Monday, October 2, 2017

Fleshing Out Your Fictional Characters



Stephen King said, in a recent blog, that authors must “tell stories about what people actually do.” He stated that “…bad writing usually arises from a stubborn refusal to tell stories about what people actually do, such as murderers sometimes helping old ladies cross the street. Since people in your stories are what readers care about the most, it falls on you to acknowledge all the dimensions your characters may have, making them well-rounded and interesting. Anything less reduces them to a two-dimensional cut-out.
Fleshed-out characters create reader fascination, which is what causes readers to turn pages. Give them strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. This gives them a potential to succeed yet forces them to struggle to reach their goal – whatever it may be – love, revenge, or security, to name a few. Tell the reader why they must reach that goal.
Make your characters consistent and yet surprise the reader. Most readers love twists. Give them some. Make them wonder what’s going to happen next. Make them human. That’s what King implores writers to do.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

WRITING A STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER

Women deserve to be well-represented in fiction. They make for awesome characters. Too many times a novel features female characters as sidekicks who could not exist without a male protagonist driving the story. A female character isn't necessary to support the male character's story arc. Females can do quite well on their own and not as dramatis personae existing to create romantic tension. They are, in their own right, as compelling  as any male character. They can drive a story forward quite well in most any plotline.

A strong female protagonist has her share of successes, failures, hopes, and motivations. She doesn't have to be Einstein-smart or a raving beauty. Flawed female characters fascinate readers. Make her real. Give her strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and emotions. Let her feel the whole spectrum of emotions from grief to elation. Force her to make choices, major and minor, right and wrong. Let her win some battles and lose a few.

The greater the challenge, internal or external, blocking her path, the more a reader will relate to her. Seemingly insurmountable hurdles generate conflict and suspense. And they drive a novel and keep readers turning pages. In Dean Koontz' novel, The Silent Corner, rogue FBI agent Jane Hawk had a lot to lose if she stumbled - her son and her life. Other prominent female characters include Lucy Guardino in C.J. Lyons' FBI thrillers, Hermione Granger in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, and Jackie Brown in Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch.