Don’t Write a Damsel-in-Distress OR a Modern Super-Woman: Be Original

Sick Character? Give them Bigger-than-Life personality. Here's how. | Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison

I have a problem in my WIP novel, which is just in the outline stage. There’s a specific illness going around and to SHOW, DON’T TELL that the illness is really bad, an important character must become sick. But then, I have this sick character, Em. And she’s, well, sick. She’s become a Damsel-in-Distress, who […]

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4 Types of Villain – The Last One is Truly Scary Because He’s So Good

K.M. Weiland

Guest post by K.M. Weiland Ooh, bad guys. Where would our stories be without their spine-tingling, indignation-rousing, hatred-flaring charm? It’s a legit question. Because, without antagonists to get in our heroes’ way and cause conflict, we quite literally have no story. So write yourself a warty-nosed, slimy-handed dude with a creepy laugh. No problemo, right? […]

Complicated Dialogue: Keeping 5 Characters in Line

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Today, I’d like to answer a question from a reader. Shena asks, “I’m writing a story and I have five people who are carrying on a conversation with each other. How do I go about stating each person’s line without constantly using, he said, he replied or using the person’s name to say this person […]

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False Teeth and Blue Eyes: Keeping Track of Characters

Keep track of your character's false teeth and blue eyes with these tech toys.

Traditionally, novelists have been told to keep track of their characters with a Character Bible. Especially for a series that features the same characters, it’s important that a blue-eye beauty in Book 1 is still a blue-eyed beauty in Book 3. To maintain consistency, authors often need to keep detailed lists of characters and his/her […]

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3 Simple Ways to Use Photos to Establish Characters


I need my characters to come to life quickly for me and this time, I’m trying a shortcut. Photos. It’s easy to go to or and search for images that might fit your characters. Start with a gender (male/female) and age (child, teen, adult, senior, 30s, 40s, etc). Ethnic background. For my story, […]

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Point of View: Inside a Character’s Head


How does an author take a reader deeply into a character’s POV? By using direct interior monologue and a stream of consciousness techniques. This is part 3 of a 3-part series on Point of View: Techniques for Getting Inside a Character’s Head. Read the whole series. Outside Outside/Inside Inside Going Inside a Character’s Head, Heart […]

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Point of View: Outside/Inside a Character’s Head

Partially Inside a Character’s Head: OUTSIDE AND INSIDE POV How deeply does a story take the reader into the head of a character. Many discussions of point of view skim over the idea that POV can related to how close a reader is to a reader. But David Jauss says there are two points of […]

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Point of View: Techniques for Getting Inside a Character’s Head


A story’s point-of-view is crucial to the success of a story or novel. But POV is one of the most complicated and difficult of creative writing skills to master. Part of the problem is that POV can refer to four different things, says David Jauss, professor at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, in his book, […]

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Telling the Other Side of the Story: Switching Point of View


Question: How do you tell a story and make sure that both sides get heard? Answer: This is a time when switching point-of-view might be helpful. The default for telling a story is 3rd-person point-of-view. You tell it like you are recording from a camera that sits right above the point-of-view (POV) character’s head. Usually […]

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Dialogue: Make Each Character Unique


Dialogue, what characters say, is an important element in any story. DH, a reader here, is puzzled how to switch from one character to another. Here’s an example she gave: “Hey Danielle! Come check out this new book I got!” says Viola. “Okay just a sec.” says Danielle. See, what I’m asking? I need to […]

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63 Character Emotions to Explore

Explore your character's inner life with these emotions. | Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison

Readers want to get emotional when they read a piece of fiction, whether it is a novel or a picture book. We concentrate usually on character and plot, but often forget the emotional thread of a story. Emotions are one place where the author should “show, don’t tell,” or “show, then tell.” Show, Don’t Tell, […]

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Explore Your Characters: Be Surprised


You know you should try writing your story in first v. third point of view, but for some reason, you put it off. Why? Because you’ve gotten a first draft of a scene or chapter and you just want to keep going. It’s exactly the feeling that elementary school children have: “Why do I have […]

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2 Dialogue Tips from Studying SitComs: Just Spit it Out


I learned that Sit-Coms just spit it out. On one episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, Raymond’s brother Robert comes over to take the kids to the zoo. Raymond realizes that the kids might even like Uncle Robert more than him. Robert actually spits it out: You’re not a good father. Of course, in a sit-com, […]

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4 Things a Character List Reveals about Your Novel


I am working on a series proposal and have been asked for a list of characters. Wow, what a lot you can learn from a list. Name them all. First, I created a list that just names the characters. It’s interesting to see the variety (or lack thereof) in just the names. For children’s books, […]

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10 Body Language Tricks for Deeper Characterization


Tweet I’ve written before about the importance of using strong body language for your characters. The September, 2011 Cosmopolitan magazine, featured an article by Mina Azodi on “Cool Mind Tricks that can Give you an Edge.” Really, she’s talking recent research on body language. Here are some extra body language tips to consider. Give your […]

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My Character is Like a (Fill in the Blank)


Stuck on character? Use a simile. My character is like a shark: sleek, aggressive, willing to go after what s/he wants, dangerous. My character is like a Siamese cat: aloof, gorgeous, lovely to touch but untouchable, owner not owned. My character is like a goose: big, silly, aggressive; but in a group, s/he cooperates by […]

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Before and After: Reveal Character


Here’s another creative writing prompt for your 750 words, a challenge to write 750 words each day to better Think Like a Writer. Read more here. IN the on-going series of Thinking Like a Writer, everyone can recite the plot diagram of rising action which ends in a climax and denouement. But writers can’t just […]

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