Has Your Protagonist Changed? Prove It!

Personal transformations are always at the heart of strong character arcs. Our protagonists are faced with trials that force them to acknowledge their own inadequacies and then, usually, change their ways in a manner that allows them to overcome both their faults and, as a result, the bad guy. This moment of personal revelation and […]

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Why You Should Spend More Time on Character Development Than Action

Authors sometimes feel pressured to dive right into the action of their stories—at the expense of important character development. Because the last thing we want to do is write a boring story, we sometimes overreact by piling on explosions, fight sequences, and high-speed car chases to the point we’re unable to spend important time developing […]

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3 Traits Your Hero and Villain Should Share

When we think of good guys and bad guys, we think of people who are diametrically opposed to one another. Yet the best kind of story is usually one that features a hero and villain who share more in common than not. In fact, the more similar your hero and villain, the stronger your story, […]

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Should You Write Characters With Unlikable Traits?

Writers often discuss the importance of presenting realistic characters with unlikable traits as well as likable traits. But sometimes putting this principle into practice is more easily said than done. When in the thick of writing first drafts and forming characters on the page, writers can sometimes get so caught up in ensuring readers will […]

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How to Avoid Confusing Readers With Similar Character Names

It’s important for authors to avoid confusions big and small. We understand the importance of creating a plot and a character progression that keep readers from wrinkling their faces in confusion. But it’s equally important to avoid smaller confusions—such as confusing readers with similar character names. Consider, for example, a sci-fi book that featured as […]

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How to Make Readers Feel Your Characters’ Emotions

I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that your story forces your character to experience some pretty deep emotions. They might fall in love, or undergo the agony of a family member’s death, or even be wracked by guilt. Whatever the case, how do you go about portraying those emotions so powerfully […]

walk-on character

Making the Most of Walk-On Characters

Walk-on characters are often the neglected heroes of fiction. If the protagonist didn’t have other people with whom to interact, most stories would quickly fall apart. So, whenever the need arises, we stick in a taxi driver or a receptionist or a bum on the corner. Often, these unnamed characters fulfill the needs of the […]

Write Distinctive Character Voices

The Key to Bringing Your POV Characters’ Voices to Life

Because all your characters come from just one person—namely you—it can often be challenging to make them all sound like unique people in their own right. This is a challenge that reaches far beyond dialogue and personality quirks, especially when you’re utilizing more than one narrator. So how do you create a different voice for […]

Keep Unlikable Characters From Alienating Readers

Keep Unlikable Characters From Alienating Readers

Because a strong character arc often requires a deep change of personality in the main character, writers are sometimes forced to begin their stories from the rather compromising basis of a main character who is less than likable. In some instances—redemption stories and their ilk, in particular—the main character starts out being a real jerk. […]

why writers can not afford to judge their characters

Why Writers Can’t Afford to Judge Their Characters

Every once in a while, a reader will ask which of my characters is my favorite. Usually, I come up with an answer based on the whim of the moment. But really, no matter what I say, it’s a lie. I don’t have a favorite character. As an author, I can’t afford to. If you’re […]