Thursday, October 9, 2014

Being Character Smart

At the SCBWI-MI fall conference, I listened to a talk by the brilliant Kristin Remenar on Common Core Standards. One of her slides was about Multiple Intelligences and playing to students’ strengths by appreciating how they learn. Multiple Intelligences include:
Follow this link for detailed descriptions. (Of course, most people have more than one kind of smarts.)

Kris’ talk got me thinking about how I could use character smarts to improve my writing. In every story, the main character must develop new skills, acquire new knowledge, or overcome personal challenges to achieve his or her goals.

Characters do this by learning.

Determining how characters learn allows a writer to enhance character development and strengthen the plot. Suppose a character is a picture-smart artist. If she achieves her goals through an increase in self-confidence that accompanies the refinement of her artistic skills, the novel will ring true. On the other hand, if a self-smart individual, who prefers to work alone, is forced to collaborate with a group of people-smart characters, the story will resound with tension.

What kind of smarts does your protagonist have? How does he or she learn in your story?


Vicky Lorencen said...

What a great way to apply "smarts" in a new way. Very writing smart of you!

Ann Finkelstein said...

Thanks Vicky. I'm guessing Ernie in your novel is picture smart.

Patti Richards said...

Love this Ann! Thanks so much for sharing your "smarts" about "smarts." Never thought of it this way before!

Ann Finkelstein said...

Patti: We all talk about character arcs, but really for a character to change, he or she must learn. Learning sounds less inciting than changing.

TimInMich said...

That's a take on character development I've never seen before. I'll have to do some thinking on it. Thanks for the info.

Ann Finkelstein said...

Tim: Can you tell I miss thinking up write night exercises?