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Team vs. Player

football

It's the first week of September, so football is on my brain. This means that when I was having a lovely conversation (read: debate) with fellow writer about the differences in our writing styles, I used a football analogy.  See, there are some people that are fans of players and will cheer for the team that they are on. Case in point, there's been a drastic increase in the number of Denver jerseys in the Circle City (Indy) ever since Payton Manning went from the Colts to the Broncos. Those people are fans of the athlete.

Then there are people who cheer for a team, regardless of who's playing, or coaching, or their record. They will cheer for the team. I'm a Bears fan even though they are like that guy that you know you should break up with, but you keep giving him another chance every time he makes promises to change then breaks your heart- again. I will cheer for them no matter who's playing, or what city I'm in. I am a fan of the team.

What does this have to do with writing styles? Bunches. The story is like the team. Once I come up with a story idea, I stick with it. I mold my characters and their actions to fit the story. If I find a character isn't fitting the story or is making it murky, I cut them from the team, or at least bench them. (Jack's grandmother got dropped from the story about a quarter into writing it.) The story is the most important thing to me.

The characters are like the players. For my writer friend I was having the debate with, the character is most important. She'll start writing a story, get 30K words in, and scrap the whole thing because she decides that story no longer fits the character. She'll start all over, until she feels the character's story is being told.

I have to be honest, I would go running through the streets crazy if I wrote 30K words that I may or may not ever use again. For me the character is just a name that only comes to life through the story.

Read Michele's take on putting the character first here.