Breathe Life Into Your Characters

Writers are told to breathe life into your characters. But how? Some how-to experts claim that to write believable characters you must fill out page after page identifying every mundane detail of their lives. Is it wrong to do so? No. Some writers may need tool to learn who their characters are. Unfortunately, many writers take this advice to heart and spend days, weeks, months crafting the “perfect character” whose wooden speech and actions leave readers cold. There are four basic points you need to understand in order to create realistic, relatable characters. The Basics Yes, your character needs a name, a background, and likes and dislikes. But details will not make your character real. Breathing life into your characters takes understanding people and, dare I say it, liking people. More importantly, it takes understanding yourself. If you don’t understand why and how you react to the triumphs and tragedies of your life, your characters will fall flatter. No, you don’t need a degree in psychology, but you need to understand basic personality types and how they are likely to react to different trials and triumphs. Don’t know where to start? Document your daily emotional reactions. Explore why you reacted […]

Without Sequels Your Reader Won’t Care

You’ve got a fantastic idea for a book of fiction. A great conflict drives the story and you write action scene after action scene in a burst of creativity. But without sequels your reader won’t care. No, not the sequel to the book. The sequels to your scenes. Sequel is one of the most important parts of your story. What Is a Scene’s Sequel  Most authors of how-to-write books use the term scene and define that term in the same way. For the sequel, different authors label it differently, but the functions remain the same. Dwight V. Swain calls this unit of storytelling a sequel and describes as “a unit of transition between two scenes.” James Scott Bell calls it reaction and Robert McKee calls it the “emotional transition.” Merriam Webster defines sequel as “consequence, results.” Think of it this way: your protagonist fought a battle (real or figurative) with the antagonist. Win or lose, both your character and your reader need a moment of recovery. That moment of recovery, the sequel reveals how your protagonist reacts to this win or lose. It can be a few sentences or paragraphs or pages. There are three parts to a sequel: Reaction, […]

Add Power to Your Creativity with the Basics

Whether you are just learning about your creativity or have been a creative forever, you can add power to your creativity with the basics. Regular review of the basics of your craft will keep your skills sharp. But remember to revisit these eight basics of creativity. That will also sharpen your skills. Create Something Every Day Create even when you don’t feel like it. Be your own boss, expect results. Even if you can only spend fifteen minutes right after you get up or during your lunch break… whenever. Creating something every day is akin to exercising. You strengthen that creative muscle by exercising daily. When your habit is to create something every day, your creativity will be there on the days when you don’t feel like working. Always Have Your Basic Tools on Hand Tools can be anything. Pen, paper, ink, software, hardware, techniques, reference books, even your workspace. It’s okay if you can’t afford the optimal tools right away, but you can grow your collection of tools.  One tool I strongly recommend is an ergonomic workspace. • Practice Your Craft’s Basics All arts have basic rules or guidelines. Make it a habit to review the basics via a […]