connection with the reader. If you were writing the story of Paris Hilton’s life it could go two ways.
Paris Hilton is a beautiful heiress who jet sets around the world going to cool parties and hanging out with even cooler people. She once dated Greek royalty, and had her own reality TV show with her best friend who is also considered music royalty.
That’s a pretty boring story, right? What if you changed it up a little bit?
Paris Hilton is an heiress who is constantly in trouble. Most memorably was the incident of her night vision sex tape that was leaked by the man she was engaged with at the time. Paris is known for dressing dogs in ridiculously expensive clothing and was denied adoption for a chihuahua at one point by a reputable breeder.
That is infinitely more interesting.
I know everyone (myself included) is always thinking plot. However, when you start plotting if you think about your characters too and their problems and what they will have to go through to solve them then I think a big part of your main arc can be covered.
Sarwat Chadda once told me, give your character three traits at the beginning of the book, at the end of the book make sure those traits are different. I think that is one of the best pieces of advice I have heard about writing.
Whether you are a outliner or a pantser I think this method will work. We all think about our characters and what they will be like, but maybe instead of deciding if he is more of a BinBons or possibly an RPatz we should be thinking about what they feel, what are their morals? What is the one thing that is most important to them?
Find that one thing, and take it away. Your character will fight to get it back.
So, are you an outliner or a pantser?