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How to Create Characters Worth Reading

Close of an eye with an intense stare with text: How to Make a Character Compelling

There’s no shortage of blog posts about what makes characters likable to readers. Yet readers still read and enjoy stories with unlikable characters. Why? Let’s take a look at what options we have for creating characters that compel readers to keep turning pages.

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January 27, 2015

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How to Use Needs and Goals to Appeal to Readers

Cue ball lined up on billiards table with text: The Importance of Goals *and* Needs

When we first start learning about writing, we’re often faced with a whole new language. Words like “beats,” “tension,” and “conflict” take on new meaning within the writing world. Such it is with the words “needs” and “goals.” Once we enter the writing world, those words become infused with extra meanings related to plots and character arcs.

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January 15, 2015

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The Psychology of Emotions — Guest: Kassandra Lamb

Paper torn to reveal a drawn heart with text: The Psychology Behind Emotions

We usually want to keep the reader immersed in the story and keep readers’ interest by engaging their emotions. But when we understand the psychology driving emotions, we might be able to make those emotions more realistic or recognize when there’s a disconnect on a character’s emotional journey.

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November 18, 2014

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Showing Emotions: Finding the Right Balance

Stacked stones in a tower with text: Balancing Emotions in Our Story

The ability to manipulate our readers’ emotions is a good thing (as screwed up as that sounds). Storytelling and keeping readers’ interest often comes down to creating emotions in our readers. So let’s take a closer look at how we create emotions in our readers and how we find the right balance.

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September 25, 2014

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How to Use Layers to Show Intense Emotions

Stack of terracotta tiles with text: 3 Steps to Using Layers to Write 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?

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July 1, 2014

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Expand Our Senses and Improve Our Descriptions

Sleep mask with text: Describing with Other Senses

How many hundreds of times have we all heard the advice to “show not tell”? That’s often good advice (except for the times when it’s not *smile*). Other than the exceptions, “showing” usually is better than telling because it pulls the reader deeper into the story. But that means we […]

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June 12, 2014

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Literary vs. Genre Fiction: Which Do You Prefer?

Rustic gate opening to a wildflower field with text: Our Reading Habits: Do You Believe in Fate?

Reading is subjective. The stories some of us hate, others love. Personally, I have no interest in non-genre stories. This is not a sign of my inability to think deeply, but rather a personal preference. Mary Buckham’s ideas about the differences between literary and commercial fiction made me wonder about this preference.

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April 15, 2014

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Rediscovering Our Love of Reading

Woman reading on a beach with text: The Importance of Reading for Pleasure

Too many kids who were voracious readers earlier in their life learn to hate reading during their teenage years. According to a post on Writer Unboxed, one third of high school graduates won’t read another book—for the rest of their lives. For too many, reading becomes a means to an end. Absorbing knowledge. Period. And reading for pleasure now seems like a faraway dream.

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April 10, 2014

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Building a Theme through Character Arcs

Chalkboard with text: Theme: What Lesson Have You Learned?

We normally create stories where the point—the theme—is in line with our worldview. But it’s not unusual for our characters to hold opposite beliefs, even our protagonists. At least to start. And their story journey is often where our theme lies.

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April 3, 2014

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