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The Essential 3 M’s of Character Setup

This post originally ran on Jane Friedman’s blog. Understanding these “3 M’s” is crucial if you want to craft believable characters!

Fiction writers are told to get their readers to bond quickly with their characters—in particular the protagonist. In few pages, they must make the hero of their story empathetic, relatable, and understandable.

Wow, that’s a herculean task. How long does it take us to truly “get” a person we meet? Five minutes? An hour?

While some of us are intuitive and savvy and feel we can “size up” a stranger in record time, truth is people are complex, they show a persona that may mask who they are underneath, and they may not reveal all that much at first (or ever).

Yet … I recall a restauranteur friend of mine who declared confidently that, after serving dinners to thousands of patrons over the years, she could tell everything about a couple in the first five minutes of their ordering a meal. What kind of tension was simmering between them, how they felt about each other, status dynamics—those kinds of things.

After running a bed and breakfast for thirteen years and hosting more than twenty thousand guests (essentially living with us in our home), I can attest that my husband and I are pretty good at figuring people out within minutes. Continue Reading…

Tips on Making Your Adventure Story Convincing

Today’s guest post is by Zarrah Felton.

Do you love stories that can both spark your imagination and leave you on the edge of your seat? If yes, then adventures stories are the perfect kind of stories for you!

In essence, adventure is a genre of literary fiction that features nerve-racking and adrenaline-pumping storylines, such as tough quests, escape journeys, voyages of discovery, and so on.

Adventure stories have always been popular all throughout history. In fact, one of the oldest and most famous works of literary fiction in English is an adventure story written during the medieval period: Beowulf. Since time immemorial, numerous different kinds of adventure stories—from Herman Melville’s epic novel, Moby Dick to Jack London’s short story, To Build a Fire—have been gaining ground in the literary world.

Writing an adventure story can be just as fun as reading it. However, it is not as easy as it seems. Continue Reading…

Spin That Captivating Tale

Today’s guest post is by Carla D. Bass.

Rumpelstiltskin spins straw into gold. An author employs an intriguing plot, captivating characters, and exquisite settings to spin a tale.

However, these ingredients, themselves, don’t guarantee a captivating tale. The author must induce the reader to hang on every single word (double drumbeat for emphasis) from that all-important title and opening line to the story’s conclusion. How? What additional pixie dust generates that literary magic?

The answer is twofold: 1) make each word count in conveying the story and 2) respect the reader’s time—present a memorable, enjoyable experience.

A foundational principle—for fiction and nonfiction—is leveraging available space and the reader’s time. I, too, am an avid reader, but lose interest when I can scan a few sentences on the page and skip the rest. Continue Reading…

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