characters / writers tips / writing

Writer’s Tip #12: Know Your Character

writers tipsWhen you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. I’ll point them out. They’ll come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.  Please add comments with your favorite editing fixes.

If your story sounds stilted or fake, the believability of your characters is one of the reasons. Readers continue with a plot mostly on the strength of the characters you’ve introduced them to. Readers don’t like when these new acquaintances act, well, out of character.

That means you must get to know your characters–intimately. Know their favorite colors, movies, songs. Know their morals, educational background, weaknesses and strengths.

Before beginning your novel, write their profile. Not just a few paragraphs, but pages–as many as you need to feel like you’re their best friend. Throw them into situations and see if you can predict how they would act, based on everything that makes them what they are.

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6 thoughts on “Writer’s Tip #12: Know Your Character

  1. No,you didn’t sound hostile. I enjoy a good discussion. I write Scientific Fiction–not character driven, but science driven. You’d think we’d believe exactly the opposite! I agree with your conclusion, though–it would be a mistake to place plot ahead of character. In my writing, I find my characters drive the plot when I listen to them.

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  2. I hope my comment didn’t come off too hostile…I only realized that after I commented. That said, I write character driven science fiction. Character driven because I firmly believe characters come first – the most important rule being “never sacrifice character for plot,” a common error in my genre.

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  3. I need to get inside my character’s head to make sure their actions are … not predictable, but understandable. Different approaches. What type of novels do you write?

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  4. Oddly enough, I pretty much wrote the exact opposite today. That’s not say I disagree – I’ve just had better success w/brevity simply b/c I can’t be bothered with long profiles when I’m in the middle of a writing session.

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