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4 Ways to Motivate Characters and Plot

Some of your characters will change during the course of your story—let’s call them changers. Others—stayers—will not change significantly in personality or outlook, but their motivations may nonetheless change as the story progresses from situation to situation. Both changers and stayers can have progressive motivations.

 

Confused? Don’t be; it’s simpler than it may seem. Characters come in four basic types:

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All Character, No Plot

All Character, No Plot | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

For some people the events that take place are the first things they come up with, but if that isn’t how it works for you then having an intimate knowledge of your main character is still an excellent route to working out what the story will be about.

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Busting the Outline Myth

Busting the Outline Myth | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

The word outline in the writing world has come to be synonymous with detailed planning, which is really a disservice to both the outline, and those who might benefit from it. Not every writer uses or wants to use an outline when they write and that's okay. I'm a fan of outlining, but I certainly don't think it's the only way to write a novel. But I think there are some misconceptions about what outlining is, and that might be keeping people from trying something that might work very well for them.

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Questions, Curiosity, and Writing Ideas

Questions, Curiosity, and Writing Ideas | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

Find out how the power of your own curiosity can help you generate an endless stream of creative writing ideas. It all starts with a question.

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Kurt Vonnegut's inspirational 'make your soul grow' letter performed by students

Kurt Vonnegut's inspirational 'make your soul grow' letter performed by students | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it
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Organizing Your Book: Great Tips on What to Save, How to File It to Find It, and More!

Organizing Your Book: Great Tips on What to Save, How to File It to Find It, and More! | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it
Writing a book is a long-term relationship between a writer and a lot of words.  It's not like one piece of paper, or even one notebook.  More like a marriage than a one-night fling.  It pays to be prepared for the onslaught.
I use a couple of tried-and-true techniques for keeping track of my book as it moves from idea to chapters to first draft to multiple revision.  I've also gathered good tips from other published writers.  Here's the ten top tips--in no particular order of importance. 
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World's Best-Selling Author James Patterson On How To Write An Unputdownable Story

World's Best-Selling Author James Patterson On How To Write An Unputdownable Story | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

I tend to write stories the way you'd tell them. I think it'd be tragic if everybody wrote that way. But that's my style. I read books by a lot of great writers. I think I'm an okay writer, but a very good storyteller.

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Are Your Characters Too Stupid To Live?

Are Your Characters Too Stupid To Live? | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

Too stupid to live characters lose reader faith as quickly as they lose their survival instincts. It's hard to root for or even like a character who repeatedly makes dumb choices, especially when they cry "how could this have happened?" after disaster strikes (again and again and again). If they make too many of these in a row, readers are likely to start rooting for the bad guys (if they bother to keep reading at all).

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What Struggle Means For Character

What Struggle Means For Character | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

As readers we like to see characters struggle. It’s entertaining and thrilling. But that’s what it’s like for the reader. For the character, struggle serves another, less obvious purpose. One that can easily be overlooked.


 Struggle provides the conditioning necessary to meet future challenges.

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Is Honesty the Most Important Trait in a Likable Character?

Is Honesty the Most Important Trait in a Likable Character? | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

How do we create a character who is flawed enough to avoid the Goody Two-Shoes Award, while still being likable in spite of his flaws?

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Creating Believable High Stakes for Your Characters

Creating Believable High Stakes for Your Characters | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

A character in a fantasy novel goes through some magical portal into another world, where he learns he is the deliverer foretold to save this hidden kingdom. He’s your average guy and knows nothing about this world. Without hesitation, he not only accepts the truth of this prophecy/claim/appointment (fill in the blank), he immediately is willing to risk everything to assume the mantle of authority and responsibility.

 

But why the heck does he do that? I don’t know, and neither does the writer. Will the reader really believe someone, anyone, would do that? No. Sorry.

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KindredReaders's curator insight, April 4, 12:07 PM

Good reality check ... just one piece in a great series by Susanne Lakin

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Story, Character and Contradiction

Story, Character and Contradiction | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it
We like patterns, we like working out the rules and being able to predict events. But there’s always an exception to the rule. An anomaly will arise. The unexpected will turn up with alarming regularity. And when this happens our reaction is to take a closer look. We are fascinated by contradiction and want to examine it for answers, even when there are none to be had.
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14-Year-Old Proves U.S. Can Save $370 Million by Changing Fonts

14-Year-Old Proves U.S. Can Save $370 Million by Changing Fonts | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it
Changing the standard typeface used by federal and state governments could save the United States roughly $370 million a year in ink costs, a teen found.
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The Secret to Crafting High Stakes

The Secret to Crafting High Stakes | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

So just what are stakes? Stakes come in two forms. You may or may not have heard the terms “public stakes” and “personal stakes,” but those are, in a nutshell, the two types of stakes at play in a story. Public stakes affect the world at large (in your story). They are stakes that affect others besides your character.

 

The best stories, in my opinion, are the ones that have both public and personal stakes in spades. And I’ll even say the stories in which the personal stakes are the highest are the better stories

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The War Of Art

The War Of Art | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

How many times have you wanted to write, but just couldn't get anything out? How many times have you procrastinated, coming up with some seemingly valid excuse to avoid writing?

We've all been there. The challenge is getting out of our funk. The solution is simple: action. The book that taught me how to take action as a writer was "The War of Art." Let's skim over a handful of my favorite quotes from Steven Pressfield's epic kick-in-the-arse.

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How to Write the Perfect First Page

How to Write the Perfect First Page | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

Recently I attended a workshop called “American Author” inspired by American Idol. People anonymously submitted the first pages of their novels, which were read aloud to a panel of editors and agents. The panel then provided their immediate, brutally honest feedback for all to hear.

Given my past post on how to write the perfect first page, I thought it was important to add to it by sharing what I learned from hearing the perspective of people who have read hundreds, if not thousands, of first pages.

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KindredReaders's curator insight, Today, 11:32 AM

This should actually be called How NOT to write a first page, and it's worth reading.

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Getting Characters Going

Getting Characters Going | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

It doesn’t matter what kind of character is at the centre of a story, they will all face the same fundamental issue. Something needs to be done and they have to be the one to do it.

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24 Signs You're A Writer

24 Signs You're A Writer | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

1. You’ve considered purchasing, and/or have been gifted an old and barely working typewriter.

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A.K.Andrew's curator insight, April 20, 11:19 AM

Totally hilarious.

A.K.Andrew's comment, April 20, 11:19 AM
Hilarious. Thanks for finding this for us:-)
Sara Rosett's curator insight, April 20, 10:09 PM

Guilty! :)

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Screenplay Structure: The Five Plot Points

Screenplay Structure: The Five Plot Points | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it
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BEGINNiNGS: Setting a Story in Motion

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The Key to Creating Suspense Is...

The Key to Creating Suspense Is... | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

A reader who doesn’t care what happens next won’t read on to find out. It's our job as writers to create a situation that’s so tempting, so exciting, so emotional, that readers can’t put down our books.

The key to creating suspense?

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45 ways to avoid using the word 'very'

45 ways to avoid using the word 'very' | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it
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Steve Tuffill's curator insight, April 6, 10:08 PM

This makes the writing business very easy indeed...! How many times have you been caught when you can't find the right word for it...?

Annie Edmonds Skerchek's curator insight, April 7, 2:20 AM

Useful words to use instead of very...

Laurie DesAutels's curator insight, April 8, 5:37 PM

Helpful tips to avoid using the word 'very'

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5 Ways To Improve A Perfect Story

5 Ways To Improve A Perfect Story | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

You’ve written a story you’re proud of.

 

You’ve edited it until there’s nothing left to do. It’s perfect!

 

Isn’t it?

 

Of course.

 

But how can you enhance it?

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Knowing What to Cut in Your Manuscript

Knowing What to Cut in Your Manuscript | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

Dealing with a too-large or unwieldy manuscript can be frustrating at times, or even disheartening if you're not sure how to cut it down to manageable size. Please help me welcome Marcia Wells, who's here today to share some tips on trimming down your manuscript.

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Crafting Interesting Characters

Crafting Interesting Characters | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it
No one wants to write boring characters, but what qualities do interesting characters have? In this article I explore five qualities that can make your characters jump off the page: exaggeration, exotic setting, active introduction, truth-likeness and empathy.
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KindredReaders's curator insight, March 31, 11:33 AM

Karen includes lots of good examples to illustrate her points. I second her recommendation to read the posts on scenes and sequels.

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Vicarious Love: The Greatest Advantage of Multiple POVs

Vicarious Love: The Greatest Advantage of Multiple POVs | The Funnily Enough | Scoop.it

Points out one of the best features of multiple POVs in fiction and why you might want to consider taking advantage of them in your story.

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