Follow up on Rule #6

Spanish actor Felix Gomez
Spanish actor Felix Gomez

Last week, we talked about Pixar’s Rule #6, where the gurus of amazing stories tell us to not only pit our characters against a polar opposite, but also challenge them with stuff they don’t know about. If you missed out on that post, go ahead and read it along with the comments. I’ll wait.

A point that came up that I think warrants an entire blog post (don’t worry, it’s short) is this:


It seems like a no-brainer, right? I mean, of course, I know my character. For crying out loud, I birthed him! He crawled out of my head and fingers over the past four years as I struggled to figure out how to write a novel. Don’t you think I’d know him by now?

Well, maybe not.

M. G. Mason of Sweat, Tears and Digital Ink dredged up an old post of his with a list of character questions. And though I could answer most of them for my character off the top of my head, some of them I couldn’t. Here’s one:

What is your proudest achievement?

To tell you the truth, I’ve been thinking about what could be Andreu’s proudest achievement and I can’t say. Is it when he saved those girls from a slow, pointless death? Or is it every time he stands up for the down-trodden? (Yes, he’s that way.) Or will it be when he saves his family in some future book that I may or may not write?

Here’s another hard one:

 What would be worse than being dead?

Actually, that’s not too hard, but the list is just too long. The blood of his family on his conscience would be really bad, but so would be losing his love-interest or anyone else he cared for. Also, losing his father’s respect can be devastating to someone like Andreu, but worse than death? I guess not.

These are the sorts of things I don’t know about my character. I need to focus my attention on him and pin-point what it is that makes Andreu tick, then maybe I can figure out how to tell his story.

Anyway, M. G.’s questions really gave me pause so I thought I’d share before moving to the next rule.

Until next week, get to know your characters. 🙂


16 thoughts on “Follow up on Rule #6

  1. While true that you should know your characters it doesn’t mean that you must know every detail of their psyche.
    In fact knowing too much about your character can make it hard to write the non-character part of a novel (the plot!) especially if you have made a mistake in the portrait you have drawn.

    Having an idea of how your character will behave and respond is appropriate, but there is a balance point between character development and plot.

    Or to put it another way… You are a real person with real depth and feelings, how many if those know your character questions can you answer about yourself? If you’re like me, some answers will come easily, but others will be a struggle- that is reality — does this mean you don’t know yourself? Or simply that your personality, like that of your characters is too complex to be pinned and displayed in so many words?

    1. Good point, CJ. One can spend too much time on character. And part of the fun of writing is discovering all those character traits while writing the story.I hear ya on that, but I do think that I haven’t nailed my MC very well. I’m not sure why, but that’s how I feel. Actually, I do have the story out for another beta read right now, so I’ll ask my readers whether they feel my MC is inconsistent or swallow. If they say no, then I’ll be happy I got that right. If they say yes, then I’ll got back to the drawing board with him and try to figure him out!

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

    1. Oh! I get it now! 😮 You meant what is worse than death…suicide…and as you said, actually worse for the survivors. Yeah, that is true.

  2. Hey thanks for the kudos! You’re inspiring me to write a few more questions for potential character development. Can I reach the magic 100 I ask myself…?

Get it out of your system

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s