Getting To Know Your Characters
Interesting characters that readers care about are the most important 'ingredients' in your novel.
That might sound like a fairly sweeping statement, but think about it.
You can have a wonderful plot with twists and turns and a humdinger of a surprise ending... but if the reader doesn't believe in your characters, all that plotting has gone to waste.
You can have a setting that seems so vivid you could imagine walking into it... but if the reader is bored by your characters, you might as well have not described the setting at all.
Characters are all important. To identify with them, the reader must believe in them. The reader must like them (at least the main character) - otherwise, why bother reading about them?
TIPS ON CREATING CHARACTERS READERS CARE ABOUT
1. You have to get inside the character's skin.
Why? The reader 'becomes' the main character. What happens to that character happens to the reader. If she is cold, the reader is cold. If she is in despair, the reader feels that heavy weight of hopelessness. If she is scared, the reader looks over his shoulder. A common problem with beginning writers' manuscripts is that the story is told 'from a distance' - it's as though someone is looking on, rather than being in the scene and experiencing everything for herself.
2. You must have the main character stay 'in character'.
Don't let her do something foolish just because you need to get her into a sticky situation to suit the plot. Don't let her suddenly become 'helpless' just so someone else can rescue her. The same applies in reverse: don't let her suddenly start taking incomprehensible risks if you have shown her thus far to be sensible and moderate.
3. You need to give your characters a backstory.
Your characters should not appear as though they've sprung fully formed into the world. Our life experiences leave their mark on us all - it's the same with your characters. Take the time to sit and think about your character: build a profile on paper if you think that will help.
What were the key experiences in this person's life? What was the worst thing that ever happened to her? What was the best thing? How would she react if physically attacked? How would she react if verbally attacked? What was her childhood like? What were her parents like? What are her politics? When you really know your characters, their actions and words will flow far more eaily from your brain to the page (or screen!).
4. You must think carefully about your characters' names.
The number one rule: try to avoid having two characters with names that look similar on the page. Laura and Linda. Brendan and Ben. Nick and Mick. The reader can easily get confused.
The number two rule: choose names that are appropriate for the generation into which your character was born. Many new children's writers use names that are thirty years out of date. Think about the people you know of different ages. What are their names? What are their friends' names?
The number three rule: Choose names that suit the character. The reader can be totally turned off if you (for example) use an ugly name for a beautiful girl - unless this is relevant to the story, such as someone being teased unmercifully throughout her childhood because of an ugly name, so she still bears the mental scars when the story opens.
A FINAL TIP:
When you finish a book with a sense of regret because you don't want to leave well-liked characters behind, put on your writer's hat. Why did these characters appeal so much? Can you identify any techniques the writer has used? (Think about how the writer has appealed to the emotions of the reader - this is usually the key to strong identification with characters.)
(c) copyright Marg McAlister
Marg McAlister has published magazine articles, short stories, books for children, ezines, promotional material, sales letters and web content. She has written 5 distance education courses on writing, and her online help for writers is popular all over the world. Sign up for her regular writers' tipsheet at http://www.writing4success.com/
Strategies For Finding Topics To Write About
What possibly could I have to write about? I never was good at it anyway. It doesn't matter how hard I try, I just sit and stare and stare at a blank screen.
Writing the PDA Way
When we think of writing it triggers many thoughts and visions depending on our framing. It could trigger a lone man with a full astray, unshaven, staring at an old plunking typewriter with white blank crisp paper waiting in anticipation for his words.
Pairs/Groups Of Words Often Confused - Part 2 of 6
Grow Your Ideas Without Letting Words Grow Like Weeds
Q: How do I expand on an idea without getting too wordy?
A Writers Personal Cheer Squad
We all need a cheer squad.
I call it cheap therapy. That gushing, near-religious, poured-from-the-body stress release that comes after writing my heart out for hours each day, delivers more balm to my soul than years of psychoanalysis.
Using Metaphor Effectively
We've all heard a politician on their soapbox, pushing for some policy change or cleaning up after a scandal. Some will cut out a sharp point, while others leave the audience in bewilderment. You can often thank - or blame - the use of metaphor for the outcome of a speech.
Keys to Characterisation
Far too many inexperienced writers create flat, stereotypical characters: the brave fireman, the damsel in distress, the strict schoolmistress. The best characters are those who evoke emotions within the reader ? fear, admiration, affection, laughter, horror? If the writer fails to make us care about the characters, no matter how ingenious the plot, we will toss the story aside without a second thought.
Freelance or Staff
There is no doubt that a staff writer enjoys advantages not availed by the freelancer. However, there are benefits available to the freelancer that a staff writer can never expect.
Write SMART: How to Create Terrific Writing Goals - And Achieve Them!
Open up your favorite calendar and circle today's date.
In Praise of Personal Pronouns
Rudolph Flesch, a pioneering advocate of readability, put great stock in the liveliness of the written word.
Become the Writer You Always Dreamed of Being
So you want to be a writer, except you don't know where to begin. Heck you can't even think of something to write about let alone how you're going to get paid for writing. Maybe you have gotten over those humps but can't figure out why you're not a successful, awarding winning writer yet. Well, here are several tips to get you through all of those problems and then some.
How to Write Words Worth a Thousand Pictures
Our Image-Driven Society
Top Ten Ways to Write a Book That Sells
Is there a book inside of you? Yes? Then why don't you write it? Or, if you've already written a book, wouldn't you like to sell more? So many of you have a great idea for a book, even a dynamite title, but much more is needed to write a book that sells. Here's the top ten ways to write a book that sells:
Use Real-Life Templates For Writing Success
At some point along the way, most of us have used what arecommonly called "fill-in-the-blank" writing templates. Wemight have used them to write a letter, format an essay, orset-up a resume or CV.
Overcome Writers Block with Snake Dancing
Writer's block! Even columnist Dave Berry has it. He admits that at least 30 times a day when writing his humor column, he gets up from his computer to sip his Pepsi to divert his attention when he can't think of what to write. Recently, he reached for the cola and instead found a coiled snake. He tried barbecue tongs to carry it away, but when it landed in his pool, he kept the dance going trying to catch the thing.
Top Ten Ways to Write Like a Pro Checklist
Sure you can write, but can you write crisp, compelling copy thatezine publishers, related Web sites, and book audiences willclamor for?
Editing for Perfection ? The Personal Statement
This article contains a short guide on how to edit your personal statement and create tension and suspense within your writing. For most potential students there are some clear reasons why they wish to embark on university. Writing the personal statement for university submissions is one of the most difficult, daunting tasks for any potential student. This article will offer insight into how you should build up tension and suspense and how to edit your personal statement ? which is one area where students tend to overlook.
A Beginners Guide to Writing a Novel
No one is born a novel writer. But do you believe that we all have the capability to be writers? Impossible as it may seem but the answer is yes! If we have the passion for it and if we strive to make it happen, novelwriting can be as easy as writing ABC. Writing is actually not a very complicated thing. It is just like drawing, painting, and even cooking. It is an art! Your imagination is all that it takes to get it started. What makes it hard is not writing itself but how people make it harder than it really is.
A Few Brief Tips to Deal with Writing Rejection
What to do when you get rejected.
|© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013|