Strong Characters Make Strong Stories

Strong Characters Make Strong Stories
Image: iBug

An early doctor’s appointment yesterday morning meant I was up at my usual time – actually that’s a lie – I was up earlier than normal to make up for the loss of time towards BACCARA BURNING on Monday night.

It was only a couple of pages of revision, but it felt good to keep the book moving along in the face of time constraints. I constantly here Devon Ellington in my ear on such matters, when she says (to paraphrase slightly): “Not writing because life gets in the way is not an excuse.” So I don’t let it.

Coffee Break
The Doc’s visit was over quicker than expected, so I was on the bus and in town for 8:45am. I decided that I would take a slower approach to the day, so armed with my notepad and pen, I made my way for a midweek jaunt to Costa Coffee.

It was a most pleasant hour. I didn’t have to be in work until 10am, so I found a table near the back of the shop and sat down for a read of the paper and to write some notes about the chapbook project that I mentioned yesterday.

A coffee shop is a nice place to be when it’s cold and busy outside, and warm and calm inside. It allowed me the chance to really unfold before the day had even started, and rather selfishly perhaps, allow me to feel like the place belonged to me. It wasn’t long before it started to get busy though, but for the first half hour it was bliss. Hard to imagine that can happen in the centre of the Scottish capital city on a Tuesday morning.

The Flix
I met my sister after the day job. Binny and I met up outside the Omni Centre (next to the Playhouse) and after collecting the pre-booked tickets for a movie, went for a coffee in the Slug and Lettuce, a much nicer little bar than it actually sounds. We sat in there for about an hour before heading upstairs and stocking up on hot dogs, popcorn and Coke, and went to see True Grit .

It’s a great film with a lot of humour and some great acting, particularly from Hailee Steinfeld, although I hadn’t realised beforehand that Matt Damon and Josh Brolin were in it alongside Jeff Bridges, who if you saw him in the movie, was hardly recognisable as the inimitable Rooster Cogburn. As one of the very few Westerns I’ve seen in a movie theatre, that fact alone meant I greatly enjoyed it, but it is a classic story. Maybe not quite as good as the John Wayne version, but I’m a bit stuck in my ways about what I like when it comes to Westerns.

After seeing my sister off to Glasgow from Waverly Station, I was walking home when something occurred to me about Westerns and how they are written. I’ve watched loads of them over the years, there’s nothing quite as brilliant as wasting away a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in front of the telly with a good Western on, preferably with Clint Eastwood, John Wayne of Dean Martin. But many of the plots or story lines to the genre can run along the same lines: revenge, greed, land, money, etc., so what makes one Western any better than the next one?

The answer is simple: strong characters. Westerns can run pretty much along the same lines and geographical format, but when you have strong characters, you have a memorable movie that stays in your mind for years.

In True Grit there are great characters: Cogburn and LaBouef are laced with violence, old school and new (in historical Western terms – it is set in the 19th Century!), each have their own foibles and idiosyncrasies, and each have a humorous edge that when they are pitted competitively together, come out in a funny way.

It’s something I try to keep in mind when writing my own stories and something I am being told over and over again: strong characters make for memorable stories.

Free Photo Shoot
Gail Galbraith Photography is offering the chance to win a complimentary engagement shoot in a competition being held. It’s a damned good prize too, because not only do you win the shoot, you also get two of your favourite images printed at 10” x 8” AND a £50 gift voucher. You even win something just for entering, so head over to Gail’s Blog for more details on how to win a complimentary engagement shoot.

Could be a long day at the Day Job then I have some big GDRs to catch up on and more work on BACCARA. I have some new writing to take care of but that’s for another matter, and hopefully I’ll get a better sleep than I did last night.



Get 25% off STELLA, my spy novella with a twist, when you order the e-book from the publisher’s website at Simply quote 612JMZN67VZX at checkout.

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About Colin Galbraith

Keen runner, thriller author, Madness fan, Mets fan, St Mirren fan/owner, rabbit tamer, outstanding fake faller. Loves cannolis & espressos. #LFGM
This entry was posted in Edinburgh, Family, Fiction, Film & TV, Food, Drink and Bevvy, Poetry, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Strong Characters Make Strong Stories

  1. And don’t you find yourself much more cheerful and less stressed when you do a writing session first thing? Somehow, it makes the whole day better.

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