character hiding header

7 Things Your Character Is Hiding

Being able to write realistic, consistent, multi-dimensional characters is vital to gaining reader interest. Doing so first requires we know a lot about who our characters are—you know, the obvious stuff: positive and negative traits, behavioral habits, desires, goals, and the like. But it’s not always the obvious parts of characterization that create the most […]

Brainstorming the Wound in Your Character's Backstory

Brainstorming the Wound in Your Character’s Backstory

I’ve spent the better part of the last year digging into the topic of character wounds or “Ghosts.” If this topic sounds familiar, it might be because Angela Ackerman and I (among others) have been yammering about it to anyone who will listen. The wound is a fascinating and vital piece of your characters’ pasts, […]

4 Ways to Write Backstory That Matters (How to Outline for NaNoWriMo, Pt. 5)

There are two equally vital parts to any story: the part you see and the part you don’t. The context and subtext. The story and the backstory. Whether you’re trying to figure out how to outline for NaNoWriMo (only one day away!) or just needing a game plan for your next work-in-progress, one of the most […]

The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It's Always Their Fault

The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It’s Always Their Fault

It’s a morbid joke among writers: we are so mean to our characters. And we love it. It’s the stuff of good stories. It’s the stuff of epic conflict. And yet, all this very important imaginative cruelty can sometimes trip us up on our way to writing dynamic characters who can, in turn, deal with this epic […]

The #1 Key To Relatable Characters: Backstory

The #1 Key to Relatable Characters: Backstory

Part 10 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Ever stop to think about why you enjoy backstory? I receive lots of questions from writers about backstory, most of it along the lines of: I love my backstory soooo much. How can I cram as much as possible of it into the main story? I […]

The #1 Problem With Backstory (and Its Simple Fix)

The #1 Problem With Backstory (and Its Simple Fix)

There’s a problem with backstory? Among writers that’s a rhetorical question. We all know there are lots of potential problems with backstory—everything from where to put it in the story to how much of it we should even be sharing with readers in the first place. But before you can start worrying about any of […]

Give Me 3 Minutes and I’ll Give You a Better (and Darker) Backstory

This week’s video shows you how to approach a dark character backstory fearlessly—and make your story all the better for it. Video Transcript: Here’s something sad I’ve noticed about many writers—myself included: we talk a good talk about character backstory, but we don’t always back that up with a good walk. Mostly, what I mean […]

creating stunning character arcs your character's ghost

Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 4: Your Character’s Ghost

What is your character’s ghost, and how does it affect his character arc? Once you’ve figured out the Lie Your Character Believes, as well as Thing He Wants and the Thing He Needs, the next question you need to ask yourself is: Why does the character believe the Lie in the first place? To find […]

Why Your Antagonist Needs a Mushy Moment

Why Your Antagonist Needs a Mushy Moment

When it comes to writing our antagonist, we face a dichotomy: we want them to be bad, but we also want them to be three-dimensional, faceted human beings. In short, we want to create bad guys who aren’t all bad, bad guys whom readers will still be able to find a spark of sympathy for, […]

Improve Your Character Instantly: Just Add a Ghost

I’m taking this week off for some family time, and that means we’ll be spending the next couple of posts digging through the archives. Enjoy! This week’s video talks about how giving your character a haunting backstory can instantly up the stakes and make him a more interesting personality. Video Transcript: When we’re exploring our characters and […]