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5 Tips to Writing Secondary Characters That Pop

Today’s guest post is by author Jennifer Probst.

Secondary characters have always been important to readers in fiction and serve an important purpose for the writer.

I’ve always been a fan of the sassy best friend; the sarcastic sidekick to the hero creating a perfect bromance; the wise, funny matriarch bestowing valued advice. These characters add depth and dimension to story, hook readers, and lead them to do the most important task of all: buy your next book.

Introducing a secondary character who has no purpose and fails to win readers’ hearts is a missed opportunity to grow your readership. But how do you create these vibrant characters without watching them become flimsy paper dolls with no real personality or pop?

I’ve sketched out some important steps to make sure your secondary characters are rich, diverse, and have readers coming back for more. Continue Reading…

3 Steps to Successfully Outlining Your Novel

Outlining your novel in some fashion is one of the best ways to ensure you have a solid story structure. For those of you who’ve been following my blog awhile, you know I’m a huge proponent of structure—and I’ll dare to say that any great writing instructor worth his or her salt would agree.

Because novels are so complex, it makes sense to lay out a blueprint. Face it: few people have the talent or aptitude to wing it when it comes to writing a solid story without first plotting carefully. And—I’m being honest here—every single successful author I personally know who “pantses” through the writing process suffers from varying degrees of frustration, aggravation, and huge blocks of wasted time.

Seriously. I know authors who write, and discard, numerous full drafts of a novel, taking months of precious time to arrive at the solid plot. I know other pantsers who say that writing novels is a painful, grueling process that they almost hate as much as chopped liver. Continue Reading…

3 Essential Elements to Crafting Believable Romance

(Note: this original post of mine ran on Romance University last year. You can find it via this link.)

Boy meets girl. Sparks fly. They fall instantly in love. Voila! Happily ever after.

Oh, really?

Well, maybe in fairy tales and with couples who are self-delusional or sickeningly codependent. But in real life? Among “normal” people?

Not happening.

Sure, maybe we all wish romantic love worked that way. But wishes don’t reflect real life. And a writer’s job—unless writing a particular type of fantasy story or showcasing highly dysfunctional characters—is to create stories that are slices of life. Continue Reading…