Monday, January 31, 2011

Main Character’s Self-Revelation

I’ve just started writing a new novel, and I’ve been reading John Truby’s The Anatomy of a story. He says that at the end of a story the main character needs to have a self-revelation. And I should to start backwards from the self-revelation and decide what my character’s weakness and need are. Truby feels that the protagonist ought to have a psychological weakness and a moral weakness.
The psychological weakness just affects the hero, but the moral weakness affects others. In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennett is ‘proud’ of her intelligence (psychological weakness) and quick to judge others (moral weakness). Her opponent, Mr. Darcy, has his own pride, and because of his wealth and the social strata of society is also prejudiced.
As they interact through the story, first they become aware of each other’s flaws and then each becomes aware of their own flaws. Their self-revelation brings them together in the end, and each has experienced an “Ah-ha” moment. (I have also been noticing that there is an “Ah-ha” moment in picture books. There’s so much I don’t know.)
I think I have a handle on this concept, but I’m not sure. I’d like your input as to other examples. Think of other stories that we all know. What is the main character’s psychological weakness? How is that different from his moral weakness? What about the opponent? Does he or she also have a psychological and moral weakness? Truby says that a strong opponent gives you a better story.
I also struggle with showing, rather than telling the reader about my characters. Ahhhh, what fun! Don’t you love it? I do.
Happy writing! Christy


Shari said...

I like that they need two different weaknesses. I hadn't thought about that before. That is definitely something to ponder. Thanks for the post.

Christy Monson said...

Thanks for your comment Shari. I still don't know if I have my head wrapped around this concept. I have to think up a couple of examples before I know I've got it.

surfwriter said...

Christy. Interesting concept. It brought to mind the last book I read: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society and I think I can apply the phychological weakness to Juliet (the protagonist) in her lack of belief in her attractiveness to a man she likes (and contrarily he thinks the same way about her, creating the ah-ha moment when they both realize they're wrong), but I'm not seeing a moral weakness in her unless it's her strong sense of self. I'll also have to think on this. I'm interested in your new novel!

Christy Monson said...

It's fun for me to try to analyze the books I've read. Sometimes this doesn't fit. But if Jane Austin can do it, I can give it a shot.

Mpfredrick said...

I believe I have a good grasp on this because before I read this entry in his book I scoured the internet and found

Here it states the moral weakness, psychological need and the desire in a simpler form.

A set of goals


by Jeffrey Schechter

I urge you to delve into the site and maybe even take a look at the software. It really helps force you to think. Its not magic though, i still hit rough spots.