Character Asks: Valentine’s Day Edition

I’ve decided to do something a little different on the blog this time around. I may even turn this into some sort of feature down the line. I’ve done book tags and writer tags in the past, but I’ve never done a character tag before. I used to interview my characters long ago way before I even started my blog. I enjoy getting to know my characters more though and thought it would be fun to create a new tag for characters. This time it’s Character Asks: Valentine’s Day Edition.

Character Asks: Valentine's Day Edition | Writer Tag | Book Tag | Character Tag | Character Interview | Writing Asks | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

George Florence & The Perfect Alibi

I’m juggling a lot of WIPs right now so, for this particular one I’m going to focus on the characters from my mystery novel, George Florence & The Perfect Alibi. These characters are the most developed and I have a lot of fun with them.

Is your main character single? If so, who would they spend Valentine’s Day with?

All of my characters are single except for Ebony, George’s older sister. With that said, George and Lilah would most likely spend the day together. Then again, they spend every day together. However, George would probably want to keep working throughout the day.

Do any of your characters have a crush?

As of right now, no. I do have plans for Lilah to develop a crush on a certain someone later in the series, but in book one, no. No one has any crushes on anyone else.

What’s the perfect date for your main character?

George would want to stay in and watch a movie or go for a nice walk in the park. He wouldn’t want to do anything too fancy but he’d want to get to know her as well. Lilah, on the other hand, would want to go out to eat – probably for burgers. But if she met someone who planned something simple, she wouldn’t mind.

Which character would go to Valentine’s Day dinner alone?

Caleb. He would probably order dinner for two and then pretend he got stood up. He’d get extra food and possibly a discount on the bill if his sob story was hardcore enough.

Which character hates Valentine’s Day?

George. There is a reason for this, but it would be spoilers for book two.

What turns your main character on?

Logical thinking turns George on. He gets very impressed and wants to give that person puzzles to solve or to help out on an investigation. Lilah doesn’t have too high of standards. If a man gives her coffee, she’s sold.

Which character just wants the candy?

Lilah. And probably Caleb.

Does your character feel as though they need a date for Valentine’s Day?

No. None of them really care too much about Valentine’s Day so none of them have a need to go out and celebrate. This isn’t just because their single either. George has his reasons, but Lilah believes every day is a good day to show friends, family, and significant others that you love them.

Which character would participate in something Valentine’s Day related for the sake of celebrating a holiday?

Caleb… probably to get that free candy!

Which character would take their best friend out?

George or Caleb. (Seriously, Caleb has become a much bigger part of the series than I originally meant for him to be.) George would do something special for Lilah as a thank you for all her help, but that’s it. It would just be the nice gesture. Caleb would gladly take Lilah out if it was something she truly wanted. They’ve developed a hardcore friendship with each other. Caleb would also fake being Lilah’s boyfriend if it was needed for whatever reason.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this character ask. Feel free to answer these questions with your own characters and WIPs. If you do, please link back to this post as well as let me know you participated. I’d love to see some other answers!

Can you answer these with some of your characters? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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5 Ways To Show Character Development

Telling you how to show character development in your novel is like me telling you how to write a book. It’s obvious, but it’s not. It’s easier said than done, yet you do it without realizing it. It’s probably stuff you already know about.

Still, sometimes a quick reminder is needed. It’s nice to see it laid out in a blog post. I know it is for me.

Maybe these posts help me more than anyone else.

1. Decide what your characters’ motivations are

Just like what we talked about the other day. Why are your characters in your story? What is their purpose? Why do they care about the plot and what do they contribute to it? What would they do in certain situations?

2. Give your characters flaws

No one is perfect. You can learn a lot about a character through their positive traits, but I feel like flaws can show a little more. Some flaws can be unexpected and they can come out in some interesting scenarios.

3. Give your characters internal conflict

The plot is important, yes, but everyone is fighting a battle no one else truly knows about. Giving your characters an internal conflict makes them more realistic and, depending on what it is, it can raise the stakes a bit. It gives insight into their thoughts, reasons behind their actions, and shows off their personality a little.

4. Use action and dialogue to your advantage

You can tell a lot about your characters through their actions, decisions, word choice, and tone. Using descriptive action and clever dialogue can show your readers a lot about your characters and I’m sure you’ll learn a lot too.

5. Allow your characters to surprise you

Most often than not, your characters will end up writing themselves. You can plan them all you want, but once you start writing they’ll try to take over. Let them because they have many ideas up their sleeve.

How else do you show character development? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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How To Show Your Character’s Backstory [Character Development]

This month we’ve talked a lot about what shapes a character and what makes our characters great characters who stand out. We’ve talked about different ways to develop our characters in many different ways.

One great way to develop our characters is to shy away from the main story. Not too much of course, but getting to know your characters on a deeper level, especially for your readers, is a surefire way to develop your characters.

Why Is Your Character’s Backstory Important?

We all have a backstory and giving your character’s a backstory shows significant events that happened in the past before the main plot of your novel occurs. Some events and decisions that are made in the past have a connection to something that will happen in the present or future. There are a cause and effect for everything.

Knowing certain parts of your character’s backstory is important because it shows how your character came to be and allows some insight into who they are and where they came from for your readers. Plus, it helps you as the writer to get to know your own character a bit.

How Can You Show Your Character’s Backstory?

Add balance – Avoid info dumping

When showing your backstory, show bits and pieces of it at a time. You don’t want to overwhelm your readers with flashbacks and mini-stories that may or may not have anything to do with the main plot. Spread it out and only explain some backstory when it shows a character’s growth through the main story.

Show past events that shape your character

Why did they make a certain decision? Maybe something similar happened in their past and your character doesn’t want to make the same mistake. You can show what happened in the past or have your character explain what happened to other characters.

Make sure the backstory is relevant to the plot

Adding to the previous point, if you’re going to reveal some part of your character’s past, make sure it has something to do with the main plot. You don’t want to be explaining something completely out of left field. It will confuse your readers making them wonder why they need to know that, why it’s important. Only add relevant information.

Remember the backstory is not the main point of the story

Some people write prequels or even novellas based on certain characters. I’m good with those, go for it. However, if you’re writing the main novel make sure the backstory doesn’t overshadow the main plot. If a novella based on a certain character is planned, I don’t see why you can’t leave a slight cliffhanger in some backstory. Of course, again, don’t make it super prominent and don’t tease your readers with it making them forget about the main plot.

What other advice do you have for showing backstory? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Giving Your Characters Motivation [Character Development]

In real life, everyone has something they’re working towards. We all have a purpose, try to stand out, and – hopefully – do the right thing.

This goes for your characters as well. They’re all trying to live either own lives in the fictional world you created. They’re trying to stand out to your readers and they have a purpose to aid the plot in moving further.

In order to get to know your characters on a deeper level and figure out what they’re purpose is, you need to know one thing. Their motivations.

What Is Motivation?

Motivation allows your readers to figure out who the characters are and why they make the choices they make. It’s because of their motivations that the story is able to keep moving forward. However, it’s some decisions based on your characters that will make that good or bad.

Where Does Motivation Come From?

Motivation can come from anywhere, anything, and everyone. One thing can influence your character for better or worse.

Childhood

Depending on whether your character had a happy childhood or not can show who they are as an adult. Certain experiences will remain in the back of their minds that they’ll take with them to adulthood.

Environment

Your character’s surroundings have a lot do with how they’ll act as well. Are they around good-hearted people? Chances are they’ll be influenced to make similar decisions. Are they happy where they are or not?

Personality Traits

Any trait you give your character will stand out and show who your character is. For example, if you have a character with an ambitious mind, chances are they may be a workaholic. How would that affect their home life? Their friends?

How Do You Show Motivation?

Action

Every action has a reaction. One of the best ways to reveal your character is to show them doing something. Is there a problem? How do they solve it? There are a cause and effect for everything, think about how each situation will change your character in a way.

Dialogue/Thoughts

Your character will reveal a lot about himself if we’re able to see inside his head. His interactions with other characters will certainly show that as well. How does he act around people he likes? Dislikes? A crowd?

Let Your Reader Infer

You don’t need to reveal absolutely everything. Leave some room to show what your character is capable of, but allow your reader to get a feel for the character by inferring certain traits about them. Let them discover it for themselves and they’ll be eager to see what happens next.

What are some motivations you give your characters? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Character Development: Character Physical Description

We’re all unique from one another, we all look and appear differently. Yes, people have identical twins or doppelgangers hanging around in other parts of the world, but we’re all made up differently and so are your characters. Let’s take a look at character physical description.

Our appearance ranges from different hairstyles, body size and shape, the clothes we wear, and much more. There’s a lot to think about when you’re trying to paint a picture of multiple people in your stories for your readers.

How to describe your characters' physical appearance | Character development | Creating fictional characters | RachelPoli.com

Character Physical Description To Think About

  • Height and weight
  • Body type
  • Eyes/eyebrows (shape, color)
  • Hair (style, length, color)
  • Skin (looks, feels, color)
  • Face (shape, facial hair)
  • Nose/ears
  • Mouth/teeth
  • Arms/hands
  • Legs/feet
  • Distinguishing features (makeup, scars, freckles, etc.)
  • Clothing style

When creating your character, it’s good for you to know most, if not all, of these features. Of course, your readers don’t need every nitty-gritty detail. I mean, you don’t typically describe your characters’ eyebrows, do you?

No, but if you want to get the whole picture for you, then it’s something to think about when you’re sketching out your characters.

How To Describe Your Characters

1. Use figurative language

You don’t need to straight up tell your readers, “Rachel had brown hair and blue eyes.” You want your readers to be able to picture Rachel and infer for themselves what she looks like. Yes, there will be some things you can blurt out, but for the most part, you want to show, not tell.

2. Describe facial expressions

A big way to show off facial features is to describe their expressions. Did someone tell a funny joke? How do they laugh? Do they show their teeth? When they cry, does makeup run down their face? Are they an ugly crier?

3. Describe throughout the story

I’ve read books where a new character is introduced and then there’s a paragraph or two all about them. It can work, but I always found it better to show how the character looks and acts the deeper you get into the story. First impressions are fine, but we don’t need to know their looks top to bottom right away.

4. Show description through actions

It’s easy to visualize what your characters look like when they show off how they act. For example, maybe a character plays with their hair when they’re nervous. Or maybe they’re reapplying lipstick while gossiping with a friend.

5. Allow characters to comment on each other

We all have an opinion on something and so do your characters. Your main character, especially in the first person, can comment on the other characters. Maybe your protagonist likes or dislikes them, but why? Do they smell? Is their hair greasy or does it look better than theirs?

6. Show the way they move

You can tell a lot about a person and their mood at how they move. Do they slouch? What about their movement? How do they walk?

7. Make it important to know

You don’t need to describe every inch of your character. Like I said before, your characters’ eyebrows aren’t really important. Unless they dye them or shave them off or something… the point is, not everything is important. You can always leave room for your readers’ imagination.

8. Less is more

Going along with the point above, you don’t need to describe everything. Not just because it may not be important, but so that your readers can infer themselves.

9. Check yourself out

A fun exercise can be to look at yourself in the mirror. Describe what you see, make different facial expressions and describe those. Look at photographs, old and new, and describe the people you see. Make up some new features if you want.

What other tips do you have for describing your characters? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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Character Basics: Choosing A Name [Character Development]

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What’s one of the first things you do to create your character? You come up with a name.

Well… Sometimes it’s difficult and I’ll admit I’ll throw in a random name and keep it bolded until I change it later.

For the sake of this post, we’re going to pretend the first thing we always do is name our characters.

A name is the most important thing you can give to your characters. It’s their identity and it separates them from everyone else inside the story and outside. Give them a name your readers will remember and appreciate. When you hear the name Harry Potter, you instantly know who I’m talking about, right?

Choosing A Name For Your Characters | Character Development | Creative Writing | Creating Characters | RachelPoli.com

1. Name Dice

I talked about this app when talking about fun ways to create characters. This is a free app I have on my iPad that does exactly what it says. You tap the screen to roll a pair of dice, one reveals a first name and the other reveals a surname.

It’s a great randomizer when you don’t know what to name your characters. It’ll give you ideas for other characters as well.

2. Baby Name Books

Go to your local bookstore or library and pick out some baby naming books. Most of them include genders, origin, and meanings, which is extremely helpful when finding a good name for your character. The baby name book I have even had sections based on “names based on flowers” or “names based on gems” and the like.

3. Baby Name Genie

This is a website where you type in the last name and you can choose or gender if you want. The genie will then find the perfect first and middle name to go along with the last name. You can do this as many times as you like and I always find it a fun way to discover new names.

How do you typically come up with names for your characters? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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Supporting Characters In Novels Need Love Too

When it comes to writing novels everyone always talks about two major characters: the main character and the bad guy. However, there are so many other characters to consider when writing a novel.

There are side characters, major or minor characters, secondary characters, however, you want to explain it.

If you think about it, your protagonist wouldn’t be where they are if it wasn’t for the help of their supporting characters.

Give your supporting characters some love | Supporting characters | Character Development | RachelPoli.com

What is a supporting character?

It’s a character in a novel who supports the main character through the plot. They’re not the main focus of the story, but they aid the story in various ways. This can be shown through major or minor characters or secondary characters. Or, maybe a passerby kind of character.

3 examples of supporting characters

The Best Friend

Your main character’s friend may have nothing to do with the plot, but they may get roped into a few things here and there. They’re the perfect opportunity to add a little friction as well. Everyone argues with their best friend and it’ll add one more annoying thing to your main character’s list.

The Mentor

The mentor or teacher is the character who, of course, guides or advises the main character. It may or may not have anything to do with the plot, but most often than not, the main character finds a way to use their teachings to push the plot forward.

The Love Interest

Everyone has a little love in their life and that includes your main character. Sometimes this goes with the plot and other times it doesn’t. Sometimes it even distracts the main character from the plot. Either way, it keeps things interesting.

How to spread the love to your supporting characters | Character development | RachelPoli.com

Treat your supporting cast like any other character.

Supporting characters are just like any other character. The plot just isn’t about them. That’s okay though, they’re still characters who are important to the story.

With that said, be sure to:

  • Give them a backstory – This doesn’t have to be too in-depth depending on how often they’ll appear in the story, but it helps.
  • Give them good traits – They must be helping the main character for some reason, right?
  • Give them bad traits – Everyone makes mistakes. Or, maybe they’re helping for the wrong reasons.

Supporting characters are characters too and they need a lot of attention as well.

What are some of your favorite types of supporting characters? How else do you develop them? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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9 Types Of Characters In Fiction

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Did you know there are different types of characters? I mean, in addition to the typical “protagonist” and “antagonist.”

Each and every character you create is important. It doesn’t matter if they’re a minor character, a main character, or secondary. Each and every one of them has a job to do and they need to do it well. There are a lot of types, but here are the 9 types of characters in fiction.

The 9 Types of Characters in Fiction | Character Development | RachelPoli.com

1. Confidante Character

A confidante is someone or something the main character confides in. Readers can learn a lot about the main character’s personality and thoughts through this. The confidante can be another character or it can be the inside pages of the main character’s diary.

2. Dynamic or Developing Character

A dynamic character is someone who changes throughout the story. This may be a good change or a bad one, but their motivations, desires, or even their personality changes due to something in the story. This is usually a permanent change and shows how the character has learned and developed over time in the story.

3. Flat or Static Character

A flat character is the opposite of a dynamic character. A flat character doesn’t change much or at all throughout the story. Their personality and/or background isn’t revealed well and we only know a handful of traits about them.

4. Foil Character

A foil character is someone who is the opposite of another character. They reflect the opposite traits, hence a foil character. Your main character can be sweet and caring and the foil character will bring out that side by being nasty. It contrasts two characters.

5. Round Character

A round character is similar to a dynamic character. They change throughout the story gaining new traits, some traits opposite to who they used to be.

9 Types of characters in fiction | Character development | RachelPoli.com

6. Stock Character

A stock character is just stock photos you can get off the internet. They are not a big deal to the story, they don’t change at all, they’re pretty much cliche characters such as the “dumb jock” or “popular cheerleader.”

7. Protagonist or Main Character

Main characters are the root of the story. They will develop over time and will ultimately be part of the driving force of the plot. This is the character your readers will care most about.

8. Antagonist

An antagonist is the opposite of your protagonist. They will oppose your main character. They will, along with the main character, be the driving force behind the plot.

9. Villain

A villain is similar to the antagonist, but they are evil. As described in Sacha Black’s 13 Steps To Evil: How To Craft Superbad Villains, they have evil actions and motives that drive the plot.

What kinds of characters have you created? Are there any other character types you know about? Let me know in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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7 Helpful And Fun Ways To Create Characters

Creating characters isn’t always as easy as it seems. Sometimes the characters come to us and other times we have to chase them down.

I do think the creating of characters one of the most fun parts of writing a novel.

Characters go places we’ve never been. Characters can do things we’ve never dreamed of doing. Characters can be similar to us or they can be vastly different.

But how do you create characters that are similar but not exactly the same as the people around you? How can you create characters that have more experience than you in a given field?

7 helpful and fun ways to create characters | Creating fictional characters | Character development | RachelPoli.com

1. Randomize Everything

I have two apps on my iPad: Name Dice and Lists for Writers. The Name Dice is exactly how it sounds. You tap the screen and the dice roll. The first die shows the first name and the second shows the last name. When you’re stuck on naming your character, the Name Dice really help, even if you change it later.

Lists for Writers is also what it sounds like. It has a bunch of lists from names to physical appearance to traits and more for characters. Click on a list and everything will be in alphabetical order. However, there’s a shuffle button. Tap that and use the first three or five items that pop up. There’s your character.

You can also go as simple as getting your own pair of dice or a 20-sided die. If your character’s birthday is important to the story, roll the dice. It’s 1-12, same as the months of the year. You can choose to randomize anything and everything.

2. Base Them On Real People

No, you don’t want to throw everyone you know in your story. Not exactly, anyway.

However, it’s easy to take what you already have and mix it up into something else. You can take bits and pieces of one thing and add in pieces from another. Mix and match people, just like you mix and match your socks.

Start with yourself and someone close to you. What are traits you have that your friend doesn’t and vice versa? How can you mix those together to create a new person?

3. Use Pinterest

I’ve seen so many users on Pinterest create Character Boards. They base a whole board off of one character. They pick out fashion ideas, color palettes, hairstyles, and more. Even if you don’t know where to start, explore Pinterest a bit. Look at other character board or just type in something as simple as “sundresses” and see what catches your eye.

4. Think Outside The Box

Close your eyes. What color comes to mind when you think of yourself? What day of the week would you associate yourself with the most? Are you more like summer or winter? Why?

Comparing yourself to things that are not other human beings shows you a lot about who you are. Now do that with your character, even if you don’t have a character yet. Pick a name and think about what that person may be like.

7 Helpful and fun ways to create characters | Creating fictional characters | Character development | RachelPoli.com

5. Use Your Plot

If you already have a plot made up for your story, use it. What kinds of characters would fit best? What are your characters’ motivations to making the plot move forward? What kinds of people can you see being thrown into that situation?

6. Write Short Stories

Yeah, I know. This seems like more work than anything else. Sometimes the best way to get to know your characters is to just write about them. Write a flash fiction piece using your character and see what s/he does in certain situations. Let the characters create themselves.

7. Use Story Cubes

I’m talking a lot about dice today. Don’t ask me why it’s just fun.

There are these cool sets of dice with pictures and symbols on each side. It’s a game that you roll the dice and make up a story based on what comes up. There’s no set of dice for characters alone, but there’s an “action” set. Besides, I think you can use your imagination and come up with something. Ideas are everywhere.

What are some ways you create your characters? Have you tried any of these ways? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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Get To Know Your Characters [NaNoWriMo Prep]

NaNo is coming! It’s about 20 days away… already. It’s coming up fast and there’s no stopping it.

Some people outline their novels, some people don’t. There are some people who do quick writing exercises or prompts as practice to prep for the upcoming writing streak. Some people don’t.

No matter what you do or don’t do, that’s okay. I personally love to outline and I love to try new things with my characters to get to know them a little better.

So, here’s a fun exercise to do with your characters.

NaNoWriMo 2017 Prep: Get To Know Your Characters

I got this idea from my 15-year-old cousin. She had English homework one night and had to do this for the protagonist of her summer reading book.

I have to admit, I was a bit jealous. I never had fun homework like that.

The idea is to think a bit outside the box and to get to know your characters on a deeper level. To the naked eye, it doesn’t make sense, but to a writer, it’s pretty clever.

So, ask yourself this:

Is your protagonist (or any character) more like…

  • May or December?
  • A Jeep, a Corvette, a Saturn, or a Mercedes Benz?
  • Brown or blue?
  • The letter A, the letter M, or the letter Z?
  • Vanilla ice cream or chocolate mousse?
  • New York, San Fransico, Salt Lake City, or New Orleans?
  • A hammer or a nail?
  • White, rye, or pumpernickel bread?
  • A short story, a poem, an essay, or a play?
  • Soap or dirt?
  • Fire, water, earth, or air?
  • A lock or a key?
  • The comics, the sports section, the business report, or the editorial page?
  • A snowstorm or a rainy day?
  • A horse show, a hockey match, or a track-and-field event?
  • A forest fire or a mountain stream?
  • A TV game show, a soap opera, a situation comedy, or a drama?
  • Science fiction, mystery, romance, or horror?
  • A cat, a dog, or a goldfish?

My cousin’s teacher had the class do this on themselves first so they could get a feel for the assignment. My cousin said she was more like “pumpernickel bread” because it’s a funny word. That right there actually sums up her personality. She’s a funny person and can sometimes be a dope. The fact that she immediately thought “pumpernickel” was a funny word and laughed just sums it all up.

With this exercise, you can get to the heart of your characters. It seems silly and random, but you just might learn something new about them.

Have you done anything like this before? Do you think you’ll try this exercise? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

How To Fully Develop Characters In Short Stories

To me, characters are the most important part of story telling. Without characters, there would no villain, there would be no hero. Therefore, there would be no plot, no conflict.

When you write a novel, you have 200-500 pages (give or take) to delve deep into your characters. Their past, present, and future. Their likes and dislikes, their opinions. Their friends and family. Their motive, anything that makes them tick.

When you write a short story, you don’t have much time to go into that much detail. Not all that detail is exactly needed, depending on what’s going on in your story.

So, how do you develop your characters fully in such a short amount of time?

How to fully develop characters in short stories

Step 1. Create your characters as best as you can

If you Google “character chart,” a billion results will come up. (It’s actually a tad over 67 million, but who’s counting?)

There are so many charts out there that ask the basic of basic questions:

  • Name (first, middle, last)
  • Birthday/age
  • Job
  • Appearance
  • Family?
  • Close friends?
  • Religion
  • Single/married?

And then there’s the obvious… favorite color, food, likes and dislikes, phobias, etc.

Pick a chart or two and fill it out. You’ll probably only use 15% of it, but those things are good to know anyway.

Step 2. Get to know your characters 100%

Talk to your characters. Interview them and get to know them as though you’re meeting a new friend. Write basic flash fiction about them and their background.

Again, not everything you come up with will be known to your readers, but at least you’ll have canon scenarios in your head.

Step 3. Sift through all the information and zero in on the four most important aspects of your characters

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE

Allow your readers to imagine what your characters look like through physical descriptions. Skin color, eye color, hair color and length, height, weight, noticeable birthmarks, etc.

Not all of this will be needed, but if it’s important, add it in. If a birthmark has something to do with the plot, then it needs to be known. If not, it may not be needed at all. But you can still write about it and then edit it out later.

EMOTIONAL STATE

This varies depending on the point of view you use, but for your protagonist, allow your readers to get into their mind. What’s their thought process like? What kinds of decisions do they make? Do they have any outstanding memories or fears that are important to the plot and show how the character came to be?

SPEECH

Now that we know how they think, how do they speak? Do they talk loud or quiet? Do they speak their mind or are they more reserved? Do they think out loud?

ACTION

What does your character do? Don’t worry about showing your character driving from point A to point B. Just page-break them there and let them do what they need to do.

In conclusion…

Characters are hard to put together. They’re complex, just like us. Get to know them as though you’re their mother or father (which you are, kind of). Pick out the important pieces needed to showcase them and get through the conflict of the short story.

If your character is trying to get to school on time for an important test, you don’t need to let the readers know that one of your character’s hobbies is playing video games. Unless, of course, the video games were what made your character late.

It can tie in easily with the story or not at all. And that’s up to you to do decide.

How do you go about developing your short story characters? Do you have anything to add to this? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

 

How To Write Characters With Unique Sensory Quirks

We all have issues. We all have quirks. It’s part of what makes us human.

Therefore, our characters should have quirks too.

How to write characters with unique sensory quirks

What exactly is a quirk?

A quirk is an unusual behavior, an out of the ordinary habit. If it was something everyone did, then it wouldn’t exactly be a “quirk.” But I’m not saying no two people can share the same quirk. We all have our likes and dislikes.

But, for the sake of descriptive writing, I’m going to stick with sensory quirks.

And I’m going to talk a lot about myself, so I won’t blame you if you decide to leave now.

What’s a sensory quirk?

I don’t even know if this is a real thing or if I made it up, but I’m going to pretend it is for the sake of this post.

A sensory quirk is just what it sounds like. A quirk that has to do with your senses. Or you could just say you have sensory issues. Because I do. Big time.

Examples?

1. Chalk

A lot of other people might agree with me on this one. I don’t like the feeling of chalk. I don’t like the feeling of it when I scrap it against the pavement or wall. I don’t like how it gets underneath my fingernails.

This is something I used to love. I played with chalk a lot when I was a kid. When I started working in preschools, my appreciation for chalk shrunk. The kids would as me all the time to play chalk with them and I would agree because… Well, that’d just be mean otherwise. I’d hold the chalk in between my index finger and thumb and barely put any pressure on it when coloring.

Why? I don’t even know. There’s just something about the feeling of chalk that makes me cringe.

2. Socks

Others may be able to relate to this one as well, especially if you have young kids. The seams of the socks (or as I call it, “the line across the toes”) are awful. They bother me. I don’t have any explanation why, they just do.

And, I prefer knee socks. I look ridiculous, but I love them. I can wear ankle socks, but I pull them up as far as they can go. They stretch out and then I get holes. (I go through a lot of socks.)

They also feel too loose on me, which is why I think I pull them up so far. I don’t know why that bothers me, but it does.

3. Toothpaste

I don’t like the taste of toothpaste. It’s all gross. I like mint, but even the mint is yucky to me. But it’s something you have to do, so I suck it up.

What really bothers me is the feeling of it on my teeth. I don’t like the feeling of the brush gliding over my teeth and I don’t like the sound it makes in my head. Brushing my teeth is the worst part of my day, every day.

4. Lettuce

I’ve saved the weirdest for last. I don’t like lettuce. I’m not a huge fan of the taste, but that’s not why. I mean, lettuce doesn’t really have a taste anyway.

No, it’s because of the crunch. Yes, you read that right.

I love everything crunchy. Chips, croutons, graham crackers, regular crackers, anything. But I can’t stand the sound (or the feeling) of lettuce crunching in my mouth. Why? No idea.

In conclusion…

A sensory quirk can literally be anything. I mean, if lettuce bothers me, then you can find something ridiculous for your character.

It adds a little more depth to your character and makes them a little more real, as strange as it is.

Do you have any strange quirks? Have you given any to your characters? Let me know in the comments below!

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How To Write Believable Characters Without All 5 Senses

It’s not every day we come across a person who doesn’t have all 5 of their senses. Some people are blind, some are deaf, and some are both. Some people have anosmia (no sense of smell), ageusia (no sense of taste), or both.

I have all my 5 senses, so it’s hard to imagine having only 4 or 3 of those senses. And I’m amazed at the people who go through life without all 5 senses simply. Yes, it’s something they have to do, have to get used to and live with, but we, as human beings, tend to take everything for granted.

If someone is born without, for example, sight or hearing they don’t know how different world could be. They live in the same world but view it differently and they live their lives just like everyone else.

But if someone loses a sense or two throughout the course of their life, whether they’re a teenager or adult, whether it’s from an accident or an illness, losing that can take a toll on a person. It can be a little isolating or even depressing.

And I know all this from people I’ve met in the past, from reading memoirs, and from doing research. Even though I “know it,” that doesn’t mean I understand it. Honestly, I could never understand it, simply because I can’t imagine how it would feel like to not be able to taste anything.

That’s why it’s so important, as writers, to write believable characters.

How to write believable characters without all five senses | descriptive creative writing

Why is this important?

Diversity.

When you think of diversity, you tend to think of race or ethnicity, etc. It’s not often we think of a disability, whether it’s physical or mental. People who don’t have all five senses are more common than not.

Not only will you be adding diversity to your characters, but you’ll be writing your story in a whole new way. You can’t describe a telephone ringing when you’re writing a character who can’t hear. Or maybe they have hearing aids and can hear a little, but it’s still not the same.

So, how do you write a character without all 5 senses?

Not without 100% accuracy. Still, there are many ways you can research how to write it all out.

  • Read books – The library is your friend
  • Google – The Internet is a vast place
  • Interviews – Talk to people with these impairments and also to their teachers, family, and friends as well. Get the point of view of everyone.
  • Teach yourself – Research Braille, American Sign Language, etc. Get a feel for what it’s like to talk with your hands. It’ll make it easier to describe.

In conclusion…

There are many ways to learn about such a thing, just like how you research everything else you don’t know about or don’t understand.

There are some things you can never understand fully, but it doesn’t hurt to do some research and try your best.

Have you written any characters without all 5 senses? How did you go about it? Let me know in the comments below!

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On Heroes And Villains: What Is Right, What Is Wrong?

Good vs. bad is a common theme everywhere. It’s in novels: your protagonist is “good” and no matter what genre you’re writing in, there’s always a “bad” guy who happens to be the villain of the story, your protagonist’s rival, or simply just someone who is mean and considered “bad” by the readers.

This theme pops up (a little too frequently) in real life as well.

It’s probably one of the more common ones and it’s the broadest because there’s so much you can do with it.

But here’s the thing: Everyone has different opinions, different perspectives. So, who exactly is good and who is bad? Who’s right and who’s wrong?

how-to-write-about-good-vs-bad

When you think of a hero, you think “good.” When you think of a villain, you think “bad.” We assume the protagonist is automatically good because they’re the “protagonist.” And we assume the antagonist is bad because they’re in competition with the protagonist.

But what exactly is good and what is bad? Who decides?

 

 

What makes a character Good?

Their traits

Good or nice characters typically have certain traits that include, but are not limited to:

  • Kind to all
  • Cares about others
  • Puts others before him/herself
  • Brave
  • Patient
  • Forgiving
  • Thankful
  • Respectful
  • Responsible
  • Self-controlled
  • Trusting

And there’s plenty more, but I could create a whole post on traits alone.

Their motivation

What is the ultimate goal for a good character? They want to help others, save and protect others, etc. They don’t want to help people in order to brag that they did a good deed, either. They simply do something good out of the kindness of their heart and because it’s the right thing to do.

What makes a character Bad?

Their traits

Similar to the good guy, they’re personality is made up of many traits that allow them to do the evil things they wish.

  • Jealous
  • Distrusting
  • Cold
  • Impulsive
  • Stubborn
  • Self-centered
  • Brave
  • Patient
  • Impatient
  • Wise

Like the good guy, there’s more that I could list, but these first popped into my head.

Notice that some traits are the opposite of the good guy’s, but some are the same. For example, brave is a common trait because no matter what you do (evil or not) they need to have the guts to carry through with it. I also put “patient” and “impatient” depending on the type of bad guy. I believe it can go either/or, or just one.

Their motivation

What’s the ultimate goal for any bad guy? They want to get what they want. They try to get that in any way they can whether it’s kidnapping a princess or trying to take over the world, among other ways.

Who is right?

The good guy and the bad guy

A key to creating good guys and bad guys that exist together in the same novel is that they should have a few things in common. One major thing they should have in common is that they both believe they’re the good guy.

Both of their reasons for doing what they do are both right. You yourself might not agree so, but both characters must whole-heartedly believe their the good guy, they’re doing the right thing.

Perspective and Opinion

The author may have the good and bad outlined in their mind as they write the story, but ultimately the reader will decide.

Everyone who reads has a different opinion about what they’ve read. They either like it or don’t like it. They either agree with it or they don’t agree with it. They also have a different perspective. You might think something in the book means one thing, but your friend might interpret it differently. And everyone has a different theory about something.

In other news, I’ve challenged myself to read five books between Sunday, February 19 and Sunday, February 26. Feel free to join me and check out my daily updates on Twitter, Tumblr, and my Bookstagram!

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