Tag Archives: Characters

Point of View

One of the most important things we have to decide when writing is the point-of-view (POV). The most important thing to consider when deciding the POV is deciding your main character and if secondary characters also want to show their point-of-view. This is especially true in romance, many of the stories are written from the viewpoint of the two main love interests usually in third person. Although I have read a few that are in the first person. Just remember to stay consistent throughout the book. (But even then there are exceptions to the rule such as American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis, which starts in first person and ends in third).

First person POV is limited to what the main character can see and feel. This is especially great for emotional connection to a character and individual character growth. The third person POV can be more flexible and doesn’t depend on staying on one character throughout the entire book. For third person try to keep a limit on the number of POVs in one scene because the reader can become confused on who is thinking and doing what in the scene if the POV keeps changing too much.

The character’s POV also has to do with your character’s reveal. The POV can explain characters personality traits such as confidence levels and what is important. Do you want the reader to know everything up front or do you want your reader to slowly learn about your character in phases as the story progresses? I have mixed feelings on this. Honestly, it has to do with the writer.

In my experience, I find I get bored when information is poured into me in the beginning of the story. I just want the story to get started. But remember readers are all different and some prefer the details of the characters and plot placed for them in the beginning. If you can keep your reader interested while you spill out all your character’s information, I say more power to you. Remember this also has to do with your character. If they are the type to lay it all out on the line then do a reveal in the beginning. If they are more the type to get the action started and explain later than start with action.

Remember this is your character’s story and they have a way of telling you how they want their story told. So choose a POV and keep writing.

 


Populating the World with Characters

Group of PeopleAdding characters to your story can be a challenge to any writer. Most of our main characters will have other people and creatures to interact with throughout the story. The more popular additional story character choices range from the main love interest, parents, best friends, and ex-girl/boyfriends all the way to the antagonist. Of course the story can be populated by many people but readers don’t need a list of names, addresses, and phone numbers for every person and creature inside the world.

I have a pet peeve on creating too many characters in one book. As a reader and a writer I find it frustrating when an author throws out names and places that end up having nothing to do with the actual plot. I hate books with so many characters that the author ends up spending too much time describing each person, by the time the descriptions are done my head is spinning and, if I was lucky, I remembered at least one of the characters names. I find it a waste of time having to go back in the story to find names or places constantly trying to figure out who is who and where they are and usually just end up just giving up on the story. I want each character to be important and a vast amount of characters does not always equal a great story.

Is there a limit to how many characters you should have in a book? No.

If you like having a hundred characters and they all add something to the plot then I say write them into your story. But our readers cannot read our minds, they cannot always see the individual characters as we see them. Also, try to avoid stereotypes in your characters, although it can sometimes be funny, the best characters are usually the most unique.

A great way to write in several characters is to give each character something diverse. Not only should we give them their own voice but also an individual relationship to our main character. Remember, in the stories we write the world truly does revolve around the main character, they are the one our readers relate to the most, this is their story. Each character needs to make an impact on our main character and through her or him an impact on our readers.

One of the most important things I ever learned in a creative writing class was to combine your characters. Instead of having three friends that your main guy goes to for help why not make it just one best friend? Not only does this now give his best friend more depth instead of spreading it out into three people, but also allows the readers a chance to get to know the character. With only one character readers don’t have to memorize all the different names while at the same time trying to tell all them apart.

Make life easier on your readers by adding in characters that are developed, not just two-dimensional characters that keep the plot moving forward.

So add in those characters (or take a few out) and keep writing!


Writing Ideas! Where do they come from?

Crow over dark roadTrust me, I know how hard it can be to come up with that next great story idea. So for this writing Wednesday let’s discuss generating the creative writing ideas for your breakthrough novel.

Many of my ideas come from my overactive imagination. I have a tendency, a very rude one I guess, to watch people and imagine what there life is like outside of the moments I see them. I ask myself questions like, what if he is a vampire and is on his way home to find his father dead, slain by a werewolf? Or what if that girl is an undercover agent trying to find who killed her partner ten years ago?

I had a friend who used to write short stories almost everyday because that is what she dreamed about. I personally wish I had dreams that were good enough to write down for stories but unfortunately many of my dreams are pretty dull.

I have another close friend who likes to take characters from movies or television shows and throws them into the world he has created just to see how they would react. Personally I love this idea! I like using actors pictures as a way to keep my character descriptions and personalities accurate throughout the book I’m writing.

Surprisingly fun story ideas can come out of creating a character. When I hear an interesting name I always put it in my writing notes to start a new character, just the name alone starts my creative brain thinking about personality, physical descriptions, and their life/love experiences. Creating this character usually starts bringing out ideas for a new story and the nice thing about this method is my protagonist is already created when I start writing.

Places is another great way to start. Grab a picture off the internet or magazine that is of a real castle or an imaginative space station and start your story. Name the place, create the rules, throw in your characters, and you have a recipe to start a great story.

Another great source for story ideas are writing prompt websites and apps. A great book I love, not only for prompts but writing tips as well, is called the 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian Kiteley. Not only does this book help with ideas but helps with writers block while helping improve character depth. Great book!

So start creating that world, getting those idea juices flowing and keep writing!


Believability in Characters

Man with MagicStories need to have believability in the magic created for characters. I don’t like books where characters suddenly realize she or he has a power, such as a character suddenly realizing she always had the power to turn her enemies into toads with just a thought at the end of a book to solve the final conflict. The story is now unbelievable, like the author suddenly realized they put their characters into a situation she couldn’t get out of so the magical wizard suddenly finds her power. I find myself asking, “Where did that just come from?” and scanning back in the book to find what I missed.

On the other hand I don’t mind characters that are growing with their power. If the hero starts with only being able to start a soft breeze and by the end of the book he can create a hurricane, that works too. Just as long as the readers get to see the character grow and change with their new found abilities.

The heroines and heroes of my favorite stories have to have limits, if they don’t why is the antagonist even a threat? I have read a few stories where the heroes or heroines are near impossible to harm or even kill and I found myself wondering, “Why don’t they just rule the world?” I mean obviously no one can even touch them. I like limits, I can relate to characters with limits and people who have to make sacrifices for the things they want. This also creates conflict which is essential to any good story.

A great way to create limits is the source for power and magic. The source needs to be believable such as a genie who can only grant three wishes or blood as the sacrifice for more power. With limits the characters have to think before they leap. Plus this gives us romantics a way to spice up our stories, what better way to say I love you then having the main character sacrifice everything for the man he loves?

Also think about instruments needed for magic such as wands or ingredients like salt or herbs. If a mage needs to have a wand or a dove’s feather to perform magic there is a limit to the power giving him or her a weakness and believability.

So create those rules, make your characters vulnerable, and keep writing!


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