Have you ever noticed how similar characters can be to other characters you've read or watched in other stories? Sometimes, we watch a movie or read a book and we barely come into contact with a character before we already know exactly what that character is all about. Why is that? In human nature, there are certain emotions and other commonalities that span through all societies that are instantly recognizable. When storytellers present us with certain triggers, such as the existence of a hunky small town bad boy love interest for our Hallmark big city girl who doesn't realize just what she's missing in life yet, we respond by not questioning who these people are because we're already well-conditioned to the type of people they are.
Here's a challenge for you to try to test out your writing chops! Taken from a short story-writing guest lecture on Brandon Sanderson's master class on writing science fiction and fantasy, from Hugo award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal, this will not only challenge you to understand how to engage audiences quickly, it will help you say more with less words. In the lesson, Mary challenges aspiring authors to write three sentences that tell readers exactly what kind of experience they're in for by picking up your book. Can you rise to the challenge?
As a writer, you have stories to tell, but maybe you're not quite sure how to begin to get all that information in your head onto the page. This is where structure is important, and the best way to determine what your story structure should look like is by understanding the four different types of stories: milieu, idea, character and event. By deciding what kind of story you're telling, you should have a much clearer idea of how to tell it.
One of the most effective and beloved ways to develop characters in storytelling comes in the form of the redemption arc. Suddenly, a switch gets flipped in an antagonist's mind, bringing them over to the side of the good guys just in the nick of time. Audiences eat it up every time, so much so that many people claim the redeemed character as their favorite. But why does the redemption arc resonate so well with people, and what are the best ways to include it in your work of fiction?
So, you're deep into your writing process. Maybe you have a completed early draft of your story and there's just something off about some of the characters that you can't figure out. You figure out that some of them just seem like they're in the story because you want them to be, not because they really should be there. They do the things you want them to do, but maybe it's uninspiring and they just don't seem like real people when all is said and done. Why does this happen and how do you fix it? Here are some things to think about that might help elevate your character writing to the next level.