Articles about character development

Writing Characters & Making Decisions: "What Kind of Story Are You Telling?"

by Kathy Edens Mar 28, 2018

Writing Characters & Making Decisions: "What Kind of Story Are You Telling?"

Let’s take a look at the four types of stories that Orson Scott Card says comprises every novel. He uses the acronym "MICE", which stands for milieu, idea, character, event.

Within this framework, Card argues something deeply contoversial: not all novels require in-depth characterization.

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How to Write a Mind-Blowing Plot Twist Like Gone Girl

by Kathy Edens Mar 12, 2018

How to Write a Mind-Blowing Plot Twist Like Gone Girl

As an author, don’t you want to create the mind-blowing plot twist that leaves readers begging you to write more books? Maybe the kind that result in big movie deals…

Wait. If your writing is a means to an end, it’s doubtful your plot twist will make the big bang needed to get on the big screen. Because you can’t force a plot twist; readers will smell it a mile away.

Do it authentically and you’ll create a feverish tension that keeps readers turning the pages to see how this new twist will play out next. Or you’ll end on a final piece of information that changes everything, resonating with readers long after the last page. Here’s how it works.

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Writing Characters: Digging Beyond Life

by Kathy Edens Mar 05, 2018

Writing Characters: Digging Beyond Life

Start with a real-life person—yourself. Plumb all your deep, dark places and put yourself in the shoes of your main character. You are a well of inspiration. Make this your jumping-off point to create truly believable characters.

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Writing App Reviews: the Outlining Your Novel Workbook

by Kathy Edens Feb 18, 2018

Writing App Reviews: the Outlining Your Novel Workbook

Whether you are a planner or a pants-er, if you haven’t checked out the Outline Your Novel program, you’re missing out. I spent hours with this software and have never felt a more powerful urge to create.

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How to Write Historical Fiction (without a history degree)

by Kathy Edens Feb 08, 2018

How to Write Historical Fiction (without a history degree)

If you are an HF writer, hats off to you! I learned haters will find the smallest discrepancy in your writing and crow it from the rooftops. Perhaps HF writers have extra thick skin. Whatever their impetus, they don’t necessarily have a love of history per se—and certainly don’t need a degree. They find either a period, an event, or historical person thoroughly interesting and decide to dig deeper.

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Belief, Emotional Involvement, Clarity: What Every Character Needs

by Kathy Edens Feb 05, 2018

Belief, Emotional Involvement, Clarity: What Every Character Needs

We’re continuing our monthly installment series on creating amazing characters using Orson Scott Card’s seminal book, Elements of Fiction Writing: Characters & Viewpoint. This month, we cover the three elements every characters needs and why you must deliver.

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Inventing Characters: A Character is What He Does, His Motives, and His Past

by Kathy Edens Jan 02, 2018

Inventing Characters: A Character is What He Does, His Motives, and His Past

Characters in books give us insight into the human condition. We learn how people behave and what’s in human nature from our favorite characters in books and on the big screen.

Orson Scott Card says out of the multiple ways to get to know someone, the most powerful and the ones that make the strongest impression are:

  • What your character does
  • What his or her motives are
  • What they’ve done in the past

Let’s look at these and a few other ways of getting to know your characters.

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How to Break the Rules of Fiction

by Kathy Edens Dec 13, 2017

How to Break the Rules of Fiction

Have you noticed how many rules you must follow when writing your novel? Some of them, like having a strong beginning, engaging middle, and exciting conclusion, are good advice. Then other rules, like how to format your novel for submission and checking submission guidelines first, are pretty strict. Finally, there are rules meant to be broken.

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How Non-Chronological Writing Can Create Character Empathy

by Kathy Edens Dec 12, 2017

How Non-Chronological Writing Can Create Character Empathy

Shifting back and forth in time creates suspense. Your readers can unravel the past and understand the ramifications in the present a little at a time. It creates a tension that makes your books hard to put down.

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4 Writing Issues You are Probably Missing When You Self-Edit

by Elle W. Silver Dec 12, 2017

4 Writing Issues You are Probably Missing When You Self-Edit

Having a relationship with an editor you can trust, one who is flexible enough to work around your tight schedule is one way to do it. But even then, you need to ensure the that your editor is spending most of her time on the meat of your story like plot and character development, and less time on the technical stuff like sentence construction and word choice. Ideally, you want your text to be as tight as possible BEFORE you send it to your editor.

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The Myth of One and Done: Why you need to edit multiple times

by Kate Sullivan Dec 07, 2017

The Myth of One and Done: Why you need to edit multiple times

A finished manuscript is not a polished manuscript, and editors, agents, and readers want a polished manuscript—a finished product that lives up to the quality standards we’ve come to expect.

Whether you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, a blog post, a magazine article, or any other piece of professional writing, you need to edit your work.

And you need to edit it multiple times!

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Fixing First Draft Problems: 6 questions to ask

by Bridget McNulty Dec 07, 2017

Fixing First Draft Problems: 6 questions to ask

Learning how to write a book is a many-stepped process – finding a story idea you love, outlining, drafting, rewriting and editing. Although you will encounter challenges during your first draft, asking good questions and acting on your answers will help you keep focused and finish:

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Don’t Go Alone! Take a Cowriter

by Jessie Smith Nov 25, 2017

Don’t Go Alone! Take a Cowriter

I have known my cowriter for six years. It’s a long story full of coincidences and serendipity, but it completely changed my writing process. I rely on her in so many ways.

We both wrote on an anonymous writing website where we worked on stories under pseudonyms. My cowriter and I met in the typical way: she reviewed my chapter, and out of common courtesy, I reviewed hers in return. We liked each other’s work, so we continued to follow and review, and we eventually started private messaging. Even then, we mostly talked about our writing, but over time, we started getting to know each other beyond our pseudonyms.

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Why Every Heroine Does Not Need a Love Interest

by Kathy Edens Nov 06, 2017

Why Every Heroine Does Not Need a Love Interest

There are almost no authors writing female characters that don't depend on a romance subplot to carry a book. That's because the Hero's Journey, Campbell's famous framework for the classic tale of a hero on a quest, doesn't work well for a female protagonist.

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How to Write an Elizabeth Bennet Better Than the Original

by Kathy Edens Oct 25, 2017

How to Write an Elizabeth Bennet Better Than the Original

What do we love so much about Elizabeth Bennet? She's strong, and she's feisty. Just because she's expected to act a certain way doesn't mean she'll bend her convictions and change her behavior. She's real, right?

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Writing App Reviews: A Comparison of the Best

by Kathy Edens Oct 17, 2017

Writing App Reviews: A Comparison of the Best

Here at ProWritingAid, we're geekily interested in writing tech, almost obsessively. And in honor of the upcoming NaNoWriMo, we thought we'd do a roundup of the apps we've reviewed over the years. Links to our full reviews are throughout.

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How to Create a Nemesis Like The Joker

by Kathy Edens Oct 06, 2017

How to Create a Nemesis Like The Joker

Think of some of the great nemesis pairs in fiction: Harry Potter and Voldemort, Katniss Everdeen and President Snow, Professor Xavier and Magneto, Superman and Lex Luthor… But there's none better than Batman and The Joker.

The Joker is responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life like paralyzing Batgirl and murdering Robin. He's such a popular character that he's ranked 8th on the list of Greatest Comic Book Characters of All Time. One reason he's the perfect nemesis is The Joker is the complete and utter opposite of Batman: he's savage, violent, unpredictable, and will do anything because he has no respect for human life. As Michael Caine said in Dark Knight, The Joker "just wants to see the world burn."

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Writing App Reviews… Beemgee

by Kathy Edens Sep 27, 2017

Writing App Reviews… Beemgee

Everyone at ProWritingAid loves tech that helps us write better, faster, easier, etc. It's one reasons we get up every morning. When we stumbled across Beemgee and their amazing writing tool, we asked Kathy Edens to check it out for us.

Let's take a closer look at the Beemgee novel outlining and storytelling tool to see how it can help you develop compelling characters and an engaging plot.

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How to Use Satire Like Mark Twain

by Kathy Edens Sep 21, 2017

How to Use Satire Like Mark Twain

Writers who use satire to get their point across do so by wielding humor, wit, irony, or sarcasm. They expose an individual or society for its weaknesses, corruption, hypocrisy, or foolishness. And no one does it better than Mark Twain.

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Plot of Gold 30-day Challenge

by ProWritingAid Sep 15, 2017

Plot of Gold 30-day Challenge

Are you ready to create a strong, thorough outline for your novel? Brilliant!

From September to November this year, ProWritingAid will be paying for its community to have FREE access for 30 days to Beemgee's world-class novel-outlining software.

Whether you are preparing for NaNoWriMo or just ready to finally write that book, this 30-day challenge is crucial for getting you to the finish line.

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