Proper Character Motivation

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!

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Writing Women Characters as Human Beings

Guest Blog by Kate Elliott (Found on Tor.com)

Source: https://www.tor.com/2015/03/04/writing-women-characters-as-human-beings/

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!

Active Characters

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!

Writing Combat In Fantasy – Part One: Top Ten Tips

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!

Writing Resource Recommendation

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!

Favorite Quotes

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.”

–Toni Morrison

“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.”

–Neil Gaiman

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

–Thomas Mann

“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!

 

 

NaNoWriMo

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Since it’s been about a week since NaNoWriMo started this year I thought it’d be good to talk about it this week. For those of you who might not know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it occurs during November every year. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to writing 50,000 words by the end of the month. It also has a website that has forums that give advice on many different topics such as characters, plotting help, and naming things and they send out pep talks to help writers keep writing (https://nonowrimo.org). Through their website you can also join a regional group that helps give encouragement and that you can connect with though you don’t have to do so. NaNoWriMo is good at making the act of writing a more social thing–if you go to the website–and that can help make those 50,000 words seem a little less daunting because you know thousands of other people are trying to reach that goal as well and that makes their encouragement a bit more meaningful.

I like NaNoWriMo a lot, but I have to be truthful and say that I haven’t yet reached the 50,000 word goal in the years that I’ve done it. However, I did write more in a more consistent manner in November than I would have otherwise, so I would still recommend participating even if you don’t think you’ll reach the goal or think it’s too late to try since you missed the first week. It also opens a good way to get in contact with other writers to make friends and possibly get feedback on your work in the future. They also focus a lot on putting aside your inner editor and just getting words on the page, which I’ve never been as good at, but even if you do still edit some it can still help you focus more on the story than what it looks/sounds like. That can help you write more and make it so you don’t spend more time editing that writing when the first draft isn’t even finished.

This year instead of working on a single project I decided to count any words that I write for fun and that aren’t part of a school assignment or other required activity, only what I want to and because I feel the need to write. If you want to find me on the NaNoWriMo website my username is Corinelle.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! Feel free to post about your own NaNoWriMo experiences in the comments and I hope you all have a fun writing filled week!

Character Motivation

Hello Fiction Lovers!

First I would like to apologize for getting this post to you late. It’s midterm season and studying has made me busier than normal. This week I’ve been thinking about character motivation because on of my professors pointed out that writers, typically, seem to focus on more what a character fears or dislikes rather than what they love. She challenged us to come up with three things the main characters in the short stories we are writing for the class love. It was more difficult than I thought it would be.

The challenge served as a reminder that even though what a character fears/dislikes. what bad things happen to them, typically drive a story forward a writer can’t forget to add in good things too. You don’t have to force the good things into the story, just like it’s a bad idea to the same for more tragic things, but knowing what they are and keeping them in mind as you write can help flesh out a character and the story. The character will strive just as much, if not more, to obtain the things they love rather than just escaping the things they fear. Often too fear and bad decisions can come out of love and good intentions. Knowing those things can make your character’s motivation more nuanced and realistic. And that will be more interesting for your readers.

It’s good to remember to let the motivation flow from the story instead of trying to force a trope or other idea to work. It might take you a few tries but the character will let you know why they are doing what they are doing as you write and edit the story. It might seem clunky at first when you are getting the basic idea for the story down but as you flesh out the story and learn more about the characters their motivations will be more clear, and those motivations won’t always be a tragic backstory. A tragic backstory is good for some types of characters but others accidentally became involved with whatever the story is about and are trying to return to their normal life or want to make the best of it, a few had good childhoods and want others to have the same or got bored by it and decided to something a little more exciting. It all depends on the character. Write the story and listen to them.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! I hope you all have a fun week.

POV: A Spectrum

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.

Story Prompt Benefits

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!