9 Traits of Sympathetic Characters via. Donald Maass Wisdom: Cultivate Reader Interest Through Unexpected Emotions - WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™ Recently I was at a workshop with Donald Maass and the topic of Emotional Writing came up. As you can imagine, I immediately perked up and my fingers became cyclones over the keyboard of my iPad, taking notes. The gist of it was this: the most powerful stories have emotional writing, the kind where we dig deep into our own feelings and then put them on the page.
Donald encouraged us to move past ‘expected’ character emotions and try for something deeper, more primal. Something unexpected. We were to take a scene from our book, list the primary emotion our character was feeling, and then change it to something they would never dare to voice or show, but felt none-the-less. I chose a scene from my Upper MG WIP, Wrath of a God. But a deeper emotion, something unexpected? Donald then told us to then duct tape our protagonist, and show that emotion non-verbally (talk about right up my alley!) A glow came off of Osiris, a hue that had nothing to do with the sun setting. How about you? 11 Secrets to Writing Effective Character Description. The following is an excerpt from Word Painting Revised Edition by Rebecca McClanahan, available now!
The characters in our stories, songs, poems, and essays embody our writing. They are our words made flesh. Sometimes they even speak for us, carrying much of the burden of plot, theme, mood, idea, and emotion. But they do not exist until we describe them on the page. Until we anchor them with words, they drift, bodiless and ethereal. Here are 11 secrets to keep in mind as you breathe life into your characters through description. 1.
It reads something like this: “My father is a tall, middle-aged man of average build. This description is so mundane, it barely qualifies as an “all-points bulletin.” When we describe a character, factual information alone is not sufficient, no matter how accurate it might be. 2. It’s hard to think of adjective descriptors that haven’t been overused: bulging or ropy muscles, clean-cut good looks, frizzy hair. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. You might also like: Confessions of an Opinionated Book Geek - Writing Tips #85: Nine Kick-Ass Excercises to Find... What I Learned Writing Dreamlander: 6 Types of Courageous Characters. What’s the secret to creating characters readers love? There must be a secret, right?
Some magic formula that will make readers fall as madly in love with our characters as we have with other writers’ larger-than-life heroes and heroines. You’re probably thinking I’m going to say, “Sorry, but no, there’s no magic formula. Just hard work and luck.” But, actually, that’s not so. And that is bravery. Readers adore courageous characters. Don’t try to make virtue take the place of courage. In writing my fantasy novel Dreamlander (coming December 2), I got to explore six different kinds of bravery: 1. When we think of heroes these days, we generally think of those who qualify for heroic bravery. What is it? This is the kind of bravery that makes a character do crazy dangerous stuff, either to protect others or to advance a cause in which he passionately believes. Examples: Spider-Man, Captain America, Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. None of these categories are exclusive. The Four Cornerstones of Strong Characters - Writingeekery. Writing The Perfect Flaw - Writingeekery.
Getting to the Core of Character Motivation. Today’s guest post is the first of two from author Becca Puglisi. With her blogging partner, Angela Ackerman, she has written three essential resource books for fiction writers that I can’t recommend enough. Last year they released The Emotion Thesaurus to great acclaim, and now they have followed through with the release of the companion books The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus. Because I feel the information they expound on in these books is so important for novelists to understand and master, I asked Becca to share some of the material from these two new releases with the readers of Live Write Thrive.
If you want to be a great novelist, you need these books and should use them extensively as a resource in your writing. What is it about excellent books that stick with us? Sometimes it’s a heart-wrenching scenario, like the one I recently read in Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys. At its most basic, the character arc consists of four pieces. 5 Ways to Create Conflict in Your Story. Conflict drives a story. I might go so far to say that conflict is your story.
But I think too often, we miss that pivotal connection between conflict and character. If we don’t tie conflict directly to our characters we end up either with stories devoid of conflict and full of missed opportunities, or we force unnatural conflict on the story that doesn’t ring true. And it doesn’t help that a lot of advice on creating conflict is so high-minded (external vs. internal, blah, blah, blah) and often abstract — stakes! Progression! 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Justin McLachlan is a writer, director and actor in Washington, D.C. Hidden Emotions: How To Tell Readers What Characters Don’t Want To Show - WRITERS HELPING WRITERSWRITERS HELPING WRITERS. One of the struggles that comes with writing is when a character feels vulnerable and so tries to hide their emotions as a result. Fear of emotional pain, a lack of trust in others, instinct, or protecting one’s reputation are all reasons he or she might repress what’s going on inside them. After all, people do this in real life, and so it makes sense that our characters will too.
Protecting oneself from feeling exposed is as normal as it gets. But where does that leave writers who STILL have to show these hidden emotions to the reader (and possibly other characters in the scene)? The answer is a “TELL”– a subtle, bodily response or micro gesture that a character has little or no control over. No matter how hard we try, our bodies are emotional mirrors, and can give our true feelings away. For a story to have emotional range, our characters will naturally hide what they feel at some point, and when they do, the writer must be ready. Original posting Related January 22, 2015 With 19 comments. Let Me Explain to You a Thing. Plotting the Non-Plot-Driven Novel. Have you ever grown impatient with a novel?
Have you ever restlessly flipped ahead wishing that something would happen? Of course. It’s a common feeling. Put politely, you feel frustrated. Put plainly, you’re bored. Perhaps your own current manuscript has also had you feeling, at times, impatient. Have you struggled to find a way to make things happen?
If you answered yes then I have bad news for you: Your readers are going to feel impatient too. As a non-plot driven novelist your frustration can deepen when you consider classics and contemporary literary successes. There’s nothing wrong with writing about the human condition. Fortunately there are ways to “plot” the non-plot driven novel. First, recognize that what holds a non-plot novel together and what gives it propulsive force every step of the way are two different issues.
Second, let’s generalize. It doesn’t matter why your main character is stuck. Why can’t the protagonist just get what he wants? Why can’t she simply talk it out? The Hero’s Emotional Midpoint - Writeonsisters.com. A few weeks ago I wrote about Mapping the Mushy Middle of a story. This is a plot-centric approach to figuring out one’s story. However, story is a two-sided coin made up of plot and character. For every plot point there’s a corresponding character arc moment.
So I blogged 3 Steps to Creating Character Change where I discuss the hero’s flaw as it presents itself in Act I, causes trouble for the hero in Act II, and is eventually overcome in Act III. Yet even after figuring all that out, I still have trouble wrapping up my stories with a satisfying character transformation. In a story’s finale, not only is the plot resolved and the character flaw overcome, the hero must be changed.
What to do?! WRITE YOUR NOVEL FROM THE MIDDLE by James Scott Bell. It’s short and sweet, just 85 pages, and the premise is that once you know the Mirror Moment at the Midpoint, it will clarify what your story is about so you can figure out where the hero begins and how he changes by the end. What about you? Reading For Writers 101: Character Change, part 2 - Writeonsisters.com. Last week’s lesson was about how Character Change makes a story more satisfying, and I evoked the good name of James Bond to make my point. Audiences and readers, now more than ever, want characters who grow and evolve.
But figuring out your character’s change is just one step; you also need to develop how that change occurs. Today’s lesson: Character Change can’t come out of nowhere! So I was reading this book and the middle section (what we screenwriters refer to as Act II) was a bit boring. However, I soldiered onward because it was a book club read and I needed to finish it. Near the end of Act II, the main character learned something about herself and had an epiphany: “So that’s what’s wrong with me! Now that I’m aware of this flaw, I can overcome it in order to achieve my goal!” Hence the three steps of Creating Character Change: If step two is overlooked, the character’s change comes out of nowhere and is wholly unsatisfying.
This is why I was so bored in the middle of that book. 25 Things You Should Know About Character. Previous iterations of the “25 Things” series: 25 Things Every Writer Should Know 25 Things You Should Know About Storytelling And now… Here you’ll find the many things I believe — at this moment! 1. Without character, you have nothing. 2. A great character can be the line between narrative life and story death. 3. Don’t believe that all those other aspects are separate from the character. 4. The audience will do anything to spend time with a great character. 5. It is critical to know what a character wants from the start. 6. It doesn’t matter if we “like” your character, or in the parlance of junior high whether we even “like-like” your character. 7. It is critical to smack the audience in the crotchal region with an undeniable reason to give a fuck. 8.
You must prove this thesis: “This character is worth the audience’s time.” 9. Don’t let the character be a dingleberry stuck to the ass of a toad as he floats downriver on a bumpy log. 10. 11. 12. 13. The law of threes. 15. 16. 17. 18. The Inner Struggle: Guides for Using Inner Conflict That Make Sense. By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy I sat in on an amazing workshop while I was at RWA that made something typically vague very clear and applicable. Michael Hague's Using Inner Conflict to Create Powerful Love Stories.
It was one of those workshops that discussed what I already knew, but Hague presented it in such a way that I clearly saw a super easy way to apply inner journeys to my stories. While the workshop was about romance specifically, the pieces of Hague’s inner conflict really work for any character journey. He calls the overall arc the “journey from living in fear to living courageously.” To put it in more familiar terms, the character arc: the growth the protagonist undergoes over the course of the story. This is a biggie because we all know our characters should grow, and often even know what that growth should be.
Let's take a peek at Hauge's basic inner conflict arc: Longing or Need: The thing the character longs for or needs in the story. (More on goals here) Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 1: Can You Structure Characters? What if there were a sure-fire secret to creating stunning character arcs? Would you be interested in discovering it? If you care about connecting with readers, grabbing hold of their emotions, and creating stories that will resonate with them on a level deeper than mere entertainment, then the answer has to be a resounding yes! But here’s the thing about character arcs: they’re way too easy to take for granted. On the surface, character arcs seem to boil down to nothing more than a simple three-step process: 1.
The protagonist starts one way. 2. 3. That’s character arc in a nutshell. Turns out: a lot. (Featured in the Structuring Your Novel Workbook.) The Link Between Character Arcs and Story Structure Too often, character and plot are viewed as separate entities—to the point that we often pit them against each other, trying to determine which is more important. We often think of plot as being about structure, but our notions of character and character arc tend toward the more airy-fairy. Write Better: 3 Ways To Introduce Your Main CharacterWritersDigest.com. One of the biggest bugaboos in manuscript submissions is when the author doesn’t properly introduce the protagonist within the first chapter. Readers want to know quickly the protagonist’s sex, age and level of sophistication in the world of the story, and they want to relate to the character on an emotional level.
Readers’ interest in the protagonist has to be earned, in other words. If we like a character, then we want to see her do well and we’re willing to follow her around and invest our time and interest in rooting her on in her struggle. But it’s important we know some essentials about the character so we can get to like her. The trick is to avoid stand-alone description or exposition and to instead show your character in action. This guest post is by Les Edgerton, author of fifteen books, including two about writing fiction: Hooked (Writer’s Digest Books) and Finding Your Voice (Writer’s Digest Books). 1. [Did you know there are 7 reasons writing a novel makes you a badass? 2. Why Your Hero Absolutely Must Pet the Dog. Some characters are born with “lovable” written all over their cute little faces.
But some just pop out ugly—and mean—and generally rough around the edges. Most of my protagonists are people who have made major mistakes in their lives (we’re talking killing people, selling out to the dark side, and, in one case, putting sugar in the salt shakers). They’re scarred, they’re cranky, sometimes they’re just plain wrong. I can tell you right now that even I, their creator, wouldn’t want to run into some of them in a dark alley. There’s a little trick authors can use to make even their darkest anti-heroes sympathetic. It’s what TV writers call pet the dog or save the cat. . , is “weaker and more vulnerable than he is.” A pet-the-dog beat, properly executed, creates great sympathy for the character, while at the same time may add to the suspense. For example, in John Robinson’s mystery Until the Last Dog Dies . . Your pet-the-dog scene must be organic to your character and your story.
Audio Player. 10 Reasons Why Your Hero Needs Flaws - WRITERS HELPING WRITERSWRITERS HELPING WRITERS. Hi everyone! Because it is crazy town in Angela’s house as she tries to keep up with deadlines and prep for Christmas, she’s giving a past Seekerville post some new love. Please read on to better understand why compelling Heroes (and Heroines!) MUST have flaws! When we see the word Hero, we think heroic, which is ironic because our protagonists are usually anything but at the start of a story.
In real life, people have faults-no one is perfect. To write a compelling character, it isn’t enough to slap a few attributes and flaws into their personality and then throw them at the story. When everyone gets along, a story flat lines. Flaws mean blind spots, biases, pet peeves and irrational emotional reactions to name a few. If a hero has too many strengths (positive attributes), not only will he come across as unrealistic, it will be too easy for him to succeed.
Flaws bloom into being as a false protective measure when a person suffers an emotional wound. 6 Things Your Characters Want-and 4 Ways to Keep Them Frustrated.