Character Study, Mitford, Otto, Dog-Gone
by Mary and Bruce Cook
Could you write a character study?
Try writing a 600-word description of your protagonist. Or describe a set of central characters.
Character descriptions strengthen a story. Yes, a lengthy digression can interfere with the action. However, not all books need to rely on sex and gore.
Many readers prefer in-depth characterization. In a character study, nuances are explored as characters interact with a protagonist.
Consider the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. Here a huge dog is attracted to a lonely old man. (think Dog-Gone in recent Netflix offerings!). The protagonist, Father Tim, asks many characters about the dog. In other Mitford titles, the protagonist interacts with various new characters, all of whom are featured in-depth.
The recent film Otto is a character study. Here the reader, first appalled by a stubborn and unpleasant protagonist, watches as he falls in love with the people around him. In Rear Window, the main character never leaves his bedroom.
Perhaps today's fixation on quick action and conflict is giving way to a gentler preference. Current events are sparking new concern for the human condition. Now, again, we can thirst for meaning in our literature. And new writers are challenged to fill the need.
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--Bruce Cook, Publisher
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Publishing New Writers,
December, 2022 (vol. 23, no.12)
Dr. Bruce L. Cook
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Elgin, IL 60123
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