All readers are drawn to stories about things they recognise: Dreams, Ambitions, Fears, Courage, Dilemma, Safety, Rejection, Hatred, Love, etc. Storytelling is a means of giving people a chance to experience all the things they fear and all the things they adore knowing that they are separated from the troubles or dangers that accompany such experience.
Readers want to read from writers who understand them. And it doesn’t matter if the story is set in Mars or if the characters are animated horse dungs talking about the need for personal hygiene. As long as these characters also live relatable dreams and express similar fears, the readers will always read. And this remains true even in stories with extraterrestrial settings.
In case you are wondering, this Key is not a contradiction to the last Key where we suggested that writers should stretch their imaginations beyond what they know. The point of the last Key is that as writers, we can write about the same relatable human experiences in all ways imaginable.
For example, we can write about aliens in love or war even though we have not seen them or been in the kind of settings we imagine them having such experiences. Yet readers will read, because the story is not so much about the aliens as it is about the experience of love and war which the readers know and understand.
As a writer, Modelling is the a reliable tool you can use to craft stories that your readers will find relatable. By modelling, I mean copying. Look around you, how do people behave when they’re angry? How do people act when they’re happy? How do they act when they’re in love? What does shame look like on their faces? What about pride, and the emptiness of soul that follows a 45-year old failure?
You know all these emotions because I assume you’re human. It’s either you’re the lover or someone you know is. It’s either you’re the failure or he’s your insufferable elder brother. The idea of Modelling is simply writing about these characters and their experiences in pages of made-up stories we call fiction. The end result of Modelling is a believable story. A story readers recognise.
The filmmakers, Kendrick Brothers, disclosed that in their most successful movie, War Room, the main character, Miss Clara, was modelled after their Mother. The fascinating thing about this modelling is that their mother is a white lady while the award-winning Karen Abercrombie, who played Miss Clara in War Room is a black woman. Yet the story still evokes the same level of freshness today as it did 5 year ago when it was first released. The reason is because the themes are about relatable experiences that all humans encounter irrespective of colour.
As creatives, we’re all plagiarists. We copy from the Grand Creator himself, who first made tears and made it possible for victims to smile through them. The One whom every story we tell is a tiny sequel to the world he made and has called us to co-create. The best writers are therefore nothing but the best copiers, the best modellers.
Fiction should be fiction. Modelling only suggests how to create believable characters by borrowing from the individual uniqueness of real life players in the game of life. Modelling does not mean the reduction of someone’s life into words. Such attempt cannot be called modelling and it definitely can’t be called fiction.
For the next 24 hour, beginning from when you read this Key, make it a point to consciously observe as much details as you can about people around you. Pay particular attention to how they react to different situations and think of how you can model these reactions into your characters.