Category Archives: Story Structure and Storytelling

Free Story Structure Course in Streaming Video

Class Seven – Storyweaving

92. Introduction to Storyweaving

93. Exposition

94. Expectation

95. Context

96. Interpretation

Conflict Can Limit Your Characters

Many books on writing will tell you that a good story requires character conflict. In fact, this is far too limiting. Just as with real people, characters can relate in ways other than by coming into conflict which are just as strong dramatically.

Though conflict is an essential part of a story, there are other kinds of relationships that are just as important:

1.  Dynamic

2.  Companion

3.  Dependent

4.  Associative

1.  Dynamic relationships foster standard conflict between opposing points of view. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Positive Dynamic relationships are like the “loyal opposition” where two sides butt heads, but synthesize a better solution because of the conflict. Negative Dynamic relationships, however, occur when two sides butt heads until each is beaten into the ground.

2.  Companion relationships involve the indirect impact one character has on another. Positive Companion relationships occur when there is beneficial “fall-out” or “spill-over” between the two sides. For example, a father might work at a factory where he can bring home scrap balsa wood that his son uses for making models. Negative companion relationships involve negative spill-over such as a room-mate who snores.

3.  Dependent relationships describe the joint impact of the two sides. For example, positive Dependent relationships might bring Brain and Brawn together so that they are stronger than the sum of their parts. A negative Dependent relationship might have a character saying, “I’m nothing without my other half.”

4.  Associative relationships deal with how an individual relates to a group. Rather than being consistently positive or negative, there are two varieties of Associative relationships. The Component variety sees characters as individuals. The Collective variety sees them as a group.

For example, two brothers might fight between themselves (Component), yet come to each others’ aid when threatened by a bully because they now see themselves as family (Collective).

If you limit yourself to exploring only the conflicting relationships, ¾ of the ways in which people actually relate will not appear in your characters. What’s worse, if you also limit yourself to using only negative conflict, 7/8 of real relationships will be missing in your story.

By exploring all four kinds of relationships in both positive and negative modes, your characters will interact in a full, rich, and realistic manner.

Keep in mind: believable characters are not only built by developing each independently, but also by how they relate one to another!

Links to Articles On Writing

Atlas Shrugged

How to Grow a Sentence Into a Story

Audience Reach

Five Steps to a Believable Character

Dramatica Explained in Plain Language

Beginner’s Guide to Dramatica Software

Writing with Globular Clusters

Should Your Main Character Change or Remain Steadfast?

Stories with Characters who Change

Should Your Main Character Start or Stop?

Throughlines – And How to Use Them

A Novelist’s Bag of Tricks!

Psychoanalyze Your Story

A Screenwriter’s Bag of Tricks

The 12 Essential Questions Every Writer Should Answer

The False Narrative

Have Your Characters Write Their Own Autobiographies

When fleshing out your characters, have each one write a short autobiography in their own voice about their lives prior to the beginning of the story, touching on key turning points, memories of special events – both cheerful and tragic, and of the people who meant/mean the most to them.

What are their biggest disappointments, narrowest escapes, greatest triumphs, deepest regrets?

Have them tell you, the author, about their hobbies, religious and political views, hopes, and dreams.

And finally, have your character each write about how the people and events in your story appear to and affect them, from their unique point of view and position in your story.

In this way, your character development will become more organic and more informed.

Keep in mind, however, that our sense of our own selves is usually quite different from how others see us. So, it is a good idea to make sure each character writes about the others in terms of whether they trust them, what they think is their greatest strength, most detrimental weakness, and must fun/frustrating trait. This will not only illuminate how each character sees the others, but how the others see them.

And finally, when you actually sit down to write your characters, don’t just approach them from your author’s view as to what you need/want them to do in the plot, but stand in their shoes and try to understand why they do these things. Is it easy or hard for them to do what they do, compatible or contrary to their nature, and what personal costs or benefits will their actions bring them?

In the end, never forget that we are each the main character or our own personal story, even when we are playing a subordinate role in a larger story involving many others.

Read more writing tips at Storymind.com, the Creative Writing Tips web site.

Have Your Characters Write Their Own Autobiographies

When fleshing out your characters, have each one write a short autobiography in their own voice about their lives prior to the beginning of the story, touching on key turning points, memories of special events – both cheerful and tragic, and of the people who meant/mean the most to them.

What are their biggest disappointments, narrowest escapes, greatest triumphs, deepest regrets?

Have them tell you, the author, about their hobbies, religious and political views, hopes, and dreams.

And finally, have your character each write about how the people and events in your story appear to and affect them, from their unique point of view and position in your story.

In this way, your character development will become more organic and more informed.

Keep in mind, however, that our sense of our own selves is usually quite different from how others see us. So, it is a good idea to make sure each character writes about the others in terms of whether they trust them, what they think is their greatest strength, most detrimental weakness, and must fun/frustrating trait. This will not only illuminate how each character sees the others, but how the others see them.

And finally, when you actually sit down to write your characters, don’t just approach them from your author’s view as to what you need/want them to do in the plot, but stand in their shoes and try to understand why they do these things. Is it easy or hard for them to do what they do, compatible or contrary to their nature, and what personal costs or benefits will their actions bring them?

In the end, never forget that we are each the main character or our own personal story, even when we are playing a subordinate role in a larger story involving many others.

Read more writing tips at Storymind.com, the Creative Writing Tips web site.

The Four Stages of Story Development

Each day we post another step in the StoryWeaver method. Follow along to develop your novel step by step or jump ahead with the StoryWeaver app on our web site at Storymind.com

Today’s Step: The Four Stages of Story Development

Writers often begin the story development process by thinking about what their story needs: a main character/protagonist/hero, a solid theme, a riveting plot and, of course, to meet all the touch points of their genre.

Because this is just the beginning of the process, they usually don’t have much of that worked out yet. And so, they are faced with the daunting task of figuring out their story’s world, who’s in it, what happens to them, and what it all means before they even write a word. This can throw a writer into creative gridlock right out of the gate and can get so frustrating that the Muse completely deserts them.

Fortunately, there’s a better way. Rather than asking what the story needs, we can turn it around and ask what the author needs. What is the most comfortable sequence of activities that will lead a writer from concept to completion of their novel or screenplay?

As varied a lot as we writers are, there are certain fundamental phases we all go through when coming to our stories. In fact, we can arrange the entire creative process into four distinct stages:

  1. Inspiration
  2. Development
  3. Exposition
  4. Storytelling

The Inspiration Stage begins the moment we have an idea for a story. This might be an overall concept (computer geeks are transported to the old west), a plot twist (a detective discovers he is investigating his own murder), a character situation (Ponce de Leon still lives today), a thematic topic (fracking), a character study (an aging rock star who is losing his licks) a line of dialog (“Just cuz somthin’s free don’t mean you didn’t buy it.”), a title (Too Old To Die Young) or any other creative notion that makes you think, that’s a good idea for a story!

What gets the hair on your writerly tail to stand up isn’t important. Whatever it is, you are in the Inspiration Stage and it lasts as long as new ideas flow like spring runoff. You might add characters, specific events in your plot or even write a chapter or two. A very lucky writer never gets out of this stage and just keeps on going until the novel is completely written and sent out for publication.

Alas, for most of us, the Muse vanishes somewhere along the line, and we find ourselves staring at the all-too-familiar blank page wondering where to go from here. Where we go is to Stage Two: Development.

In the Development Stage we stand back and take a long critical look at our story so far. We now have quite a few ideas and there are likely sections that are ready to write, or perhaps you’ve already written some. But there may be other areas that are a bit lean or even downright sketchy, hanging by only the thinnest of story threads.

What’s needed now is to grow each of those ideas to add more substance. So, story point by story point we add richness and detail until every notion we generated in Inspiration has become a fully developed concept. What’s there looks good, but what about what isn’t there?

Even though each idea is now fully formed, in between them may be story holes, both small and gaping, and breaks in logic when what happens first makes no sense in connection to what happens later. Then there might be characters that don’t ring true, unresolved conflicts, and expressed emotions that seem to come out of nowhere.

And so, the work begins – filling the space between your ideas and trying to make them all fit in the same story. By the end of the development stage, you’ll have added detail and richness to your story and added all the pieces needed to fill the gaps.

Eventually (thank Providence) you’ll have fully developed your ideas and plugged all the leaks. But what you have now is more like a box of snarled threads than a fabric. The pieces are all there but they aren’t yet working together. You realize you need to integrate your individual ideas so they can work in concert. You also realize you have quite unawares stumbled into Stage Three: Exposition.

Exposition isn’t just about revealing story points to your readers or audience. It is even more about pulling all of those threads together so they become a yarn.

Here you will consider how one story point affects another, and how plot impacts character impacts theme impacts genre. Stories are holistic, and every piece should inform all the rest and, conversely, be informed by all the rest. In this way, your story becomes organic and transcends the pieces from which it is made.

And when you have all that figured out, you are ready to begin the final stage: Storytelling.

Storytelling is more than word play and style. It is also about deciding how to weave the threads of your story as it unfolds. Scene by scene or chapter by chapter you’ll lay out the arcs of your characters and their relationships with one another, you’ll carry your plot through twists and turns, you’ll subtly build your theme into a powerful message, and you’ll grow your genre into a unique reader or audience experience.

And lastly, before we send our creation out into the world, we writers shift and substitute and polish until (almost regretfully) we let it go, just like a parent bundling up a child for the first day of school. StoryWeaver can’t help you find the resolve to write “The End,” but as Da Vinci is credited with saying, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

Drop by tomorrow for the next step or jump ahead with our StoryWeaver app at Storymind.com

The Sunday Section

The Sunday section, in which I take a break each week from teaching creative writing to share some of my own work.

“Verbatim”

Have you ever wished
you had something to say
to open the heart
or capture the day.

To dissect the mind
or rally the cause,
but your words come up empty,
like stasis on pause.

So you put up your web site
and type in your Word:
a mouthpiece for Gurus
who want to be herd.

You stamp out a template
and auction your ware
that builds them a stairway
for climbing up air.

You translate their yearnings,
transfigure their Muse,
with a medium message
divine in its use.

Yet a lukewarm reception
devours your spiel,
consumed and digested
by The Zombies of Zeal.

For years you persist
in your nebulous quest
toward a furious sound
of infinite jest.

And you never look back
as your life passes by
to present as reflections
not seen through your eye.

But one day you wake
with a pain in your gut
that your fame is a fake
and your mountain, a rut.

So you fall from the sky
’til your life’s on the level
to lie in your bed
while embracing the Devil.

And you sing with the sirens
a glorious wail,
obscuring the site
of the Visioner’s Grail.

And the auctioneer’s gavel
indentures the Muse
and takes a percentage
of all whom she screws.

But one day She dies,
consumed with the clap,
and Her audience cries
as it lays in your lap.

So you cradle its head,
as it cradles yours,
and you wish you were dead
(save the proceeds from tours.)

But it isn’t the money,
nor is it the fame,
and it never was simply
the name of the game.

And it isn’t the insight
of getting there first,
nor the common law marriage
of better and worst.

You keep scratching your head
’til it coughs up a thought
in the hope it tastes better
than those that you bought.

You savor the flavor
that burns through your tongue,
for Truth leaves you speechless
and breathless and young.

And the answers you sought
with obtuse nomenclature
turn out to be more
of a personal nature.

So the final few words
of the self-focused work
provide answers for me.

*****

Melanie Anne Phillips
Creator, StoryWeaver
Co-creator, Dramatica

Should Your Main Character Change?

A STORY STRUCTURE QUESTION from our Dramatica story structure software (learn all about it at Storymind.com):

“By the end of your story, do you want your main character to have changed his or her nature like Scrooge or to have remained steadfast in nature like Harry Potter?”

EXPLANATION:

Your Main Character represents your readers’ position in your story. Therefore, whether he or she changes or not has a huge impact on your readers’ story experience and the message you are sending to them.

Some Main Characters grow to the point of changing their nature or attitude regarding a central personal issue like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Others grow in their resolve, holding onto their nature or attitude against all obstacles like Harry Potter.

Change can be good if the character is on the wrong track to begin with. It can also be bad if the character was on the right track. Similarly, remaining Steadfast is good if the character is on the right track, but bad if she is misguided or mistaken.

Think about the message you want to send to your audience, and whether the Main Character’s path should represent the proper or improper way of dealing with the story’s central issue. Then select a changing or steadfast Main Character accordingly.

THEORY:

Do you want your story to bring your audience to a point of change or to reinforce its current view? Oddly enough, choosing a steadfast Main Character may bring an audience to change and choosing a change character may influence the audience to remain steadfast. Why? It depends upon whether or not your audience shares the Main Character’s point of view to begin with.

Suppose your audience and your Main Character do NOT agree in attitudes about the central issue of the story. Even so, the audience will still identify with the Main Character because she represents the audience’s position in the story. So, if the Main Character grows in resolve to remain steadfast and succeeds, then the message to your audience is, “Change and adopt the Main Character’s view if you wish to succeed in similar situations.”

Clearly, since either change or steadfast can lead to either success or failure in a story, when you factor in where the audience stands a great number of different kinds of audience impact can be created by your choice.

In answering this question, therefore, consider not only what you want your Main Character to do as an individual, but also how that influences your story’s message and where your audience stands in regard to that issue to begin with.

USAGE:

Just because a Main Character ultimately remains steadfast does not mean she never considers changing. Similarly, a Change Main Character does not have to be changing all the time. In fact, that is the conflict with which she is constantly faced: to stick it out or to alter her approach in the face of ever-increasing opposition.

Illustrating your Main Character as wavering can make her much more human. Still, if her motivation is strong enough, your Main Character may hold the course or move toward change from the opening scene to the denouement. It all depends on the kind of experience you wish to create for your audience.

There is no right or wrong degree of certainty or stability in a Main Character. Just make it clear to your audience by the end of the story if she has been changed or not by the experience. Sometimes this happens by forcing your Main Character to make a choice between her old way of doing things or a new way. Another way of illustrating your Main Character’s resolve is to establish her reaction in a particular kind of situation at the beginning of the story that tells us something about her nature. After the story’s climax, you can bring back a similar kind of situation and see if she reacts the same way or not. From this, your audience will determine if she has Changed or remained Steadfast.

What if a Main Character Changes when she should Remain Steadfast, or Remains Steadfast when she should Change? Choosing your Main Character’s Resolve describes what your Main Character does without placing a value judgment on her. The appropriateness of her Resolve is determined by other dynamics in your story which will be addressed later. For now, simply choose if your Main Character’s nature has Changed or Remained Steadfast.

CONTEXTUAL EXAMPLE: Steadfast as the Resolve

At the end of the story, the Main Character’s basic way of seeing things has remained the same as it was at the beginning of the story. For example, a man wrongly accused of murdering his wife remains steadfast in his pursuit of the real killer believing this will eventually solve his problems; Despite all attempts to convert her, a woman remains true to her faith in her religion believing her god will protect her; etc.

CONTEXTUAL EXAMPLE: Change as the Resolve

At the end of the story, the Main Character’s basic way of seeing things has changed from what it was at the beginning of the story. For example, a stubborn bounty hunter, who sees every criminal as “guilty,” changes to realize this isn’t true for every criminal and decides that he is chasing an innocent man; a woman who has always put her job before her family changes, and puts her family first by adapting her schedule so she can spend more time with her husband, even though it will mean missing a promotion; etc.

This tip was excerpted from our Dramatica Story Structure Software with a patented Story Engine that cross-references your answers to dramatic questions (like the one above) to help you build the perfect structure for your story without holes or inconsistencies.

Visit Storymind.com for details on Dramatica and to try it risk-free for 90 days.

How to Create a Powerful Thematic Message

Your thematic message (moral of the story) has two sides: the Point and the Counterpoint. The Point is the human quality under examination in your story (such as greed) and the Counterpoint is the opposite trait (such as Generosity), presented for contrast. Together, they play both sides of the moral dilemma (Greed vs. Generosity). But how do you go about making your thematic point to your readers or audience?

The most important key to a successful thematic argument is never, ever play the Point  and Counterpoint together at the same time. Why? Because you don’t want to come off as preachy and ham-handed with a black & white one-sided message.

The thematic argument is an emotional one, not one of reason. You need to sway your reader/audience to adopt your moral view as an author rather than telling them to adopt it. This will not happen if you keep showing one side of the argument as “completely good” and the other side as “completely bad” and making that message by direct comparison. Such a thematic argument would seem one-sided, and treat the issues as being black-and-white, rather than gray-scale.

In real life, moral decisions are seldom cut-and-dried. Although we may hold views that are clearly defined, in practice it all comes down to the context of the specific situation. For example, it is wrong to steal in general. But, it might be proper to steal from the enemy during a war, or from a large market when you baby is starving. In the end, all moral views become a little blurry around the edges when push comes to shove.

Statements of absolutes do not a thematic argument make. Rather, your most powerful message will deal with the lesser of two evils, the greater of two goods, or the degree of goodness or badness of each side of the argument. In fact, there are some story situations (as in real life) where both sides of the moral argument are equally good or equally bad.

To create this more powerful, more believable, and more persuasive thematic argument follow these steps.

1. Determine in advance whether if you want each side of your moral argument to be good, bad, or neutral, in and of itself in regard to the situation your story is exploring.

Assign a numeric “value” to both the Point and the Counterpoint. For example, we might choose a scale with +5 being absolutely good, -5 being absolutely bad, and zero being neutral.

In our sample moral conflict between Greed vs. Generosity, we might assign Greed a value of -3.  This would mean to your readers/audience that greed is a negative when it crops up in your story.  In other words, when someone is greedy, it makes things worse.

Generosity (our Counterpoint) might have a value of -2.  So, in this story, Generosity also has a negative impact on things.  In such a message, you are saying that in your story’s world, folks shouldn’t hoard nor give away because either way will lead to bad consequences.  Both Greed and Generosity are  bad (being in the negative) but  Generosity is a little less bad than Greed since Generosity is only a -2 and Greed is a -3.  Still, it would be better to just keep what you’ve got and neither try to garner more nor give away what you may later need.  Pretty complex message.

Of course, you could still show Generosity as all good and Greed as all bad, but what about those real word situations where Greed is good- in other words, what if Greed is actually necessary to solve the story’s problems?  By using a scale ranging from Good through Neutral to Bad, you can fashion a far more realistic, believable, and practical message that your readers/audience can take back to the real world and act upon.

2. Show the good and bad aspects of both the Point and the Counterpoint.

Make sure you include in your story examples of each side of the thematic argument being good in some scene and bad in others.  In other words, just because a Thematic Point or Counterpoint turns out to be, for example, a +3 in the end doesn’t mean it is a +3 in every scene.  In some scenes it might even be a negative.   In fact, even if one side of the argument turns out to be good  in the end, it might be shown as bad initially. But over the course of the story, that first impression is changed by seeing that side in other contexts.

3. Have the good and bad aspects “average out” to the thematic conclusion you want.

By putting each side of the thematic argument on a roller coaster of good and bad aspects from scene to scene, it blurs the issues, just as in real life.  And, as in real life, the reader/audience will “average out” all of their exposures to each side of the argument and draw their own conclusions by the end of the story as to what the final rating or value is of each and how they compare to one another.

In this way, your thematic argument will move out of the realm of intellectual consideration and become a viewpoint arrived by feel. And, since you will have not only shown both sides, but the good and the bad of each side, your message will be easier to swallow. And finally, since you never directly compared the two sides in the same scene, the reader/audience will not feel that your message has been shoved down its throat.

–Melanie Anne Phillips

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Character Development Tricks!

As trite as it might seem, ask yourself “What would a story be without characters?” The answer can help you get a grip on exactly what characters really do in a story, and therefore how to build them effectively.

Although it is possible to write without the use of characters, it is not easy. Characters represent our drives, our essential human qualities. So a story without characters would be a story that did not describe or explore anything that might be considered a motivation. For most writers, such a story would not provide the opportunity to completely fulfill their own motivations for writing.

For example, we might consider the following poem:

Rain, rain, go away.

Come again another day.

Are there characters in this short verse? Is the rain a character?

To some readers the poem might be a simple invocation for the rain to leave. To other readers, the rain may seem to be stubborn, thoughtless, or inconsiderate. Of course we would need to read more to know for certain.

Suppose we wrote the sentence, “The rain danced on the sidewalk in celebration of being reunited with the earth.”

Now we are definitely assigning human qualities to the rain. Without doubt, the rain has become a character. Characters do not have to be people; they can also be places or things. In fact, anything that can be imbued with motivation can be a character.

So, a fantasy story might incorporate a talking book. An action story might employ a killer wolverine. And a horror story might conjure up the vengeful smoke from a log that was cut from a sentient tree and burned in a fireplace.

When we come to a story we either already have some ideas for a character or characters we would like to use, or we will likely soon find the need for some. But how can we come up with these characters, or how can we develop the rough characters we already have?

Coming up with characters is as simple as looking to our subject matter and asking ourselves who might be expected to be involved. But that only creates the expected characters – predictable and uninteresting. Making these characters intriguing, unusual, and memorable is a different task altogether. But first things first, let us look to our subject matter and see what characters suggest themselves. (If you like, try this with you own story as we go.)

Example:

Suppose all we know about our story is that we want to write an adventure about some jungle ruins and a curse. What characters immediately suggest themselves?

Jungle Guide, Head Porter, Archaeologist, Bush Pilot, Treasure Hunter

What other characters might seem consistent with the subject?

Missionary, Native Shaman, Local Military Governor, Rebel Leader, Mercenary

How about other characters that would not seem overly out of place?

Night Club Singer, Tourist, Plantation Owner

And perhaps some less likely characters?

Performers in a Traveling Circus (Trapeze Artist, Juggler, Acrobat, Clown)

We could, of course, go on and on. The point is, we can come up with a whole population of characters just by picking the vocations of those we might expect or at least accept as not inconsistent with the subject matter. Now these characters might seem quite ordinary at first glance, but that is only because we know nothing about them. I promised you a trick to use that would make ordinary characters intriguing, and now is the time to try it.

Of course, we probably don’t need that many characters in our story, so for this example let’s pick only one character from each of the four groups above: Bush Pilot, Mercenary, Night Club Singer, Clown.

First we’ll assign a gender to each. Let’s have two male and two female characters. Well pick the Bush Pilot and the Mercenary as male and the Night Club Singer and the Clown as female.

Now, picture these characters in your mind: a male Bush Pilot, a male Mercenary, a female Night Club Singer, and a female Clown. Since we all have our own life experiences and expectations, you should be able to visualize each character in your mind in at least some initial ways.

The Bush Pilot might be scruffy, the Mercenary bare-armed and muscular. The Night Club Singer well worn but done up glamorously, and the Clown a mousy thing.

Now that we have these typical images of these typical characters in our minds, let’s shake things up a bit to make them less ordinary. We’ll make the Bush Pilot and the Mercenary female and the Night Club Singer and Clown male.

What does this do to our mental images? How does it change how we feel about these characters? The Bush Pilot could still be scruffy, but a scruffy woman looks a lot different than a scruffy man. Or is she scruffy? Perhaps she is quite prim in contrast to the land in which she practices her profession. Since female bush pilots are more rare, we might begin to ask ourselves how she came to have this job. And, of course, this would start to develop her back-story.

How about the female Mercenary? Still muscular, or more the brainy type? What’s her back story? The Night Club Singer might be something of a lounge lizard type in a polyester leisure suit. And the male Clown could be sad like Emit Kelly, sleazy like Crusty the Clown, or evil like Pennywise the Clown in Stephen King’s “It.”

The key to this trick is that our own preconceptions add far more material to our mental images than the actual information we are given – so far only vocation and gender.

Due to this subconscious initiative, our characters are starting to get a little more intriguing, just by adding and mixing genders. What happens if we throw another variable into the mix, say, age? Let’s pick four ages arbitrarily: 35, 53, 82, and 7. Now let’s assign them to the characters.

We have a female Bush Pilot (35), a female Mercenary (53), a male Night Club Singer (82), and a male Clown (7). How does the addition of age change your mental images?

What if we mix it up again? Let’s make the Bush Pilot 7 years old, the Mercenary 82, the Night Club Singer 53, and the Clown 35. What do you picture now?

It would be hard for a writer not to find something interesting to say about a seven-year-old female Bush Pilot or an eighty-two year old female Mercenary.

What we’ve just discovered is that the best way to break out of your own mind and its cliché creations is to simply mix and match a few attributes. Suddenly your characters take on a life of their own and suggest all kinds of interesting back-stories, attitudes, and mannerisms.

Now consider that we have only been playing with three attributes. In fact, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of attributes from which we might select. These might include educational level, race, disabilities, exceptional abilities, special skills, hobbies, religious affiliation, family ties, prejudices, unusual eating habits, sexual preference, and on and on. And each of these can be initially assigned in typical fashion, then mixed and matched. Using this simple technique, anyone can create truly intriguing and memorable characters.

Perhaps the most interesting thing in all of this is that we have become so wrapped up in these fascinating people that we have completely forgotten about structure! In fact, we don’t even know who is the Hero, Protagonist, or Main Character!

Many authors come to a story realizing they need some sort of central character and then try to decide what kind or person he or she should be from scratch. But it is far easier to first build a cast of characters that really excite you (as we did above) and then ask yourself which one you would like to be the central character.

So, imagine…. What would this story be like if we chose the seven-year-old female Bush Pilot as the Hero. How about the eighty-two year old female Mercenary? Can you picture the 53-year-old male Night Club Singer as Hero, or the thirty-five year old male Clown?

And how would things change depending upon who we pick as the Villain or Antagonist? In fact, by choosing one of these characters as the Hero and another as Villain it will begin to suggest what might happen in the plot, just as picking the subject matter suggested our initial characters. Writer’s block never has to happen. Not when you are armed with this technique to spur your passions.

Melanie Anne Phillips

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