Are You Holding The Map Upside Down?

One evening when I was a teenager, my friends and I were travelling to a party. Debbie was driving. After assuring everyone I was a great map reader, I was given the map and the responsibility of delivering our carload of people safely to the party. Map in hand, I confidently spouted out each new turn, and Debbie trustingly followed my instructions. With every turn completed and no houses in sight, it was quickly determined we were not where we were meant to be. Debbie pulled off the road and clicked on the overhead light. Another friend snatched the map from my hands and to my great embarrassment announced I’d been holding the map upside down.

This weekend, I realized I’ve been holding Barb’s (my third POV) roadmap upside down. Barb has a distinctive voice, but I’ve been so caught up wreaking havoc with her life and looking for cheap laughs at her expense, that I haven’t placed her motivation clearly in my mind. To my annoyance, a writing circle colleague has asked me over and over again—what does Barb want? The truth was I didn’t have a ready answer. I wasn’t confident I knew what she wanted.

People have told me they love Barb, but without a clearly defined theme, I’d begun to worry her character wasn’t strong enough to warrant her own POV.

That was three days ago. For all  her fans out there, I’m happy to report; Barb’s POV is safely off the chopping block. I know what this crazy, misfit character wants.

I’ve typed the answer at the top of my chapter and am now guiding Barb’s narrative and each of her choices with this motivation in mind.

Filmmaker, Andrew Stanton (attached video) says—“A major threshold is passed when you mature enough to acknowledge what drives you, and to take the wheel and steer it.”

Thanks to an upright map, I’ve outlined missing scenes that now give Barb the wheel and steer her through what drives her.

In short, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, if you can answer one very important question: What does your character want?

Here’s a video featuring Andrew Stanton where he divulges what he believes to be the key ingredients necessary for good story telling.

http://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_stanton_the_clues_to_a_great_story.html

1 Comment

Filed under Writer's blog, Writer's journey, Writing

One response to “Are You Holding The Map Upside Down?

  1. What a great analogy. I think I’ve also been holding the mad upsidedown for “The Divine Measure”.

    Glad to hear you’ve righted it and I can’t wait to read the new Barb.

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