Posts Tagged ‘characterization’

Build A Better Story Review

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

The Quintessentially Quilly  website reviewed my fiction writing ebook.BABS cover

You can read it by following this link


Saturday, May 15th, 2010

The short essay below is based upon the material in chapter 5 of my book on fiction writing: Build a Better Story.

Today’s topic is characterization and I’ll concentrate of an aspect that you’ll have trouble finding in how-to books on fiction writing: a character’s philosophical outlook on life. Everyone has a philosophical outlook (but you may not be aware of it) and characters deserve one also because this attribute influences the way the character thinks and defines the character’s reaction to some story stimuli.

This element is one of the first that I give to a new character since it influences other some attributes and dictates still. For instance, a reader will not believe in a cheerful character who is supposed to be a pessimist. Similarly, a morose character will make a poor (i.e. unbelievable) optimist.

In building a group of characters for a story, I ensure that the characters have a variety of philosophies. A lot of conflict and humor can be achieved by giving the protagonist and a sidekick conflicting philosophies such as mysticism and materialism. This last pair pits a character with a strong belief in faith against another who doesn’t believe that faith has anything to do with events or results. This pair of characters will attribute an event to completely different causes. One will see it as an act of god while the other will believe it is only luck or coincidence. These differences of opinion can provide the writer with a wealth of material that is useful for conflict and/or humor.

There is much more about characterization in Build a Better Story including a list of personal philosophies I use for my characters along with an explanation on what the philosophy entails. I also detail another little understood aspect of characterization; Dominant Reader Emotions. This aspect is critical; it’s what you want the reader to remember about the character.

BABS cover


Monday, April 12th, 2010
The following short essay is taken from Chapter Six in Build a Better Story.
Unless a story is very short, a single plot will have difficulty holding a reader’s attention.  If the story drives from the beginning to the end in a straight line, it lacks complexity.  If the story line zigs and dips and otherwise detours from its goal as secondary issues are explored, it increases the reader’s interest.  That is the purpose of subplots: to defer the ending of the story and increase the reader’s interest. BABS CoverSubplots do this by providing a break from the main plot and allow added complications, diversions and trickery to further entertain the reader.
There is a preferred arrangement for organizing the subplots; they should be nested within the main plot.  Thus, the story always starts with the main plot.  After the main plot gets established, subplot A is introduced.  Back to the main plot for a while followed by the introduction to subplot B.  The same technique is used for subplot C and subplot D, if necessary.  In this structure, subplot A is not as important as the main plot but is more important than subplot B.  Subplot C is of less importance than subplot B, but is more important than subplot D.  In fact, it is possible with a minor subplot such as D, not to show it at all, but to merely have the characters discuss its progress from time to time.
When approaching the end of the story, subplot D is closed first, followed by subplot C, then B, then A and finally the main plot is concluded.
Have a story that needs to be told?  Build a Better Story will help you get it done.  The trailer will explain more about the book.

Build a Better Story

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Build a Better Story is now available at Smashwords for download in EPUB, MOBI, LRF, PDB, and TXT formats.  It is available on my website in .PDF format.BABS cover

Have a story that needs to be told?  Here’s the best way to go about doing it.The book describes a process that eases the work involved in developing a story.  This reduces the time spent in reworking flawed and imperfect drafts. Following the process allows more time to be spent on the creative activities and shortens the time spent on less creative work.

Besides the process, this book takes a unique approach to character building and plotting.  It identifies problem areas that inexperienced writers struggle with and explains how to address those problems including character motivation and scene design.

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Fiction Writing Discussion

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Starting today, (1/6/10) I’ll be a guest on the Writebuzz website to discuss various aspects of fiction writing.  This week’s topic is Story Construction. The remaining schedule is as follows:

1/13: Motivation

1/20: Characterization

1/27: Plotting.

Stop by and check out the discussion.  You may like the site and elect to join it.

Newbie Writers DIscussion Forum

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

I’ll be featured as a guest on the Newbie Writers discussion forum for four Wednesdays in September: 9/2, 9/9, 9/16 and 9/23.

After posting a brief article on that week’s topic, I’ll be talking questions on the subject.

The discussion topic for each week is: plotting, motivation, characterization, and story construction. All of the material I use will be taken from Get It In Gear, my collection of fiction writing articles and advice for writers.

Stop by and check it out especially if you’re new to fiction writing.

A Character Guild!

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

I have to report a startling development.  My characters have banded together to form a guild. Their purpose is to provide leverage in negotiations with me.  They want to be able to influence my plots so that events better reflect their personae.  They also claim that some of the motivation I give them is defective and they want the ability to reject them.

The characters presented me with a signed copy of the guild charter (they refer to it as the Magna Carta of Characters, a rather pompous description, if you ask me).

The elected officers are:

President: Brodwin, a wizard (Rogue Wizard, Desperate Measures)

Recording Secretary: Rhonda Minestra, a personal assistant (Primary Research, The Impresario, Zaftig the Magnificent)

Treasurer: Vatsik, a knight-accountant (Practical Experience, Ballot Blues)

Sergeant-at-Arms: Zaftig, an alien (The Impresario, Zaftig the Magnificent)

Among their demands:

* a signed contract with each individual guild member before I write them into a new story.

* newly developed characters must join the guild before I start the third revision of a story or they must be replaced by a guild member.

* characters have the right to delete scenes, dialog and/or plot developments that they feel are disparaging to them.

I refused to sign the charter until substantial changes were made; they refused to change it and threatened to strike.  I retaliated with a pledge to rewrite them out of unpublished stories and a promise to use non-guild characters in all future works

So that’s how things stand now.  I’ll add updates as the situation changes.