Character Contrast And Setting

Characters should be contrasted not only with each other, but also with their setting. The rube coming to the city, for example. A socialite going to prison. Think of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court:. The spoiled rich kid on a fishing boat in Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous. The hip street punk McMurphy in an insane asylum in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The Kansas farm girl caught in a magical land in Frank L. Baum's The Wizard of Oz.

• In Jaws, Brody, the sheriff, hates the water; he can't even swim. Imagine putting such a character on a boat during a hunt for a man-eating great white shark about the size of a mobile home.

• In The Red Badge of Courage, the hero, Henry, is a terrified civilian-turned-army private who finds himself smack in the middle of the American Civil War.

• Scarlett in Gone with the Wind is a Southern belle, born and bred to be pampered. Imagine putting such a character in a war-ravaged country where she has to grub for roots to survive.

• In The Trial, K., the hero, is a rational man. Imagine how hard it is for him in the strange world of "The Law" where people are prosecuted for no reason at all.

• In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov, the intellectual, is thrown into the Russian prison system with professional killers and thieves.

• In Carrie, the innocent Carrie is asked to the prom by a boy in the elite clique. A strange world for her indeed.

To set your characters off and plunge them into immediate difficulties, put them someplace where they don't belong, where they're forced to deal with new and possibly frightening circumstances.

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