Tag Archives: writing advice

C is for Character | #AtoZChallenge

When you’re reading a story, what grabs you the most- plot or character?

With me, it’s character. I enjoy reading a well-written character, who’s multifaceted and interesting. Of course, it’s easier said than done. I’m not an expert, but I do think I have an idea on how to get your characters moving and grooving in an interesting way. Here are five tips for writing characters who are interesting and realistic:

Joss Whedon quote

Tip 1: Name that tune

What is your characters name? Is there significance to it? (A family name? Has Name a certain meaning? Etc.) What does your character look like? You don’t have to go into every insignificant detail. If you do, it’ll start to feel to your reader like you don’t trust them to make some decisions. Describe parts that are important and that give your character shape. If your character is someone who has a hard lifestyle, talk about those lines on his face, the jagged scar running down her thigh. Those puffy bags under his eyes from his habitual drinking tell a lot about who he is and what he does.

Tip 2: Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?

What are the qualities that your characters exhibit? Are they shy? Quick to anger? Incredibly insecure? Do you have friends who have qualities that make them a bit alike so they’re more likely to clash, but on some issues, they’re really steadfast? Don’t be afraid to mix it up and give your character seemingly opposing traits- the shy librarian who has a wild streak. The angry bartender with a soft side for baby kittens. You get it.

Tip 3: So what’cha, what’cha, what’cha want, what’cha want?

What drives your characters? What pushes them to make moves? What is the thing that they want the most? And what is the thing that they need? The need is going to be what really drives the underlying story. Is it love? To have an actual home? Revenge? To deal with grief? Knowing these elements to your characters will make them richer and more interesting to write and ultimately for your readers to experience.


Tip 4: It’s a family affair…it’s a family affair…

Here’s one thing that shapes us all in the best (and sometimes worse) ways possible: our families. Who is your character’s family? Is there some mommy or daddy issues lurking in the background? Was the family wonderfully supportive and amazing, but had terrible luck that destroyed things? Is your character’s family gone now and he’s all on his own? Was his grandfather abusive? His mother likes a little coffee in her Baileys? Having that family background and learning her roots will show you more about how she will react in the future to the obstacles (and opportunities) you plop in her path.

Tip 5: My flaws are the only thing left that’s pure

Do not write characters who are perfect. Give them moments where they stumble, crumble, and break down. The most interesting traits of characters are how they react when things don’t go their way. Yes, it can be hard to make your character go through the bad, but in order to get to the good, there must be some bad. It’ll increase the level of tension, make the conflict more intense, and just generally makes for better writing.


Did you guess the lyrics? Do you have a favorite character from books or movies? Let me know in the comments! Also, if you like talking about writing, join us at the #writestuff Twitter chat every Tuesday at 9 p.m. EDT. Find me on there: @penpaperpad.


Check out my posts for Letters A and Letters B. Come back tomorrow for D!

letter C

Aloha y’all! 




Filed under writing

Distraction Reaction: Guest Post

Writers on WritingHey there PPP readers! Today we have a guest, Tim Young. He’s going to talk about dealing with writing distractions. He is a Hell’s Kitchen denizen: Writing and rocking, singer/songwriter and guitar player. He’s originally from Easton, Pa. Tim is published at red lemonade and Fictionaut. Follow him on Twitter: @timsored.


The keyboard is the new pen, which is fine with me; I like the noise it makes when I type. Those clicks and clacks mean the words and ideas are in the flow. The problem with the keyboard is its inextricable connection to the rest of the computer. Stopping for a moments thought may easily send one to search something online, check mail, etc., etc. I know you know how it goes. My idea is to distract the distraction. Be distracted but be creative. Instead of running right into the arms of the internet get up off your chair and walk around. Look in the fridge, go to the bathroom, grab more coffee or a snack. This lets your mind do some drifting but meanwhile you can still be thinking about the writing task at hand.

The next item on my list (If you’re not into lists I think it’s a good idea to go there) is the more than popular cell phone. I love my phone but it does not belong on the writing table. Someone mentioned this to me and I had a deadline to meet so at my next session I put the phone on my bed under a pillow. I like to talk to inanimate objects so I told the phone, don’t worry I won’t forget about you. But that turned out to be a lie. No sooner did I get into the clicky clack of my keyboard did I totally forget about the phone. I was released! Freedom was found and seeing and knowing progress was made is a juicy reward. I love rewards, don’t you? Rewards are great encouragement.

Talking is next. It’s obviously not required to speak to inanimate objects like I do, although I think it’s fun, but you may want to begin, if you haven’t already, to talk to yourself. It’s all about freeing ourselves up from the usual and mundane. I think some ideas flow much less inhibited if they are spoken out loud. We create characters right? So go ahead and be some of them. Talk it out, crack some jokes, humor is good medicine, as they say, it’s also useful to take the pressure off, lighten a moment when the keyboard is quiet. The best result being you might even stumble upon an idea for a new piece. Think of it like a jazz improvisation. Not knowing where your solo is going is a good thing.


Filed under Guest Posts