Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I have not returned to blogging ...

But here are the notes from the latest conference I attended. I'll try to get them all up over the next day or so. Here we go:

CHARACTER AND THE 7 DEADLY SINS by Rosanne Parry (author of Second Fiddle)

Characters usually have quirks, rather than flaws that can lead to obstacles. The choices they make need to always make things worse.

Decide which sin is most perfect for each of your characters.

1) Pride – a preoccupation with the self; rudeness, racism, competitiveness, hunt for immortality. A good example is Voldemort.

2) Envy – a desire for what belongs to others; self-loathing and self harm; often the root of sibling rivalry

3) Anger/wrath – uncontrolled feelings of hatred; violence; paranoia; distrustful. Anger is rooted in fear. She calls it the superhero sin.

4) Laziness/sloth – failure to engage in productive work; cheating; procrastination; unwillingness to take risks. Good example is the Three Little Pigs.

5) Greed – seeking more than your share; cheating, callousness; competitiveness; attention-seeking. Good example is Unwind by Neal Shusterman and a lot of other dystopian.

6) Gluttony – excessive consumption of any kind *is the behavioural route of addiction. Spending; thrill-seeking. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory every kid has a gluttony problem in one way or another.

7) Lust – excessive interest in physical pleasure. Example – Twilight

A sin is:

~ a habit of thought or action which is harmful to the person who chooses it.

~ the attitude that underlies a hurtful choice

~ the engine of character growth

~ the 7 motivations for conflict in a story

~ reasonably universal across all cultures.

Nobody commits every single one. People specialize and struggle with one or two over their lifetime. The best way to get in the head of a character is to share a sin with them.

What sins don’t tempt you at all? It’s easy to scorn a person whose sin doesn’t tempt you. Understanding that can help you get to know your character.

Which sin is your character most likely to struggle with?

Now how can that sin be amplified?

List some characteristics that might enhance the power of your character’s sin. What can make it worse?

Using sin to advance the plot:

Explore the tension between the negative and positive of sin

Pride … confidence
Envy … emulation
Anger … righteous indignation
Sloth … recreation
Greed … industriousness
Gluttony …. celebration
Lust … generosity

Increases the tension or peril when pitted against each other. Perfect example is Edward vs Jacob.

*When your character is under stress, heading to the climax, their sin becomes magnified. It adds drama to the climax.

The 7 Heavenly Virtues:

Faith – openness

Hope – optimism

Love – gentleness

Prudence – choosing wisely

Justice – choosing fairly

Temperance – choosing moderately

Fortitude – choosing steadfastly

An example of a character with a sin, but then choosing a virtue is Harry Potter. He has every reason to hate but time and time again he chooses love.


What trait does my character have?

What plot complications does my character’s fundamental virtue or vice suggest?

At the pivotal moments of your story, will your characters choose to act according to their fundamental sin or their fundamental virtue? That’s what gives a story emotional power.

Does your character need someone (a sidekick) who leaves him with someone to buffer all his sins


Stina Lindenblatt said...

These are awesome notes, Linda. Thanks. :D

Angela Ackerman said...

Wow these are great! Thanks so much Linda!!