I’m working on an ebook, entitled Character Fiction 101: How to Write Fictional Characters and Character Stories. I plan to give the ebook away for free, for a number of reasons that I lay out in the book’s introduction— Mostly because I long to see more online authors turn out high-quality character stories. Many of the stories I read hit-and-miss at best. I’m hoping that authors will explore the ideas I’m overviewing in this book and that they’ll integrate them more fully into their stories.
Yeah, maybe that’s a little egotistical. But these are the principles and characteristics that I personally value in a character story. They define what I consider “good” fiction. Naturally, I’d be overjoyed if more authors only wrote like me. (Eh. What’y’a gonna do?)
BTW, I also plan to release the book in print, probably at a nominal price-point, because the book is only an overview (probably about 100 pages) of an exceedingly deep subject area, as deep as the human psyche.
Much of the content of this book comes originally from this blog and from research I’ve collected during my years as a character author. Of course, I still need to revise what’s already written and flesh out what isn’t yet. I’m hoping to have that done sometime next week, working at breakneck speed. (But please don’t hold your breath, because there are a dozen things that could go wrong.)
UPDATE: Early April, and I’ve discovered it’s going to be weeks before I finish, because I’m extending the content, in some cases by an order of magnitude. But in the meantime, I’m posting extracts from the new content on this blog.
For now, I have managed to put together an outline for the book, which I’m including below in the form of an extended Table of Contents.
About This Book
What Is Character?
How do you know you’ve got character?
Writing a Character Story in 5 Easy Steps
The Most Important Story Element
Writing as a spiritual journey
Caring about your characters
Three Dimensions of Character Development
Action and reaction
Types and temperaments
Demographics and psychographics
Asking Character Questions
The APET model
Thoughts and feelings
Past, present, and future
Family, friends, enemies, colleagues
Talents and skills
The Five Whys
Your Character Bible
Character bible template
Majors, Minors, and Throw-aways
Sympathy and Empathy
An unsympathetic character
Who cares about sympathy?
Sympathy is not for writers
Three aspects of sympathetic characters
Nobility vs. ignobility
Persuade the reader
Character Arcs and Character Change
What is a character arc?
Plot and character
The shape of a character arc
Keep them consistent
But… people do crazy things!
Following your characters
Narrator, Voice, Tense, Style
Showing vs. telling