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Who's the king of the castle? Editor's Notes #123
May 31, 2012

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.
Only through experience of trial and suffering
can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired,
and success achieved.

--Helen Keller

In this issue:

1. Who is the king of the castle?
2. Tickled my funnybone
3. Interesting Web site

1. Who is the king of the castle?
Readers rely on unwritten rules when they read. One set of these rules has to do with how the reader knows who the main characters are. There are four main ways.
  1. POV: Often the POV (point of view) character is the main character. The POV character is the one whose eyes the reader sees through. In many cases, there is only one POV character. If the story is told using a third person omniscient narrator, POV is not the strongest clue, and the writer must rely on other clues.
  2. Place: Main characters show up at the beginning and* the end. They might be dead in the end, but they are acknowledged. Of course readers do not know at the beginning which characters will appear at the end until they get to the end, but they will certainly feel off kilter if they arrive at the end only to discover that the character they thought were following was just a minor character. Be sure to introduce your main character early enough in the story to send the right signal.
  3. Proportion: By proportion I mean how much space the character takes up in the story. The more real estate a character has, the more likely that character is to be a main character. Some supporting characters can take over more space than is rightfully theirs. When you rework your text, downsize characters who live beyond their proper station.
  4. Profundity: Here I am talking about how deeply the writer reveals the character. The reader needs to know the most about the inner workings of a main character and much less about the inner workings of lesser characters.

Your main character is the king of the castle. Imagine a throne room full of courtiers. Courtiers are held in a group at some distance from the king who is the focus of attention. From time to time, a courtier may step forward and share the stage with the king, but the king remains the king, and the courtiers, who, although in their real lives are fully developed characters, in the throne room, exist only to support the king.

Always keep the monarch in mind. The king (or queen) often has a consort. The consort will not have as much attention as the monarch, but more than the courtiers. All characters serve only to make the monarch's reign stronger. Other characters must stay back a few paces. *My apologies to those of you who see a break in the word and here. After one half hour trying to fix this glitch, I am giving up and appealing to your mercy.


2.Tickled my funnybone
Homicide Victims Rarely Talk To Police


3. Interesting Web site
For more on main character, hero, and protagonist...


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