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How to Improve Flat Characters

fictionwritingtips:

If you’re having trouble making your characters interesting or you feel like all your characters turn out the same, you’re probably creating flat characters. If your character hasn’t undergone a significant change during the course of your novel or your audience is having trouble relating to them, you need find ways to improve this. It’s important to remember that all your characters need to have goals, no matter how small, and they need to be actively working toward those goals to stay interesting.

Your protagonist should be relatable and realistic. Even if your readers don’t necessarily agree with what they’re doing, they should be able to feel what your protagonist is going through. This is your job as a writer. You need to get your readers to understand their thought process or what they’re going through, even if they’ve never experienced it themselves. This can be achieved by using real-life emotions in your story, so it’s important you don’t ignore the emotional aspects of storytelling. Most people will understand love, fear, sadness, happiness—EVEN if they’ve never been in the situation your protagonist is in.

One of the most important things to remember is that your character’s actions should remain realistic. And I don’t mean that they need to do things only we can do in our world, but their actions need to stay true to their world. Their actions should make sense in context to what they’re going through.

Your protagonist should also be a problem solver and proactive. A character with good morals will have integrity, but we all know not all main character have good intentions. However, all protagonists should be able to do things on their own, or else they’re going to be a weak protagonist. I’m not saying they don’t need help, but they need to overcome the big challenges on their own. They can’t just stand around waiting for everyone else to finish things. They need to take initiative at some point, and this should be due to their personal growth throughout the story.

Here are some tips on improving flat characters:

Focus on primary traits, complexity traits, and character flaws.

Primary traits: Every character you write should have primary traits. These are things like smart, funny, inquisitive, etc. These aren’t necessarily anything deep, but they give the reader enough to understand what sort of category or archetype that character fits in.

Complexity traits: Adding complexity traits will be what adds more depth to your characters, and will make your characters interesting. This is necessary if you are building lead characters/main characters. With complexity traits, you plan out the primary traits with more detail. For example, if your character is smart explain what he or she is smart in. Does he or she know a lot about history? Are they good at math?

Character Flaws: Finally, give that character flaws. These flaws humanize your characters and they generally stand in the way of your character’s success.  It’s important that your characters fail sometimes and that these failures are a result of their personal flaws. No one wants to see a perfect character. We want to see someone who is able to pull themselves back together after experiencing failure. We want to see them earn their success.

Next, focus on character goals and motivations.

Character goals: Every single character your write needs to want something. They need to have a goal and those goals will drive your story forward. For example, your main character might want to run a marathon. It’s a big deal for them and they spend your entire novel training (and failing at training) until the end when they finally do it. Running that marathon is their goal throughout your novel and they won’t stop until they succeed. Remember, character goals are different from motivations.

Also, keep in mind that even secondary characters need to want something. Develop each character and make sure you understand why they want to do something. What do they get from helping out your main character? Why do they care so much? Think about what’s at stake for them.

Motivations: There are certain things that will push your characters forward. Expanding on the marathon scenario above, maybe your main character has to finish a marathon because they will win 1 million dollars if they do. Maybe their family is poor and this is the only way to help them. That’s your character motivation. It’s obvious they really care about their family and they need the money. It’s important to understand why your character is doing something and why they want something. What will accomplishing their goals do for them? Why do they need to do? Again, what’s at stake if they don’t?

Character development is a long, in-depth process, but hopefully following these steps will help you out. It’s important that you keep your characters proactive or else you run the risk of them becoming boring. Characters that work actively toward their goals are the most interesting.

-Kris Noel

Free Novel Pitch Template To Download (.doc)

Many writers lose focus when writing their novel because they don’t put in the necessary work at foundation level … And this is often because they don’t know WHAT to do at foundation level! Here is a novel pitch template to download (for your own use and/or submission to others, such as beta readers or your agent), plus a breakdown of how I filled mine in for my debut novel in English, THE DECISION: LIZZIE’S STORY. Enjoy and hope it helps!

(Source: thewritingcafe)

April Camp NaNoWriMo

Day: 22

29, 345/ 40, 000

"The good news is that we at least know what they’re doing."
"What it appears they’re doing," Elise corrects.
Lawrence glares at her. “Yes. We’re going back tonight. It’ll be easier to get in. I don’t think that they’re using the security system.” He rubs the bridge of his nose.
"That’s a plus. On the downside they are most likely ten times more armed than we are. And if they find out where we’re hiding out—" Elise shrugs.
"Yeah. So a lot of bad news. With a sprinkling of kind of good news." Lawrence nods.
"Great."
"It’s not all bad… booster seat." Lawrence points to the floor where Holly is sitting in the seat with her bear.
"It’s nice." She looks up at Elise with a smile.
Elise smiles in return. “That’s good.”
"We’re going to come up with a plan." Lawrence leads the ZSA to the workbench in the back.
"Now, where do we put you?" Elise asks looking at Holly again.
"The van probably isn’t the best option. We haven’t properly outfitted seatbelts." Rhoda shrugs.
"Truck it is then." Nick crouches down and pushes the girl to the truck. Elise follows behind.

(I’ve been so out of it lately. But, still chugging along. Very slowly.)

ironboobs:

"Oh captain, my captain."

dpicchiophotos:

I had my boyfriend who smokes use matches for a few days instead of a lighter and record the date and time and whatever he was thinking about while smoking. 
It’s funny that he quit smoking a few weeks after this project. 

dpicchiophotos:

I had my boyfriend who smokes use matches for a few days instead of a lighter and record the date and time and whatever he was thinking about while smoking. 

It’s funny that he quit smoking a few weeks after this project. 

amandaonwriting:

Cheat Sheets for Writing Body Language

We are always told to use body language in our writing. Sometimes, it’s easier said than written. I decided to create these cheat sheets to help you show a character’s state of mind. Obviously, a character may exhibit a number of these behaviours. For example, he may be shocked and angry, or shocked and happy. Use these combinations as needed.

by Amanda Patterson

April Camp NaNoWriMo

Day: 21

28, 188/ 40, 000

Elise is helping put Holly in pajamas. “But I’m not tired,” Holly whines. “I want to stay up with you.”
"No. You’ve got to get lots of sleep." Elise pulls the shirt over hear head. She starts cleaning the girls face and hands with a warm wash cloth.
"What will happen to me when everything is better?"
Elise sighs softly. “I don’t know. It depends on how bad things are when this is over.” She dries her face.
"What does that mean?" Holly and Elise walk back into the garage.
"You know who you should ask, Nick."
Holly walks to Nick who is fixing his and Elise’s makeshift bedding. She tugs in his shirt again. He turns around, picks her up, and puts her in the back of the truck. “What’s up?”
"Elise told me to ask you what will happen to me when everything is better."
Nick sighs heavily. “Well first they have to prove that your parents are dead, then if no other family comes forward you’ll either go into foster care or someone can take you in, like Rhoda did with me.”
"What will happen to Daisy?"
"Well, because Daisy is older they’ll probably treat her as an adult."
"Would Daisy take me in?"
"No, they don’t allow teenagers to take in a kid." He throws the pillows to the head of the truck bed.
Will you take me in?” Holly swings her feet.
Nick stops what he’s doing. “That is a question that would need discussing with Elise.”
Holly slides off of the truck bed. “If I prove that I’m a good girl will that help?”
Nick smiles and bends down. “I’m sure it couldn’t hurt.”
Holly runs off to the van where Elise is helping Daisy fix up their beds. She pretends to yawn as she tugs on Elise’s sleeve. “Ms. Elise, I’m so tired now. Can I go to bed?”
Elise raises an eyebrow at the girl. “I thought you said you weren’t tired and that you wanted to stay up with me?”
Holly looks around. “I changed my mind. I’m very tired now.” She climbs into the van snuggling close with her new stuffed bear. “Good night.”

(Yeah, that’s right! There’s a cute kid involved now! TRY TO STOP ME! Seriously, stop me. What am I doing? Help! Hashtag help!)

inprnt:

"Portrait of a Family" by Jessica Warrick on INPRNT

inprnt:

"Portrait of a Family" by Jessica Warrick on INPRNT

April Camp NaNoWriMo

Day: 20

26, 787, 40, 000

Lawrence pulls the wrinkled piece of paper out of his pocket. “What’s that?” Nick asks glancing at it.
"Rhoda asked if I would get some clothes for the girls since theirs are—"
"Gross?"
Lawrence chuckles, “yeah. So she gave me their sizes.”
"Let’s get that first. The retail stores don’t secure the same as the other buildings. People aren’t really looking to loot clothes when an outbreak happens."
Lawrence nods. “Yeah. Alright.”
They walk into a clothing store with dim lights. For safety they have their guns drawn in case any undead are hiding in the racks of clothes. Everything appears to still be in pristine condition. “Y’know I feel a little weird doing this. I’ve only ever taken food and supplies during an outbreak.”
"Yeah I feel the same, but we can’t exactly let those girls continue to wear those dirty clothes." Lawrence shrugs.
"Yeah, and if we don’t I’m sure that both Rhoda and Elise will have our asses."
The men laugh while looking through the racks of girls clothes. “Here’s the issue, I have no idea how to pick out clothes for girls. I have six brothers.”
Nick laughs. “I honestly don’t think it really matters. Just pick out some clothes in the right sizes and then get the hell outta here.”

(Caught up on my words since I didn’t write yesterday. Now I’m ready to sleep.)

nevver:

She likes to ride