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After many years of writing and teaching others to write, I’ve come to suspect that most of us are asking the wrong question: What’s this story about?

Plot is easy to articulate. The people I mentor often approach at the end of a session and rattle off the details of a current project. They tell me what it’s about: My story is about a guy who eats a poisoned sandwich and wakes up in outer space. The person beams, certain that the work has been done for a good story.

“Okay,” I say. “So what’s the problem?” I’ve worked with writers long enough to know that the person wouldn’t be telling me about the story at all if things were going well with the writing.

PDF icon The Importance of Character -- published in Stay Thirsty Magazine