Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday's Links to Writing & Marketing Blog Posts

By: Les Edgerton

The writer who can master the art and craft of defining their characters by their actions is going to be the author whose work gets read. By lots and lots of folks… Enough, hopefully, that you’ll never again have to say to someone about the novel you’ve written that it’s “only available in my room.”

Most of us as fiction writers flesh out our characters with the use of description, via dialogue, by the interior thoughts of characters and by similar methods. All of these are good techniques and work well in the short story and novel.

However, if the author ignores the use of using physical actions to help create their characters and to also show how they’ve evolved due to the events that happen along the way in the story (that character arc us writing teachers are always talking about), they’re missing what can be the most powerful tool of all.

This is an area where we can really make our novels come alive and impact the reader on a much deeper level.

The use of description is perhaps the weakest of the novelist’s tools in terms of character description. What of the following makes more of an impact in the reader’s mind? To read: “Elizabeth was an arthritic old woman.” Or, to read: Elizabeth labored up the stairs, a painful step at a time. She paused at each step, grasped the handrail with both hands and forced her ancient legs up yet another step.

The second example wins, hands-down. Why? Because we “see” an action the character takes and because we see it happening it has an emotional impact on us. In the first example, we’re “told” what the character is (arthritic). Doesn’t make much of an impression at all. Not even close to the impression we get when we see her inching painfully up the stairs.

This is important enough that I’ll say it again: Characters are defined best and on a deeper level by their actions. As are their character arcs. You know, that deal where the character emerges at the end of the story a different person than when the story began as a result of all they’d gone through during the course of the tale.

Why? Because they experience what the character does and what the character experiences at the same time the character does. They’re not being “told” this character has undergone a sea change and asked to take it on faith—they “see” it with their own eyes, and are therefore convinced to a degree not remotely possible with the author “telling” them there’s been a change via their thoughts or any of the other aforementioned techniques.

A movie that illustrates brilliantly how all this can be accomplished through the character’s actions is screenwriter Callie Khouri’s Thelma & Louise.  It’s one of those rare movies that provide many, many teaching moments that can be valuable to fiction writers.

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If you missed my writing & marketing tweets and retweets yesterday, here they are again:
  • 39 Stellar Examples of Author Facebook Cover Photo Designs
  • Pinterest Update: More Ways Authors Can Use Pinterest! - Where Writers Win
  • How Actions Determine Character & Arc | Writers In The Storm
  • Writing Mystery and Suspense Fiction: Can You Ever Really Know a Person? — Bound and Determined
  • Self Publishing onInstagram? | readers+writers journal
  • I is for Interior – Self-publishing from A to Z - Author Zoo
  • How Serials Can Gain You Fans -
  • What Makes Your Story Unique? | Jami Gold, Paranormal Author
  • 4 Real-Life Starting Points for Story Ideas
  • The Book Launch Checklist To Make Your Next Release Awesome! |
  • WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Characters: Tormenting them for the sake of plot
  • How to Get Early Feedback on Your Book Idea or Manuscript - Write Nonfiction NOW!
  • 6 Clever Ways To Achieve The Perfect Ending To Your Story - Writer's Edit
Happy writing and running, Kathy

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