How to Spot and Kill Your Mary Sue Characters

How to Spot (and Kill) Your Mary Sue Characters

At the heart of all good fiction beats the heart of a good character. But—naturally—there’s a flip side to this coin. If this heart of your story is beating inside of the chest of Fiction’s Most Wanted, the nefarious Mary Sue, your story isn’t likely to get out from under the sassafras tree, no matter […]

6 Questions to Help You Write Multiple-Character Scenes

Three’s a crowd—especially when authors have to juggle three or more characters in a single scene. One character? No problem. Two characters? Eh, that’s in the bag. But three or—heaven forbid—more characters? How do we juggle scenes in which multiple characters are all supposed to be acting and talking? How do we keep a dozen […]

What Makes Your Characters Compelling?

Today, I’m honored to be hosted on The Write Practice. Be sure to stop by the blog to read my guest post “What Makes Your Characters Compelling?” Below is a sneak peek: We all know what a compelling character looks like. Han Solo. Anne Shirley. Frodo Baggins. Those are the characters we’ve cheered for, and those […]

Two Surefire Signs of a Static Character

Two Surefire Symptoms of Static Characters

When you think of good characters, what words come to mind? How about dynamic? Dynamic characters are the stuff of literary legend. But at the other end of the spectrum, we have static characters. Except in instances in which the author purposefully leaves the character unyielding and unchanged over the course of the book to […]

How to Write Strong and Silent Characters

One of fiction’s great archetypes is that of strong and silent characters. You know the type: broad shoulders, tortured past, Clint Eastwood squint. He doesn’t say much, but, hey, since he oozes charisma out of every pore, he really doesn’t have to. But how do you convince readers of your character’s supposed strength, when his […]

How to Describe Your Characters–and How Not to

Perhaps the largest limitation of the written word is that it offers no visual picture. Unlike the viewers of a movie, readers are entirely dependent upon the author’s descriptive skills for their ability to visualize the characters. Luckily, most authors have a vivid picture of their characters in their minds. All we have to do […]

Don’t Confuse Readers With Inconsistent Character Names

One area in which authors often create unnecessary reader confusion is in their usage of inconsistent character names. Sometimes the simplest things in a story can create distance between reader and writer. The last thing any author can afford to do is push readers away from the story by confusing them. We want readers to […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes: Character Overload

When dealing with large casts of characters—or even just scenes that require the rapid-fire introduction of more than two or three characters—readers sometimes find themselves in grave danger of “character overload.” The common wisdom is that there’s no such thing as too many good characters. But, in fact, too many characters can become way too […]

Why Your Hero Absolutely Must Pet the Dog

Some characters are born with “lovable” written all over their cute little faces. But some pop out mean and rough around the edges. Most of my protagonists are people who have made major mistakes in their lives. They’re scarred, they’re cranky, sometimes they’re just plain wrong. Even I wouldn’t want to run into some of […]

7 Ways to Make Sure Your Protagonist and Antagonist Are Stuck Together

When you think of the relationship between your protagonist and antagonist, the first thing to pop to mind usually isn’t their being bonded at the hip. They’re different from one another. They don’t want to stick together. They want to get as far away from one another as possible. That’s what creates the conflict! True […]