I get so caught up in my story I think I tend to forget my characters. I recently had one of my 4Corners buddies tell me my chapters were like short stories. They didn't tend to move the story forward which is an absolute no no to a writer.
I have had this criticism before, in fact it's the most frequent criticism I get. I've never really understood the criticism before but I think I finally do. My 4Corners buddy talked about something having to happen in each chapter to move the characters along to their final destination and some hint of the final destination has to be there. Even now I'm a little fuzzy as to how I manage that.
OK. Hypothesis. Let's say your final destination is a whole series of events that end with one of your characters getting arrested. This is my story RUN. There will be a trial. In the 1920's teenage runaways were routinely put into jail and younger siblings returned home. My characters have run from an abusive household and being returned home is not a good option.
The adults who have befriended them, Cecil and the Nuns and the old men from the hotel come to their rescue and spirit Kate and Pearl out of the courthouse. The brother, Ben, sees their plight in a newspaper and has come to the courthouse as well and he is also spirited away, with his friend Abel. There will be a surprise ending and I don't want to give that away but the upshot of that ending will be that Ben will join the girls on their next adventure. He will no longer be in Penn Station. Abel may join them; I'm not sure of that as yet.
How do I move my characters toward that series of events? Perhaps I have the girls see a mysterious stranger in the neighborhood of the hotel. Perhaps they worry about the nephew who remembered some runaways whose father would pay a mint to get them back and, when last seen, was running for the library to look them up.
I think both of these options would work to move the story forward. I think it would make sense for Pearl and Kate to worry about being found and what would happen if they were. The children's father is a lawyer and Kate has seen him in court and undoubtedly knows what would be in store for them if she and Pearl were found.
The key to this is my rendering of character. If I don't get a good hold on my characters the story takes over. I think that's what's happened here. I need to grab hold of my characters and not let go.
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