True What?

Luke had the light side of the force in StarWars. In Miss Congeniality, Gracie had to embrace her inner, neglected prom queen.

Call it inner conflict resolution, call it true path, every character needs a road to travel from their page-1-self to their THE-END-self.

As a reader, the most compelling moments of a story for me are when a character finally understands their true path, places their feet firmly upon it, and sprints for the finish line.

As a writer, that path is the first thing I need to understand about a character, yet I’d faint dead if one of them ever presented themselves for duty with a clear path already in place. They never do. What’s especially ‘fun’ is when I get a story’s villain or core conflict first–as I so often do–and get to work backwards trying to conjure the right person with the right path to save the day. Not only is it extremely trying, but it often leads to inauthentic characters who will invariably wait until 3/4 of the first draft is written to say, “Hey lunkhead? I don’t know who you think that is on the page, but it’s certainly not me. If this were the real me, I’d be…”

Now toss a romance into the fray, and you’ve got not only one path to define, but two. And that’s just the protagonist’s side. Let’s not forget you also have the villain out there with their own true path. So that’s three paths that have to enable and impede one another. Did I mention there are secondary characters who each need their own dynamic paths too?

Still think writing romance is simple? *snort*

Anyway, this is not a whine. This intricate tangle of paths is the very reason I can’t leave stories alone, and today I’m locked in battle with three elusive paths that don’t yet know how dogged I can be.

So that’s my true path for today… make some sense of this knot new character’s have presented, with a side-trip to clean the bathroom.

What’s your path for Monday?

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