Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lauri on: Character Motivation

Here's my last post in which I'm sharing some of the writing craft wisdom my friend, Lauri Klobas, shared with me during a few intense months in which she taught me how to edit my badly over-written prose.

Not all of the advice she gave me had to do with trimming back needless description, though. She helped me define a few secondary characters that weren't coming across well, either because their motivation or role in the story was unfocused, or they were (no writer likes to hear this) coming across as a type, as cliche, not as individuals. She had one great tip for me that I've used since whenever any character, whether a viewpoint character or a secondary character who has an important role to play, has been less than forthcoming about their motives and goals (secondary characters do have goals too).

Lauri on: Getting a Handle on Secondary Characters & their Motivations

~ What I like to do in cases like this, is write something that will never be in the book—like the scene between [two secondary characters, up to no good] when they plan this. Sometimes, once you set them to talking, you can find out all sorts of interesting things about them that you didn’t know… and you get a better handle on what they know, and when, and it’s easier to show it to the other characters in the course of the story.

Max, one of the rescued kitties Lauri took into her home and heart, enjoying the LA sun. 

Thanks for remembering Lauri with me this week!


  1. Aww, what a gorgeous photo of Max.
    I like the idea of writing out scenes with secondary characters, that'll never make it into the novel. I've tried it a couple of times when I'm exploring their goals and motives.

  2. Max is adorable. :)

  3. Ruth, Max is Lauri's kitty that our writers forum banded together to find a new home for. One member flew with him across the country so another member could take him in and care for him. Yet another paid the air fare and I don't know how many others contributed with financial help, prayers, or just standing on the sidelines cheering, but it was a labor of love in memory of Lauri. Max was an old kitty, with some special needs, and I think he's since followed Lauri home.

  4. Deniz, Lauri send me some wonderful photos of her kitties over the years, but this was the only one I could hunt up in time for the blogs this week. She loved to take photos of the cats sleeping in the sun. I've got one of Princess, the gray kitty, somewhere, but can't lay my hands on it....

  5. Anonymous2:27 PM

    I found your blog (love it!) through your comment on Writer Unboxed. What a lovely tribute to your friend.

  6. Lisa, Thanks for following me home. :) Lauri was a special friend.

  7. Aw, cute kitty. Looks like our Dasha.
    Very good advice for secondary character motivations! It is awesome how you are paying tribute to your dear friend, Lori. Her legacy is carrying on through the things she taught you and now others. Blessings!

  8. Carla, "Her legacy is carrying on through the things she taught you and now others." As well it should. She would have made one awesome editor for any publishing house.