Season 2, Episode 18: Convenient for Your Plot

In this episode:

Content warning – mentions of terminal illness, suicide

Note: Mel’s computer bit the dust this week after seven years – luckily, she had her book backed up. Back up your stuff!  Always always always. Backing your book up in more than once place is always a good idea.

On this episode of Mom Writes, we review Mel’s chapter 7. She originally thought there wasn’t a lot to change in revision – Kemlo had other ideas.

Mel did extra credit work this week and turned in character sketches – what makes her characters tick? Who are they? What’s they’re history and why are they doing what they’re doing? Originally, Mel had a character that was a “throwaway” guy that turned into an important character later in the book, but she never did the homework on him. In order to keep him from turning into a plot device she needs to figure out what his internal logic is and insert more of him into the story.

I feel like I piecemealed his story together as I was writing…
— Melanie Parish

(Yeah, listeners – don’t do that.)

Kemlo tells Mel that these two characters of hers (siblings) relying on each other each need to have their own “a-ha” moment, where they realize they need to live for themselves. This sort of moment of transition is really important to see – a concrete change in their relationship and with themselves is the kind of satisfying character development we can offer readers. Mel and Kemlo review many other ways to sprinkle additional character details, motivations, and specifics throughout this chapter and others.

Next time, Kemlo asks Mel to continue sketching out her characters, dig a little bit more on the ones with thin biographies.

You don’t want character motivations to change because it’s convenient for your plot. You want to trace the arc of their growth and change – how did those events affect their worldview and motivations? Did they end up seeing things in a slightly different way?
— Kemlo Aki


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