One Way to Simultaneously Create Conflict and Suspense

Boil fiction down to the essentials and what you find at the core is the main character’s desire for something. What your characters want is what fuels them through page after page of conflict. You’ve undoubtedly heard the saw that without conflict, there is no story. But without frustrating the character’s ability to get whatever […]

Why Hypocrites Make Excellent Antagonists

Writers are often tempted to think they need to make their antagonists as evil as possible. Serial killers, megalomaniacs, and sadists are all common—and effective—characters. Without question, they evoke fear and disgust from readers. However, sometimes the most hatable characters are those that are slightly less evil and infinitely more hypocritical. Charles Dickens, who offers […]

5 Steps to Dazzling Minor Characters

5 Steps to Writing Minor Characters That Dazzle

In writing minor characters, authors must provide the color and conflict that fill the protagonist’s worlds. Because minor characters aren’t always confined to the necessities of a character arc or the demands of the plot, they often have the opportunity to be some of the most exciting personalities on the page. In my own stories, […]

Avoid Lengthy Antagonist Narratives

How Much Screen Time Should Your Give Your Antagonist’s POV?

With literature so rich in fascinating bad guys—everyone from Hannibal Lecter to Captain Hook—it’s important to consider how much time you should actually give your antagonist’s POV. Occasionally, there comes a story in which the antagonist is more interesting than the protagonist. However, as a general rule, it’s accepted, and even expected, that the antagonist will […]

Why Your Character’s Motive Matters

How to Find Powerful Motives for Your Characters

You will often be judged by what you do. To a large extent, you are what you do. However, because others’ perceptions of your actions don’t penetrate to the reasons behind your actions,  you will often be judged incorrectly, or even unjustly. It’s no different for your characters. In a book, as much as in life, a person’s […]

Change Is Key to Powerful Character Arcs

Create Powerful Character Arcs in 6 Steps

The secret to a memorable character isn’t so much creating a strong personality as it is creating a strong character arc. You can come up with the most entertaining, marvelous characters imaginable, but unless you also give them powerful character arcs, their stories will lack depth and power. Character arcs are fundamentally about change. You can […]

If You Know Your Character's Goal, You Can Rivet Your Readers' Attention

If You Know Your Character’s Goal, You Can Rivet Your Readers’ Attention

Today, I’m posting over on AuthorCulture, with the post “Do You Know What Your Character’s Goal Is?” Here’s an excerpt: Without question, the driving force of fiction is conflict, and the only way to create conflict is to create a character who wants something he can’t immediately have. This takes many different forms, everything from a bereaved […]

3 Ways to Manage a Huge Cast of Characters

Ever read a book in which a huge cast of characters was dumped in your lap in a short amount of time? Confusing, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s even confusing to the point you put the book down and look for something more straightforward. As a writer, you want your book to be the straightforward one readers […]


What if You Love Your Characters TOO Much?

Just like good parents, writers are often certain their stories and characters are the cutest little thing that ever breathed. You may not carry pictures around in your wallet or brag when your baby takes his first steps before the neighbor’s kid does. But you still want everyone to understand how brilliant/brave/beautiful (you fill in […]

3 Ways to Make Character Stereotypes Work in Your Story

Character stereotypes are bad, right? They’re clichéd stock characters that rob your story of originality and immediacy. Readers realize they’ve read about these characters in dozens of other stories, lose interest, and cast the book aside. Right? True enough, so far. However, what authors often fail to realize is that character stereotypes can be successfully applied in […]