Don't Assume

Author:
Publish date:

Creating Dynamic Characters from Writer's Online Workshops

In Chapter Eleven of her book Dynamic Characters, Nancy Kress warns against assuming your readers will share your assumptions about character. Even when the assumptions are shared-as in Kress's example of the mother losing the child-as a writer, you should not miss an opportunity to expand and increase the tension of the story. Sometimes detailing the torment the character is going through, the obstacles she faces in trying to solve the problem, is a way to strengthen the reader-character bond. Other times, as Kress notes, the details may slow the story down. You have to assess the needs of your story. It's a good idea to write out the scene fully the first time around, then cut later if you feel the need to speed things up.

Antinomy (the apparent contradiction of two elements) plays a part here. If your character's reactions CONTRADICT what the reader expects, that can create interest and tension. The reader will look at this contradiction as a type of mystery, and mystery compels reading on for an answer. So explore opportunities to characterize through contradiction. Keep in mind, though, that antimony is only apparent contradiction. Once all is said and done-that is, once your story is told-your reader must understand why your characters acted the way they did, and those actions must be logically motivated by the characters' attitudes and backgrounds. This is why this background work is so important. As you create your characters, spend time analyzing various attitudes they can have, both understandable and strange. Make a list of possibilities, and then choose the most interesting (but be prepared to provide sufficient reason for any unexpected ones).

Comedy vs. Comity (Grammar Rules)

Comedy vs. Comity (Grammar Rules)

There's nothing funny about learning when to use comedy and comity (OK, maybe a little humor) with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Shugri Said Salh: On Writing the Coming-Of-Age Story

Shugri Said Salh: On Writing the Coming-Of-Age Story

Debut author Shugri Said Salh discusses how wanting to know her mother lead her to writing her coming-of-age novel, The Last Nomad.

100 Ways to Buff Your Book

100 Ways to Buff Your Book

Does your manuscript need a little more definition, but you’re not sure where to begin? Try these 100 tips to give your words more power.

Kaia Alderson: On Internal Roadblocks and Not Giving Up

Kaia Alderson: On Internal Roadblocks and Not Giving Up

Kaia Alderson discusses how she never gave up on her story, how she worked through internal doubts, and how research lead her out of romance and into historical fiction.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Seven New Courses, Writing Prompts, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new courses, our Editorial Calendar, and more!

Crystal Wilkinson: On The Vulnerability of Memoir Writing

Crystal Wilkinson: On The Vulnerability of Memoir Writing

Kentucky’s Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson discusses how each project has its own process and the difference between writing fiction and her new memoir, Perfect Black.

From Script

Approaching Comedy from a Personal Perspective and Tapping into Your Unique Writer’s Voice (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, interviews with masters of comedy, screenwriter Tim Long ('The Simpsons') and writer-director Dan Mazer (Borat Subsequent Movie) about their collaboration on their film 'The Exchange', and filmmaker Trent O’Donnell on his new film 'Ride the Eagle' co-written with actor Jake Johnson ('New Girl'). Plus, tips on how to tap into your unique voice and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not accepting feedback on your writing.