Educating Your Character

Let’s say you are writing a book about a tyro skateboarder, whose big dream is to win a local contest with a lucrative cash prize. Let’s call him Ezekiel. Zek buys a Razor G RipStik Extreme Grinding Machine off a neighbor kid, who has lost interest in it, since Christmas. Zek is ready and willing, but far from able. How are we going to get him to his goal?

Trial and Error. Zek will have to clock some serious hours on his board. He’ll take not a few spills and he may suffer some injuries in the process. Whether he can take this abuse–and attendant discouragement–will depend a lot upon his character and the seriousness of his injuries. Mom may take the board off him, after his breaks a wrist. Or he may realize that the cash prize isn’t worth breaking his neck over.

Imitation. Zek may hunt down the best skater in the neighborhood, in the hope of acquiring a few pointers, watching a pro in action. If Zek is a quick study, he may master a little used technique that puts him ahead of the competition. He may also make a new friend or possibly even find a romantic interest.

Osmosis. The longer Zek practices–and watches other skaters practices–the better a skater he will become. For Zek to learn by osmosis, he’s going to have to devote a certain portion of his free time to his new hobby. If he isn’t willing or able, he won’t win that contest. He may not even be fit to enter it.

Prescription. Zek buys a number of skateboarding guides and skating magazines, so he can read up on the techniques he hasn’t been able to observe in the skate park.

When you are teaching a character a new skill, use any and all of the above to make his journey to his goal a believable one.

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