Great jewels can be uncovered in this process. Surprising revelations emerge and will profoundly alter the course of your narrative. Maybe the hero committed some grave infraction when he was younger and is hiding it and dealing with it for the rest of his life. This groundwork, this character research, makes up the bulk of actual writing. Thorough exploration of your characters will not only add depth to your story, it will create your story.
As with the rest of writing, you are simply putting black letters on a white page: You are here to create, to experiment, to fail, and to bring forth the best fruits of your labors. If I had to guess, you want information about writing. Maybe you want to be entertained. However, no matter your answer, you want something. Characters are no different. Be it a main character or the most unnecessary waitress in a cut scene, every simulated person in your story has a set of wants and needs that they are acting on.
When you define those needs, you get depth, and when you write to those needs you get compelling narratives. Your story is essentially the tale of what your main character wants. The character may not know what they want, clueless protagonists have been in vogue lately, but you have to know what they want and once you know that you can keep them from getting it. Your villain, your antagonist, also has a want that drives them. This too defines the story, as what the antagonist does to get what they want throws the known world into chaos.
Greek definitions of Antagonist and Protagonist have the Antagonist creating a disruption in the world that the Protagonist then has to fix.
The bigger the challenge to the want, the higher the drama, the more frequently challenges are thrown at the want, the higher the tension of the piece. Knowing what your characters want will further inform your story. Settings are characters too. If your story is Man Vs. Nature, such as a survival story in a desert, your setting most defiantly wants your hero dead. You need to understand your setting because it too defines what happens in your story. Had it not been for that, Edward would have never attended High School and Bella would have never met him.
A story set in Maine will have vastly different scene opportunities and default characters as a story set in Miami. The character research that you have already done should also inform your setting. Is your main character a fish out of water? Where did he come from then and where did he end up? A Londoner will have different difficulties adapting to Texas then he would moving to Los Angeles. Also just calling him a Londoner implies a a sophistication and, since he migrated to the US, a certain amount of wealth.
Ideas are connected to other ideas and those ideas will tell you what you need to create and how you need to proceed.
cartoon suspicious girl with thought bubble
Spend as much time developing your characters as you can stand. Write and write about them until you are sick of it, then do it for a little while more. Detail as much as you can. Get to know them. The better you understand your characters the more convincing your writing will be and the more alive it will feel.
All too often writers skip this phase entirely, preferring to get to know their characters as they write the story. So now that you know your characters inside and out, have their motivations and challenges in mind, and have hammered out exactly where they are and where they come from, you are ready for the next step. Once you have selected an idea to pursue, you then need to grow it into a workable piece.
Here are a few techniques to do just that:. Ideally you can have another person there to parrot back what you or talking about, or even add their own ideas, however you can use this technique alone. Simply ask yourself questions about your idea and then answer them on the fly.
Imagine this was a conversation between me and a wall:. I think people would know it was a baby though.
Cartoon baby girl dreaming with a thought bubble.
Most people stop at the initial idea and never fight with it and the fight is where the interesting stuff develops. While soundboarding is great for auditory learners, Brainstorming is more suited for visual or tactile learners. Take a sheet of paper and write down your idea in the center of it.
Circle those ideas and then add more lines with more questions and answers connected to the previous questions and answers. Each of the character bubbles have their own lines that come off concerning their names, occupations, personalities, and eventually their character arcs. Brainstorming works because it shows how everything is interconnected. Ideas lead to questions, questions lead to answers, which then lead to more questions.
Brainstorming maps can expand almost infinitely, so sometimes we need a little help keeping track of it all. Both should handle whatever you throw at them. Pulling the information out of the idea is a lot like pulling string out of a sweater. You simply have to find that loose thread to pull from. Right off the bat, I zero in on the father.
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We need an explanation as to why the toddler was left alone in the office in the first place. What is the family like? Is he a single father? Maybe he had the child for the day and was so stressed out over work that he just had to bring the baby in with him. Powerful enough to oversee workers, but low scale enough to still feel the pressure of his work. All of the above were assumptions on my part and a few small decisions along the way. We need to figure out what type of factory would be computer controlled and in doing so, figure out the kind of havoc that the baby actually produces.
Again, using logic and personal choices, we can discover just what that is. Assembly lines have these types of controls and any little kink, a stop in one part of production, a change in output speed, can dramatically throw things off. So we now know that the toddler was taken to a factory, but what type of factory? Now we have a question of Genre. Wrecking a Q-tip factory will probably cause less death and mayhem then a car plant. So what type of story are we telling? Everything has been done before.
New writers and armchair authors often site this cynically. There is nothing wrong with looking at what has been done, and done successfully, and taking instruction and inspiration from them. Just be sure and add your own creativity to the mix. You are, after all, creating a new work of art.
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Two famous pieces come to mind when I think of a factory and havoc. This is incredibly valuable. Right off the bat we have a setup: Roger is left with the baby. As soon as the mother leaves we have a problem: From there the problems mount as the mistakes of the baby are transferred to Roger. The baby pursues its own desires getting a bottle and causes more trouble that Roger then has to suffer for. Our toddler will cause havoc and the father will suffer for it until the time that the two are together and at rest again.
Our story will not take place in a hospital, and I doubt if we will torture the father as much as Roger got tortured, but the archetype, the idea of a frantic father and an innocent babe, will remain intact between the two pieces. Not all ideas are good. If you find yourself actually defending it, fighting with people over your idea, you may want to consider discarding it entirely.
Ideas need to be clear, concise, and expandable. One, two, five years, maybe even a decade of your life can be spent realizing a work, so make sure that your idea is worth the amount of time it will take to bring it to life. This is the stage you want to do that. Blank pages are pennies. New Word documents are two clicks away. The best material comes from places you never even knew existed.
So now we have a semi-developed idea. Not perfect, but much further along than what we started with. What single factor contributes the most to the development of stories? Some people look at books as a tool to solve a problem.
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Take bullying for example. If you want to solve bullying for a child or their parents, first do some research about why bullying happens. Brainstorm about your own experiences. Read other books on the subject. While some people look at stories as a tool to solve a problem, others look at them as ways to transfer personal meaning. Stories that need to be told come from our own personal desires to express the meaning behind the story.
Stories of dealing with the loss of love can come from our own heartache. These stories are often times a form of therapy for the author and as such become very personal through the course of writing and can lead to a lot of pain if criticized improperly. Personal stories require personal research. You need to explore where the idea came from, how those events effected you, and what you want to tell the world you learned from going through it.
Some people write for money shocking, I know. The danger of following trends is that they are trends because everyone else is also chasing them. Some people get their ideas from observing the world around them. These ideas can be great but often times need elaboration to make them satisfying. If something interests you, say a person you see grabbing french fries out of the bin at a food court, explore why you were interested in them in the first place. What would make someone grab food out of a trash can?
No, they were too well dressed for that. The woman who looked like his wife seemed agitated, so maybe. What must their home look like? Was he just forgetful? Where else would this behavior come from? What if he went to church? I find that my best ideas are the ones that I write down and then forget about. The good ones seem to bubble back up and bother me until I get fed up and write them away. If you are flooded with ideas, and what a blessing that is, put them in a notebook and let them rest for a while.
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Those will be your best ideas. These four examples are just a tiny selection of the endless ways ideas can come to you. Once captured, think of them as seeds that need to germinate. Seeds that you care for until the plant grows. Everyone is afraid of having their work stolen. Cosmo Eagle eyed readers may notice that my site recently underwent a major transformation.
Install a firewall program on your WordPress blog. WP Security and WordFence come highly recommended. Make your password stronger. Use the password generator under Users to create a strong password. Those are usually around 16 characters and have random numbers and letters. Follow this tutorial to learn how to save your work. Even if a reader never buys a book from you, the fact that your name has entered their conscious is reason enough to give away content. How can someone know if they like your work without sampling it? So if your eBooks have links to other titles, or if the free book is part of a series, then you are more likely to sell books when readers pick up the freebie.
These readers are giving you permission to sell to them, not just books in the same series, but anything relating to your work.
With well timed, and short, promotions you can fight constantly sinking tides. Those reviews can give you valuable feedback for improvement or a boost to your ego for a job well done. Either way, those reviews will inform other readers when they take a look at your work. Those small sales will lead to a higher ranking and, with luck, more sales down the line. Maybe the cover needs to be redone. Maybe it needs a fresh edit. Maybe the copy could be improved. Use a bad promotion as a chance to take a look at your work and see what could be improved.
Grab your copy now. The Book Designer Excellent resources and tutorials for self publishing. Part 2 posed the question, here is the answer: Who are Your Characters? This is how an idea fleshes out to become a novel. Setting When is a house a home? W hen characters call it their own. That map has a name.
Here are a few techniques to do just that: Imagine this was a conversation between me and a wall: Brainstorming While soundboarding is great for auditory learners, Brainstorming is more suited for visual or tactile learners. Pulling Thread Everything is interconnected. Rejecting Ideas Not all ideas are good. Few people have finished books. Already have an account? Share this image Share link Copy link. You can redownload your image for free at any time, in any size. Save to Collection Create your free account to use Collections Save and organize all the images you need for your projects with Collections.
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