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Using Archetypes to Create Powerful Characters in Your Fiction

What makes great novels great, more than any other thing, is great characters. And while there are no simple instructions on how to craft a terrific cast of characters, novelists can learn from and benefit by a study of archetypal roles.

In my book The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction, I speak at length about the general types of characters we populate our novels with: allies, antagonists, nemeses, romance characters. It’s important to understand both the need for these types of characters and the parts they play in novel structure.

But let’s go beyond these basics to a deeper exploration of character. When we take a look at archetypes, we’re able to get into our characters’ and readers’ psyches.

Why is this a good thing? Because on a subliminal or subconscious level, we well know these types of characters or people. And since motivation is everything when it comes to character, understanding archetypes gives us insight into specific motivation. Continue Reading…

Writing Fiction with a Filmmaker’s Eye

On Throwback Thursdays, we’re looking at excerpts from past posts on Live Write Thrive. Today’s post comes from How Novelists Can Use a Filmmaker’s Eye. Film technique is overlooked by most fiction writers. But it can be so powerful, and readers, used to cinematic storytelling, respond and resonate with such technique.

We’re now going to spend quite a few weeks looking at the purview of filmmakers. Why? Because there is so much more to “shooting” a story than the choice of camera shot.

Filmmakers are also concerned with the design of shots. They are artists with a creative sense of composition, and their aim is to arrange their compositions in ways that will evoke emotional reactions from the viewer. The movie screen is their palette with which they paint visual pictures, and the “colors” on their palette are the various camera shots they choose from to create just the effect they hope to achieve in each segment they shoot. Continue Reading…

Layering 10-20-30 Scenes in Your Novel

We’ve spent quite a few weeks taking a look at the ten key scenes a variety of writers have offered to share with readers of Live Write Thrive. As many respected writing instructors teach, it’s crucial that novelists get the important scenes worked out and laid out in the right place to ensure a solid framework for a story.

That won’t make up for a weak premise or boring characters. For this ten-key-scene framework to hold up your story, you need a strong premise. You need a compelling character going after a goal in a passionate way. You need high stakes and lots of significant conflict. And to make your story memorable and one that will resonate with readers around the world and across decades, you need strong universal themes.

These are the four corner pillars of novel construction I drive home to writers year after year. Too many novels written by beginning writers don’t have a worthy premise—a premise worth writing hundreds of pages about. A premise a writer can or should expect readers to want to devote ten or more hours of their life to. Continue Reading…