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.
Theme is one of those concepts that can be hard to understand, but by understanding themes, we’ll better satisfy our readers. In the recent debate about the romance genre’s requirement for a happy ending, the controversy comes down to themes, believe it or not. *smile*
We’re almost to the new year, so let’s take those thoughts of new beginnings over to our stories. Most writers have probably struggled with a story’s opening, but if we start from the big picture and move to the specific, we might have an easier time finding the right beginning for our story.
I interrupted my Christmas to-do list to put together a worksheet based on the Essential Elements list I covered in my last post. If you’ve ever wondered if a completed story had good “bones,” hopefully this worksheet will help.
After completing a story, we might face the question of whether to put in the effort to revise it. If we decide our story has enough promise, what should we do next? Does our story contain all the essential elements? Does it have the bones of a good story?
As writers, we get to research anything we want. The problem comes when we think we know something, so we make assumptions without doing the research. Many of us assume we know the justice system because of the endless TV shows and movies depicting lawyers and courtrooms, but those sources don’t always get it right.
Last week, we talked about how we can add diversity to our stories in a respectful way, and no matter what kind of story we write, we’re probably going to need to research something. Whether we’re referring to an aspect of diversity, a setting, or a character’s job, we can’t know everything about everything.
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.”
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.
If we write genre fiction, we might bemoan the lack of respect, but the same lack of respect occurs at the reader level too. Readers of science fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, young adult, and romance have also been looked down on. Many outsiders have attempted to make readers ashamed of their reading choices by judging by subjective measures.