Write Characters Your Readers Will Love To Hate

I like most real people. I don’t often have day dreams of killing anyone. But if you asked me about Thomas from Downton Abbey or Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter or The Governor from the Walking Dead, my blood boils.

Photo Credit: KayVee.INC via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: KayVee.INC via Compfight cc

I keep waiting for them to get hit by a car or a spell or turned into a zombie! I mean come on already!

I know I’m a horrible person. But aren’t the writers of these books and shows genius?

There you are, hoping for something good to (finally!) happen to the character you love and cherish, and suddenly so and so knows your character’s dark secret or shady past and they can use it to their advantage. Your audience groans (maybe even throws your book! That would be grand, eh?).

This is the power of good fiction. This is the unfortunately life of the characters your readers will love. Inevitably, maybe even for reasons beyond their favorite character’s control, a bad dude gets to have power over them or even have their day.

This is the fun part. This is why your readers will keep reading. What will happen next? Will this greasy or terrible person use this nugget of power now or will they hold onto it and use it when the moment is best for them and worst for the character your audience roots for?

This is why I keep reading and watching.

This is why your audience will too.

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A Novel Writing Tip From Hemingway

Hemingway used to be one my least favorite writers. Now, he’s one of my favorites. I thank him and his advice in his book – A Moveable Feast, for my current progress.

His advice is simple and genius.

Write the scene in your mind and then stop when you think of the next one. Sounds silly, right? Why stop?

The simplicity of this advice is that you never come to the page empty. You always bring something with you, and are ready when a spare moment presents itself.

Photo Credit: gothick_matt via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: gothick_matt via Compfight cc

This is how I’ve written lately and it has allowed me to have a consistent flow of words and I’ve not had to sit and think where I am going next.

I am never empty.

Never lost.

This is genius because then the well of creativity never runs dry. You always leave a little in there. A little sip to keep you going.

If your well is dry. Try to do things that fill it. Then don’t drain the tankard in one gulp.

On Setting Goals That Are Achievable

Sometimes, we chase after what we love with a fiery passion, but that fire can fade and dwindle until a project becomes unappetizing or forgotten during the busyness of life. For me, and for other writers I know, setting goals addresses both the direction of the a writers passion, and helps pull your through the doldrums.

Goals, by themselves, are dull, ordinary things. For me there is nothing that can squelch the creative spark than looking at a list of things to write. Where’s the muse? Where’s the magic?

However, I find this is the best way to remain focused and on track.

But I don’t think of these as a list of things to do anymore but guidepost and combining them with a frequent reminder to review them (say once a week) can be the framework we need to accomplish what we want, and even drive progress.

There are scientific reasons for writing down our goals. There is also the notion that you get to cross things off a list and also finish your writing tasks at the same time. To me, the simultaneous awesome that comes from crossing something off a task list and writing project list is almost second to none.

That's it. Nice easy Pace  Photo Credit -CEphoto, Uwe Aranas / CC-BY-SA-3.0

That’s it. Nice easy Pace
Photo Credit -CEphoto, Uwe Aranas / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Writing them down makes then real, but we must also make sure these writing projects have realistic deadlines. If you are working full time and going to school and have a family, maybe your two hundred thousand word fantasy epic will not be completed in three months. Instead calculate a weekly or daily goal and the multiply that to have your end date. This will help eliminate procrastination and allow you to settle into a nice even pace that won’t take over your life.

It’s also important that the goals are just a little bit aggressive to push us but not so much they rule over us like a tyrant. They must come along side you as an aide, similarly to a running coach.

So set the bar just out of reach. Then, review them with frequency to ensure you’re on the right track

Have a daily or weekly goal? Share below to help others!

On Writing And A Busy Life

If you’ve thought of taking writing up, or are currently writing a blog, novel, short story, etc., you probably find yourself in a constant battle of time management. How do you keep writing when you have a lot of important responsibilities? Simple. You spend time doing it.

You might not watch as much TV or mow the lawn when it looks particularly long, but you MUST invest in your dream. That is the most important thing you can do.

If you are a parent or married/dating, make sure your significant other know that this is the real deal. Discuss it. This person most likely loves you unendingly and will encourage you. Why? Because it makes you a better person to be committed and passionate about something.

Who knows, you might even be surprised at how much they want to be involved. Clearly define the amount of time you expect will be given to your project, but do so together. Your spouse might want a night out with the guys or girls anyway creating a two hour window to write.

There is something that I’ve come to understand as a busy writer. Time does not come in three or four hour segments. It comes in a miraculous hour or thirty minutes that you didn’t expect and you’d better be prepared to take advantage of it. This means you need to be working your writing muscles regularly.

Often times I write at lunch and before bed. I spend one night each week with the Weaklings doing it. That’s it besides the occasional weekend afternoon. My guess is that I spent 5-8 hours per week on my novel but I am ready whenever a sliver of time presents itself.

Use your time well and write my friend.

Cheers,

Bob

Neil Gaiman On Writing

Its not often a Youtube video changes my life. But this one did. My writing life won’t be the same.

This video may not set your world on fire, but it both released a lot of pressure I was putting on the draft of my third novel and helped me realize that writing a book is a slow and steady brick laying affair. Sounds boring, but it might be the best way to finish and that’s what were all trying to do. A big thank you to Andrew for sharing it.

Please watch and enjoy.

Keep Writing.

See you at Jot!