How to Turn Character Ideas into Characters

They say ideas are a dime a dozen, even character ideas. Many experienced authors don’t even think about it anymore; they don’t remember when they were just starting out, facing a blank page, without any idea how to make their characters full and interesting. Because when it comes right down to it, if you want […]

7 Flash-Fiction Turn-Ons (and 17 Turn-Offs)

PJ Kaiser suggested—probably because I’ve been doing weekly “#FridayFlash Favorites” posts—that I write about what catches my attention in a flash story, and what turns me off. I thought that was a pretty kewl idea, and I further decided to link to last week’s #FridayFlash stories (because they’re still fresh in my mind) in order […]

“Aha!” Moments and Character “Change”

I love character stories. In fact, I rarely enjoy a story unless it has a character-driven component. So I was naturally surprised that I so enjoyed Al Bruno’s latest #FridayFlash story. It’s not really a character story, per se. Or is it? I actually have a different take on that now, different than last week. […]

Examples of Alternative Conflict

I called it “alternative conflict” in Monday’s post, but a better monicker might be “problem-free conflict,” because it pops up over and over again in literature, TV, and film. Usually, it’s used alongside the more traditional character problems. “But character problems cause conflict,” I hear you objecting. “How can you have conflict without character problems?” […]

Exploring Alternative Conflict

My #FridayFlash short-short story, “Too Much Information,” this past week experimented with a different kind of conflict, something I’m calling “alternative conflict.” In reality, there are published stories out there, in prose and in TV and film, that already use conflict like this, so it really isn’t alternative. (It’s mainstream.) But the advice that you […]

10 Basic Character Needs

They say that effective story characters have problems, because problems mean conflict, and conflict makes for an interesting story. True enough. (See Wednesday’s post for a better explanation.) But what they don’t usually tell you is that all problems come from character needs. Or more precisely, from characters not getting their needs met. Like us, […]

Intense Conflict vs. Gentle Conflict

Conflict is the engine that drives a story forward. And not just any conflict, but relevant, meaningful conflict that matters to the protagonist and to the reader. Moreover, every scene needs conflict. I’ve included this as an item on my novel-revision checklist, to make sure that each scene is a story in miniature, with characters, […]

New Writer’s Tools at Holly Lisle’s Site

Briefly, two new ebooks available at Holly Lisle’s site.

Setting the Mood With Conflict

In a story, starting a fight is an easy way to make the mood tense. But conflict can do more than just make a story feel tense, suspenseful. Conflict engages the audience. It makes us sympathize with the characters and root for them. And it heightens other emotions in the story.

Using Conflict to Keep the Flow

How do you add in description, humorous banter, back-story, asides, character reactions, all without interrupting the flow of words off the page?