THE WRITE CHARACTERS

THE WRITE CHARACTERS – So you’ve had your characters do things (plot) and feel things (emotion). But that’s not all there is to writing. Nope. Writing a fully realized character that transforms is critical to crafting good fiction. How does your character react to what’s happening? How is your character different than anyone else? Is your wooden character predictable? Answer these questions, since that’s what drives the story forward. Here are some important points to consider. Physical appearance – Do this first. Fix an image in your mind and fill out a description thumbnail sketch. Writing indistinguishable characters is one of the worst mistakes a writer can make. Begin scenes with sparing description and devote more detail to major characters. Main characters – The strongest characters are at least somewhat based on a real person. Tap into their qualities, get behind their motivations and analyze their quirks. Dissect the psychology of why they do what they do. Also, all characters (at least somewhat) fall into a type or archetype. Minor characters – You are going to have more and less important characters as you go along. Sometimes it won’t be immediately clear. But as you write, your story will reveal itself to you. Bit parts should have less detail. Always provide a line of description and name characters except for the most insignificant. Character archetypes – Be wary of stereotypes such as making your character too heroic or too villainous. Avoid stock characters that come across as cliché. Know the examples (protagonist, antagonist, hero, villain, mentor, love interest, sidekick, stock characters, jock, princess, nerd, outcast, rebel, etc.) so you know when to break them. Character names – Pick a name that evokes feeling or ties back into the story arc thematically. Select each name beginning with a different hard consonant. Name characters with vowels sparingly or not at all. Character arc – This point is the most important and won’t be done until you’ve reached the end. The constellation of secondary characters are there to support the main character’s change in outlook. This isn’t accomplished on a page or within a chapter. Your main character has to undergo some type of transformation.
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THE WRITE PLOT

THE WRITE PLOT – A good writer strikes the proper balance. The story is original but conventional enough to be read easily. It has a plot that isn’t too complicated or overly action packed. But by all means, something interesting has to happen! Make sure to avoid the opposite problem, such as weak plots, and stories lacking in tension. Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you just start writing, hoping to be lucky enough to develop a well-organized story? Do you spend lots of time outlining and researching, consequently not getting much writing done? Or do you carefully stick to the outline but end up with something trite and predictable? Balance is key, so you have to do all of the above. A writer who understands the rules also knows when to break them. Aristotle gave us the beginning, middle and end. Freytag gave us the pyramid. Campbell gave us the hero. Vogler gave us the Writer’s Journey. OK, what does all of this mean to me as a writer, you might ask? Do ponder before you write. Daydream and don’t forget to jot down your most unusual ideas. Do outline before you write. Avoid time wasting and writing yourself into dead ends. Think of a great concept and decide what you need to show (not tell) to convey the idea. And by all means, take your reader somewhere they never knew they wanted to go.

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THE WRITE EMOTION

THE WRITE EMOTION – A writer has done a good job when the reader feels a certain type of way after finishing a piece of fiction. It’s easy to say, but not so easy to do, because the potential pitfalls are many. Here’s some examples. Tell the reader how your character feels. Nope, because a writer should show, not tell. Use short cuts to commonly used emotions. Bad idea, because clichés are to be avoided. Go big with over the top emotions. Yeah, no. Because melodrama should be saved for soap operas, not your writing. What to do instead, you might ask? A lot of this depends on your character’s point of view. If you’re writing first person or third person limited, you’re only allowed to pluck thoughts directly out of your main character’s head. Here are some examples of show, don’t tell. A character in trouble creates tension, because without tension, there is no plot. Reveal character’s physical movements; such as beats, facial expressions and physical actions. Use pacing, foreshadowing, action and suspense effectively. Narrative summary skips parts that drag but are necessary. This places greater emphasis on character’s emotional state when compared to plot driven story elements. Writing characters that transform emotionally allows readers to identify with them, which in turn creates compelling fiction.
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