Character Writing Tips for Fiction


I think the grand girl is contemplating saving me from the Mastodon.

Some writers say your writing should be all about the story. Some say you can’t have good story without plot. Others say you can’t have good story without great characters. Plot, characters, story, tension, craft, are all necessary ingredients for a great book, and when well done are what people love about a good novel.

A REVIEW: I read another novel by Elizabeth George. The first one I’ve read of her’s that isn’t set in England. It is set instead on Whidbey Island off the coast of Washington State where E. George lives. The novel is called The Edge of Nowhere and is about a girl who can hear other people’s thought – though they come to her jumbled. Honestly, I didn’t like it nearly as much as George’s Inspector Lynley series. The Edge of Nowhere is a Young Adult book though it isn’t  classified as one. The story is good and some of the characters are well developed. Here is the plot’s premise – Becca’s ability to hear thoughts puts her at risk from her criminal stepfather, so she and her mother escape, Becca to Whidbey Island and her mother trying to lead the trail away like a mama bird, drives to Canada. I found myself skipping ahead through a lot of the book. I never found myself attached to Becca’s character. There were plot holes such as –  why Becca would bury her phone under some leaves just because she called 911 with it. That made no sense and no matter what excuse was created, it still made no sense. Another glaring hole appeared midway through the book – after the first pages the stepfather reappeared briefly at the very end of the book.  I’m supposed to buy the next book in order to find out what happened with him. I can’t bring myself to do it.

Why did Becca never appeal to me? Perhaps I grow tired of the “character must have a flaw” device. Just because Becca can hear other people’s thoughts and it bothers her does not make me like her. I can not relate to her at all.

When writing character I think the most important aspect to add is the likeability factor. The best way to do this I learned from a little book about playwriting that every writer should read, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. The way to make your MAIN character likable is to have him do something for someone or something the first time we meet him or her. If the reader can sympathize or empathize with the main character because they were kind in some way, you’ve created a good character. This works a hundred percent of the the cat If the author does this with minor characters, that’s great, but the reader doesn’t want to invest time liking a character who may or may not remain with the story.

This is just a few thoughts I’ve been thinking. Enjoy the lovely fall weather.

Here is a good article  – Character Writing Tips for Fiction Writers

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