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 […]

Antagonists Don’t Have to Be Evil

A Quick Secret to Secondary Antagonists

Much of the conflict in a story will comes in the form of people causing problems for your main character. The most obvious form of trouble is that presented by the antagonist, that supremely evil being whose sole purpose in life is to wreak havoc in the universe and cause problems for your MC. But don’t […]

Does Your Story Have the Extraordinary Factor?

Does Your Story Have the Extraordinary Factor?

Readers want fiction to be extraordinary enough to thrill them with its strangeness and excitement. But they also want it be ordinary enough for them to find aspects they can relate to. How’s a writer supposed to pull off this apparent paradox? How do you make your stories both ordinary and extraordinary? Is Your Hero Ordinary […]

Written a Great Character? Prove It By Properly Using Show and Tell

Bring Your Character to Life by Correctly Using Show and Tell

As an author, you must walk a narrow line between presenting skillful, competent, admirable characters—and realistically fallible human beings. It’s easy to unintentionally overemphasize one aspect or the other through a poor use of “show and tell.” The result? Readers sometimes end up getting completely the wrong idea about your character. Allow me to demonstrate. How […]

3 Tips for How to Write a Bad Guy Who Transforms Your Story

Since the whole point of a bad guy is that he’s bad, you’re first thought may be to make your antagonist as despicable as possible. But stop right there. Let me show you how to write a bad guy who’s all the more interesting for not going completely over the Dark Side How to Write a […]

How Much of Yourself Do You Write Into Your Characters? – And Other Questions Answered

Today, I’m honored to be interviewed by Lena Nelson Dooley on her blog A Christian Writer’s World. Take a peek to discover how much of myself I write into my characters how I select character names and the accomplishment I’m most proud of—among other things. Leave a comment on Lena Nelson Dooley’s blog to win […]

What Steve McQueen Can Teach You About How to Write Characters

One of the best ways to learn how to write characters that live and breathe in their own right is to study the great actors. How are they infusing life in their characters? What are they doing in their performances that transforms seemingly mundane roles into unforgettable personalities? The 1960 western The Magnificent Seven is […]

The Key to Writing Larger-Than-Life Characters

The Key to Writing Larger-Than-Life Characters

Because readers live vicariously through fictional characters, they like larger-than-life characters: people who are better and stronger and smarter than the average Joe. (Hence the current popularity of the superhero genre.) If you want readers to love your characters and the stories they populate, it only makes sense you should make your characters the best they can be at […]

Free E-Book: Crafting Unforgettable Characters

Claim your copy of Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters to Life. Featuring some of my most popular tips on character crafting, this e-book offers a firm foundation for understanding the basics of character building, as well as solid tips for troubleshooting. You’ll discover inspiring quotes from successful authors, writing prompts, and creativity […]

11 Dichotomous Characters–and Why You Should Be Copying Them

Fiction writing doesn’t offer many shortcuts or magic formulas. But today I am going to give you a secret ingredient in that coveted recipe for memorable and realistic characters. What is this ingredient? Dichotomy. If we expect our characters to jump off the page into three-dimensional living color, we have to give them multi-faceted personalities. […]