Tag Archive - characters

Getting to Know Your Protagonist

 Today’s guest post is by Steven-John Tait.

If you’ve ever struggled to get under the skin of your protagonist, don’t lose hope. This post tells how mine went from a protagonist I couldn’t relate to to someone so real to me that I felt guilty about finishing the novel and therefore his existence.

Here’s my experience from initial inspiration to the creative processes I used, and my eventual breakthrough and tips you can apply to your own work.

On vacation in a town in North Brazil, I was drinking a beer at one of many beachside bars, when I noticed a haggard man walking between the tables and chairs trying to catch anyone’s eye. It was obvious he was looking for someone to take advantage of. Nobody returned his gaze except me.

He sat down across from me and asked the waiter for a beer and a cachaça. The waiter looked to me for approval because we both knew that I’d be the one paying. I couldn’t understand much of what my guest said because my Portuguese hardly gets me from A to B, but he interested me, as did the faded tattoos over his arms and the white lines he’d drawn on himself using acid from cashew nut shells. Continue Reading…

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…

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