strong characters

How to Use Layers to Show Intense Emotions

July 1, 2014 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for How to Use Layers to Show Intense Emotions

A “numb” reaction isn’t unusual for dark or deep emotions. In fact, it’s probably fairly normal. But it makes writing the scene more difficult. How do we show numb and deep emotions at the same time? How can readers connect to an emotionless character?

Pin It
Click here to read more

One Step to Better Writing and More Diversity

June 5, 2014 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for One Step to Better Writing and More Diversity

The push for diversity isn’t about valuing diversity over storytelling. Or about meeting a quota. Or making a statement. This is about being a better writer.

Pin It
Click here to read more

The Danger of Political Correctness for Diverse Books

June 3, 2014 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for The Danger of Political Correctness for Diverse Books

Diverse books are important—not simply for the sake of diversity—but so that by sheer number of representations, any one type of character isn’t limited to a stereotype. The truth is that we are all diverse. No one stereotypical character will ever represent us, no matter our color, nationality, or background.

Pin It
Click here to read more

How Can We Show a Character’s Internal Journey?

May 15, 2014 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for How Can We Show a Character’s Internal Journey?

I’m a big fan of Michael Hauge’s approach to characters. His insights helped me figure out how to match a character’s internal journey to the external plot. This is often tricky, though, so let’s go deeper into how characters change.

Pin It
Click here to read more

What’s the Perfect Job for Our Characters?

April 29, 2014 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for What’s the Perfect Job for Our Characters?

If we write our story well, every aspect of the story will contribute to the overall picture and create an impression for the reader. There aren’t any unimportant details in a well-written story. And that means the careers for our characters shouldn’t be an afterthought either.

Pin It
Click here to read more

Can Genre Fiction Be “Art”?

April 17, 2014 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for Can Genre Fiction Be “Art”?

We have a hard time defining literary fiction. Society gives us assumptions on the relative value of genre vs. literary fiction, but those assumptions miss the point. Assigning value judgments to the labels “literary” and “genre” doesn’t make sense because preferences are subjective opinions and there’s no “better” or “worse.”

Pin It
Click here to read more

Using Conflict to Understand Our Characters

November 19, 2013 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for Using Conflict to Understand Our Characters

All stories need conflict. As agent Donald Maass says, we need tension on every page. But that doesn’t mean our characters should come to fisticuffs on a regular basis. Instead, conflict refers to whatever stands between our characters and what they want. Why does it take them 300 or so pages to reach their goals or […]

Pin It
Click here to read more

How to Make Characters Vulnerable to Readers

November 7, 2013 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for How to Make Characters Vulnerable to Readers

Most tips for creating sympathetic characters point out that our characters need flaws. And that’s very true. But it can be a real trick to show flaws for characters who bottle up their emotions in an attempt to hide their weaknesses. While very common, that defense mechanism can leave very little for us, as authors, […]

Pin It
Click here to read more

The Thin Line between Character Strengths and Flaws

April 11, 2013 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for The Thin Line between Character Strengths and Flaws

Last time I asked you to share your superpower, that trait—useful or not—that makes you unique. Everyone shared some great stories, although none of us had skills that would land us on Cracked.com’s “Real People with Mind-Blowing Mutant Superpowers” list. *eyes the superpowers that made the list* Maybe that’s a good thing. At the end […]

Pin It
Click here to read more

Michael Hauge’s Workshop: An Antidote to “Love at First Sight”

August 9, 2012 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for Michael Hauge’s Workshop: An Antidote to “Love at First Sight”

By far, the best workshop I attended at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Annual Conference was Michael Hauge‘s presentation, “Using Inner Conflict to Create Powerful Love Stories.” Unlike every other workshop, Michael gave his presentation twice. I attended on the second day and the room was standing-room-only packed. The first day was likely the same. Yeah… It was […]

Pin It
Click here to read more