The Character Workshop — Designing A Life I’ve designed this little workshop to help you sneak up on character development. Answer the questions in order, and take your time. Allow yourself as much space as you need to answer each one — some only require one-word answers, but some require a fair amount of page space to be answered completely. A word of warning — this isn’t a complete character checklist; it’s a workshop designed to break through stubborn preconceptions you might have had about characters you write and character design. Because of that, you will not have a complete character if you only answer the questions I’ve given you. And some of the questions are a little odd. Choose a gender. And that’s it.
no whitespace - writers' cheatsheet Writing Tips: Plot, How to plot a novel Our Quick Guide on writing plots that grip the reader In these days of the 3-for-2 tables and Tesco Book Clubs, fiction has taken a step forwards into the past. These days, plot matters. No fiction will be taken on by agents - no matter how brilliantly written, how edgily contemporary, how weighty in subject matter - unless it has a strong story line. See also our More About Plotting guide ... and do watch out for the video below. The oldies are still the goodies Plotting hasn’t changed since Aristotle. 1) The protagonist must have a clear central motivation. 2) The protagonist’s goal (which derives from that motivation) has to be determined as early as possible into the novel. 3) The jeopardy must increase. 4) Every scene and every chapter must keep the protagonist off-balance - things may get better for him/her, o r worse, but they need to be constantly changing. 5) Don’t spend time away from the story. 6) Think about classical structures. 7) Control your characters. Further help
CALLIHOO Writing Idea Generators: The 37 Dramatic Situations The Thirty-six (plus one) Dramatic Situations Georges Polti says that all stories boil down to just 36 dramatic situations and takeoffs of those situations. Somebody else out there added #37. (Note: In several cases, specific gender in the original descriptions has been replaced with non-specific gender. Your situation: 27. Still stuck for plot ideas? Cosmic Thoughts | Oblique Strategies | Random Science Fiction Story Ideas Four Ways to Cut Your Novel's Draft (and Make Your Story Stronger) Image from Flickr by adrperez Is your novel looking a little bloated? Do you have a sneaking feeling you’ve repeated yourself a few times? Are some of your scenes really just unnecessary padding between episodes of action? Believe me, I’ve been there. It made for a much stronger novel, and I’m hugely grateful to my editor Lorna Fergusson for her invaluable help in deciding what to cut. Now, I’m hoping your novel won’t require quite such drastic pruning as mine. How can you tell if you need to do away with some of your hard-won words? Most writers over-write. So, you’ve got work ahead. (I’ll assume that the basic building blocks of your story need to stay; you’re not about to cut out a whole character or a massive chunk of your plot at this stage.) Step #1: Cut Whole Scenes “A novelist must have the intestinal fortitude to cut out even the most brilliant passage so long as it doesn’t advance the story.” Start with the biggest, chunkiest pieces of story: scenes. (Why? Step #3: Cut Sentences
Plunge Right In... Into Your Story, That Is! by Rekha Ambardar One of the things you're required to do when taking swimming lessons is to jump in at the deep end of the pool, dive under water smoothly, and rise up to the surface. For most swimmers, diving under the water and then swimming to the surface poses hardly any problem; it's the jump at the deep end that unnerves one. Most of us prefer to ease in unobtrusively from any other area of the pool and loiter at the deep end, pretending that we did jump in. Somehow, this tendency of easing into the pool is the analogy that compares with the fictional technique of beginning storytellers -- an absolute no-no in fiction writing. Stories that grab the attention of editors are the ones that start in the middle of a critical scene, especially important in mystery fiction. Begin with Action A few years back, I might have been tempted to go into a lengthy description of why Myrna happened to be looking at travel brochures by herself. Begin in the Middle Dole out the Backstory
hero's journey "A Practical Guide to Joseph Cambell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces" by Christopher Vogler © 1985 “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” In the long run, one of the most influential books of the 20th century may turn out to be Joseph Campbell’s THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES. The book and the ideas in it are having a major impact on writing and story-telling, but above all on movie-making. The ideas Campbell presents in this and other books are an excellent set of analytical tools. With them you can almost always determine what’s wrong with a story that’s floundering; and you can find a better solution almost any story problem by examining the pattern laid out in the book. There’s nothing new in the book. Campbell’s contribution was to gather the ideas together, recognize them, articulate them, and name them. This accounts for the universal power of such stories. 1.) 2.) 3.) 4.) 5.) 6.) 7.) 8.)
Stupid Plot Tricks Excerpted from my lecture on Stupid Plotting Tricks By Teresa Nielsen Hayden Start with some principles: A plot doesn't have to be new. Looked at from this angle, the Internet's various lovingly-compiled cliche lists are a treasury of useful plot devices. 1. 2. Alternately, you can go here and have them generated for you. You're going to make a plot out of them. 3. 4. 5. 6. Did I hear someone murmur that this is overkill? Overkill is good for you! Flee, puny humans! ©2000 by Teresa Nielsen Hayden, TNH@panix.com 25 Ways To Fuck With Your Characters As storyteller, you are god. And to be frank, you’re not a particularly nice god — at least, not if you want your story to resonate with readers. A good storyteller is a crass and callous deity who treats the characters under his watchful eye like a series of troubled butt-puppets. From this essential conflict — storyteller versus character — a story is born. (After all, that’s what a plot truly is: a character who strives to get above all the shit the storyteller dumps on his fool head.) Put differently, as a storyteller it’s your job to be a dick. It’s your job to fuck endlessly with the characters twisting beneath your thumb. And here’s 25 ways for you to do just that. 1. Gods have avatars, mortal or semi-mortal beings that exist on earth to embody the deity’s agenda. 2. The audience and the character must know the stakes on the table — “If you don’t win this poker game, your grandmother will lose her beloved pet orangutan, Orange Julius.” 3. 4. 5. 6. This one? 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.
How to write a novel* Ever wanted to write a novel but had no clue how? Having just finished my fifth novel, I am now ready to pass on my accummulated novel-writing wisdom to those what have never writ one but wants to. Here is the complete, full and unexpurgated guide: First of all you need a computer. (Yeah, yeah, I know in the olden days they made do with quill, ink and paper, and typewriters—aargh! On that computer you need a word processing program. If you want to write your novel relatively quickly and productively, it should have no access to the interweb thingy, also no games, or anything other than the two aforementioned programs. Once you have your equipment set up in a suitably ergonomic way (that’s right, I’m with Scalzi on the efficacy of coffee shops—that way lies bad backs, soul-destroying one-night stands, and caffeine-stained teeth) open up your wp program and type in the title of your novel. Do not spend a lot of time on this. Do you just start the novel or do you outline? To sum up: