Search Results for: protagonist

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 […]

4 Setting Questions That Will Deepen Your Characters

In the best of stories, setting is an inherent key, not just in bringing to life the scenery, but in helping you deepen your characters. As such, it isn’t something any author can afford to overlook. Answer the following setting questions to find the weak points in your setting construction and help you use it to […]

How to Kill a Character—And Avoid Hate Mail

How to Kill a Character—And Avoid Hate Mail

Some of the most powerful stories in literature and cinema have a surprising common element: The death of a main character. At first glance, this would seem to be an instant turnoff. Why hang with a character for 300+ pages only to watch him get knocked off in the end? But the truth is, when […]

Top 7 Reasons Readers Stop Reading

Top 6 Reasons Readers Stop Reading

Ever wonder what a novel’s nightmares would look like, if it could dream? Naturally, I can only guess. But I’d say the spine-tingling fear of being put down is probably at the top of the list. When reader stop reading, poke their bookmark in between the pages, stretch, yawn, and drop the novel back on […]

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. […]

The “Establishing Shot”–and 9 More Ways to Strengthen Your Story’s Beginning

Just for the record: I hate beginnings. The first fifty pages of my novels are inevitably torture to write. I’m always sure I’ve lost my touch, convinced that every successful story in the past was a fluke, absolutely certain I’ll never make these opening scenes gripping enough to hook a reader. And it’s no wonder. […]

4 Ways to Make Readers Instantly Loathe Your Character Descriptions

4 Ways to Make Readers Instantly Loathe Your Character Descriptions

Fiction once began with the face, with the act of observation of the faces of others. Does it still? It’s arguable. I can imagine a skeptic wondering what difference it makes whether writers describe faces or not. Does anything of importance really hang in the balance? Who cares? Does it make any difference to the […]

(More) of the Best Writing Advice From 10 (More) of the Best Writing Teachers

(More) of the Best Writing Advice From 10 (More) of the Best Writing Teachers

It isn’t difficult to flip through my writing library and discover what passages have impacted me. My books are punctuated with a brilliant green highlighter pen. So, in hopes of sharing a little of the best writing advice with all of you, I flipped through a few more my favorite books on the craft and chose […]

the all-important link between theme and character progression

The All-Important Link Between Theme and Character Progression

Theme is a slippery concept. The prevailing wisdom among writers is that if you apply any deliberate force to your theme, you’ll end up with a heavy-handed Aesop’s fable. On the other hand, a story without a theme is shallow escapism at best and an unrealistic flop at worst. Theme is arguably the single most […]

Character: The Most Important Part of Your Story’s Beginning

If all of writing was as difficult as the first 50 pages, I probably would have wimped out years ago and found myself a new vocation. (Something easy and safe—like being a Walmart greeter or maybe the collector of the quarters from Laundromat machines.) Despite the fact that I already know every plot turn that […]