character with unlikable traits header

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 […]

5 Ways to Keep Readers Riveted With Conflict

Since I’m on the road at the moment, and since everyone enjoyed the last few sneeze pages (themed collections of previously published posts), I took the opportunity to put together another one, this time focusing on the all-important topic of conflict. As the old saying goes, “No conflict, no story.” Below you’ll find tips on […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]