Archive for the ‘Believable Characters’ Category

When Things are Dramatically Complete

March 20, 2020

Photo: Kromlau Bridge (also known as Devil’s Bridge) in Gablenz, Germany

I don’t think anyone would argue writing fiction, whether it’s a novel or a short-story, is a craft. One that requires an adept handling of many elements. But what does adept handling mean?

Every author is different, of course.

Lately, like a lot of folks during this coronavirus scare, I’m stuck in the house…and I’m writing. I think it’s worth mentioning again that I don’t write to an outline. In other words, I don’t plan ahead before drafting my stories.

The reason?

It’s simple. I don’t want to know beforehand what’s going to happen. If I know the direction it’s going to take, it probably won’t be a good book, because I write to find out what the characters have to tell me.

If I already know, it will bore me…and I’ll likely bore the reader, too.

I shoot for an organic development that leads the characters, and the reader, to a place where each character, for better or worse, is somewhere new. Sometimes, like in the picture above, that might seem like it’s right back at the beginning.

But, if I’ve done it right, they are there in such a way they have grown measurably, and perhaps actually know that place for the first time. Dramatically, they are complete.

It’s Never One Size Fits All
But keep in mind that in fiction, just like in life, one size never fits all. Even the blank spaces, the things that are left unsaid, should be unspoken for a reason.

I’ve been writing for years, but I’m still amazed how stories evolve as you work on them. For instance, some of my writing comes out in long bursts of prose, while some seems to go on the page at a plodding pace. It can be frustrating.

However, regardless of the pace, I always consider two key questions: What is absolutely necessary to telling the story and, perhaps more important, how can the author know this?

A good story is an emotional labyrinth, after all, a maze you find your way through as the characters tell you about it. Well-done stories can transport readers and ignite imaginations…but crafting them is easier said than done.

The imagined world you create in your writing can be liberating. It can also be a daunting challenge. After all, if you plan to welcome readers into that world of your creation, it has to be somewhere they, as an audience, will want to live…at least for a short time.

Focus on the Details
World-building does not mean you have to throw everything about day-to-day reality out the window. Always remember…no matter where they are, people are people.

Build your stories around a core of realistic characters and relatable behavior, and it will make your imagined world that much more captivating. The more you can strategically and artistically throw in such content, the more engrossing your world will feel to readers.

Few things turn a reader off faster than a world that doesn’t make sense or, worse, refuses to play by its own rules. After all, readers give an author the benefit of the doubt when they suspend disbelief and allow themselves to live in your world.

Making the imagined worlds internally consistent is the responsibility authors owe them in return. As the writer, give yourself space to explore and discover your new world in the same way your readers will when it’s their turn to experience it.

Believe me, it will be an immense benefit to your efforts.

**********

The book-signing scheduled at the Leon & Lulu Books and Authors Event in Clawson on March 22, 2020 has been postponed. Please check their website for updates.

**********

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Writing Your Own Life Story

April 14, 2019

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

I believe the wisdom and power to create real change lives not only in the experiences of leaders and community builders … but in the things that happen to everyday people all over the world. Each one of us has a story born from our life experience.

We often forget, by offering up our stories we can help others understand their own. We build a structure with our truth so other people can shelter there. In this way, a memoir is not self-indulgent but a road map for the human experience.

Your story also deserves to be told but, unless you’re someone really famous, it’s probably your own responsibility to tell it. Are you ready to share your life story with the world?

Develop a Concept
A memoir captures a period of time or a set of events in your life, rather than cataloging your experience from cradle to grave (that’s an autobiography or biography).

In order to appeal to an audience beyond your friends and family, you must bridge the gap between your life and that of your reader.

Most aspiring authors feel overwhelmed before they even begin. Below are some tips to help you on your way to sharing your story.

You need a solid concept that invites the reader’s concerns into the experience. To get them reading, it has to be more than something saying, “Let me tell you all about wonderful me.”

Consider the elements of your story that are universal and find ways to write them so your reader can imagine their own life through the lens of your circumstances.

Make It Memorable
You can make your nonfiction book as memorable as its fictional counterparts by using sensory language. By that, I mean language that conveys how you felt, what you saw, heard, smelled, and tasted during the scenes you present.

Before you write a pivotal scene, take yourself back to the place, time, and emotion of the moment. Once you’ve transported yourself back to that moment, write your scene.

When you’ve gotten it down on the page, go back and look for ways to vary your language to make it richer and more interesting.

Break out your thesaurus if that helps!

Include Details
Writing in detail takes time to develop, but not as much as you might think. It has helped me in my own writing. View the world in small sections. That limited focus can help you really hone-in on detail.

Construct your book scene-by-scene, moment-by-moment. See the minutiae … the crack etched in the sidewalk cement, the one green pea that rolled under the table, the rim of grease under the thumbnail of your father as he cuts the Thanksgiving turkey. When you add detail to your writing, you are painting with words, and you can use all the colors!

Details like that make the difference, so show them to your readers!

Your Story is Exceptional
You’ve lived through, learned, discovered, or developed something, and you’re still busy living your life. You’re out accomplishing things. What better time is there to write a book about your own life story than now? Don’t keep it to yourself!

Believe it or not, someone out there may need your message. When you share what you know and what you’ve learned, you may become part of the solution for someone.

You may not think of yourself as a writer, but you can do anything you want to do. What do you have to lose? When will there ever be a better moment than now? You don’t need to learn the publishing industry or take writing classes to write your book. You simply need to get your message out into the world.

Writing a book about yourself is definitely a big hurdle, perhaps comparable to running a marathon. But, just like that epic race, once you do it, you may look back and want to do it again.

What are you waiting for?

**********

I’ll be joining other authors signing books at Detroit Festival of Books at Eastern Market on July 21 and at SterlingFest in Sterling Heights, Michigan on July 27.

**********

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

What About Character Development?

February 23, 2019


I’ve talked about this a lot. Fiction writers all have the same goal … to transport their readers inside the pages so they feel like they’re walking along as a part of the story.

Memorable characters are an extremely important part of making that happen. In fact, they should drive the story. Mine do it so well they sometimes argue with me.

So how does one develop effective, memorable characters?

Not every character merits equal attention. Of course, when you don’t devote enough time to him you get a one-dimensional character. It may be okay if his role isn’t very significant.

But if it is significant, trust me, that character needs to be fleshed out.

His actions should make sense with his role. To become believable and memorable, he should behave in ways that are consistent with how you’ve developed him.

If a character behaves in a way that doesn’t make sense, your readers will notice it. Inconsistency will jar them. In fact, it will probably jar them right out of the story.

Don’t Make Your Characters Perfect
It’s also hard to empathize with a perfect person. Perfection doesn’t exist in real life. The fictional characters we create need to feel like real people and everyone, no matter how noble, is flawed in some way. Learn to capitalize on those flaws.

Plus, if you don’t have a firm picture of each character in your own mind, they’re going to be shaky on the page.

That being said, there’s a tendency for some writers to throw too much at the reader all at once … to give a full physical description, tell the life story, and reveal the innermost thoughts of a character as soon as he is introduced.

But that’s not the best approach.

The Devil is in the Details
Think about each character you’re creating. The reader is undoubtedly meeting him for the first time. When you first introduce him, you should certainly include a few details, but his personality and motivation should be revealed gradually through his actions.

Just like real life, observing him interacting with others is how we really get to know him.

Base Characters on Real People
Some writers think this is cheating, but I do it all the time. I take a character and give him the personality of someone I know (either real or from observation). I create (for myself) a short biography of each character and then imagine what he would do in a “what if” question that’s the heart of most of my stories.

As I mentioned before, I like to observe human behavior … how they talk, their mannerisms, what they wear, their attitudes and body language. I incorporate all of that into my writing.

Everybody Has a History
Where we came from shapes us and molds us. And, even if you don’t reveal your characters’ past to your readers, you, as the author, should know about it. You should have full biographies of your main characters in your mind so you understand what drives them.

Why is this important?

Because if you don’t completely understand a character, your readers won’t either.

Don’t Neglect Secondary Characters
Sidekicks can be some of the most interesting characters in the story. They’re often the readers’ favorites … sort of like the supporting instruments in a symphony. Every one serves a purpose.

I hear other authors tell me the villain is their favorite character, the one they love to write about. Bad guys can be very tough to do well, and it can be even tougher to get readers to empathize with them. So, whenever you write about a villain, keep in mind that he needs to be just as well-developed as your main characters.

He should have redeeming characteristics, just like your heroes will have flaws.

Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” is a great example. He was one of my favorite characters in the story, even though he’s not a hero. Poor Gollum is obviously ruled by evil most of the time, but he’s also a well-drawn victim. We empathize with him, and feel sorry for him.

He is a great antagonist. We have hope for him … we wish he could be redeemed. A moment later we loathe and despise him all over again, and wish somebody would squash him like a bug, because he’s so annoying. Characters like this can be among the most difficult to create, but they are also some of the most satisfying.

Your readers will stay with you to the end of the journey, if you just remember, better characters make better stories.

* * * * *

Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

**********

You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.


%d bloggers like this: