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1 Character

1.1 Creating characters

Activity 1

Click on ‘setting and genre’ below to read the first few paragraphs from Novakovich’s chapter on ‘Character’.

setting and genre [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]


The dictum that ‘character is plot, plot is character’, attributed to Henry James (in Novakovich, 1995) is a familiar one, similar to Shakespeare’s ‘Character is destiny’ (from King Lear). This is not to say that what happens to characters is inevitable or predetermined. It’s simply that particular characters seek or attract certain events or encounters. If you start by building a strong sense of your main character or characters, then add a dilemma, challenge or conflict, you will automatically be generating your plot. Starting the other way around, with a chain of events into which you then fit characters, can often be more difficult and less convincing.

Character + conflict = plot

As an ongoing exercise, apply this formula when building stories in your journal. See if it works for you.