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Notes, tutorials, exercises, thoughts, workshops and resources about writing or storytelling art

How to Name Your Characters

In many cultures, it is believed that a person’s name contains his/her essence. From a practical viewpoint, this may sound like an exaggeration, but it makes sense when we are talking about fictional names. For example, how different would it have turned out if Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes had been called Sherrinford Holmes as the author had originally planned?

How to pick names for fictional characters

Every name has different connotations for each of us because they remind us of different people; thus, it’s impossible to foresee the effect names will have on your readers. Nevertheless, here are some steps you can take to find names that best suit your characters:

How to Present Your Characters

Whether real or fantasy, human or animal, characters are part of every story. That’s why it’s very important for your words to breathe life into them. It’s up to you to make sure they are perceived as real by your readers, but how is this done?

Introducing Characters in a Story

You can always resort to a third-person narrator in order to describe your characters, but that’s not enough sometimes. If you want to create lively characters, there are six more effective ways to do so without using a narrator. Let’s analyze them one by one:

Keys to Becoming a Professional Writer

Entrepreneurship is on everyone’s lips these days. The current economic crisis along with the high percentage of unemployment and job insecurity make some people consider self-employment. If you’re in this situation and you’re passionate about writing, why don’t you become a writing entrepreneur?

How to Become an Author

Think about it for a moment – working from home, doing what you love, being your own boss, and becoming a professional writer. Does that sound like your dream job? If the answer is yes, the following list of tips might help you turn that dream into a reality.

How to Create Unforgettable Protagonists

The hero is the protagonist – the one who carries the weight of the story. A tale can have more than one main character (in some cases like Psycho, there can be a change of protagonist in the middle of the story). When there’s more than one protagonist, they can act in two different ways.

Main character

Plural – They share the same goals and suffer the same misfortunes or enjoy the same rewards in their struggle to achieve them. Such is the case of Robert Aldrich’s film The Dirty Dozen or Enid Blyton’s Famous Five..

Multiple – They have individual goals, rewards and misfortunes. Sometimes, what’s good for one can be bad for another. Such main characters appear in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.

Regardless of the number of protagonists a story has, they must be appealing to the readers. If they like them and identify themselves with them, they are more likely to be interested in your story. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of unforgettable protagonists:

“Deus Ex Machina”: What Is it and How to Avoid it?

In this post, I want to discuss why you shouldn’t resort to “Deus Ex Machina” when you’re trying to solve a conflict in a story. As I have occasionally made that mistake and learned how to avoid it, I think you can take advantage of my experience and advice.

Deus Ex Machina

The origin of the term “Deus Ex Machina” dates back to the theatre in Ancient Greece when at the end of a play, one of the Olympic gods was hanging from a crane in order to solve the characters’ conflicts and give an end to the story. With their belief system at that time, this method for sorting things out was more or less justified, but the readers of today won’t easily accept divine intervention.

The Importance of Secondary Characters

As you know, the characters are a fundamental part of any story. They are a must. But what type and how many characters do we need? One could say that we only need a protagonist (the character to whom the events of the story happen) and an antagonistic force or character to oppose the protagonist’s desires or goals. These two elements would be enough to tell a story.

How to Create Secondary Characters

This simplicity is well reflected in short stories which only include the main characters (the fewer, the better). But in the case of longer works such as the novel, adding secondary characters to the equation will give greater depth to the story and help you drive the plot to its conclusion. The construction of secondary characters, as with any other aspect of writing, opens up a world of possibilities, but there are a number of common supporting roles that are useful in any story:

How to Write the First Paragraphs of Your Novel

Think of the potential reader who walks by a bookstore or the editor to whom you sent a manuscript. They have hundreds of available books, and they haven’t even heard of most of them.

how to start a book

When they pick up one that catches their attention because of the beauty of its cover, the originality of its title, or any other reason, they’ll leaf through it for no more than thirty seconds (just a quick glance at the first few lines of the text). What do you think they should find there? A catchy beginning or the weather forecast?

1. Don’t start talking about the weather.

Comments such as, “It’s cold” or “Look how much it’s raining today!” are elevator conversations – topics we turn to when we don’t know what to say. If your story starts with one of those sentences, you’re transmitting that “elevator feeling” to your readers. Unless the weather affects the development of your story from the beginning (or unless you’re writing a novel dealing with a meteorologist who studies climate), it’s not a good idea to begin by talking about the heat or the rain.

To give you a practical example, imagine these two possible beginnings:

How to Choose the Setting of Your Story

When you’re beginning the work of creating your story, you must keep in mind where it takes place. You can choose a famous city, opt for your own environment because you know it by heart, or invent a location to your taste. But how do you know you’ve chosen the right setting? Consider the following aspects:

story map

1. The Importance of the Setting

The first thing you have to ask yourself is whether the setting is an important aspect of your story. There are tales in which the place where the characters live is as significant as the characters themselves. Once you answer that question, you’ll feel more confident when deciding where to set your story.

2. The Advantages of a Good Setting

Let’s consider a horror story as a example. It could take place anywhere, but if you choose the right setting, it’ll be easier for you to recreate a sinister atmosphere. Imagine a small, creepy village, or better yet, imagine the village is next to a swamp that fills the air with mist at night. Don’t you think that would be the perfect location for a horror story?

12 Places to Find Inspiration for Your Writing

As Picasso once said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” However, sometimes we get stuck and working harder is not enough. This may be because we can’t think of what to write, or it may happen because we don’t find the best way to proceed once we’ve started writing. When that happens, where do you look for inspiration?

How to Get Inspired

Every writer is different, and what inspires me might not inspire you. Some people need a lot of fuss around them in order to get inspired, while other people work better in silence. The truth is the muse appears more frequently in certain places. These are my favorite locations for inspiration:

How to Give Depth to Your Characters

I bet you’ve heard that some characters in a story are round while others are flat, but do you know exactly what that means? How do you know if your characters are round or flat? Should you always create round and dynamic characters? How can you make your characters more believable?

How to Give Depth to Your Characters

Before answering these questions, let’s first analyze what round and flat characters are and when to resort to using them:

Flat Characters

Only a few features (usually based on clichés) are necessary to create flat characters. They’re generally static characters meant to serve the story.

When should you use flat characters and why?

Flat characters are often used in TV comedies (30-minute sitcoms with canned laughter) because comedic stories usually focus on the anecdote and the joke. Thanks to their commonplace situations and characters, sitcoms are able to transmit a sense of familiarity to the spectator. Flat characters also have a supporting role in stories with round main characters in order to achieve one of these effects: