We've been looking at character: introducing the character, forging the reader-character bond, creating contradictions . . . All good stuff. But let's back up a bit. There's a word that gets thrown around a lot about character, and, I'll admit, sometimes I feel like maybe I don't actually know what it means. The word is … Continue reading Characterization: What is it?
A character's first appearance in a story is a big opportunity to characterize. Here are several ways to fulfill its potential. BRING CHARACTERS ON IN CHARACTER If you take home nothing else from this post, at least take this: bring characters on in character. "To introduce any given character effectively, you must first of all … Continue reading Character Introductions: Characterizing from the get-go
Tags, markers, labels, traits. The craft masters have a lot of words for the details that help readers identify and distinguish the characters in a story. Here are 6 character aspects that you can mine for tags and 5 ways to put those tags to work. CHARACTER TAGS: WHAT ARE THEY? Jim Butcher says "TAGS are words you … Continue reading Character Tags: What are they?
9 ways to forge a reader-character bond
We know them when we see them. We all want to create them. But what exactly distinguishes a three-dimensional character from that other kind? What exactly does "three-dimensional" mean and how do we render it on a two-dimensional page? THREE-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS: WHAT ARE THEY? Honestly, I had a hard time finding (as in, "I didn't … Continue reading Three-Dimensional Characters: 3 Ways to Create One
Last updated 2.5.20 The outer journey is also known as plot, structure, narrative structure, and 'what happens.' PLOT: WHAT IS IT? "The what happens is your plot," says James Scott Bell. "Plot structure consists of the specific events in a [story] and their position relative to one another," says Michael Hauge. "Structure," says Larry Brooks, … Continue reading Structure of Plot: The Outer Journey
We're looking at the Inner Journey this week (Part 1 here), and today we're looking at the structure of the character arc over the course of a story. In general, a story has four Parts with key Points happening between each Part (more on this next week when we get to the outer journey). The following … Continue reading Character Change: The Inner Journey, Part 2 — A Master Outline
Updated 2.5.20 Other names for the character's inner journey include character arc, character change, character transformation, ritual pain, and range of change. CHARACTER ARC: WHAT IS IT? "Character change, also known as character arc, character development, or character range of change, refers to the development of a character over the course of the story," says … Continue reading Character Change: The Inner Journey, Part 1
Updated 2.5.20 Here’s how Robert McKee sums 'em up: "To set up means to layer in knowledge; to pay off means to close the gap by delivering that knowledge to the audience. When the gap between expectation and result propels the audience back through the story seeking answers, it can only find them if the … Continue reading Setups and Payoffs: What are they?
We're looking at tension, conflict, and suspense this week. You can find tension and conflict here. Onward to suspense . . . What is Suspense? "Suspense is any unresolved tension in the story that makes the reader want to see what happens next," says James Scott Bell. Raymond Obstfeld agrees: "On a basic level, suspense … Continue reading Suspense: What it is and Ways to Create It