You’re writing your story, maybe you’re a few days in or perhaps a few weeks, and suddenly you feel the compulsion to do the dishes. Or the laundry. Or tidy up that closet. And if, like me, you aren’t overly fond of housework or tedious chores, it may occur to you that it’s rather odd that you now feel compelled to do something you dislike rather than do the thing you’ve loved since you were a kid.
There is in fact a pretty simple reason why, and once you understand it, it can actually make it easier to get your head back in the game.
Character motivations drive your story. The protagonist’s motivation is what informs his goal, which is what creates the plot. And motivation always comes down to your story’s stakes. What’s at stake for your characters?
The reading game is about to change forever. Boston-based software developer Spritz has been in "stealth mode" for three years, tinkering with their program and leasing it out to different ebooks, apps, and other platforms.
You want readers to feel like they’re in the world of your story. When the character enters a place, you want the reader to feel like they too have entered that place.
You paint a clear picture of the world but it’s like you’re not actually in the picture, you’re just viewing it from a distance. So how do you close that gap so the reader is pulled into the setting rather than skimming over it?
If anyone knows a thing or two about creativity, it's David Lynch. Arguably one of the most brilliant film directors of our time, Lynch is best known for genre-defying, surrealist art-house films like Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, and Wild at Heart. His style is so original that it's even inspired its own adjective: "Lynchian."
“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work,” Chuck Close scoffed. “A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood,” Tchaikovsky admonished. “Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too,” Isabel Allende urged. But true as this general sentiment may be, it isn’t always an easy or a livable truth — most creative people do get stuck every once in a while, or at the very least hit the OK plateau. What then?
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with titles. They either come to me like bolts from the blue, or I spend months struggling to find the right one. Usually, the easier the title comes to me, the more well-formed the story idea is.
When this happens, I know I've tapped into a critical element of the story, and that element will likely resonate throughout the entire novel. That's the power of the right title.
The Lie Your Character Believes is the reason for all character arcs. After all, if everything’s hunky-dunky, why change? We might think of the Lie as the cavity in a tooth. Everything might look shiny and white on the outside, but inside there’s decay. If the character is ever to be happy, he’s going to have to do some drilling to excavate the rot in his life.
The main character in a story will tend to have something about them that marks them out. They need to be distinct from everyone else just as a matter of practicality.
However, while you as the writer may have a very clear idea of what’s so great about the character, the reader doesn’t. And letting them in on it halfway through the book is not going to do you any favours. You have to win them over in the first few pages. So how do you do that?
Pi may go on forever, but your writing shouldn't. Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 (i.e. 3.14), and in honor of everyone's favorite endless irrational number, we've curated six tips for more concise writing.
One thing I’ve found with my writing is that my process tends to change or adapt through the years. It’s important to find what works, what helps us be more productive, and stick with that. Clearly, different approaches will work for different writers.
A big change has been switching over from writing longhand to writing on a laptop.
Ask any writer about the rules he’s heard throughout the years, and he will be able to recite a litany as deeply embedded as the Lord’s Prayer. Show, don’t tell. Write what you know. The first sentence is key. The last sentence is key. All writing is rewriting. No adverbs. No one aside from you finds your dreams interesting. You should never write in the second person.
Then there are the more baffling dictums that many of us have been treated to, equal parts arbitrary and asinine.
When bad (or even good) things happen to your characters, put yourself in their shoes and look at how that particular moment will affect them. As the writer, you know if this is just a minor blip or major deal, but the character doesn't. To them, it might be the worst thing to ever happen, or something that consumes them while it's happening. If it's a good thing, it might distract them from warning signs or things they ought to be noticing or paying attention to.
Characters are the heart of a novel, and within that heart is the Hero’s Inner Journey. The protagonist’s path is much like yours or mine–one that will (hopefully) bring him closer to lifelong happiness and fulfillment.
You can’t collect too many writing tips, and you can’t brush up on your techniques and skills too often. In that spirit, I bring you fifteen quick and dirty writing tips. These are just the headlines, designed to jog your memory and remind you of all the writerly things we should be doing at any given time.
When it comes to writing our antagonist, we face a dichotomy: we want them to be bad, but we also want them to be three-dimensional, faceted human beings. In short, we want to create bad guys who aren’t all bad, bad guys whom readers will still be able to find a spark of sympathy for, a smidgen of relatability. As a result, we can sometimes end up creating bad guys who aren’t bad enough.