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Plotting with Flawed Characters

Anonymous asked: “Do you have any tips for writing good and believable flaws for characters and making them effect the plot?” 

All good characters are flawed in some way. Even if they are good and kind people, no one is perfect and this rule is especially true for fictional characters. Flaws do not always have to be big and in your face. They can be smaller and relatable. 

Some people will say that the character’s flaws should work directly against him in his pursuit of his goal, but I don’t think that is necessarily true. It should however effect how he progresses to his goals. When trying to connect character flaws and plots, you can either know the plot and figure out how the character will get tripped up along the way or come up with the character and try to see how that could hinder him in working towards his goals. 

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On Characters with Secrets

Anonymous asked: “I’ve heard that a good way to build characters is for them to have a secret. My trouble is that I don’t know what secret to give even ONE of them. Any help?”

Of course! Secrets are fun! I think almost all of my characters across the board have had some kind of secret. They are especially great because most of the time, they generate some kind of conflict. If you are having trouble giving your characters secrets, there is a chance that you’re being protective and don’t want to see them hurt. This is a natural tendency, but it’s time to rip off the band-aid. 

Fair warning: You may have to let your characters be bad people. 

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Creating Titles

Anonymous asked: “How do you come up with a title for you story or novel?”

In my experience, titles for stories are something writers often go into a project knowing. I wouldn’t say this is always true, though many great titles from authors I’ve asked simply just popped into their heads - or that’s what they claim anyway. I believe it. It seems like such a minor thing after all, so why would anyone lie?

I also have talked to writers who struggle with titles. For me, it’s hit or miss. Some projects just have a title. Others don’t. I once titled something so terribly that all of my readers asked me to change it, almost unanimously. It wasn’t that bad of a title, but it wasn’t particularly great either. I ended up changing it to something that I didn’t particularly care for, but after awhile now, I know that is a much better title. There are a few ways to come up with titles.

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Realistic, but ‘Annoying’ Characters

Anonymous asked: “So recently, I read The Graces by Laurie Eve and found the main character intriguing, because she’s incredibly similar to the main character of one of my stories, in that she’s bitter, narcissistic, self-absorbed, lonely, and desperate- basically, I found her very realistic. But upon reading the Goodreads reviews, I saw that many people found her annoying, because of all those same qualities that I found genuine. So where would you say the line is drawn, between characteristics that are annoying and real?”

I haven’t read The Graces I’m sorry to say - I’ll get around to it eventually, but writing a likable character is a challenge. Readers will usually have an opinion on the main character. This is the person who they see the world of the story through. You always want your protagonist to be likable. They don’t have to be good, but there needs to be some kind of a draw for the reader. They need to want to see the story through this person. 

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