Articles about character development

How to Construct a 3D Main Character

by Kathy Edens Jan 03, 2017

How to Construct a 3D Main Character Have you ever read something and about 50 pages into it, you’re just not feeling the main character? You’re either not invested in her conflict or she’s kind of … boring.

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Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016

by Lisa Lepki Dec 19, 2016

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016

Here are the posts from our blog that most resonated with our readers this year. Did your favorite make the list?

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How to Create Tension Like Andy Weir did in The Martian

by Kathy Edens Dec 12, 2016

How to Create Tension Like Andy Weir did in The Martian

If you haven’t read The Martian, it’s 369 pages of full-on tension. Mark Watney, the main character, faces one set-back after another as he’s fighting for his life on Mars. The stakes are pretty high; if he doesn’t get off Mars soon, he’ll die.

Weir is a master at creating tension. Just when things are finally going right for Watney, Weir pulls the rug out from under his feet. We watch as Watney perseveres through untenable disasters that would crush the rest of us. Weir keeps readers asking throughout the story, “How’s he going to get out of this one?”

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NaNoWriMo's Finished: What do I do Next?

by Kathy Edens Dec 12, 2016

NaNoWriMo's Finished: What do I do Next?

It’s time to burst your bubble. Sorry! The typical paperback novel is between 80,000 and 100,000 words long. Yes, you completed 50,000 words, and that’s an amazing achievement in 30 days. But 50,000 words does not a novel make.

The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that it releases you from worrying about what you’re writing, trying to make it perfect, and instead you just focus on getting words down on the page. And that is a serious accomplishment: 50,000 words in 30 days. NaNoWriMo hopefully taught you that when you’re not seeking perfection, you can get an amazing amount of words out instead of staring at a blank page.

So, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you’ve likely got more work ahead on that novel of yours. Here's what you need to know...

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How to Foreshadow Like Alfred Hitchcock

by Kathy Edens Nov 21, 2016

How to Foreshadow Like Alfred Hitchcock

Foreshadowing allows you to plant clues, hint at what’s to come, build the tension, or even place a red herring in your reader’s path.

You can use foreshadowing in a variety of ways. The resulting action can be immediate or delayed. You can use dialogue or narrative to set the scene, and you can foreshadow a symbolic event or an ethical dilemma. You can use direct or indirect foreshadowing, and it can even be true or false.

Foreshadowing can feed the tension of a scene. Who doesn’t know the famous shower scene in the movie Psycho? Right before the character Marion Crane pulls up to the Bates Motel, her windshield wipers are slashing through the rain, foreshadowing what awaits her in the shower scene.

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Flashbacks: A Writer’s Best Friend (or Worst Enemy)

by ProWritingAid Nov 21, 2016

Flashbacks: A Writer’s Best Friend (or Worst Enemy)

A flashback is a scene you use in your current narrative to show something that happened in the past. The two key differentiators are: 1) it must be a scene (as opposed to narration about an event), and 2) it’s past news.

Flashbacks are great for building three-dimensional characters because readers gains insight on how a character’s thoughts, feelings, and morals were formed by important events. They’re also useful for dropping hints about what happened to lead your main character to the current point in time. They help your readers understand and care deeply about your characters and what happens to them.

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Can Distractions Actually Boost a Writer's Productivity?

by Tess Pajaron Oct 12, 2016

Can Distractions Actually Boost a Writer's Productivity?

As a writer, you may dream of a day where you can sit down at your desk and simply write, with no distractions. Instead, you have to deal with phone calls and emails, and people coming over to talk to you. You have the whole of the internet at your fingertips to distract you, as well as the sounds of the outside world. You can even be distracted by your own thoughts.

But what if we are thinking of these distractions in the wrong way? Could they be something that actually improves your productivity?

Let’s take a look at the ways in which this could be true.

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How to Seamlessly Shift Between POV Characters

by Kathy Edens Oct 07, 2016

How to Seamlessly Shift Between POV Characters

Very occasionally some exceptional writers can get away with shifting Point of View (POV) between two characters within the same sentence. Most of us, however, should avoid this kind of head-hopping.

Where Faulkner and Joyce are masters at POV shifting (and they make it seem so effortless), here are a few rules the rest of us should follow when shifting between characters.

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What's the Difference Between Narrative and Exposition?

by ProWritingAid Sep 14, 2016

What's the Difference Between Narrative and Exposition?

Sometimes, narrative and exposition are used synonymously to explain parts of a novel that “narrate” information for the reader. They are, in fact, different devices used to give the reader information. Used appropriately, narrative and exposition affect the pacing of your story.

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Write What You Know? Think Bigger

by Kathy Edens Sep 07, 2016

Write What You Know? Think Bigger

When I decided I wanted to be a writer, the idea of “Write what you know” made me feel like a whole realm of literary possibility was off-limits to me. And yet, my own breadth of experience felt too small to contain a great story. I began to worry that my lack of experiences in life meant that I had nothing important to say. Seriously, who wants to read about my boring life?

I wish someone had explained that the concept of “Write what you know” is much bigger and more nuanced than that.

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Create Compelling & Evocative Scenes

by Kathy Edens Jul 13, 2016

Create Compelling & Evocative Scenes

Scenes are the rising and falling action, and the soft moments in between, that move your story forward. They have a couple of basic purposes:

  • They establish time and place. They give the reader a marker on where and when things are happening.
  • They help develop character. Even if the scene is pure action, you learn about the character’s motivations by his or her decisions, choices, and actions.
  • They let characters set goals. Without goals to achieve, characters have no reason to act or emote. Readers want to know what’s at stake.
  • They allow the action to rise or fall. This movement is what carries your reader forward.
  • They let you crank up the conflict. Without conflict, you won’t have tension. And without tension, your story is boring.

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Map Out Your Character’s Transformation Using the 9 Enneagram “Levels of Development”

by Kathy Edens Apr 26, 2016

Map Out Your Character’s Transformation Using the 9 Enneagram “Levels of Development”

The Enneagram details 9 internal levels of developmentwhere your main character can find him or herself at any point in time. A person’s personality isn’t static, meaning that it fluctuates depending on whether they are under duress or some good fortune happens. Each of these 9 levels of development represents a major paradigm shift in awareness, meaning your main character changes—for better or worse.

Have a look at the different levels and see if you can place your main character(s) at the beginning of your story and where you want them to be at the end.

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How to Create a Compelling Character Arc

by Kathy Edens Mar 21, 2016

How to Create a Compelling Character Arc

The standard definition of a character arc is how your main character changes over the course of your story.

The most common form of character arc is the Hero’s Journey. An ordinary person receives a call to adventure and, at first, he or she refuses that call. There’s usually a mentor who helps the hero accept or learn how to attempt the adventure. Think of Yoda in Star Wars. But there’s more out there than just the good guy or gal who’s transformed by the end of the story. Not all characters undergo some major transformation. In some cases, they will grow, but not transform.

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Why You Should Start Writing Morally Grey Characters

by Coby Stephens Dec 08, 2015

Why You Should Start Writing Morally Grey Characters Spoiler Alert: If you haven't yet watched/read Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, or Breaking Bad, please proceed with caution as key plot points are discussed.

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Life After NaNoWriMo: Time to Punch Up Your Narrative Arc and Character Development

by Kathy Edens Nov 27, 2015

Life After NaNoWriMo:  Time to Punch Up Your Narrative Arc and Character Development You’ve survived yet another NaNoWriMo. Congratulations! You’ve just written a book in 30 days. Now what?

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5 Tricks for Using Dialogue to Write Truly Captivating Characters

by Lisa Lepki Nov 27, 2015

5 Tricks for Using Dialogue to Write Truly Captivating Characters Dialogue can be about much more than just the words on the page. Good authors use it to build tension and subtly set the tone of each interaction. The words their characters choose say so much more than just their lexical meaning. So how you can use dialogue to create captivating characters and move your story forward? Here are 5 tricks: 1) Create power dynamics

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