Hello Fiction Lovers!
So this week I’m going to share a guest blog post that another writer wrote specifically for my blog. James Bee seems like a pretty cool person and you can check out his bio at the bottom of this post. As you’ve probably guessed the blog post is going to be about character motivation and why it’s important. So without further ado here you go:
On the Importance of Proper Character Motivation
Guest blog post by James Bee
Characters are the driving motivation behind the majority of novels. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule but on the whole I think it holds true. Most plots centre around them and the actions that they take. The readers spends the whole book seeing things through their eyes, reading about what they do and the effects that those actions have.
Thus character’s motivations and how they drive them to interact with the plot and the world around them are extremely important for the writer to get right. Making sure your character’s motivations make sense and are logical is vital. Otherwise their actions won’t make sense and everything will fall apart around them. This is something that I struggled with early in the novel I’m currently writing. I knew how the plot would unfold and how the characters would fit into it, but I didn’t know why. And until I knew that, it was impossible to get my head around the book.
Motivations drives action which drives the plot. Characters must have good reasons for doing what they do, or at least logical ones. Their actions must follow from their motivations. Always ask yourself why is a character doing something? Do they have a good reason? These reasons can come from anywhere, backstory, desires, belief systems, they just have to be logical and compelling.
If not, then you can run the risk of breaking the immersion for the reader or having the book start to unravel. Nothing is more frustrating as a reader than when character’s you’ve become invested in start making decisions or doing things that don’t make any sense or aren’t consistent. It can completely ruin the enjoyment of a novel. Therefore, making sure that your character’s motivations are in order is of the utmost importance!
Writer Bio: James Bee is a novelist and blogger working out of Vancouver, Canada. He’s the author of two fantasy novels with more on the way! You can follow him on twitter @jameslikesbooks or follow him on his blog at https://jamesreads.blog/!
Please feel free to post your ideas on this topic in the comments and let me know if you have any questions! I hope you all have a great week!
Guest Blog by Kate Elliott (Found on Tor.com)
Hello Fiction Lovers!
So I’ve been reading more writing advice posts and I came across this one that I thought made some really good points. I think that it won’t only help writers write better female characters, but more well rounded characters overall. It can also help if you feel like you’ve been stuck writing cliches or stereotypes. One thing that she made me realize is that even though I have multiple women characters I don’t often have them talk to each other because they are part of different subplots. And that’s something I should fix because they are all in a single manor and would talk to each other more often than I’m have them do so. She also makes a good point about preconceptions and how there is a difference between choosing to make a character more of a stereotype or two-dimensional, and simply doing so without realizing it.
I strongly encourage you to click on the above link even if you have the most well-rounded female characters because it can help you view writing in a new way and help with other parts of writing as well. Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to share your thoughts on this topic as well!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
First of all, I want to apologize for getting this out late. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about this week and I took so long debating it that Monday was over before I got to writing it. That said, lately I’ve thinking about active characters and so I finally decided that I should write about them.
In my experience, readers a very partial to active characters over passive characters. I think this is because we would rather see someone working toward something instead something being done to someone. The latter can be frustrating, especially when it happens over and over again, which is never a terrible fun emotion to feel. The frustration with the character can lead to frustration with the book/story and can cause a reader to stop reading–something no writer wants, and most likely the reader isn’t satisfied with having to put a book down either. That isn’t to say that a character can’t be passive, just that they shouldn’t be passive all the time. When a character, especially a main character, is passive continuously it raises the question of what they are contributing to the story, why they are there, because it feels like they can be replaced with any other passive person and the story would be the same. So, when you’re writing make sure that you give reasons/let the characters take actions to show why they are the ones that must be in this particular story.
There are two reasons why I think some writers have trouble writing active characters: they think they are writing active characters but their characters are reacting instead of acting, and they place their characters in confining places/situations so it seems like there is nothing for their characters to do. To solve the first problem, I would ask yourself if something happens and then your characters act, because that is an example of reacting and reacting is more passive. Let your characters make a plan and act on it to move the plot forward instead. Reaction can be fine, especially when characters are caught off-guard but please don’t use it for every plot point. As for the second problem, remember that every action doesn’t have to be some huge story altering thing. Maybe your character just wants a piece of cheese or to make friends with the prisoner in the next cell over. If they are stuck in a cell or some other place where they can’t move around much let them make a plan to escape or to minimize the danger/discomfort they are in, and then let them act on that plan.
I hope that this was helpful and please let me know if you have any questions! Feel free to post your thoughts on active characters in the comments and I hope you all have a good week!
10 tips for writing realistic combat scenes in fantasy fiction. Guest blog by Danie Ware.
Source: Writing Combat In Fantasy – Part One: Top Ten Tips
Hello Fiction Lovers!
This week I thought I’d share one of my favorite posts from Fantasy Faction. It helped me make my combat scenes more realistic and flow better. Hopefully it will do the same for you!
Let me know what you think of the post in the comments or if you have any questions. I hope you all have a good week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
This week I thought I’d talk about a writing resource that has been really helpful to me: Writing Excuses. Writing excuses is a podcast that has 12 seasons so far that covers everything you could ever want to know about writing a book. It’s hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, Dan Wells, and Mary Robinette Kowal and they cover everything from POV to world building to characterization to publishing. It’s also interesting because each of the hosts–as well as the guest speakers they sometimes have–write in different genres so you can get perspectives that you wouldn’t normally hear. They try to keep each episode around 15 minutes which makes it easier to have time to listen to it and they give a writing prompt at the end of every episode. They will also promote a book every week. I’ve found some really good books through those recommendations so I would encourage you to make a list of the ones that sound interesting to you and read them when you have time.
Here’s the link to the Writing Excuses website: http://www.writingexcuses.com/start-here/
I hope that you all give Writing Excuses a try or let me know if you already listen to it and what your favorite episode is so far. Please let me know if you have any questions and have a good week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
For this week I thought I’d share some of my favorite quotes about writing. Whenever I see them I start thinking about how I can write better and/or these quotes make me want to write. So without further ado, here they are:
“If there is a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that simple and that hard.”
“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
–W. Somerset Maugham
“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e, do not cave into endless requests to have ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days.”
–J. K. Rowling
“Have a point.”
–Phillip Round (My Lit. Professor)
Most of these are classics that I’ve seen time and again when I’m looking up stuff about writing, but even with that repetition they still hold true for me and don’t get old. Do you have quotes or sayings that stand up to the test of time as well? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you have any questions feel free to ask me those as well and I hope you all have a good week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
I’ve been looking through some of my old writing lately and that got me thinking about I–and others–come up with different story ideas. Of course there is no absolute way to come up with a new idea that you’ll want to write, but trying out these different things can give you a push in the right direction if you’re stuck. They can also just be nice to do as ways to get the muse whispering.
- Read (and possibly write) story prompts. Reading other people’s ideas and making them your own can be very fulfilling and open your eyes to things you never would have thought on your own.
- Listen to music. If you want to write a story with a certain tone, listen to music with that tone whether it’s calming or rage filled or anything in between. Lyrics can also work like story prompts to help you think of things you wouldn’t have thought of.
- Move to some place new. If you always write in a chair move to the floor or try to write standing. If you always write inside take a few hours and spend time in a nearby park. Always write at home? Try writing at a coffee shop.
- Read. Reading others’ work can help you spark some ideas of your own (just make sure you don’t plagiarize because that’s pretty uncool). Also, sometimes it can be good to step away from writing just for a bit and relax with a good book.
- Have an odd conversation. Ask a friend/family member/significant other/stranger what they would do if they suddenly gained an ability or magic. What if they could become immortal but could only eat oranges and chocolate? How would they react if the floor really did turn into lava?
- Try something new. Your characters can probably do all sorts of things you can’t do. I know mine can. You don’t have to take up the art of sword fencing or learn an ancient language, but you could try making a new recipe or trying out a new hobby. Sometimes doing something new can help make your brain make connections between ideas that were missing before.
- Describe a scene/character down to the very last detail. Sometimes you just have to get to know your characters/world better in order to have the story revealed to you. This can also just help with character depth and worldbuilding in general.
Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to post your thoughts–or any other suggestions you might have–in the comments.
Hello Fiction Lovers!
This week I thought I’d talk about point of view (POV). For those you who don’t know there are three main types of POV: first person, second person, and third person. First person tells the story from the character’s point of view using “I” while second person makes use of “you” and talks directly to the reader, placing them in the story. Third person tells the story from an outside perspective and is more likely to use “they” and/or name the characters outside of dialogue.
Most people tend to think that first person is the most intimate between reader and character while third person is the most distant, and second person is often ignored. I used to belong to that group until recently when a teacher pointed out and showed how there is actually a range of distance between reader and character that can occur in any of the POVs. A character in first person could just list off the things that were happening and leave it to the reader to interpret their importance, or third person you could delve into a character’s mind and know them even better than the character knows. Both can be interesting if done right and, of course, there is all the space to mix and match in between the two extremes or do the opposites of the examples.
Distance is not decided by the POV, but rather how much insight we are allowed to see into the characters. Is it just action after action without any adjectives to tell us the character’s take on events–like a movie where we have rely on what we see and hear to understand what’s happening? Or do we, as readers, get to know everything the character knows with all their biases and beliefs put forth for us to shift through and understand? Neither way is better than the other, and both can be useful depending on what story–not to mention character–you are trying to tell.
Nor should we just continue to ignore second person. Yes, I will admit that the POV can make it hard to vary up the start of the sentences and it can be hard to keep up for longer pieces, but there are stories that could have more impact if told in second person. It can be done right and well. It can also be a good exercise if you like you’re writing in rote and need to do something different from what you’re used to.
So please put more thought into POV than just first person=intimate and third person=distant because there is more to POV than that, and understanding that point can help you find out the best POV and distance on the spectrum for your story. Also, branching out from what you are used to is a good way to get better at writing–that way you can learn more about what works for you and what doesn’t.
Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a good week! Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to post any thoughts you have about POV in the comments.
Hello Fiction Lovers!
Today I thought I’d talk about something that came up in one of my literature classes. We were discussing Winter in the Blood by James Welch. If you’re interested it’s a literary fiction book about a Native American dealing with a feeling of disconnection and his life on a ranch–or so far as I can tell having read the first third of the book. However, in class we spoke about an even smaller section–the opening scene–for the whole 50 minutes. Most of what we talked about had to do with the importance of place, and how the setting and it’s tone that first scene sets up is integral to the story.
I won’t regurgitate what was said in class specifically about the book because I don’t know how many of you are familiar with it, but the essence of what was said applies to any story, I think.
- Setting impacts a story and shapes it. (If you want to set a tone of death and despair you aren’t very likely to set the story in a verdant valley full of bunnies, are you?)
- It gives insights into the character(s) based on what they notice. (Are they the type of person to know the exact breed of horse with them or are they more interested in the wind and the sounds it’s making? What type of tone do their descriptions evoke?)
- Sense of place. (Does the character feel connected to the area around them or do they feel out of place? Separate?)
The setting will impact the characters and how they act as well as how the story plays out. The impact comes as much from logistical things–weather, what’s physically there–as from the tone it sets and other more abstract things that can get attached to it. That’s why it’s important that the reader can picture the setting in their mind instead of just a bunch of white space. Setting grounds a story and gives it a foundation to work from. It can raise the stakes in a fight or otherwise, provide context, give the readers something to connect to, and create interest by giving the characters something to interact with. Setting isn’t just a backdrop, and if you treat as such you’ll be missing out on something that could greatly help your story gain meaning and interest.
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! I hope you all have a fun week!
Hello Fiction Lovers!
First of all, I would like to apologize for not getting this (and the story prompt) posted yesterday. Things got a little hectic and I somehow managed to forget it was Monday.
This week I wanted to talk about the benefits of story prompts/writing prompts since I post them every week. There are, of course, the obvious benefits of having an idea to write from when you seem to can’t think of anything yourself and to help get the writing flowing when your muse is being particularly uncooperative. The nice thing about story prompts is that they can prompt your own ideas as well. You don’t have to take every prompt at face value, but can change it if it sparks a different idea (i.e. if the MC of prompt is a female you could change it to a male or lizard-person that doesn’t have a set gender).
Another thing story prompts can help with is getting to you writing things outside your comfort zone, trying something new. I’ve writing stories I never would have thought of writing because of story prompts and now I’m glad I wrote them. It helped broaden my understanding of the situations and types of characters the story prompts promoted. Perhaps they will do the same for you.
A last benefit to story prompts is that they can be fun and without the pressure of writing a larger work. Sure, they can develop into that but I don’t think I’ve ever looked for a story prompt with the intent to turn it into a novel. They can help remind you that writing is fun when you when you need to take a break from your work in progress because of a difficult scene, but still want to write.
So I do suggest using a story prompt every now and then, and making it your own. No one every seems to come up with the same story despite using the same prompt and I always think that’s wonderful and amazing. Perhaps, too, you’ll get a new interesting character, scene, or plot line to expand upon or use in another work.
Please let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything you think I missed. Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a fun time reading and writing!