strong characters

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

What Stories *Won’t* You Write?

April 17, 2012 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for What Stories *Won’t* You Write?

In my last post, we talked about voice and how we tend to write the same types of characters, premises, and themes over and over.  That’s not a bad thing.  Those stories resonate with us as writers. Similarly, there are stories we would never write.  Stories might be so against our internal grain that if an idea along […]

Pin It
Click here to read more

What Makes a Character Unique?

March 8, 2012 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for What Makes a Character Unique?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare Wow, Bill, you have no idea how ahead of your time you were.  I know it must be hard to believe, but hundreds of years after you made this insightful observation through […]

Pin It
Click here to read more

What Drives a Story: Plot or Characters?

July 26, 2011 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for What Drives a Story: Plot or Characters?

Wish me luck.  I’m about to dive into one of the eternal debates among writers.  Which is “better”: a plot-driven story or a character-driven story? If you’re not familiar with the debate, let me explain why this question is so fraught with potential landmines.  A common snub against genre stories is that they’re all about […]

Pin It
Click here to read more

The Green Lantern Movie: How *Not* to Write Characters

July 7, 2011 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for The Green Lantern Movie: How *Not* to Write Characters

Last time, I used the Green Lantern movie to illustrate how not to plot a story.  This time, we’re going to look at the Green Lantern characters. As noted before, Green Lantern felt superficial and formulaic.  Sure, it’d be easy to say that it was a comic book movie and therefore lived up to expectations, but […]

Pin It
Click here to read more

Are Romance Heroes Good Role Models?

February 8, 2011 Random Musings
Thumbnail image for Are Romance Heroes Good Role Models?

In preparation for Valentine’s Day, a recent USA Today article gave the relationship advice that a man should: “look into her eyes, focus on what she says and really talk to her.”  Wow, earth-shattering ideas. Or not.  The suggestion to treat a woman like a person and not just a collection of body parts is nothing new. […]

Pin It
Click here to read more