Tag Archives | characterization

Raising Questions in Our Stories

This post by Elizabeth Spann Craig originally appeared on her site on 8/24/15. One thing that can trip up even experienced writers is giving everything away in the story too quickly. It’s always a temptation for me. I tend to want to reveal things too quickly in my story. I want to explain everything as […]

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What Personality Features Do Heroes And Psychopaths Have In Common?

This post by Scott McGreal originally appeared on Eye on Psych on 6/28/15. A recent research paper attempts to answer the question: “Are psychopaths and heroes twigs off the same branch?” Psychopathy is usually thought of as one of the most malevolent manifestations of a disturbed personality structure as it is associated with selfishness, callousness, […]

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Understanding the Flashback—Bending Time as a Literary Device

This post by Kristen Lamb originally appeared on her blog on 6/15/15. Last time we talked about flashbacks and why they ruin fiction. But, because this is a blog and I don’t want it to be 20,000 words long, I can’t address everything in one post. Today, we’re going to further unpack “the flashback.” I […]

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How to Write Character Reaction Patterns

This post by David Wiseheart originally appeared on Character Secrets on 3/20/15. Writing teachers, story coaches, and screenwriting gurus often say: “Story comes from character.” Or: “Story is character.” And that’s true. Unfortunately, these writing teachers rarely go into detail about what that actually means. Or how it works. Well, I’m about to show you […]

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The Mystery Writer's Toolbox

This post by by Shannon Roberts & Renni Browne originally appeared on The Editorial Department on 4/21/15. A look at what’s inside and its relevance to all genres Questions. Motives. Clues. Red herrings. Villains. Suspense. All of these are elements in any good mystery. And all of them should be elements in your novel—whether it […]

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How Mad Max: Fury Road Turns Your Writing Advice Into Roadkill

This post by Chuck Wendig originally appeared on his terribleminds site on 5/26/15. Warning: strong language. Said it before, will say it again: Mad Max: Fury Road is the dust-choked rocket-fueled orifice-clenching crank-mad feminist wasteland batfuck doomsday opera you didn’t know you needed. It’s like eating fireworks. It’s like being inside a rust tornado. It’s […]

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9 Tips for Writing an Insane Character

This post by Tiana Warner originally appeared on Indies Unlimited on 9/30/14. Nothing beats a good insane character. They’re unpredictable, obsessive, totally spellbinding … and hard to write. Their arcs and motivations can differ completely from ordinary characters. Saying you’re going to write an insane character, however, is like going to a steakhouse and ordering […]

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Friday Five: Discworld's 5 Best Supporting Characters

This post by Graeme Neill originally appeared on Pornokitsch on 3/27/15. The warmth of tributes to Terry Pratchett’s passing – from Neil Gaiman’s sadness at the death of a friend to Nick Harkaway’s exploration of his comedic chops – showed just how loved he was. Broadly ignored by critics and awards, Pratchett was content to write deeply […]

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The Difference Between “Flawed” Characters and “Too Dumb to Live”

This post by Kristen Lamb originally appeared on her blog on 3/9/15. Which is more important? Plot or character? Though an interesting discussion—sort of like, Could Ronda Rousey take a Klingon with only her bare hands?—it isn’t really a useful discussion for anything other than fun. To write great fiction, we need both. Plot and […]

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Going Cold: Writing Emotion, the Earley Scale, and the Brilliance of Edwidge Danticat

This essay by Dylan Landis originally appeared on Brevity on 2/7/15. In a scene that is central to Edwidge Danticat’s novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, eighteen-year-old Sophie Caco’s mother guides her gently to her bedroom and “tests” her for virginity—with a finger, just as Sophie’s grandmother tested the mother and her sister every week. It’s an […]

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Is “Likeability” Only an Issue if the Character is Female?

This post by Kirsten Reach originally appeared on the Melville House site on 11/18/14. Asked whether she’d want to be friends with the protagonist in her latest novel, Claire Messud famously quipped in an interview with Publishers Weekly last year, “Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert?” Nora, the main character in The Woman Upstairs, might […]

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The Missed Opportunities in Weakness

This post by Elisabeth Lane originally appeared on Cooking Up Romance on 12/4/14. Anyone who’s been following this blog for awhile probably knows that I’ll take a “beta” hero over an “alpha” hero any day, but that mostly I wish the distinction didn’t exist. Actually, I don’t think sociology upholds the dichotomy at all so […]

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The Psychology Behind Loving a Killer

This post by author and criminologist Jennifer Chase originally appeared on her site on 11/22/14. As regular readers of my novels or this blog (or likely just anyone with whom I strike up a conversation) will know, I have a longstanding fascination with the criminal mind. What makes a serial killer commit the heinous acts […]

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The Three Kinds of Scenes, According to Mike Nichols

This post by Dana Stevens originally appeared on Slate on 11/20/14. “There are only three kinds of scenes: a fight, a seduction or a negotiation,” the protean director Mike Nichols, who died yesterday at age 83, liked to say. It was an idea he often returned to in interviews, often appending as a coda this […]

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Why Your Character’s Goal Needs to Be 1 of These 5 Things

This post by K.M. Weiland originally appeared on her Helping Writers Become Authors site on 10/24/14. Every story comes down to just one thing. Know what it is? Conflict’s a good guess (“no conflict, no story” and all that), but before a story can offer conflict, it has to first offer something else: desire. In […]

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