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character archetypes

Wonder Woman: The Essence of a Strong Female Character

Wonder Woman poster: Silhouette on a beach at sunset with added text: The Wonder of a Strong Female Character

What makes a “strong female character”? We can struggle to define them because we see so few successful portrayals of such characters—especially in movies. Luckily, Diana Prince in Wonder Woman is a wonderful (ha!) example, so let’s break down her strengths so we can push for more characters like her in our stories.

June 8, 2017

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Protagonist Boot Camp: Characters Who Drive a Story

A theater's stage door with text: Is Our Protagonist Worthy of the Role?

We might sometimes wonder if our main character is worthy of the label protagonist or if our story would be better told through another character’s eyes. So let’s talk about how can ensure our main character deserves the role of protagonist.

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April 13, 2017

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Character Development Is a Two-Edged Sword

Pen on a contract with text: The Promise of Character Development

As writers, we do everything we can to make readers invested in our characters in some way. An invested reader is a happy reader, right?
Well, maybe not. Let’s take a look at the other side of character development.

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May 26, 2016

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Subtext: Creating Layered Characters

Reflections on a water surface with text: Getting Under the Surface of Our Characters

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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April 21, 2016

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Story Conflict: Villains vs. Antagonists

Man sitting in a dark room with text: Does Every Story Need a Villain?

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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March 1, 2016

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5 Common Myths about Emotions — Guest: Kassandra Lamb

Man holding head in hands with text: 5 Common Myths about Emotions

We all have emotions, so we all think we know how to write them. However, sometimes the best writing comes from exposing an emotional truth that we’re hiding from ourselves. So the better we understand emotions, the better our stories will resonate with our readers.

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November 10, 2015

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Writing Diversity: How Can We Avoid Issues?

Purple eye and green hair with text: Avoiding Mistakes with Diversity

The real world is filled with diversity, and our stories should be the same way. There’s no “one right way” to portray diverse characters, but there are wrong ways to portray diversity. However, there are steps we can take to minimize—as much as possible—the potential of “getting it wrong.”

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October 22, 2015

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Character Likability and Subtext

Layers in red rock with text: Add Layers to Non-POV Characters

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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September 17, 2015

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What Makes Your Story Unique?

Neon sign of "Same Same But Different" with text: Is Your Story the "Same Same But Different"?

Ever heard “write the same but different”? Usually agents want something similar enough to other stories that they know they can sell the book but different enough to not feel like a retread. Whether we’re writing queries for traditional publishing or back-cover blurbs for self-publishing, if we can identify how our story is unique, we can better sell our story.

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August 18, 2015

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