About the Craft: Characters and plot are intertwined. I understood this intellectually, but I never really grasped the simplicity of this concept until this conference.
The opening speaker at the conference, the Rev. Rodger McDaniel, spoke about systems of care, and made a statement to the effect of “A judge lives in a world where he/she gives an order or direction and expects it to be followed. Our clients don’t live on that planet.” Light bulb moment. Conflict exists between the judge and the client, not because they are at enmity with each other, but for no other reason than they have differing world views. The planet our protagonists and antagonists live on is their worldview, their needs and desires - what makes them human and real. It’s their character. The conflict that arises because of their worldviews is plot.
The best thing about this understanding is it makes sub-plots (finally) understandable. Who we are spills out into a variety of areas of our lives. For example, if I had been abandoned as a child, I may have difficulty trusting others. This trust issue would present itself in my life in many different environments and situations. I might have difficulty with authority, I may have poor intimate relationships, the list can continue in myriad directions. Therefore, if I’m writing a romance about a woman with trust issues, the main plot would be her relationship with the male lead character, but I can throw in a sub-plot about her trust issues at work and the difficulty she has with a controlling boss. Still working on the main plot, but it is augmented and strengthened by the sub-plot.
That’s it for this week. Please come back next Saturday, when I explain the lessons I learned about writerly passion and myself.