Asking the 5 Whys for More Convincing Story Characters

A scenario: Your intimate love of 11 years arrives home one day and says, out of the blue, that he’s quit his job and enrolled in culinary school. Your first reaction is, naturally, “We need to make an appointment to talk to your doctor, Dear. I think your medication is producing some unexpected side-effects.” No, […]

Writing Your Characters Using the APET Model

Some of the most profound fiction-writing insights come from psychology, because the characters in fiction are whom you sympathize with, pulling you into the story and making you part of the story experience, more than just an observer. So when you understand the psychology of your character, you automatically write better fiction. One of the […]

5 Tips on Telling Backstory without Interrupting the Flow

A long time ago, in a post far away, Sara, a reader of this blog (at least back then she was; I don’t know whether she still is), asked in a post comment: “Do you have any ideas about how to incorporate backstory and the character’s thoughts into the story without interrupting the flow?” Accomplishing […]

PersonalityPage, Character Traits for Writers

I frequently use to assemble personality traits for characterization. The site is not organized for writers. In fact, the site navigation is poorly designed and pretty difficult to figure out. I had to poke around the site a bit to find the best pages there for characterization and how to use them. But having […]

Discovering Character Secrets from Your Relatives!

Much of the time, we treat relatives as obligations: “Yeah, but what can you do? He’s family.” This year, during the holiday break between December 25 and January 1, the kids and I and Grandma and Grampa piled into a rented minivan and trekked 7 hours to southern New Jersey… where the aunts and uncles […]

The Most Important Story Element

In the beginning, I was a software developer, not a writer. And if you’ve read any open-source documentation, you know how badly software developers write. So you know how wide a chasm I had to jump if I wanted to learn how to write fiction. The fiction bug first bit me in 2002, when I […]

3 Steps To Writing Winning Fiction Characters

(Originally posted on Character is the single most important aspect of a story, because if you have compelling characters, you can get away with numerous mistakes elsewhere in your writing. All aspiring writers must know the secrets of characterization, in order to make their fiction salable. When you’re writing a story, usually, you’ll have […]

Is my story cliché and contrived?

An actual question asked on one of the writer’s boards. An aspiring author gave a two-paragraph summary of his plot idea. He said he feared it was just a series of clichés, then he asked whether it was too contrived to be taken seriously. Now, I don’t know whether publishers would take it seriously. I […]

100 Free Fictional Character Ideas

… a tiny sample from 1001 Character Quirks for Writing Fiction. Literally, the full list is more than 10 times as big. Of course, the list of quirks is the easy part, because they’re just character ideas, and ideas are a dime a dozen. -TimK

When to Use Character Quirks

I’ve read plenty of writing advice to improve your fictional characters using quirks, or hooks, or tags. That is, make the character more interesting by having her play with her hair, jiggle her keys, overuse a catch-phrase, or the like. These quirks are usually just lumped together with other character traits, but I think there’s […]