When I started editing my novel, the hardest thing to admit and resolve was how undeveloped my characters were. When I wrote the rough draft, I did a lot of freewriting and did not spend enough time on character development.
Since I already had a backstory and culture for my focal characters, I had to focus on the characters’ individual personalities and motivation. Below is a list of things I had to decide for each character:
- Temper – How easily does the character fly off the handle? What triggers his/her anger?
- Fear – How does the character handle fear (fight, flight, or freeze)? What is his/her biggest fear? What are some smaller fears?
- Happiness – What does the character do when he/she is happy (tell someone, sing, become quiet, cry, laugh, dance, jump, etc.)? What makes him/her intensely happy? What makes him/her mildly happy?
- Pain – How does the character handle pain? Does physical/emotional pain shut him/her down or inspire him/her to take action? Does the character become more or less logical when experiencing physical/emotional pain? Does the character admit he/she is in pain or deny it? Does the character embrace or even seek out pain, accept pain as part of life, or avoid pain at all cost?
- Physical mannerisms – What does the character do with his/her hands, face, and posture when feeling different emotions? How about when he/she is in a formal versus casual setting?
- Speech patterns – Does the character talk a lot or hardly at all? When the character speaks, does he/she ramble on, speak in concise sentences, or give one word answers? Which words, if any, does the character use a lot? Which words, if any, does he/she never use? How does the stress or formality of a moment effect the character’s word choice, pitch, and the speed at which he/she speaks?
- Desires – What does the character most want? What are some of his/her less important desires?
Another thing I had to do when I began revising my novel was to create backstories for my supporting characters. I have attached two articles with more good questions for fleshing out character bios.
“Novel Writing: 10 Questions You Need to Ask Your Characters” by Brenda Janowitz: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/novel-writing-10-questions-you-need-to-ask-your-characters
“How to Create Character Profiles” by Harvey Chapman: http://www.novel-writing-help.com/create-character-profiles.html
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.” – The Princess Diaries (2001)
Recently, our country remembered one of the worst attacks on U.S. soil. Many Americans lost their lives including the brave first responders and the passengers on Flight 93. As a nation, we thank the men and women who risked their lives to save others and honor the heroes who paid the ultimate price.
Choose one of the two writing challenges below:
1. (Fiction or Historical Fiction) Create a character who works through fear to do what needs to be done.
2. (Nonfiction) Select a real person from history who pushed through his/her fear. Choose an event from his/her life where the person exhibited courage, and write about that event.
As a fantasy writer, I have learned the importance of world building. Interestingly enough, world building is not limited to fictitious worlds. All books need to make the setting (culture, geography, etc.) real for the reader. Having a clear picture of your character’s world also helps with the writing process.
Below are three links I found helpful. I hope you do as well.
1. This link will take you to an extensive list of questions on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America’s website: “Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions” by Patricia C. Wrede (http://www.sfwa.org/2009/08/fantasy-worldbuilding-questions/). These questions will help you to fully develop your world.
2. Chuck Sambuchino’s blog post, “Tips on World Building for Writers – How to Make Your Imaginary World Real” (http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/tips-on-world-building-for-writers-how-to-make-your-imaginary-world-real) provides guides for what sort of information is crucial to thorough world building. I think this article is the most helpful for writers whose stories take place in our world.
3. For writers who hate to do a lot of prep work, check out Victoria Strauss’s article, “An Impatient Writer’s Approach to World Building” (http://www.victoriastrauss.com/advice/world-building/).
Happy Labor Day, everyone!
“The diversity of life forms, so numerous that we have yet to identify most of them, is the greatest wonder of this planet.” – E. O. Wilson
Throughout history, man has created mythical creatures by combining characteristics from multiple known animals or animals and humans (e.g. Pegasus, griffins, the Minotaur, fauns, etc.).
Your challenge is to create a new animal or intelligent life form using one or more animals as your basis. Googling animals from around the world is a good way to start finding animals that inspire your creativity. You could also try doing some basic research on your selected animal(s) to see what sort of social structure is normal for that species, what it’s diet is like, and if it has any special abilities (e.g. being able to hold its breath for an hour).
After you’ve created the animal or being, try to imagine how it came into existence. Was it a freak of nature, science experiment, alien, or other? Is it from another world? If it is, design a world or at least a habitat for the animal or intelligent being.
You can be really scientific and come up with a diet for your animal, mating rituals, etc.