Thursday, August 16, 2012

Get On With The Show

“You fail only if you stop writing.” Ray Bradbury

One challenge I faced as a new writer was fleshing out my characters so they weren’t one dimensional. I’ve blogged previously about how to create characters 
Aside from poorly developed physical, emotional, or spiritual traits, a sluggish plot is another reason characters fall flat. The story might open with a bang then quickly fizzle into everyday routine. This is understandable since routine depicts real life. After all, it would be weird if characters didn’t do some mundane activities like eat, drink, and walk. But remember, you’re creating a world your reader wants to escape to, not from.

Instead of being like the stick man on the left carrying boxes, characters should be engrossed in activities that give the reader insight into their goals, conflicts, and relationships.

Write each scene and chapter to ensure characters strive toward their goals while conflict mounts. Through this, your characters will shine, and the reader will learn their inner workings, fall in love with them, and cheer them on. 
Whether you’re a seat-of-the-pants writer “pantser” or a plotter, it’s a good idea to construct character sketches before starting the manuscript. This will spur your creativity into figuring out what situations characters might get involved in to give natural pace to the plot. Otherwise, your characters are vulnerable to performing everyday tasks just like we do, when you’d rather show their vulnerability.

Now, I want to hear from you. Look at the photo on the right. Tell me something about one of the characters or what could be happening in the plot at this moment, if they were part of your book.
© Laura Hodges Poole


  1. They're happily watching the sunrise? :-) Good post. I'll probably never do a character sketch but I do agree about flat characters and sluggish plots. It's easy to get stuck writing that!

    1. Good observation! I'm a pantser, so character sketches aren't natural for me, either. But they're a great tool to keep from under developing a character or plot. Thanks for stopping by and participating.

  2. I love that quote from Ray Bradbury, Laura!

    When I look at the picture above, I imagine the couple sitting on the beach staring out over the ocean. The young man's father has just died, and he is reflecting on missed opportunities in their relationship. His fiance is there to comfort him, but her thoughts are far away from the grief he is experiencing. Instead, she is focused on the hope of their wedding day. She is secretly relieved that the controlling nature of the man's father won't be present....

    I wish I had time to write more. Maybe ten years from now when my other manuscripts are done? ;)

    I hope you and your writing journey are doing well!

  3. Wow! I'll be first in line to buy your book when it's published. I want to find out what happens to your couple! Thanks for stopping by and participating. I hope your example will encourage other aspiring writers to spend serious time in thought about their characters and plots. God bless your work.