Relating Character to Story:

Here, at the Character Development Center, we recommend developing a story in this order:

  1. concept
  2. character
  3. story/plotting

If you're a brave soul with some experience, you may prefer "winging it" by letting your character create the story as you write. Whatever your style, you're going to need to look at how your character relates to the story. The basic question you have to answer is: "Why is this character exactly wrong for this concept?" Or, more accurately, "Why was this character once perfect and what happened to change that?"

Through the story, you define and reveal what happened to the hero to make him illfitted to be in the position to achieve the story goal. What trauma have they experienced or seen? What physical or mental weakness have they developed. Or what was it about their childhood or natural disposition that makes him the wrong person to be in this situation. Perhaps he is a former cop who is terrified of guns after his partner was shot. Now he's on a plane and finds himself the only one in a position to thwart a high-jacking attempt. He's clearly the wrong person to have in this situation.

As the story progresses, the issue is complicated and the character is forced to deal with the situation in order to complete his goal of saving the planeload of passengers. Eventually, he works it out, making him once again the right person to have in the story to complete the goal. Which, of course, he does just in the nick of time. Okay, so how do you pull this off?

  • Step one is to create a story concept.
  • Step two is to figure out what kind of character would be the worst person for the concept you have. What's wrong with them that makes them that way? What's your character's flaw?
  • Step three is to create specific story events that reveal this flaw, then challenges this flaw, then forces the character to resolve it.

Hopefully, this will help you get your character properly related to your story.