Think about your favorite book… Remembering the title and the author’s name of your favorite novel, or any novel that you’ve read recently, is expected. But if it’s your favorite book then I’m sure that you can tell me the plot, the main character’s name, the villain, and all of the supporting characters. In some way, that particular book left such an impression on you that you will never forget it, and you will probably read it multiple times throughout your life. What is it about that novel that makes it your favorite? Is it that the story itself is one that you can relate to? Was the plot able to take you to another place in your mind and help you escape your reality? Or maybe there was that one line in the book that you often find yourself quoting because it spoke to a place deep in your soul. Whatever it was that made that book your favorite, I’m pretty sure that somewhere along the way you found a connection with one or more of the characters. You arrived at point where they were no longer characters, but real people who you now had an emotional investment in. As writers, it is our job to create this type of experience for readers and to write characters that they will love, hate, empathize with, resent, cheer for, but ultimately understand.
Knowing Your Leading Man/Lady
As an author, you are the first person to be introduced to your main character. You are the first to learn who they are, what their plight is, their strengths, and their flaws. Many times authors are afraid to write a lead character that has flaws. Some think, “How can he or she be a good hero/heroine if they have flaws?” or “Will this character be likable with deep flaws?” I think that this way of thinking gives a writer a detrimental disadvantage when it comes to character development. From my experience as a reader and author I’ve learned that most people don’t connect with “perfect” characters as deeply as they do with flawed ones. A character that doesn’t seem likable all the time can still be more relatable than one that can never do wrong. Be true to who your lead character really is. Don’t be afraid to explore and expose their flaws while helping readers understand what has caused them to be damaged.
Know the History and Evolution of Your Characters
What happened to your character that caused them to be flawed? Maybe they witnessed the death of a family member and now they are consumed with hate for the person that they want to get revenge on. Maybe they were molested or abused at some point in their life and they are struggling with their identity. Maybe they’ve been neglected or disappointed by those who they love and now it’s hard for them to trust. What is their history? Understanding where they came from and what they went through will explain where they are at this point in your story. Not only that, but highlighting moments from your character’s history will help you develop the overall plot.
Lastly, how does the character evolve throughout the story or series? What is the end result for your main character? Where will they end up and how will they get there? How will the things that they will experience in your story/series change them? In what ways will they grow, and what parts of their character will regress? How will they respond to the adversity that they will face? You are the writer, so all of these things are completely up to you. But just because these characters are born in your imagination, it doesn’t mean that they have to stay trapped there. Allow them to break out of the limitations that you have set for them and they will begin to tell a story of their own.
Written by D.D. Bridges 11/10/16
Welcome to The Bridge Blog!
As a new author, I have found that my writing process is different for just about every book that I start. Some books that I’ve written have taken years to write, while there was one instance where I wrote an entire book in six weeks. Like most writers, I have more than a handful of books saved to my hard-drive that I started a while ago and have not finished. Some of those projects may never get finished, but that’s okay. This is all a part of the writing process. But what process is most affective? How do I get started when I have an underdeveloped plot? How do I overcome writer’s block? And how do I finally finish my book once I’ve started it? So far, I have successfully authored 4 books, and I feel that I’m just getting started. Completing a novel or memoir is an outstanding accomplishment and something that one can be proud of. It isn’t until you type that last word and can pen “The End” or in some cases “To Be Continued” that you are able to fully understand your writing process.
What motivated you to start your project? Sure, you had a good idea; one that friends and family members thought was amazing when you told them about it. Or maybe your friends and family thought your idea was stupid and that you were crazy for thinking that you could be an author. Maybe you chose to not tell anyone because you doubted that this was something that you could really do. All you wanted to do was prove to yourself that you could finish a book. What motivated you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write what was on your mind? Maybe you want to inspire people. Maybe you think that you’re naturally talent and you just want to show the world what you have. Or maybe the stories in your head and the characters in them are so real that you have no other choice but to give them life by telling the world their story. Finding your motivation, whatever it may be, is very important. Without a motivating factor, you will never get started, and getting started is just the first step.
How do you overcome writer’s block? All writers have hit this theoretical wall at some point. How do you break through it? There are a few ways to get over writer’s block. One option is to just wait. Stop writing for a week or so and allow the story to marinate in your mind. Sometimes taking a break from your story can allow some of the greatest ideas that you’ve ever thought of to find their way to the forefront of your mind, and it could end up revolutionizing your entire novel. Another option is to skip the part of the story that you’re having trouble completing and move on to the next part. This is a technique that I use often and it comes in handy when you are trying to meet a deadline. A lot of times I have full chapters already written for a book before I begin chapter one. This is totally okay, and it can actually help you stay on track as a writer. Writing up to prewritten chapters can help your story flow better if you do it correctly. My last tip for overcoming writer’s block is to just force yourself to write something; anything. You can always go back and change it later.
Seeing The Finish Line
One of the most encouraging parts of the writing process is when you’re about 80% done and you know exactly how your book is going to end. Being able to see the finish line is almost as exciting as getting there. At this point, the hard part is over. You know everything that you need to know about your plot and the characters, and you know mostly everything that you need to know about yourself as an author. To me, arriving at the finish line and completing your project is also you arriving at the realization that your career as an author is real and you are more than capable of doing it!
Written By D.D. Bridges 11/4/16
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