How to Keep Readers From Hating Your Characters

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! So, as many of you know, I optioned a YA novel to a producer in Hollywood in 2011. Back then, I was still new to the writing scene. Everyday, I learned a new lesson, achieved a new skill, and had an “Ah-ha!” moment. I hadn’t even shared my work with anyone outside of my family until those executives in LA asked to read it…Which is probably why my manuscript never made it off the cutting room floor.

I didn’t know how to fix the problems agents and publishers pointed out to me. And I especially didn’t know how to fix its main flaw: Unlikable characters.

Over and over again, I heard things like, “I just don’t love your characters” and “I like your story, but not your characters” and “I need to care about your characters, and I don’t.” These comments hurt every time I heard them because liked my characters and I cared about them. But I couldn’t figure out how to get others to feel the same way.

In the end, this issue was my manuscript’s greatest downfall.

Since then, I’ve made it my mission to write strong characters that readers care about (even if they despise them), and I think you need to you as well. Because, trust me when I say, no matter how great the rest of your story is, unlikable characters will ruin it.

So, today I thought I’d share this article from author, Jody Hedlund: How to Keep Readers From Hating Your Characters. It offers some great advice that will keep you from making the same mistakes I made with my optioned manuscript.

2. Make sure the reader understands the cause of the flaws. One way to generate reader empathy for our character’s flaw is make the negative trait a result of something that the character didn’t choose to happen to her. For example, maybe she was abused or teased or rejected at some point in her life. When we share the history that drives the negative traits, readers will be more forgiving of the negativity.

3. Never give the character an unforgivable trait or action. We might have made our character likeable, but then she does something (or several things) that the reader finds unforgivable, completely unlikeable, and irredeemable. The event or action leaves a bad taste in the reader’s mouth and often they’re unable to resume their fullest love of our character after that.

To read the entire article, click here. And for more useful advice, follow Jody Hedlund on Twitter!

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Music Monday – Linkin Park – Bleed It Out

Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicA few months ago, a friend recommended a song on her fitness blog, Bigger Than Smaller. At first I thought, “Great workout song!”, but then I listened to it again and realized it could offer some excellent writing motivation in the future.

Well, the future has arrived. “Bleed It Out” by Linkin Park has become one of my favorite songs to listen to while I work on my new novel.

20140606014550!Bleed_It_Out_single The main thing I like about “Bleed It Out” is its rawness. While I listen to it, I’m able to experience my characters’ self-destructive natures, as well as their rage, frustration, and despair.

I bleed it out, go, stop the show
Choppy words in a sloppy flow
Shotgun, I pull, lock and load
Cock it back and then watch it go

Another things I love about this song is its rhythm and beat. Let’s face it, sometimes (okay, many times) writing can be an energy drain. Physically, mentally, emotionally–it can take a lot out of us, especially if we’re writing stories that “dig deeper” and deal with uncomfortable subject matters.

That’s why I enjoy listening to songs like “Bleed It Out”. Not only do they inspire my story, but they inspire me to keep writing, even if I’m exhausted.

NDA5R0RRQzRLWTQx_o_linkin-park---bleed-it-out-official-bootlegs-live-from-So, if you’re looking for an energetic song that inspires raw emotions, listen to “Bleed It Out” by Linkin Park.

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

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1, 2, 3, 4

 

Top 2014 Posts – #2 – How Do You Share Backstory Information

To end the year, I’ve decided to spotlight my top 10 blog posts from 2014. I went into my stats page and looked up those articles, stories, and other published pieces that had the most number of views. Some surprised me, others did not.

We’re almost there! Here’s #2: How Do You Share Backstory Information

IMG_4116This is a post that blew up a couple of weeks after I posted it. I still remember opening up my blog to write an article and gasping in surprise when I saw my stats. They were booming out of control! I laughed when I saw the article drawing so much attention. It wasn’t one I’d published recently–at all. But, I guess that’s what’s so cool about social media, huh? One person can get a hold of an article on your blog and boom! It takes off.

So if you missed this popular Twitter Treasure Thursday, here you go!


Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! So, as I’ve been revising my manuscript, I’ve been trying to figure out how to slip in background details about my characters and the world they live in–you know, tell the reader about the main events and conflicts that have led them to where they are now. Of course, there is the wicked temptation to dump all the information on the reader in one foul swoop, or even squeeze it all into a prologue. But many consider those big no-no’s.

So then how should writers present the backstory? How do we slip those necessary details in without committing a writing sin or boring the reader?

tumblr_mg4zjrIVjL1qhd2y8o1_500 Well, today’s gem addresses this issue. Autumn M. Bart (@Weifarer) tweeted an article from the blog Guild of Dreams: Backstory.

How much backstory should I spoon feed my readers?

I belong to a large online writers’ critique group, and I see this question posted almost weekly. Every fantasy and sci-fi writer in the group hops on the thread and gives advice; time and again, the consensus can be summed up as follows:

  • Weave background information and world building into the narrative
  • Avoid data dumps of historical details
  • Under no circumstances put the backstory into a prologue

To read the entire article, click here!

And for more useful advice, follow Autumn M. Birt on Twitter!

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 8.17.32 AM

Previous Top 10 2014 Posts:

#3 – Chasing Monsters

#4 – Inevitable

#5 – Stop the presses. Literacy isn’t important. Technology is.

#6 – How to Write a Novel Synopsis: 5 Tips

#7: Into Paradise

#8: Music Monday – Love The Way You Lie

#9: Operation Disney

#10: Over The Edge

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Top 2014 Posts – #8 – Music Monday – Love The Way You Lie

To end the year, I’ve decided to spotlight my top 10 blog posts from 2014. I went into my stats page and looked up those articles, stories, and other published pieces that had the most number of views. Some surprised me, others did not.

Today, we move up the list to #8: Music Monday – Love The Way You Lie – Eminem and Rihanna

IMG_4138I wanted to try and schedule this one for a Monday, but alas, no can do. The timing simply didn’t work out. Oh well! “Love The Way You Lie” was one of my favorite songs I chose for a Music Monday feature this year. In fact, I still listen to it often while working on my more intense scenes. So check it out if you haven’t yet and see if it inspires your writing!


Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicThis week, I will be working on some of the most intense, emotional scenes in my manuscript. In preparation for writing these heartbreaking chapters, and dragging my characters through the mud and turning their worlds upside down, I’ve been listening to Eminem and Rihanna’s powerful hit, “Love The Way You Lie”.

Eminem-Love-the-Way-You-Lie1This song is packed with conflict, pain, and all of the emotions I need to feel while writing these explosive scenes: betrayal, fury, heartbreak, fear, regret…I also love the lyrics and music video. Both help me tap into my dark side and go to places I don’t want to go–but must.

tumblr_ly5q65ZGOP1r9n7rxo1_500So, if you’re looking for a song that touches upon heavy topics, and inspires intense emotions, check out “Love The Way You Lie”.

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

Previous Top 10 2014 Posts:

#9: Operation Disney

#10: Over The Edge

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Photo credits: 

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://www.free-youtube-mp3.com/eminem-rihanna-love-the-way-you-lie-download/

http://www.wattpad.com/43557165-lyrics-and-quotes-love-the-way-you-lie-eminem

Music Monday – Strip Me – Natasha Bedingfield

Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicSo, I had a completely different song picked out for today’s Music Monday, but then I heard Natasha Bedingfield’s “Strip Me” on my way to work this morning and changed my mind.

Long ago, I was absolutely obsessed with this song. Then it faded off as I became obsessed with others. This morning was the first time I’d heard it in forever and I fell back in love with it. And I knew I had to share it with you!

NatashabeddingfeildStripMe“Strip Me” is a great song to listen to when you’re creating epiphany filled moments in your story. Or when your characters decide to take a stand for what they believe in. Seeing as I’m working on the end of my book, there have been many “epiphany” and “take a stand” moments, so this song hits home and inspires me to infuse the right tone and feeling while writing.

largeI also love this song’s music video. It adds oomph to the lyrics and brings them to life in a way that’s motivating, colorful, and beautiful. And also makes you want to stand up to the enemies in your life.

So if you’re looking for a song that’s energetic, heartfelt, and perfect for those revelation moments in your story, listen to “Strip Me” by Natasha Bedingfield.

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

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Photo credits: 

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://mp3artwork.blogspot.com/2010/11/natasha-bedingfield-strip-me-fanmade.html

http://weheartit.com/entry/group/39131262

 

Music Monday – Love The Way You Lie – Eminem and Rihanna

Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicThis week, I will be working on some of the most intense, emotional scenes in my manuscript. In preparation for writing these heartbreaking chapters, and dragging my characters through the mud and turning their worlds upside down, I’ve been listening to Eminem and Rihanna’s powerful hit, “Love The Way You Lie”.

Eminem-Love-the-Way-You-Lie1This song is packed with conflict, pain, and all of the emotions I need to feel while writing these explosive scenes: betrayal, fury, heartbreak, fear, regret…I also love the lyrics and music video. Both help me tap into my dark side and go to places I don’t want to go–but must.

tumblr_ly5q65ZGOP1r9n7rxo1_500So, if you’re looking for a song that touches upon heavy topics, and inspires intense emotions, check out “Love The Way You Lie”.

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

Photo credits: 

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://www.free-youtube-mp3.com/eminem-rihanna-love-the-way-you-lie-download/

http://www.wattpad.com/43557165-lyrics-and-quotes-love-the-way-you-lie-eminem

 

How to Intensify Conflict & Deepen Characters—The Wound

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! So, as I perused Twitter this week, I noticed a common trend: Character development. Everyone seemed to be talking about it. Tips, quotes, pictures, articles…I’ve never found so many gems about this vital writing topic. It was hard to decide which one to share with you. After much debate, I finally decided to go with Kristen Lamb’s:

How to Intensify Conflict & Deepen Characters—The Wound.

scarsThere are so many aspects to consider when developing our characters. In this awesome article, Kristen Lamb examines one of the most important: WHY? Why do our characters act the way they do? Why are they a control freak, or a know-it-all, or a shy mouse, or an arrogant butthead? It isn’t “just because”. There must be a reason–a why.

Real humans have wounds that drive our wants, needs, perceptions, and reactions and so should all our characters (even the Big Boss Troublemaker-Antagonist). Recently, I was helping a student of my Antag-Gold class plot her novel. She had a good protagonist who was a control freak. My question: WHY?

Yes, genetics will have a role in forging our personality, but genes do not a good story make. Having a character be a certain way simply because we need them to be or act that way will work, but so will a heart with damaged valves.

Wounds drive how we perceive our world, what we believe we want, and how we will (or won’t) interact with others. This is critical for generating story tension and character arc.

To read the entire article, click here!

And for more useful advice, follow Kristen Lamb on Twitter!

Related Articles

Character Development Worksheet

Character Development: Virtues & Vices

100 Character Quirks You Can Steal from Me

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http://deniedself.com/battle-scars/