Tag Archive - writing craft

The Clash of Characters

In last weeks’ posts I talked about how you can take an ordinary character and make him fascinating by developing those three essential components to their personalities: their core need, their greatest fear, and the lie they tell themselves based on the wound they received early in life. I showed how my character Jake in my novel Intended for Harm was all about father issues, and that tied in with my main theme. I pretty much had that as a basic idea when I started planning. (You’ll notice I usually use the word planning as opposed to plotting and it’s not because I’m against plotting, but I want to de-emphasize that structuring and growing you novel is not all about plot. Plot is important, but a plot with no heart is just a plot.) Continue Reading…

Ordinary Characters Can Be Extraordinary

We’ve been going deep into character these last weeks, and I want to offer you some more ideas for developing complex, riveting characters. We hear things like “Your characters need to be larger than life,” meaning they should be extraordinary (extra ordinary? A whole lot more ordinary than the next guy? Sorry, that word got me thinking about how counterintuitive it is!). Okay, I get that to a point. To me, that means they need to be complex, unique,  passionate about something.

But I would like to say you can have ordinary characters that are ordinary people, but what makes them engaging and believable is their complex issues that drive them. For we all have them. You could say we are all both ordinary and extraordinary people.

If I’m presented one way, I can seem very dull, boring, average. But if I’m presented another way, I can become compelling, fascinating, deep. It’s all in the presentation. And in tightly developing and understanding those three essential aspects I spoke of in the last post: knowing the character’s core need, their deepest fear, and the lie they tell themselves because of the wound they suffered early on. Continue Reading…

Getting to the Core of Your Characters

Leon Surmelian in his book (written forty years ago) Techniques of Fiction Writing, has this to say about creating characters in fiction: “Characterization is a complex and elusive art and cannot be reduced to exact rules or to a comprehensive statement. The more we talk about it, the more we feel has been left out, and this is necessarily so because the human personality remains a mystery, subject to obscure forces; it is a universe it itself, and we are strangers even to ourselves. . . . Characterization requires self-knowledge, insight into human nature . . . it is more than impersonation.” Continue Reading…

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