imjustafuckinggirl  asked:

So, I don't know how to write pain like! What words do I use? how do I describe it! I really need some help here!

No problem! And sorry about not answering sooner, I was on vacation. To make it up to you, I’ve made one of my trademark Long Posts about it.


TIPS ON HOW TO WRITE PAIN (FOR BOTH ORIGINAL CONTENT WRITERS AND FANFICTION WRITERS)

When I first started writing, about eight years ago, I had the same issue as @imjustafuckinggirl.

How are you supposed to write about pain you’ve never experienced before???

The characters in my book suffer through all sorts of terrible shit, and in no way am I writing from experience, which is marginally easier to do than write about something that has never happened to you.

However, with time, I managed to gather up a few strategies on how to write pain.

1. Don’t Write Paragraphs About It

I know, it’s tempting. You want to convey to the reader just how much pain the character is in, and you think that the pain will be emphasized the more you write about it.

This, however, is a lie.

As a reader, when I’m reading a book or fanfiction where, whenever the writer uses agonizingly long paragraphs to describe when a character is hurt, I skip it.

Entirely.

It’s boring and, quite frankly, unnecessary, especially during a fight or huge battle, which are supposed to be fast-paced.

When it comes to writing about pain, it really is about quality and not quantity.

In my own writing, I stick to short, quick paragraphs, some of them which are barely a line long. This gives it a faster pace and sort of parallels with the scattered, spread out thoughts of the character as they suffer.

2. Describe it Right

Many times, usually in fanfiction, writers over-exaggerate certain injuries.

This partially has to do with the fact that they’ve never experienced that injury before and are just thinking about what it might feel like.

As a girl with two brothers and who often participated in rough play-fights, I can assure you that getting punched is not as painful as you think it is.

(However, it does depend on the area, as well as how hard the punch is, on top of the fact that you have to take into account whether or not the punch broke bones)

I’m reading a high school AU where a character gets punched by a bully (Idk where they got punched it wasn’t stated) and the author is describing it like they’d been shot.

It was to the point where I was like Did the bully have brass knuckles or something????

It was very clear that this author had never been punched before.

When describing the pain of an injury or the injury itself, you have to take into account:

- What object was used to harm the character

- Where the injury is

- How long the character has had the injury

- (For blades) How deep the cut is

- (For blunt force trauma) How hard the hit was

- Whether or not the wound triggers other things (Ex: Concussion, vomiting, dizziness, infection, internal/external bleeding).

There’s also the fact that when some authors described wounds caused by blades such as knives, daggers, and swords, they never take into account the anatomy of a person and which places cause the most blood flow.

Obviously, a cut on your cheek will have less of a blood flow than a cut on your wrist, depending on what the blade hits, and I hope that everyone consults a diagram of veins, capillaries, arteries, etc. when they’re describing blood flow from a certain place.

There’s also the fact that you have to take into account where the blood is coming from. Veins? Arteries?

The blood from arteries will be a brighter red, like vermilion, than the blood from veins, which is the dark crimson everyone likes to talk about.

Not all places gush bright red blood, people!

3. DIFFERENT INJURIES HAVE DIFFERENT KINDS OF PAIN

Here, let me explain.

A punch feels different from a slap.

A broken arm feels different from getting stabbed.

A fall feels different from a dog bite.

I’ll give you a list of all the kinds of things that can be described for the three most common kinds of injuries that happen in stories:

Punch/Blunt Force Trauma

How it feels:

- Aching

- Numbness (In the later stages)

- A single spike of pain before it fades into an ache

- Throbbing

Effects:

- Vomiting (If the character is punched in the gut)

- Swelling

- Bruising

- Broken bones

- Unconsciousness (Blow to the head)

- Dizziness (Blow to the head)

- Concussion (Also a blow to the head)

- Internal bleeding

- Death (In the case of concussions and internal bleeding and broken bones- ribs can pierce lungs)

Stab Wound/Cut

How it feels:

- Stinging (only shallow wounds have just stinging)

- Burning

- With stab wounds, I feel like describing the effects of it make it more powerfully felt by the reader

Effects:

- Bleeding (Consult chart of the circulatory system beforehand for the amount of blood flow that should be described and what color the blood should be)

- Dizziness (Heavy blood loss)

- Unconsciousness

- Infection (if left unattended)

- Death

Gunshot

How it feels:

- Depends on the caliber bullet, from how far away they were shot (point-blank range is nothing like being shot from a distance), and in what place. Do careful research and then make your decision.

Effects:

- Bleeding (Consult chart of the circulatory system beforehand for the amount of blood flow that should be described and what color the blood should be. Also take into effect the above variables for blood flow as well.)

- Dizziness (Heavy blood loss)

- Infection (if left unattended)

- Death

Some things that a character may do while they’re injured:

- Heavy/Harsh/Ragged breathing

- Panting

- Making noises of pain

  • gasping
  • grunting
  • hissing
  • groaning
  • whimpering
  • yelping (when the injury is inflicted)
  • screaming
  • shrieking
  • wailing

- Crying/ Weeping/Sobbing/Etc.

- Clenching their teeth

- Unable to speak

- Pressing their hands against a stab wound/cut to try and stem the bleeding

- Eyesight going out of whack (vision blurring and tilting, the room spinning, black spots consuming sight)

- Eyes rolling up into their head

- Trembling/shaking

- Ears riniging (from gunshot)


HOPE THIS HELPED!

Why Commenting On FanFiction Is Important

Alright kids, Boo here with a hopefully non-arrogant PSA.

I’m a writer of FanFiction because I like it and it’s my preferred genre (also a great way to receive feedback on writing that I can use on originals, bref). But like with most artistic work posted online, I have very little feedback.

When I was in a slightly writing rut, I cranked one shots left and right, nothing out of the ordinary. But instead of people commenting with their thoughts and good feedback, they just gave me requests.

I don’t think I could ever put into words what that felt like, but I’ll try (the irony of being a writer). It suddenly felt tiring, being a writer, and very quickly I stopped writing altogether. I only ever showed my friend what I wrote and left it at that. I haven’t published anything for a while after. It felt like people were treating me like a mule wanting me to do work for them, and I just wasn’t up for that. I lost my will to write, and then I began to think, “If I post something else other than what was requested, will people even read it?”

Then you get the infamous comments, “You haven’t forgotten about my request right??? Here’s another.”

That just adds anxiety and guilt. I’m purposely ignoring the comments to save my own uncreative ass, at least that’s what it feels like.

After weeks of convincing myself that my stories are worth sharing no matter how many people read them, I started writing and publishing again while working on some longer pieces. Slowly it got better.

Now this week, I remembered I joined another fanfiction platform, and realized I had never published anything on it. I had an idea, and so I started writing. It didn’t come out as I imagined it would, but I was so proud? Like, I started feeling happy about what I created again. Like genuine happiness that I haven’t felt in months since my last published work.

A few hours later, I get this comment:

I cranked out three 3k stories after reading this.

In four days.

It never happened before, and I don’t know how many times it will happen again. It was one comment, but it gave me so much fighting spirit that I think I’m on my way to regaining my initial writer mindset.

Fanfiction writers depend on feedback as a validation that their stories matter to people. If you’re wondering why your favourite author hasn’t updated/posted in a while, ask yourself, “Did I do everything that would convince them to continue writing this?”

Commonly Used Words and their Synonyms!

Instead of using… You can use the word…

Looked — observed, peered, gazed, glanced, explored, glimpsed, stared, eyed, viewed, noticed, watched, inspected, examined, and peeked. 

Said — told, stated, replied, phrased, announced, articulated, reported, expressed, voiced, mentioned, communicated, uttered, spoke, and vocalised.

Shouted — yelled, roared, exclaimed, hollered, cried, called out, squealed, wailed, screeched, squawked, bellowed, shrieked, screamed, and howled.

Laughed — chuckled, smiled, giggled, grinned, snickered, cracked up, hooted, roared, snorted, howled, erupt into laughter, and burst into laughter.

Good — great, pleasant, wonderful, positive, awesome, rad, splendid, worthy, superb, superior, marvellous, stellar, excellent, and super.

Bad — awful, atrocious, terrible, negative, unfortunate, rough, dreadful, dismal., poor, appalling, lousy, unpleasant, crummy, and miserable. 

Nice — polite, kind, respectable, friendly, well-mannered, admirable, wonderful, affable, lovely, nifty, pleasant, inviting, enjoyable, and fine.

Mean — nasty, evil, unkind, vicious, cruel, wicked, bothersome, spiteful, unpleasant, hateful, malicious, harsh, uncaring, and insensitive. 

Tried — weary, burned out, sleepy, sluggish, exhausted, drowsy, fatigued, heavy-eyed, beat, lifeless, drained, lazy, worn out, and droopy.

Scared — frightened, worried, afraid, anxious, fearful, timid, startled, suspicious, alarmed, apprehensive, petrified, shaken, terrified, and panicked.

Happy — glad, ecstatic, joyful, jovial, delighted, merry, content, elated, blissful, gleeful, cheerful, thrilled, pleasant, and overjoyed.   

Sad — unhappy, disappointed, miserable, blue, depressed, sorrowful, gloomy, melancholy, down in the dumps, dismal, heartbroken, down, and full of woe.

Mad — angry, outraged, grouchy, fuming, furious, frantic, irritated, cranky, annoyed, irate, livid, enraged, infuriated, and heated.

Excited — eager, wired, enthusiastic, simulated, thrilled, jubilant, hysterical, jumpy, charged, anxious, awakened, fired up, nervous, and on edge.

Pretty — beautiful, charming, attractive, elegant, handsome, gorgeous, dazzling, captivating, nice-looking, glamorous, lovely, stunning, appealing, and memorising.

Ugly — unpleasant, gruesome, horrid, gross, dreadful, beastly, grotesque, deformed, appalling, plain, unsightly, loathsome, hideous, and homely.

Little — small, young, tiny, mini, petite, short, minute, slim, pocket-sized, slight, pint-sized, minor, miniature, and wee.

Big — humongous, ginormous, gigantic, hefty, large, jumbo, huge, massive, enormous, oversize, vast, great, giant, and abundant.

Funny — humorous, whimsical, hilarious, eccentric, amusing, side-splitting, comical, lighthearted, witty, jolly, nutty, hysterical, jokey, and droll.

Fun — entertaining, interesting, pleasurable, a blast, exciting, captivating, enjoyable, fascinating, engaging, gratifying, action-filled, lively, amusing, and enchanting. 

Smart — keen, intelligent, clever, cunning, screwed, knowledgeable, brilliant, sharp-witted, wise, scholarly, bright, gifted, canny, and brainy. 

Like — love, care about, adore, value, fond of, treasure, cherish, appreciate, admire, enjoy, passionate about, crazy about, and devoted to.     

Hate — loathe, detest, dislike greatly, despise, execrate, feel revulsion towards, feel hostile towards, be repelled by, be revolted by, regard with disgust, be unable to stomach, find intolerable, shudder at, and recoil from. 

Hot — sweltering, fiery, overly warm, heated, burning up, stuffy, sizzling, spicy, blistering, humid, boiling, blazing, scorching, and scalding. 

Cold — chilly, very cold, icy, bitter, frigid, arctic, frosty, nippy, crisp, harsh, wintry, biting, freezing, and polar.

Fast — quick, speedy, sudden, hurried, abrupt, rushed, rapid, instantly, brisk, dashing, hasty, accelerated, swift, and prompt. 

Slow — unhurried, inactive, leisurely, slothful, sluggish, passive, gradual, snail-like, slack, time-consuming, stagnant, decelerate, delay, and losing speed. 

What criticism feels like to a creative person

Browsing Reddit, I came across an extremely effective post about why some creatives respond very poorly to criticism, or even for those of us who respond well, why it can feel like an attack even though in your head you know it isn’t.

Originally posted by enjoy-the-life-baby

Criticism creates a mental conflict, but not always that kind.

Imagine if you wrote a final essay for your literature class, really did your best on it, turned it in, and the teacher gave it 100%. Elated, you take it home to show it off to your dad. Your dad says “You got a D? You really should have tried harder.” You think WTF, you squint at the paper and you’re pretty damn sure it says 100%, A+, Good work. But your dad says “No, it clearly says 63%, D-, disappointing.” Then you start to realize you’re living in some kind of warped reality where your dad sees something on the paper completely different than what you see, and you start wondering if you even know what’s real anymore.

This is what it feels like to get a criticism. It casts into doubt your own definition of “good” which is probably the basis of your entire creative process. It’s not even an issue of admitting weakness. Admitting weakness is easy. What’s not easy is having your instincts cast into doubt and not knowing whether to trust  yourself anymore.

  • Do I trust this critic?
  • Do I trust myself? Some combination of the two?
  • Do I stand by my decisions or not?
  • Do I make changes even though I don’t understand how they will help?
  • Will the changes completely undermine the artistic vision I wanted for this?
  • Will it defeat the whole point I was going for?
  • I can’t feel the emotional reasoning behind making changes, so how will I know if my change is for the better or worse?
  • Is the critic just not the right audience for this? Is the critic biased? Is the critic just having a bad day?
  • Should I ignore them altogether, and just keep doing this for the people who like it?
  • Are my fans wrong and simpleminded?
  • Am I even doing anything of significance?
  • Should I give up here?

These are all questions which artists ask themselves when they receive criticism. They’re tricky, ambiguous questions that don’t always have a correct answer. Many newcomers don’t even know how to approach these questions, so criticism can often feel like a personal attack even if both sides mean well.

That’s not to say that criticism itself is bad, but if you get a better idea of what a criticism is doing psychologically to the receiver, you might find yourself offering more effective, well-received advice.

This ties in pretty closely to the advice I often give on this very blog, about how to deal with negative feedback; above all, trying not to dwell on it. Before you give any response, always take time to calm down.

Originally posted by gabedonohoe

This is a pretty universal problem that affects all creatives across all media. You’d have to be as emotionless as a stone to not fall prey to it occasionally.

Part of being a writer is building up creative confidence. This is the faith in yourself to be able to write something and put it out into the world, and to know, deep down, that this work has value, to you and to your audience.

You may, later, discover that this work isn’t all that good, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it was a stepping stone to the person you are now, and the work you’re producing today.

Whenever you create a piece of work, make sure you internalise why you made that work. What it meant to you. It doesn’t matter if that work was a prize-winning literary novel or a scrawling of Vegeta from DBZ drawn in pencil on lined paper. If the work expresses something you can’t contain, something you have to get down on paper, over time you’ll develop the creative confidence to accept that even if it’s “bad”, that isn’t what’s important. The end result isn’t as important as the work itself.

Creative Confidence isn’t something you just develop overnight. It takes work. It’ll probably take a few embarrassing moments too, and those will be the hurtful types that’ll lead to “arguments you win in the shower” 5 years later. It takes different durations for different people. However, if you work at it, it’s something I believe is within the reach of everyone.

Find your Creative Confidence; I’m sure you can.

I made this today as I find it’s a helpful tool when I make characters. I call it the 1-2-3 method.

1 value: Their core belief.

2 flaws: The limitations of the character. Things that can affect their actions and abilities.

3 traits: What makes them, them. the aspects of their behaviour and attitude.

It’s important that you justify their personality through their backstory and home life, however, and it’s good to have conflicting flaws/traits within a group which will help create tension and drama.

I’m using this today to create characters for my campnanowrimo WIP and thought I’d share.

life-of-a-feminist  asked:

five steps for not writing a boring story? i can never ever write something that doesn't end up boring 😂

Hiya! Thanks for your question. Writing an engaging story is complicated, but it can be done.

First off, there are so many aspects to writing a gripping story. Honestly, it can’t be done in five steps (and certainly not in one blog post). To prevent a boring story you need strong characters, an exciting plot, good pacing… the list goes on and on.

So rather than type out a 3000+ word response, I’m going to give you a mini-masterpost of the key aspects of writing a non-boring story with links to other LGF posts. Here you go:

How Not to Write a Boring Story:

Descriptions:

How to Write Better Descriptions

Showing vs Telling

How to Create Interesting World-Building

Dialogue:

How to Create a Unique Character Voice

Writing Unique Dialogue

How to Prevent Your Story from Being Dialogue-Heavy

Characters:

What Do You Do When Your Main Character Doesn’t Jump Off the Page?

Three Types of Character Traits

Writing Character Arcs

Plot:

How to Make Your Conflict Less Plain

The Element Every Story Needs

How to Avoid Unnecessary Scenes

Pacing:

Why Your Story Feels Too Fast

How to Pace a Scene More Quickly

Pacing Through Details

Beginning:

What to Write in a First Chapter

How to Avoid Info Dumps in the Beginning

10 Ways to Start Your Story

Middle:

How to Build-Up to a Climax

Plotting the Middle

Creating and Maintaining Tension

End:

Traits of a Strong Ending

Examples of Narrative Endings

Dual Duties of Chapter Endings

Misc.:

What Aspects Make a Good Story?

The Four Horsemen of the Bore-Apocalypse

Thanks again for your question! If you need any more writing advice, feel free to send in another ask! Happy writing!

- Mod Kellie


If you need advice on general writing or fanfiction, you should maybe ask us!

Relationships for writers

I’ve been doing more writing recently (cough fanfiction cough) and noticed the romantic relationships I was writing fell into categories based on their foundation. And because I’m ~that~ type of person I made up little guides for each of these categories. Thought other writers might find it helpful too…

Feel free to add on!

Built on: chemistry

Upside:

Strong start

Pitfall:

Sex is not a replacement for talking

You might hear this couple say:

“It was love at first sight”

Examples:

Ariel and Eric (the little mermaid)

Red and Kitty (that 70s show)

Tony and Maria (west side story)


Built on: Friendship

Upside:

Common interests outlast infatuation

Pitfall:

Differences in life goals or living styles

You might hear this couple say:

“I’m so lucky to be in love with my best friend”

Examples:

Monica and Chandler (F.r.i.e.n.d.s) 

Carl and Ellie (Up)

Aang and Katara (Avatar the last airbender) 


Built on: loyalty

Upside:

face everything as a team

Pitfall:

Is it love or adrenaline

You might hear this couple say:

“I trust them with my life”

Examples:

Han and Leia (star wars)

Katniss and Peeta (the hunger games) 

Mulan and Shang (Mulan)

Things to Keep Out of Your Healthy Relationships!

(Alternately: how to identify problematic YA romances.)

Written by yours truly, contributions from @jltillary, @theinkrepository, @time-to-write-and-suffer, and @sakrebleu.

Non-consensual physical intimacy, especially in situations where it’s portrayed as being done for the benefit of the victim or situations where the victim forgives the forced intimacy because they decide they like it after it’s already been forced on them. Examples:

  • Forcing a partner to accept physical comfort when they don’t want it.
  • Kissing a partner in the middle of an argument.
  • Framing consent as unnecessary simply because one person is attracted to the other.
  • Stalking the other person, even for their own safety.
  • Forcing the other person into some form of physical intimacy because they “liked it last time.”
  • Implying that it’s normal for a certain physically intimate act to hurt and/or their partner should grin and bear it.
  • Skipping over their partner’s preferred forms of intimacy in favor of what they want to do with/to their partner.

When in doubt: Consent should be explicitly given!!

Non-consensual communication. Examples:

  • Physically stopping a partner from leaving in order to continue talking with them.
  • Bringing up a topic the other person has made clear they don’t wish to discuss yet.
  • Forcing the other person into conversations with people they previously showed they did not wish to talk with.
  • Manipulating the conversation so that the other person shares a secret, especially one that doesn’t affect their partner.

Emotional manipulation. Examples:

  • Telling the other person to do something (i.e. ‘go away’) as a test, where the person is at fault if they follow through and do as their partner asked.
  • Blaming the other person for things beyond their control, especially “I wouldn’t be like this if not for you/your interests/your goals.”
  • Claiming they’ll die (or kill themselves) if the other person leaves.
  • Not wanting the other person to have friends of the same gender as their partner (i.e. a man not wanting his girlfriend to have any male friends).
  • “If you really loved me you would do x, y, and z.”
  • Demanding to be the most important part of their partner’s life, above and beyond their partner’s other responsibilities.
  • Cheating on their partner as a form of punishment.
  • Acting as though physical intimacy (or any other sort of intimacy) isn’t important, but then blaming the other person for not supplying it.
  • Acting distant or cruel until the other person does what they want, or because the other person didn’t do what they wanted.

Demeaning actions and words, especially in instances where they blame the actions and words on internalized sexism, racism, etc as a shield, in instances outside of high-stress arguments, and whenever the character isn’t sincerely sorry for what they did or makes no point to change. Examples:

  • Stating the other person’s interests or hobbies are inferior or a waste of time.
  • Telling them they were look better if they did x, y and z.
  • Demanding they stop doing something or start doing something else based on their gender, race, etc.
  • Placing the other person in a subordinate role without their partner’s explicit consent.
  • Not sharing certain pieces of information because they believe they know what’s best for their partner and don’t need the other person’s consent to act upon it.
  • Bonus: Glorification of a partner simply for not demeaning the other person, (i.e. for acting like  an average, decent human being,) especially when the partner in question boasts how amazing they are for loving their “curvy”/non-white/bisexual/not-like-other-girls/etc partner.

Please add more, if you feel so inclined! 

Tips and Advice For Aspiring Writers, Authors, and Poets

Inspiration

  • Take inspiration from your surroundings.
  • Don’t ignore the ordinary. The mundane can turn into something amazing if you shift your perspective.

  • Save all of your ideas. Store them on post it notes in a shoe box under your bed if you please, but save them. 

Be Open-Minded

  • Experiment with all aspects of writing. It’s art, after all. 
  • Don’t get stuck in the planning process. That’s the most common spot writers crash and burn on the journey to writing something meaningful.

  • Be open to changing the story you’re writing, or ditching it altogether in search of something better.

Learn

  • Get real experience. Try freelance writing gigs if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • Collaborate with other writers. 

  • Learn from successful writers. Read other people’s work and nitpick it to find the do’s and don’ts.

Be Realistic

  • Don’t write to be famous or to earn money (unless writing is your job, but in that case, I assume, it isn’t your first time doing this).
  • Practice writing, even when you’re not in a write-y mood.

  • Remember that writing is hard work, and that sometimes, it’s going to be difficult as hell to sit down and force yourself to work, but that’s part of the gig.

Chill Out

  • Try to enjoy it. Writing is fun, even if it’s your job
  • Don’t be discouraged by writer’s block. It happens to everyone, and it goes away eventually. You just have to try to work through it.
  • Reach out for help and advice when you need it. There are lots of people out there who want to help you.

anonymous asked:

Hey, you're awesome, thanks for existing, basically ^_^ Anyway, I wanted to know if you have any tips on how to write different personalities? My characters (all of them) always end up with the same default personality that I fall back on. Thanks!

Thanks for your question, darling!  I think most of us have struggled with this – after all, we’re conditioned to one way of thinking, feeling, and acting for as long as we live.  That doesn’t necessarily mean we write characters like ourselves, though.  In fact, many of us have a “default character” that’s sassier than we are, sweeter than we are, or in some way different enough from us that we still feel like we’re writing a character.

The problem, then, isn’t that we can’t visualize a different personality than ours.  On the whole, we can.  What we’re missing are the small details that make it feel whole – otherwise, it’s like painting the same room six different colors and trying to pass it off as six different rooms.  Different dominant traits can’t hide the fact that you’re working with one template!

So the question we’re left with: what are the traits we’re missing?  And how can we change them to create a unique and whole personality?


Three Types of Character Traits

There are, as the title suggests, three major categories of personality traits as I see it: fundamental traits, acquired traits, and detrimental traits.  A well-rounded character needs some of each to be three-dimensional and realistic.

Fundamental Traits

The fundamental traits of a person’s character are not as simple as interests and preferences; they are the very base of all decisions and desires.  They are either learned in early life or developed over a long period of time, rooting deeply into the personality.  A few examples of fundamental personality traits include:

  • Upbringing – The word choice here is conscious, as upbringing encompasses many different aspects of a person’s development.  Consider who raised them, and with what morals and practices they were raised to adulthood.  Consider their influences, both familial, social, and in media; consider the relationships that were normalized during their development, as well as the living conditions (financially, emotionally, environmentally, etc.).  The people, places, emotions, and conflicts made common during a person’s developmental period are essential to their personality in adulthood.  This is why psychologists often draw present-day problems back to a person’s childhood memories – because those formative years can subconsciously dictate so much of a person’s future!
  • Values – These may not coincide with the values a person is raised to hold, but upbringing certainly has an influence on this. A person’s values will direct the course of their life through every decision, large and small.  You don’t need to outline everything your character believes is important – every moral and every law they agree/disagree with. But those values which stand above others will give your character purpose.  A few of my favorite examples are: Jane from Jane the Virgin (whose initial storyline is heavily based on her religion and desire for a beautiful love story, as well as her childhood influences who inspired these values) and Han Solo from Star Wars (whose character development rested upon his values shifting from money and gratification to more honorable things).
  • Beliefs – Different from values, beliefs are a more general set of guidelines for how a person believes things are supposed to be.  Beliefs can also be a source of great conflict, as a character tries to stay aligned with their beliefs despite other values or desires.  These beliefs can be established systems, like religion or politics; they can also include more personal belief systems, like nihilism or veganism.  A characters beliefs, like their values, can change over the course of the story – but even if a character is questioning one system of belief, like religion or pacifism, they should have other belief systems in place to govern some of their activity.
  • Reputation – A lot of human activity, whether consciously or not, is dictated by how others perceive them (or how they believe others perceive them).  There are two types of reputation: personal and passing.  For instance, a woman named Sally who gains a personal reputation of sleeping around will behave in reaction to this reputation – either sleeping around because everyone already expects it of her, or specifically not hooking up because she wants to shake this reputation, or developing a thicker skin to deal with the rumors until it passes.  A man named Billy who, because of his tattoos, bears a passing reputation as an intimidating man will either try to soften his demeanor with strangers, own up to the image, or at least learn to expect judgment from strangers as a consequence.
  • Self-Image – Also relevant to a person’s behavior is the way they perceive themselves, which can often have little to do with their reputation.  A lot of self-image is based on definitive moments or phases in the past.  For instance: for several years after I started wearing contacts and cutting my hair, I still saw myself, in dreams at night, with long hair and glasses.  One of my friends, similarly, could not seem to notice when boys would flirt with her during sophomore year – because she still saw herself as an awkward middle schooler with braces, and not as the charming cheerleader with the great smile.
    Inversely, self-image can be inflated, causing character to behave as though they are funnier, smarter, or more prepared than they truly are (see: the rest of my sophomore acquaintances).  This can be an overlooked character flaw opportunity – or flawportunity…

Originally posted by alliefallie


Acquired Traits

Now we move on to the acquired traits of personality, which are the ones you’re more likely to find on a character sheet or a list of “10 Questions for Character Development”, alongside a million other things like their zodiac sign and their spirit animal.  But the traits I’m about to outline are a little more relevant to a character’s behavior, and more importantly, how to make this behavior unique from other characters’ behavior.  The following traits will be learned by your characters throughout their life (and their story), and are more likely to shift and grow with time:

  • Interests – I know, I had to reach deep down into my soul to think of this one.  But it’s true!  Interests, both in childhood/adolescence and in adulthood, are an important part of a character’s personality and lifestyle.  Childhood interests both reveal something about the character (for instance: my nephew loves trains, Legos, and building, suggesting a future interest in construction or engineering) and create values that can last for a lifetime.  Current interests affect career choice, social circles, and daily activity for everyone.  Forgotten or rejected interests can be the source of pet peeves, fears, or bad memories. There’s a reason I’ll never play with Polly Pockets again, and it 100% has to do with bloody fingertips and a purse that wouldn’t open.
  • Sense of Humor – This can be a little hard to define, understandably.  If you were to ask me what my sense of humor is, I’d probably start with a few stupid memes, pass by Drake & Josh on the way, and somehow wind up telling you bad puns or quoting Chelsea Peretti’s standup comedy. A person’s sense of humor can be complex and contradictory!  Sometimes we just laugh at stuff because someone said it in a funny way.  But anyway, to help you boil this down to something useful: take a look at a few kinds of comedy and relate it to your character’s maturity level.  Do they laugh when someone lets out a toot?  Are they the kind of person to mutter, “That’s what she said,” or simply try not to laugh when something sounds dirty?  Can puns make them crack a smile?  Do they like political humor?  Do cat videos kill them?  Is their humor particularly dark?  Can the mere sound of someone else laughing make them laugh?  Figure out where your character’s sense of humor is, and you’ll feel closer to them already.
  • Pet Peeves – For every interest a person may have, and everything that makes them laugh, there’s something else that can piss them off, large- or small-scale.  Are they finnicky about their living space and neatness? Do they require a lot of privacy? Do certain sounds or behaviors drive them crazy?  What qualities are intolerable in a romantic interest for them? What kind of comments or beliefs make them roll their eyes?  If you need help, just try imagining their worst enemy – someone whose every word or action elicits the best eye-rolls and sarcastic remarks and even a middle finger or two – and ask yourself, what about this person makes them that mortal enemy?  What behaviors or standards make them despicable to your character?  That’s all it takes.
  • Skills – Everybody has them, and they’re not just something we’re born with.  Skills can be natural talent, sure, but they’re also cultivated from time, values, and interests.  What is your character okay at?  What are they good at?  What are they fantastic at?  Maybe they can cook.  Maybe they have a beautiful eye for colors.  Maybe they have an inherent sense of right and wrong that others admire. Maybe they’re super-athletic or incredibly patient or sharp as a tack or sweet as a cupcake.  Maybe they know how to juggle, or maybe they’re secretly the most likely of all their friends to survive a zombie apocalypse.  Where do they shine?  What would make someone look at them and think, “Wow, I wish I were them right now”?
  • Desires – A good way to “separate” one character from the next is to define what it is they want, and then use every other detail to dictate how they pursue that goal.  Every real person has a desire, whether they’ve defined it or not – whether it’s something huge, like fame or a family of five with triplet girls and a beach house on an island, or something small, like good grades for the semester.  These desires can cause a person to revise their values or forsake their morals; and these desires can conflict with other people’s desires, influencing how people interact with each other.  Remember that every character is living their own story, even if it’s not the story you’re telling.
  • Communication Style – A majorly overlooked character trait in pop fiction is unique communication styles.  Having every character feel comfortable arguing, or bursting out with the words, “I love you,” is unrealistic.  Having every character feel paralyzed at the idea of confronting a bully or being honest to their spouse is also unrealistic.  There should be a healthy mix of communicators in a group of characters. Some people are too softspoken to mouth off at their racist lab partner.  Some people wouldn’t see their girlfriend kissing another guy and just walk away without saying something.  Some people just don’t react to conflict by raising their voice; some people enjoy sharing their opinions or giving the correct answer in class.  Boldness, social skills, and emotional health all have a part to play in how people communicate their thoughts – so keep this in mind to create a more realistic, consistent character.
  • Emotional Expression – Along the same lines but not the same, emotional expression is more focal on feelings than thoughts.  If you’ve ever heard of the fight-or-flight response, the different types of anger, the stages of grief, or the five love languages, then you’re aware of different “classifications” of emotional expression and management.  Read up on some of those things, and think about how your character handles emotions like happiness, sadness, fear, anger, loneliness, paranoia, and so forth.

Detrimental Traits

While acquired traits are certainly more enjoyable to brainstorm during the creation process, detrimental traits are as important – or even more important – to the character’s wholeness as well as their role in the story.  Not only do these negative or limiting traits make your character realistic, relatable, and conflicted – they create a need for other characters and their strengths to move the plot forward.  A few examples of detrimental traits include:

  • Flaws – Character flaws are probably the first thing that came to your mind while reading this, but they’re the essence of the category.  Flaws in a character’s personality, morality, or behavior can be a source of character development; they set an individual on their own path and provide a unique motivation for them.  Having Character A struggle with sobriety while Character B learns to be a more patient mother can do a lot to separate their stories and personalities from each other.  Even if certain flaws don’t reach a point of growth, they create a third aspect to personality and force us, as writers, to be more creative with how our characters get from Point A to Point B, and what they screw up along the way.
  • Fears – Everyone has fears, whether we’re conscious of them or not – and I’m not talking about phobias or “things that give you shivers”.  Just like everyone has a primary motivation throughout life (romance, family, success, meaning, peace of mind, etc.), everyone has a fear behind that motivation (loneliness, failure, emptiness, anxiety).  We all have something we don’t want to happen places we never want to be and things we never want to do.  We’ve all been in situations that mildly bothered others but wildly affected us at the same time.  For me, it’s a lack of autonomy, or in any way being forced to do something or be somewhere against my will.
    What does this mean for me?  It means that when other people have nightmares about being chased by an axe murderer, I have nightmares about being kidnapped and locked up.  It means that I’m continually aware of my “escape plan” if something goes wrong in my living situation, and I’m hypersensitive to someone telling me, “You have to do this.”  It means I struggle to follow rules and usually don’t get along with authority figures because I have to assert my independence to them.  It’s irrational and continual and doesn’t just affect me in one situation; it subconsciously directs my steps if I let it.  That’s how real, guttural fears work. Phobias are only skin deep, and they don’t make you feel any closer to the character.

Originally posted by giantmonster

  • Secrets – Even goody two-shoes Amber from the swim team, with her blonde blonde hair and her good good grades, has a secret.  Everybody does, even if it’s not a purposeful, “I have a deep, dark secret,” sort of secret. We have things we don’t tell people, just because they’re embarrassing, or painful, or too deep to get into, or they don’t paint us in a good light.  While the secrets themselves tell a lot about a person, so do the reasons a person keeps a secret.  Hiding something out of shame suggests a person is prideful, or critical of themselves, or holds themselves to a higher standard than they hold others.  Hiding something painful suggests that the person struggles to handle sadness or regret, or that they feel uncomfortable showing raw emotion in front of loved ones. And so on and so forth.
  • Conflict – Whether internal, interpersonal, legal, moral, societal, or what have you, conflict will limit your character’s actions at every turn.  A story is nothing without conflict driving the plot in different directions and causing your character to rethink both their plans and their lifestyle.  Without Katniss’s moral conflict over killing other tributes, The Hunger Games would be the story of a girl who entered an arena, killed a lot of people, and lived the rest of her life rich and comfortable.  If Luke Skywalker didn’t have interpersonal conflict with Darth Vader, Star Wars would be the war-story of a guy who joined a rebellion and then… yeah.
  • Health – Physical, mental, and emotional health is a huge limiting factor for characters that often goes untouched, but it’s valuable nonetheless.  Not everyone has a clean bill of health and can jump off trains without pulling a muscle, go through a traumatic life experience without any hint of depression or anxiety, or watch a loved one die in gunfire and shove right on without emotional repercussions. Consider creating a character who’s not perfect – who isn’t perfectly in-shape or abled, or neurotypical or stable day-to-day, or completely clean and clear of residual heartache, unhealthy relationships, or bad emotional habits.  Don’t define them by these traits, of course – but don’t feel that you can’t write a character with health issues without writing a “sick character.”

So this post got ridiculously long, but I hope it works as a reference for you when creating unique characters.  Remember that you don’t need to outline all of this information to create an individual, realistic character.  These are just some relevant ideas to get you started!  It’s up to you, as the writer, to decide what’s necessary and what’s excessive for your creative process.

Still, I hope a majority of this is helpful to you!  If you have any more questions, be sure to send them in and we’ll get back to you :)  Good luck!

- Mod Joanna ♥️


If you need advice on general writing or fanfiction, you should maybe ask us!

Words to use instead of “Very”!

👎🏼 Very simple             👍🏼 Basic
👎🏼 Very shy                  👍🏼 Timid
👎🏼 Very short                👍🏼 Brief 
👎🏼 Very shiny                👍🏼 Gleaming 
👎🏼 Very sharp               👍🏼 Keen
👎🏼 Very serious             👍🏼 Grave
👎🏼 Very scary                👍🏼 Chilling 
👎🏼 Very scared              👍🏼 Petrified 
👎🏼 Very sad                   👍🏼 Sorrowful
👎🏼 Very rich                   👍🏼 Wealthy 
👎🏼 Very rainy                 👍🏼 Pouring 
👎🏼 Very quiet                 👍🏼 Hushed
👎🏼 Very quick                👍🏼 Rapid
👎🏼 Very pretty                👍🏼 Beautiful 
👎🏼 Very powerful           👍🏼 Compelling
👎🏼 Very poor                 👍🏼 Destitute 
👎🏼 Very perfect             👍🏼 Flawless
👎🏼 Very pale                  👍🏼 Ashen 
👎🏼 Very painful              👍🏼 Excruciating 
👎🏼 Very open                 👍🏼 Transparent
👎🏼 Very old-fashioned   👍🏼 Archaic 
👎🏼 Very old                    👍🏼 Ancient 
👎🏼 Very often                 👍🏼 Frequently 
👎🏼 Very noisy                👍🏼Deafening 

Writer’s Scene Checklist

This works for film/TV as well as for a checklist for an entire novel chapter. Decided to make this because I used to have a lot of trouble figuring out how to structure a scene.

  1. Exposition
    1. Introduce the scene’s characters, situation, time, and place. Basically, let us know how the setting has changed since the last scene (if at all).
    2. This shouldn’t be too long or drawn out (unless you have good reason to). This is just to orientate the audience. And if the scene/story calls for it, you don’t have to orientate them to all four; characters, situation, time, and place. In a mystery, you may not let the audience know everyone who is present, what time it takes place, where, etc. Only do what’s necessary for them to not be too disoriented.
  2. Rising Action
    1. Complication of the situation; intensify or complicate the main conflict; introduce a new conflict. This is the gist of scene, which takes up the most word count/screen time.
  3. Turning Point/Climax
    1. Situation/conflict of the scene is directly addressed or confronted. This is what the gist of the scene has been building up to; the highest moment.
    2. Often times this is the shortest part of the scene since it is a single moment.
  4. Falling Action
    1. Conflict either appeased, put off, or ended; hint of new conflict/situation. Unless this is the final scene, I like to think of this as the SET UP for the next respective scene/chapter.
  5. Conclusion/Tag
    1. Rise of new conflict/situation. Usually, the next scene’s conflict is clearly stated in the conclusion, or at least overtly hinted at.


EXAMPLE SCENE: Airplane ride through a storm.

  1. Exposition
    1. Milo and Alisha are on a passenger plane, headed through the Bermuda Triangle.
    2. This could be stated in one sentence: “Milo shoved Alisha’s carry-on bag into the overhead compartment, taking care not to squash their lunch.”
  2. Rising Action
    1. Milo is nervous about planes, and it is no help that there is supposed to be a storm. Alisha assures him they’ll be alright.
    2. This is the gist of the scene and can carry on for several pages as they talk about his anxiety, what they’re going to do when they land, etc.
  3. Turning Point/Climax
    1. The plane hits severe turbulence due to an intense downburst.
    2. As I said before, stating the climax doesn’t take very long at all since it is, in fact, only a single moment: “The plane lurched downward and the emergency masks dropped with it.”
  4. Falling Action
    1. The pilots lose control; oxygen masks deploy; panic ensues in the cabin.
    2. This could take some time, but usually doesn’t. Once the climax is reached, you’ve now begun setting up for the next scene.
  5. Conclusion/Tag
    1. The plane crashes on a strange island.
    2. You could end a scene like this right as they crash; you could end it a bit after the crash as they bear witness to the aftermath. Personally, and for the most part, I would end the scene at the impact, or just after, and save the aftermath for the next scene.

If this seems really simplified, that’s because it is. It may seem like it’ll make your scene short and choppy, but trust—it won’t. These are simply beats in your scene that you need to hit for the scene to seem plausible; and it isn’t even necessary to have them in this order. You could cleverly state in the beginning that the plane is going to crash, putting the conclusion in the beginning, and then build up to it. It’s all up to you. But these are the beats that make a scene or even a chapter (though some chapters may have more than one scene in them–but even with multiple scenes in a chapter, the chapter will still have these five beats overall)