Building Realistic Characters

Building Realistic Characters

Character refers to the essence of who anyone is on the inside. Is he or she a good person or a bad person? A fighter or a wimp?

Character is the spirit of that person. Writing strong characterization is important.

List some traits for your protagonist. For your antagonist. For supporting characters.

  • lazy
  • energetic
  • in-your-face
  • quiet, shy
  • invisible
  • intrusive
  • kind
  • selfish
  • egotistical
  • insecure
  • scared
  • trusting
  • inspiring to those around them
  • a teacher
  • a student of life
  • religious
  • sarcastic
  • insulting
  • appreciative
  • patronizing
  • inquisitive
  • studious
  • loving
  • So much to choose from! What is the spirit of your characters?

Make Your Character Likable From the Start

Make Your Character Likable From the Start

If you want your readers to root for your lead character, you need to do something early on to make sure that you’ve earned that. Without a character to root for, your story has nothing going for it.

Your readers need to identify with someone early, and if your characters are generally unlikable, even if you may think they’re interesting, it simply isn’t enough to sustain a story.

  • Write strong dialogue that shows how witty or charming your character is.
  • Or use action, showing a selfless act early on in the story to establish them as a positive force.

6-Months to a Novel

6-Months to a Novel

How long does it take to write a novel? That question reminds me of an old tootsie pop commercial – “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?” Remember that one? I think it was three. Lick, lick, crunch!

It can take a year or longer to write a novel. But it can also take shorter. Set a timeline for yourself. Try it. If it doesn’t work, that’s okay. You readjust the timeline. But for starters, set a goal to write a novel in 6 months.

Before you start, know your genre, your audience, the number of main characters, the setting and the situation that starts the whole story. Got it? Write that down.

Set a time limit to write each day. Start the first month with one hour a day. Don’t do anything else during your set-aside writing time. Keep it sacred!

As time permits, increase it. An hour and a half a day. Give yourself a 2-hour of editing time once a week. Do not edit while you write. Save that for the editing block. But you still have to have the hour of writing. Editing is not writing.

And somewhere between life and your writing time each day, READ each day. I always read for about a half hour right before I go to sleep. You have to keep reading. As Stephen King says, “if you want to be a good writer, you have to do two things: write a lot and read a lot.” Trust me on this one!

Find a good editor. Give yourself some down time. And don’t stop.

Read it out loud when you’re done. This will help you find areas that don’t flow right. Get feedback. Don’t rush it. Have beta readers. Three is a good number.

Don’t ever underestimate yourself. Don’t worry if ‘it’s good enough’. That can all be worked out much later. First, you just need to get the story down.


Fear of Marketing Your Book?

Fear of Marketing Your Book?

It’s scary out there in the literary jungle of platforms, social media, book stores, book signing events, traditional and independent publishing. Even an agent isn’t going to save you.

Here’s a mini-course on book marketing. Anything that we can whittle down to baby steps becomes easier naturally. No difference here.

  1. Don’t try to do it all at once. Do three things to market your book each day. Set aside five to ten minutes a day to do these three things. And your three things don’t have to be substantial. They can be as simple as sending a ‘thank you’ note.
  2. Create incentive. Run a promotion on your social media and offer a prize to one lucky winner. Maybe a free book? An amazon gift card? They can become eligible by writing a review on amazon, sharing your book post on their social media and tagging you with a special code for you to follow it.
  3. Reach out to at least one author in your genre. Networking helps you remain current on what others are also doing in your market.
  4. Keep your website fresh by adding book reviews and other relevant content. Make sure your branding of yourself and your website fit the type of readers you want to reach.
  5. Post a comment on the blog of another author that has a similar fan base.
  6. Send a thank you note. Anyone and everyone who has done anything to further your writing career (from a book reviewer to a book seller) deserves a personal thanks.
  7. Join writing groups, critique groups, and / or book clubs. I belong to all three! is one of Idaho’s most complete organizations for writers of all levels.
  8. Donate books to your local library. And make sure they’re autographed!
  9. Organize your own events to promote your books. I always have a book release party downtown in some hot spot. They’re very successful.

Writing Rituals

Writing Rituals

We all have our special ways of doing things. Our habits, our favorite patterns, and our rituals.

In writing, it’s no different. Think about what you want your writing ritual to look like. Do you read a passage from a particularly well-written book right before you sit down to write to set the tone?

Maybe you light a candle, or incense, or open a window after a summer rain to inspire your senses. Do you like bright light or a soft light when you sit down to write?

Do you play music when you write?

I like a bright light over my keyboard, no music, it needs to be absolutely quiet for me.

Where is your most comfortable place to write? Sitting at your computer? Curled up in an overstuffed chair with a laptop? Maybe sitting on a lawn chair with a pen and legal pad. Find your most comfortable place to write.

Make sure you have everything you need so that once you get on a roll you don’t have to stop to go get something. Have your water, or wine, or whatever helps you write the best. I’ve found one drink when I sit down helps shut out the clutter from the day that’s rattling around the edges of my mind. It relaxes me just enough that it takes off the edge and frees me to WRITE!

Once you start, don’t stop. Just keep writing until you’re finished. Don’t worry about edits or polish, that all comes later. The most important part is getting the story down.

And if you do write a little buzzed, that’s okay. Just make sure you edit sober!

Rituals can come in all sizes and shapes. Maybe you have a lucky hat you need to wear when you write. Or a lucky pen you write with. Maybe there’s only one chair in the room that is next to the window and under a ceramic angel on the wall, that is your creative spot.

Whatever it is, find your ritual and stick to it. And write!

Sherry Briscoe, Gypsy Writer

The Best Books on Writing

The Best Books on Writing

Of course Stephen King’s On Writing is top of the list, but what about some others?

Two other books really stand out for me that are filled to the brim with fantastic advice on the craft of writing. These two books really helped me.

Save The Cat! by Blake Snyder

I Could Have Written A Better Movie Than That by Derek Rydall

Even if you just write short stories or novels, these two books on the craft of writing are a must!

So I was just wondering, from all you writers out there, what is the best book on writing that you’ve read? What book has helped you the most?

I’d love to hear from you!