If you’re working on a scene where your character needs to get angry, pick an incident from your past where you were furious and spend fifteen minutes writing about it before you sit down to work on your novel. The exercise will help you put yourself in your character’s place.
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If you’re struggling to keep your story on track during a first draft or a revision, take a moment to write down the one thing–the feel, or theme or idea–that most inspired you to write that particular story in the first place. That’s the heart of your story. It’s the thing you most want people to carry away with them after they finish reading your story and the plumb line in every scene. By putting it into words, you’ll have a clearer idea of what choices your characters will need to make and what actions they’ll need to take in each scene to remain true to the heart of your story.
The more writers can put themselves into the shoes of the people populating their stories, the more authentic the characters will be to the reader. This week, try writing a scene from a POV other than your protagonist’s. Even if your novel is going to be single POV, the exercise will deepen your understanding of the supporting cast in your story, which will translate into more rounded and believable characters on the page.
Before you sit down to write your scene, list the characters in the scene and write out their individual goals. Even if you never state those motivations in the prose, knowing them will help you write more authentic character interactions and add complexity and richness to your story.
Successful writers say it all the time: To be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. So we challenge you to read more and to read outside of your comfort zone.
Good novels aren’t just about what happens (plot). They’re about how people respond to what’s happening, and how their beliefs change over the course of a story (character arc). In this month’s challenge, we invite you to read books where the authors did a wonderful job of shifting the character’s worldview over the course of the story. Here are some of our book recommendations. Pay particular attention to the growth of the characters over the course of the story.
Alicia: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Laura: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Megan: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Naomi: The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Stacey: Small Gods by Terry Pratchett