Essence and Identity

Okay, this is last blog post before Melbourne and the RWAus conference. Really looking forward to it – especially spending actual face-time with some of my awesome online buddies. Plus I get the extra special treat of meeting one of my Sisters! *waves at Robyn just in case she sees this*

But before all that, I need to start contemplating the essence of my hero in the story I am going to pitch Lucy Gilmour. Why? Well, at our most recent chapter group meeting, the very wonderful Sandra Hyatt gave us a talk about the Micheal Hague workshop she did and part of it really resonated with me.

Our characters wear two faces – the face they show to the world, and the face they keep to themselves. The face they show to the world is their identity, the face they keep to themselves is their essence (the people they truly are). Now in the story, the characters should conflict at the level of identity, but they should connect at the level of essence.

I thought that was a very simple way of making sure there is conflict in a story, but also some real romance. Because it’s the moments where the two characters connect that show the reader that these two are meant for each other. Of course what it means is that I need to figure out who my characters actually are, as opposed to the face they show to the real world. Tricky. I know the faces they show to the world but working backwards to find their essence is another thing.

Anyone have some handy tips??

BTW, a big shout-out to my chapter-mate Louise George who has recently sold to Medicals!! Awesome, Louise!! Her first book is out in March!

17 thoughts on “Essence and Identity”

  1. Jackie – you have made Michael Hauge’s stuff clearer to me than ever before. I love it.
    I love more that I’ll be seeing you in a couple of days though!
    Bring on the champers!!! xox Can’t wait to meet Robyn Too πŸ™‚

  2. Rach – oh, that’s good! I found that particular bit really, really helpful. And yeah to seeing you! Oooh, so exciting!! I must use more exclamation marks!!!!

  3. Love it. It’s a great wya to look at it. Thanks for sharing.

    PS Have a great time at the conference! Consider this my official demand for photos and gossip x

  4. First off – congrats to Louise!!

    And what an EXCELLENT explanation about the self protective defense mechanisms our characters wear vs their real selves. Very nice! Def going on my writing wall!!

    Jackie, you are going to have such an AWESOME time! Save travels to all attending the conference. I’m sure much fun will be had by all!!

  5. Lacey – and this is my official reply ‘will bring back plenty of both’. πŸ™‚ I guess you’re not going?? *says hopefully?*

    Aimee – oh, glad it was helpful! Certainly made a whole lot of sense to me. And yeah, am looking forward to it. πŸ™‚

    Janet – oooooh, thanks for these! You’re a star.

  6. It’s funny… I loved Michael Hauge’s workshop, and have been using his approach to goals, obstacles etc for a while… and along the way I completely forgot about his characterization stuff!! This is perfect timing – thanks for reminding me about identity and essence.

    I’ve just flicked back through my notes and this might help…

    Talking about a hero’s essence – “if you could strip away his/her armour what would be left? Who does your hero have the potential to become?”

    I especially like that last one about potential, because the inner journey (character arc) is about finding and becoming someone more than he is at the beginning. So the essence could be about POTENTIAL.

    Oh, and I like another bit “letting go of identity is terrifying. He BELIEVES that is who he is.”

    Have an awesomely brilliant time at conference. Rock the pink socks off Lucy !! And I’ll be cheering for you on awards night. Wish I could be there πŸ™

  7. Jo – oooh, love those bits of Hague! Thank you!! My hero has potential, I need to discover exactly what that is. Will have to do that before I see Lucy anyway – which isn’t this weekend, it’s at the RWNZ conference which is the weekend after. Busy couple of weeks for me!

  8. An eye-opening post, Jax!! I always used to struggle to “read” books where they are different even in terms of essence. I used to get this vague feeling of something missing, but never was able to pin it to this exact cause.

    Thankfully I have avoided writing “opposites” in my stories so far (ie hunted and the hunter, etc), but armed with the knowledge you have imparted, I think I might give it a try πŸ˜‰ And if I get it successfully, the credit, of course, goes to you πŸ™‚

  9. Jo – I AM going to try thatt. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Ju – To be honest, writing opposites does make the conflict a lot easier – at least, opposites at the level of identity. I find it harder to give them something to connect with because I much prefer it when they’re fighting. πŸ™‚ But then, without the connection, it makes it difficult for the reader to believe in the romance. Anyway, let me know how you find writing it.

  10. Hi Jackie, your post is revving me up for all I’ll learn at the conference this weekend. That’s right – I’m going too! Looking forward to bumping into you there πŸ™‚ Perhaps we’ll meet up through Robyn!

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