Thursday, April 14, 2011

Great study in goals, plotting and character development....

So, part of the reason I blog is because I'm trying to become a better author. In doing that, one of the important things to recognize the good examples when you see them. I'd like to offer an excellent example in all this goal, plotting, character development jungle.

Inferno, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle is an outstanding example of not only goals, but plotting and character development. So, here are the main characters: first you have Carpenter, he died because he was drunk and fell out a window. He ended up in Hell, but not so much. You see, it's Dante's Hell, and well, Carpenter ended up in the outer circle, not so much because he's a bad guy, but because he doesn't believe in God. Then you have Benito. That would be Benito Mussolini. Yup - you read that right. We all know why he died, and can pretty much guess why he's in Hell. Then of course, you have the Devil and his Minions. These are the bad guys. Yeah, that's right, Benito is a good guy. (If that's not enough to get you to read this book, I don't know what is). So anyway, Carpenter and Benito want to get out of Hell. Actually, let me explain, Benito wants to help Carpenter get out of Hell, because that's what he does. He's not so much trying to escape as trying to get Carpenter to the exit. Now Carpenter on the other hand, is trying to get out - at least, that's how it all starts out. Of course, the Devil and his Minions are trying to stop them from succeeding at their goal. What He wants to do is put them in their proper place - that's right, Dante's Hell, seven rings, the whole shebang.

So throughout the book, we meet up with other characters. Some of them we know and love, like Billy the Kid, and others, not so much - like the catatonic woman, but they all challenge Carpenter as he makes his way through Hell to the Exit (yes, I capitalized that). But along the way, Carpenter has sort of an epiphany as he meets and gets to know people in each of the seven levels. And by the end, Carpenter has grown and learned something about himself.

Truly, it's brilliant. The goal is as clear as day. I mean, throughout the book Carpenter says several times that he wants to get out of Hell, but his emotional growth is where we learn about character development. And the obstacles that are put in his way challenge his morals and his beliefs and force him to look at himself. It's really a great study for anyone who is challenged in character development, goal setting and plotting. And for a great follow up, try Escape from Hell.



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