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Monday, October 18, 2010

Creating your Adams and Eves: Our Big 3

Writing a novel gives you the chance to create your own little world, fashion your own people to inhabit it, weave events to move your plotline forward, and set up obstacles to challenge your people.
Heady stuff, but where to begin?

You could do worse than browse through a book with a title you will never forget once your read it, and take some hints from the author on what exactly a viewer of a movie (or reader of a novel) wants from the characters you are going to create for your little world.
Blake Snyder, who made millions in Hollywood selling screenplays, wrote a book every writer should read. He modestly named it Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need. It's well worth dipping into Save the Cat every now and then for inspiration. We'll deal with some of his other good ideas in later posts.
Blake had some advice for writers on the types of heroes who populate movies. He presents several archetypes, that he calls Snyderian archetypes, and dares you to put the hero of any movie you can think of into one of these categories.

Here are a few of his archetypes: the young man on the rise, the good girl tempted, the clever and resourceful child, the sex goddess, the hunk, the wounded soldier going back for a last redemptive mission, the troubled sexpot, the court jester, the wise grandfather, talking animals, sidekicks and misers.
According to Blake:
"Each one of these archetypes has a story arc we want to see played out again and again. And it's all about matching what we carry in the back of our minds to what
we see onscreen. Who deserves to win and why? Who deserves comeuppance and why? ... It's how the "who" and the "what is it?" come together in an intriguing combination that makes us want to see this story unfold."
When we decided to take a stab at writing a thriller, we worked out a plotline and then had to decide what characters to create so that we could move the story along the plotline.

It took us a little while to populate our little garden of Eden with our three main characters.
Blake Snyders - Save the Cat! author
We had the hero, Nick Kangles, a very wealthy man who decides to do something worthwhile with his millions by tackling one of the major problems facing the world – global warming. A man with a mission, and the character and means to achieve it.
We needed someone to drive the story of the ancient Egyptian obelisks forward, and invented Jay Todesco (nicknamed Gliffy) for this purpose: a scholarly type, energetic, curious, an enthusiastic Egyptologist with a wealth of knowledge about Egypt's history, monuments and men and women of bygone ages.
And we needed someone to fashion the bioengineering aspect around. We chose Kate Stanton for this purpose – an intelligent scientist with the determination to solve problems posed by bacteria and the right mix of inspiration and knowledge to find the solutions she needs.
Oh, and we needed a romantic angle – so Kate had to be beautiful (click here for some idea of who she looks like), and magic had to happen between her and Nick. 
And we had our three major players.
Click  here to read  more about our characters in Obelisk Seven.
Tardigrade or Water Bear

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