Writing Exercise: Secret, Wall, Loss, Desire

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In a Magical Words post from December 5, 2011, David B. Coe postulates that “the most effective, memorable characters” have four attributes: Secret, Wall, Loss, Desire.

Secret – The character has something they are hiding from the world, or the world has hidden from them.

Wall – There is a barrier separating them from the world. (I think this attribute is necessary for main characters to give them the focal point of the story.)

Loss – The world has taken something from them in the past or present.

Desire – They have something they desire that drives them. (The loss puts the breaks on.)

He goes out to more specification, and then gives a number of examples of works being published in 2011.

WRITING EXERCISE: Examine your present work-in-progress (WIP). Does your main character have any of these traits?

My attempt: Robyn from Mom Eyes. Her secret is her powers, especially some aspects of her powers. Yes, as a child she is sharing the information, but maybe she really shouldn’t. Wall – her powers are creating a wall, but she already had a wall because of … Loss – losing her brother and her mother impacted her teen years. She will never forget to be kind because of it. Desire – not to be alone. To prevent others from experiencing her loss if possible.

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