What Would Caro Do?

Today, I will get closer to Caro, the hero of my YA WIP.

Well, that’s the plan.

I’m still plotting into the middle. I’d say “through” the middle, but not yet feeling that optimistic. And I’m realizing that part of the problem I’m having with the current mish-mash of scenes is that I haven’t honed in enough on my hero’s active goal. I know her emotional goals, but those don’t really drive her choices and actions–not with her knowledge, anyway. When I was plotting my mystery, I could always ask, “What would my hero do to…solve the mystery?” (And then, of course, I’d ask, what someone else could do to PREVENT his solving it!). That MC had a very concrete, active goal to work toward.

I am not going to sit and stare at my computer or out the window until I come up with the equivalent, active goal for Caro. Because, yes, I could do that until the cows came home and, frankly, had a good laugh at my expense. Instead, I’m going to take it scene by scene for a while. And I’ll look at these elements:

  • What did Caro do in the previous scene or few scenes?
  • What were the consequences of those recent actions?
  • How does she feel about what she did and about what happened?
  • Who did she set up a conflict with?
  • What other character has a strong goal at this time?
  • What story element have I not dealt with in, perhaps, too long?

And out of that, I’m going to give myself a kinder, gentler question to answer.  That question will be, “What would Caro do to…solve some problem.”

This problem may not be the one she actually needs to work on at the time. It may turn out to be a problem that, in the end, I (and Caro) decide to throw away completely. It almost certainly won’t, yet, be the problem that is her equivalent of solving a mystery.  Hopefully, though, it’ll be a problem that lets Caro and I move her plot forward and grow a deeper understanding of what it is she truly wants.

What does YOUR hero want? And what step could she (possibly!) take today to achieve that goal?

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10 thoughts on “What Would Caro Do?

  1. After over a year focused on revision, I started writing a new middle grade novel (about a month ago). After about a week of flow, I got stuck at the beginning of chapter 4. I had no idea what obstacles to throw in my main character’s path, partly because I wasn’t sure what path Freddy was on. Now I have set that book aside and am writing a short story using similar characters and setting. I plan to write a few magazine-size pieces before I go back to the novel. I’m trying to ease my brain back into the habit of dreaming up plots and executing them quickly. I’m also hoping working my way through small-scale events, obstacles, motivations, etc will help me find Freddy’s goals. And perhaps some of the short story material can be carried over into the novel directly, giving me the elusive middle matter I so desperately need.

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    • beckylevine says:

      I bet it at least helps you figure out more about who Freddy is and what he WOULD want. I admire you for playing with short stories–that’s always been the hardest genre for me.

      The middle is so icky, but as I plot & see possibilities and layers, it does make me start to feel like I’ll be able to write the story.

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  2. Jenn Hubbard says:

    It helps me to think about what the character lacks. That tells me a lot about what he wants, even if he doesn’t know it himself.

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    • beckylevine says:

      Yes, Jenn, that’s helping me on what she’s trying to find in the big scheme of things. And I think I’m narrowing in on what she wants more specifically, too. Sometimes, it just has to go slow. 🙂

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  3. Great question, Becky, and so much more complex that I ever used to know. I wrote teh first draft of my WIP thinking I knew what my character wanted, but I didn’t really know until after I finished the whole draft. I’ve finished draft two but still have a ways to go on this. It is a developing thing.

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