3 Easy Ways to Torture your Characters (And your Readers)

3 Easy Ways to Torture your Characters (And your Readers)

To be honest, a lot of readers want to be tortured. They want you to tear their still-beating hearts from their chests and stomp them on the ground. You need to give them some happiness too, and it boils down to the same point: they want you to evoke an emotional response in them. The best novels are emotionally manipulative. They can convince you to like a character, then laugh as that character betrays you. They want you to absolutely…

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The 6 Basic Stages of Character Change

The 6 Basic Stages of Character Change

Creating character arcs comes hard to a lot of writers. We write a character one way for a bit, and then POOF, they’ve changed. People don’t just change overnight! You know that, but it’s easier said than done. Strong character arcs are complex and take time to craft, but the core of all character arcs fall along the same few points. There’s a process that’s been proved by science. Even if the change is fast, there are steps and there’s…

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Friends, Not Love Interests: How to Avoid Unintentional Romantic Subtext

Friends, Not Love Interests: How to Avoid Unintentional Romantic Subtext

There’s some saying that no matter what, when you put two people in a room together, people will want them to fall in love. Among fandom circles, two characters don’t even need to be in the same universe! No matter what you do, if you’re writing two people as friends and not romantic interests (especially if one is male, the other is female), there will still be readers who want them together. Why even bother trying to keep a clear…

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Large Character Casts: How to Put your Characters Temporarily Elsewhere

Large Character Casts: How to Put your Characters Temporarily Elsewhere

Do you ever have scenes with 6+ people and you can’t seem to juggle them all? Sometimes I have several characters in the same fictional room, but the scene is short enough that I just can’t make them all important. They’re only there because, well, where else would they be? If my characters all follow the action, won’t they all always be in the same spot? Or do you ever want to get 2-3 characters in a scene together for…

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62 Character Flaws for Creating a Well-Balanced Character

62 Character Flaws for Creating a Well-Balanced Character

Sometimes, a character is only as strong as their weakest point, AKA, their character flaws. It sounds strange when put in those words, but think about it: do you like a story more for its plot, or its characters? Most people would answer “characters.” Plot is definitely important, but in well-written stories even the plot is just a way to push the characters farther and force them to make hard decisions and grow and improve as a person. A lot…

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6 Tips for Creating a Likable Villain

6 Tips for Creating a Likable Villain

Sometimes I get questions about how to make an awful character (such as villains) likable. The idea of a likable villain is no surprise, since anti-heroes have been the trend lately. I think it’s an interesting subject too, since it blurs that line between good and evil. Lately I’ve been playing with the idea of redemption, and how far a character can go down that path of evil before they’re simply irredeemable, no matter how much they change and try…

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10 Tips and Tricks for Surviving NaNoWriMo

10 Tips and Tricks for Surviving NaNoWriMo

Every November 1st, writers around the world come together for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For many writers, this is a day of terror and excitement. But by the end of the month, we’re all hoping to have the completed first draft of a novel… or, at least, a little more progress on one. If you’re asking yourself, “What is NaNoWriMo?”, then here’s a quick summary: NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every November, writers across the world attempt…

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The 7 Key Traits of Enduring Characters

The 7 Key Traits of Enduring Characters

Have you ever read a book or seen a movie that had such great characters that even now, months or years later, you still think about them? That’s the real magic of storytelling. Being able to write a character that sticks in someone’s heart and mind all their life is incredibly exciting. Of course, what exactly sticks in a character for one person may be different for someone else. But there are a few trends. If you study memorable characters…

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4 Easy Tips for Cutting Back on Word Repetition

4 Easy Tips for Cutting Back on Word Repetition

When I’m line-editing my writing projects, I’m a HUGE nerd for sentence fluency. I don’t know why. Each sentence has a rhythm or cadence, and sometimes it just sounds wrong unless I phrase it just right. Word repetition plays a huge role in this and can be one of the easiest things to spot out when you sit down to edit. Of course, there’s a good type of repetition, and a bad type. While the good type sounds poetic, the…

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19 Questions for Creating a New Plot-Relevant Character

19 Questions for Creating a New Plot-Relevant Character

To be honest, in the past I’d never given much thought to how to create a new character. They just kind of happened, based on what my story needed at that time. For the sake of this blog post, I actually made an effort to track the steps as I created character. My findings: It boiled down to asking a lot of questions. Questions about who they are, what they want, how they fit into everything that’s going on. First…

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