Better Characters through Lies, Secrets and Scars

This week I’m revisiting and improving a post I wrote in 2019. Lies, Secrets, and Scars Create Better Characters appears today on the Writers in the Storm Blog. You may remember this post but it’s been improved with examples. If you check it out on the WITS blog, please say hi.  Lies, Secrets, and Scars Create Better Characters Many writers spend days, weeks, months, even years creating characters using complex character profile worksheets. The best characters aren’t a collection of data points on a worksheet. Depending upon data points like the genre, physical attributes, favorite desert, or what he’s wearing may disrupt story flow even to the point of what many call writer’s block. Not that those data points are unimportant, but focusing on the lies, secrets, and scars of your characters will give your stories power. That emotional journey ties everything together into a book your readers can’t put down. The Why Lisa Cron calls it your character’s misbelief. KM Weiland calls it your character’s lie. Brandilyn Collins calls it inner values. And Donald Maass says it’s how we get readers to make their own emotional journey. What are they talking about? Most people have morals, values, or other […]

Good News During My Most Difficult Year

This year has been beyond difficult. But once in a while something wonderful comes along. I am supremely happy to share that a dear friend recommended me to the Writers in the Storm (WITS) team. And they invited me to join them! So there is good news during my most difficult year. It is my honor and pleasure to let you know that my first WITS blog post is on that site today! I’ve shared a portion of it here, but if you’re interested in learning more, please go to the Writers in the Storm blog (link at the end of the excerpt). If you’re unfamiliar with the WITS blog, it is a blog created in 2010 by a group of seasoned writers. Its focus is on writing craft and inspiration. And has been in the Writer’s Digest list of top 101 blogs for writers many times. Want to know more? Visit their about page. Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths There are writers whose characters jump off the page to live in your head. Lyrical writers can make music on the page that goes straight to your heart. And writers of intricate plots with twists and turns that thrill and […]

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 […]