Tag Archive - characters

A Look at Masterful Character Description

We began this series on masterful writing last week by taking a look at James Lee Burke’s wonderful character descriptions. All too often writers—beginning and seasoned—skimp on description. Or if they do manage a few lines, they’re uninspired, boring, or laden with stereotype. Good writing—masterful writing—takes hard work.

But it’s not just effort that’s involved. More than effort is needed to craft masterful description. Description is more than what the eye sees. It involves making judgments, coming to conclusions, forming impressions. Since our descriptions must be filtered through our POV character’s mind and heart, instead of thinking of description as a laundry list of items (hair color, eye color, shoe brand), they should reveal just as much, if not more, about our POV character as the person (or place or animal or food—anything) being described.

Think how differently you might approach describing a character who walks into a room if you focused more on the one witnessing than the one being described.

I mentioned in the last post that you must truly know your characters through and through. You must create deep, rich, complex characters full of experience, opinions, tastes, beliefs, sensibilities, prejudices, wounds, knowledge, and so much more. If you don’t, you can’t mine deeply into description fully in POV. Continue Reading…

Tips for Building a Riveting Main Character

Today’s post is by Natasha Lane.

As writers, our main characters are usually some manifestation of ourselves. These beings that run around our heads, tossing story ideas at us in rapid succession, are miniature versions of ourselves. Sometimes they only partially represent us, symbolic of specific aspects of our personality. Other times, they are everything we are at the moment we write them into existence, or, in some cases, they are what we hope to be.

Still, despite being their creators, we sometimes just don’t know what to do with them! Our minds fill up so quickly and our characters can be sporadic—it’s enough to make a writer toss her laptop out the window and become an accountant.

Well, not really. Let’s not do anything too drastic here. The point I’m trying to make is characters can be hard to get a hold of, especially if you’re trying to write at a professional level. Readers need to be able to connect with your main character, they need to be able to identify his purpose, how he helps the story, etc. Continue Reading…

5 Ways to Create Strong Internal Conflict

Today’s guest post is by author Janice Hardy.

Internal conflicts and character arcs are so intertwined, many writers think they’re the same thing—but they’re not. The character arc just uses an internal conflict (as well as the external conflict) to bring about the character’s change. A story can have internal conflict without a character arc and still be a strong story.

Internal conflicts are simply the emotional, ethical, or mental struggles a character faces while trying to decide what to do about an external problem (the goals that make up the plot). The challenge isn’t a physical thing in the way but a struggle within the protagonist to make the right choice.

In essence, it’s the mental and emotional debate the protagonist needs to have in order to resolve an external problem. Continue Reading…

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