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, […]

A Writer’s Serendipity or How Research Saved My Book

As a blogger and science nerd, I try to keep up with science news from a variety of sources. Oddly, that curiosity rarely benefits my writing. My writing style follows a diagonal on the chart below: Lawful Plantser, True Plantser, and Chaotic Plotter. And that’s pretty much how my research goes, too. I start with a plan and end going off script. This is the story of a writer’s serendipity or how research saved my book. My Research Method Targeted research is when one narrows their topic and is very selective in choosing books and articles for said research. Targeted research is always my intent, it rarely is what gives me the most inspiration. I love Google Maps. They allow me to “travel to” areas I’ve never visited. But the maps don’t give me the smells, the texture, or the mood of the place. For those, I search out travel blogs, expat blogs, and personal blogs. Sometimes, I reach out to a blogger for more details. Usually, bloggers respond with more information than I need. And that’s a lovely thing. Sometimes, I need more hands-on research. That may mean a visit to a museum or a road trip to a […]