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