antagonist

Plot Obstacles & Character Agency

May 17, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Ashley asked a question in the comments last week that gets at the heart of strong, proactive characters. Even in literary fiction, characters are usually faced with making choices, and whatever triggers those choices is where we’ll find plot and character agency.

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Plot Obstacles: Too Easy, Too Difficult, or Just Right?

May 12, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Our characters have to overcome many problems throughout our plot, but changing the obstacles doesn’t always fix story problems. Sure, sometimes an obstacle doesn’t fit the story, but too often, the obstacle itself isn’t broken—but the storytelling around the obstacle.

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What’s the Difference between Plot and Story?

May 3, 2016 Writing Stuff
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When we first start off as writers, if someone asks us about our story, we might launch into an overview of our story’s plot. It’s easy to think the plot is what our story is about. But with few exceptions, story isn’t the same as plot.

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Subtext: Creating Layered Characters

April 21, 2016 Writing Stuff
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I’ve written many times about how much I love subtext, the stuff that happens between the lines. Subtext lurks in many aspects of our stories and helps immerse readers and add realism and tension. In addition, subtext can help us build layered characters.

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Story Conflict: Villains vs. Antagonists

March 1, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Conflict is one of those words we all think we understand, but the writing-world meaning doesn’t have the same connotation as the non-writing meaning. Yet it’s only after understanding conflict that we’ll see the difference between antagonists and villains in storytelling.

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Character Likability and Subtext

September 17, 2015 Writing Stuff
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How are villains, character likability, subtext, and point-of-view all related? In many stories, our antagonist is a non-POV character, and for non-POV characters, my previous tips about likability will be limited to subtext. So even though we might not be trying to make our villain likable, we might struggle to make them layered.

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Story Climax: Forcing Characters to Move Forward

April 30, 2015 Writing Stuff
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Whatever happens in the Climax is often the reason we decided to write the story back when it was just a twinkle in our muse’s eye. But just before the beat of the Climax, our character experienced the Black Moment/Crisis, where they gave up. How do we get them to recommit to the story goals?

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How to Place Turning Points on a Beat Sheet

February 5, 2015 Writing Stuff
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Is a Catalyst the same thing as an Inciting Incident? (Answer: Yes.) How do I know? It’s not because there’s a secret cheat sheet with translations for every beat sheet term. *smile* If we know the functions beats fulfill in a story, we’ll always know where a story event belongs on a beat sheet.

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How to Create Characters Worth Reading

January 27, 2015 Writing Stuff
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There’s no shortage of blog posts about what makes characters likable to readers. Yet readers still read and enjoy stories with unlikable characters. Why? Let’s take a look at what options we have for creating characters that compel readers to keep turning pages.

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Balancing Conflict in Romance Stories

January 22, 2015 Writing Stuff
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One of my commenters asked a great question last week that gets to the heart of the balancing game we have to play when writing romance. The characters have to be perfect enough for each other to make a believable couple, but there also has to be enough conflict between them to sustain a story.

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