NOTES: Character is King

These are my notes from the San Francisco Writer’s conference, 2014

The Lecture “Character is King” by Dave Corbett.  Saturday 2014-02-15. The handout is here:

The 5 aspects he lists are

  1. desire
  2. layers of adaptation
  3. vulnerability
  4. secrets
  5. contradictions

He draws out the list in the above PDF in several different ways.

1. Desire

I missed the 1st section, so starting on #2:


2. Layers of Adaptation

  1. pathological – hallucinations; eg. the movie “Repulsion” by the director of Chinatown (i.e. Roman Polanski)
  2. immature – e.g. blanche dubois from “streetcar named desire.” She is living in a fantasy.
  3. denial – acting like it isn’t happening
  4. mature – humor, altruism

3. Vulnerability

  • Pursuing an objective [masculine] – e.g. Blanche pursuing being able to stay with Stella
  • listening [feminine]

somebody wounded elicits the reader’s sympathy

type of wound:

  • existential – physical illness or literal wound
  • situation – alone in a strange town
  • moral – they’ve done something everyone will judge them for

side note ‘dramatic irony’ seems to be the voice of the time (meaning: the reader knows something the main character doesn’t).

4. Secrets

“Swing for the fences”

a secret can be small, with a big cover-up


5. Contradictions 

work if one can find the connection between them in the character




  1. Problem
  2. insight
  3. decision based on insight


(I guess this is what you would call character development!)



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