Here we are, the final of Orson Scott Card’s 4 story types that I have yet to cover. I feel like this has been a long time in the making. Too long. In just a few months, much has gone on in my life which drew me away from the keyboard and, eventually, pushed me back to it. This entry marks the ends of a personal journey and I’ve grown as a result. What comes next seems a little bit more hopeful because of it.
Wow, okay, I’ll stop!
That was a literary version of myself playing out a (horribly rushed) personal journey, meant to encapsulate today’s topic. Today, I’ll be describing character stories!
Character stories are identified by the story’s focus on a personal journey. This usually means grounding the world around them so as to not distract the viewer with flying dragons or killer robots as the protagonist looks inward for much of the page count. What typically drives the plot forward is finding the protagonist in a state of mind or life that they are fundamentally unhappy with. This could be an unfulfilling job, loveless relationship, increasing jealousy for neighbors, or anything that starts fueling an internal conflict.
Typically, these stories find a resolution in one of two ways. The character in the story resists all change that is contemplated and they decidedly don’t grow as a person, usually at the expense of those around them. The other is that they do grow, and become a better or worse version of themselves by the time the story ends.
This relates well with a topic I will discuss in the future – interiority VS exteriority. As in, where does the story occur, inside the character’s head or in the world around them. By and large, most literary stories have a larger focus on interiority while most genre pieces focus on exteriority. This is why most character stories tend to be found in the literary section of bookstores.
Examples of character-driven stories are so plentiful. A real classic example that comes to mind for me is The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The central push of the story is Holden’s drive for a different life. While misguided and aimless, he eventually comes to feel true responsibility by the end.
That’s it, the story types are complete! Did I miss anything? Let me know by leaving a comment or getting in contact with me directly. A new mini-series will start in a few weeks so, until then, hope you are able to enjoy this abnormally warm winter somehow!
Keep turning the page,
I always love a good character story. They’re my favourite overall.