Tag Archive - characters

Your Premise Determines Your Characters

When I think about the many novels I’ve written, I realize I don’t always start with a plot idea. Sometimes a topic or theme intrigues me, or I’ll have an image of a character in the throes of a moral dilemma. I remember reading about how C. S. Lewis came up with his Narnia series. He had a picture in his mind of a faun carrying a parcel and an umbrella through a snowy wood. From there, the The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe sprang into existence.

The novel I’m currently writing, a supernatural thriller called Lightning Man, also was sparked by a picture in my head. I saw a man at the top of a mountain, his arms outstretched in a messianic surrender to the heavens, willing lightning to strike him for the tenth time, intending to stop a terrorist by sacrificing his life as he grips the bad guy. From there I had to ask a lot of questions to find my story, and I encourage you to do the same with the ideas that excite you.

I wove a complex plot around that character and climactic moment I saw in my head (it’s taken me a couple of years, but it’s all in place now). But it all started with a picture of a nebulous character.

For my novel Someone to Blame, I started with  the word blame. You could call it a theme or topic. I wanted to explore the ways people blame themselves and others and the damage and hurt blame causes. From that germ of an idea, a plot developed—a story about a family who’ve suffered the loss of two sons and moved to a new town hoping to start over, only to get drawn into a heavy drama that mires the town in blame and subsequent danger. Continue Reading…

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…

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