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.
With another final under Treasured Claim’s belt, my debut has now finaled five times in three contests for published books. So today seems like a good time to touch upon the contest arena for published books.
Writers are often a neurotic, self-doubting lot, and many of us hope for validation as a means of overcoming that doubt. We never want to think about how that validation is only temporary, but the best we can do is try to create a healthy relationship with our validation desires.
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.
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.
Whenever we send our work out into the world for feedback, we’re taking a risk. Depending on our levels of self-doubt, the feedback might roll off our back, inspire us to work harder and fix issues, or convince us that we should quit writing. How can we avoid destructive feedback and the temptation to quit?
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.
Sometimes as authors, we struggle to create a well-rounded world or characters that feel so real to readers that they experience a movie in their mind. Stories that feel like we can crawl in and inhabit them are often lauded as special, but why is it so hard to succeed in that goal?
Aphantasia is the term for when someone can’t imagine something in their mind–“mind blindness” or not having a “mind’s eye.” As writers, this perspective not only gives us all sorts of story and character ideas, but it can also raise many questions about the concept of imagination itself.