An awesome character checklist 🙂
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that characters are kind of big deals when it comes to fiction writing. They’re the heart of the story and the main reason our readers gift us with hours of their lives. Let’s face it: without characters, the reading experience wouldn’t really be electrifying. Like, at all. May as well hand them a book on mathematical physics, I say.
I mean, sure, some readers enjoy plot-driven stories, but almost every great story is about the people. Even a fantastic plot-driven book would feel empty without well-developed characters. Why? Because there’s nothing like connecting with a story on an emotional level. And having rich, layered characters in your book is the way you achieve that. How? By making them realistic. I know, I know. This goes without saying . . . but it’s best to add a reminder. Just in case.
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Ah the terrible things we do to our characters 🙂 Lock them in an empty room and see what they do…
Writers are constantly asking: “how can I write believable, compelling characters?”, “how can I write realistic characters?”, “how can I write characters with depth?”
The answer is, it takes practice: and here’s one way to do that.
Characters are strange things. As writers, we like to think we’re in full control of our characters, that we decide who they are and what they do in a given situation. We like to think that we’re masters of their destiny. But this is a writing exercise that’ll make you think a little differently about the imaginary people we use to populate our stories, that’ll help you get to grips with their particular traits and foibles, and could just freak you out a little along the way.
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Nice article form the Guardian 🙂
Years after his death, Michael Crichton is still dominating American culture. Jurassic World shattered records at the box office upon its release, demonstrating that Crichton’s dinosaurs-run-amok brainchild still holds wide appeal. HBO’s remake of Crichton’s early film Westworld was met with great fanfare, both from critics and audiences. And in 2017, a newly-discovered Crichton manuscript will be making its way to bookshelves around the world.
In spite of his stunning success (he is the only writer to ever have the #1 book, movie and television show released at the same time–a feat he managed twice), Crichton has often been undervalued as a writer. Time and again, critics poo-pooed his prose style, attacked his character development, dismissed his plotting, and denied him a legitimate place in the Club for Great American Literary Writers.
Crichton’s prose certainly doesn’t dazzle the way, say, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s does. Nor do his characters…
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I like it when the line gets a bit fuzzy myself 🙂 Great article!
Good vs. bad is a common theme everywhere. It’s in novels: your protagonist is “good” and no matter what genre you’re writing in, there’s always a “bad” guy who happens to be the villain of the story, your protagonist’s rival, or simply just someone who is mean and considered “bad” by the readers.
This theme pops up (a little too frequently) in real life as well.
It’s probably one of the more common ones and it’s the broadest because there’s so much you can do with it.
But here’s the thing: Everyone has different opinions, different perspectives. So, who exactly is good and who is bad? Who’s right and who’s wrong?
When you think of a hero, you think “good.” When you think of a villain, you think “bad.”We assume the protagonist is automatically good because they’re the “protagonist.” And we assume the antagonist is bad because they’re in competition…
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Great article 🙂
World building was my first love. Or one of my first loves at any rate. Somewhere in a box from my youth are carefully drawn maps, sheets of paper filled with descriptions of flora and fauna, collections of census data from urban spaces that have never existed and will never exist. Part of the pleasure of writing has always been in figuring out details like this.
I’m sure that we all have our own ideal of world building. The creation of Middle Earth. The cultures of Westeros. The alternate realities found in many comic books. In fact, the impetus behind this post was a ‘travel guide’ to the worlds found in Marvel comics. The book itself was fine enough, but more importantly it reminded me just how extraordinary fictional worlds can be.
My favorite fictional world is not as well known as the ones that I just listed. It exists…
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Great article and great tips 🙂
Lets talk bad guys. Most stories have one. Well crafted or otherwise, speculative fiction is full of them. Not that any one actual character is essential as the obstacle the protagonist has to overcome. Sometimes its simply the environment they’re in, other times its a whole alien species in the vein of StarshipTroopers or Ender’s Game. Maybe the story is more reflective, and the protagonist is on a voyage of self-discovery in which the only real obstacle to them achieving their goal is themselves.
While reading for Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, I’ve come across all of the above, and they each have their own merits and drawbacks. The main trade off I’ve found with stories of these types is that they tend to be able to bring forth more intellectually complex and morally ambiguous plot development than the simple good vs. evil narrative, but in doing so…
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A couple of great lists for the last 2 years. Looking forward to the 2017 version…
So you’ve got a great idea for your speculative fiction story. You’ve envisioned a fantastic future or a mythical realm, and presumably given some thoughts to it’s inhabitants and the problem they’ll need to solve in order to drive the plot forward. Good start. Now, what character’s point of view is this story going to […]