Edit Your Characters; Not Just Your Story

A story is only as entertaining as its connection to the reader. This means your writing must have an emotional impact.

Don’t roll your eyes.

I’m not saying you have to drone on and on, but pulling at the heartstrings means putting yourself on the page. This is one of the hardest things to do. At least for me. I want to tell a story. I ache to show you a world of my creation while taking your through situations that I hope will, ultimately, leave you reeling.

My goal is adventure. If I could give the reader that without prattling on about feelings, I would.

It’s not because I’m lazy. I want to take readers through the scope of human emotions.

I’d just prefer to do it the simplest way possible.

What is that way you ask?

Well, it involves the reader psychically gleaning my characters emotions without ever having to put a single foo foo word on paper. LOL.

Again. Don’t roll your eyes. Every writer fantasizes about this mythical ability to some degree. We want our audience to sense what our characters are going through without having to lead them there. Yes, it’s completely irrational. No, we don’t actually believe it’ll ever happen, but that isn’t going to stop us from wanting it.

Sadly, easy story telling doesn’t come with a big pay off. To tell a tale, you must engage. To do that you have to drop inside your characters head…and their heart. This is hard as hell. I’m not gonna lie. Thankfully, this task is made easier by the fact that writers put a bit of themselves into the people they create. This doesn’t mean we actually know them inside and out. Characters take on a life of their own. We try to reign them in, to keep them on our path, but it rarely works.

Characters react how they want. It’s not their job to care about driving the plot forward or tying up loose ends. Okay. It is, but they don’t acknowledge, or care, about that. Characters want exactly what the reader wants. To be entertained.

Can you see how this would make staying true to a character and their selfish traits sort of difficult?

I saw you roll your eyes again. Not cool.

Anyway, being true to the cast you create will mean the difference between connecting with your audience or totally loosing them. For example, if a coldhearted bitch suddenly decides to donate her entire savings to the poor, you’d better know why. Moreover, you need to make damn sure the reader knows why or else…they’re on to the next book.

While writing Messy Death I didn’t have a hard time sticking to my characters personalities–once I figured out who they were. Figuring out where your plot is going and how to get their is the first step. After that, you design your cast around that goal. Don’t be afraid to revise a character who isn’t working with your story. Just because you can’t control them doesn’t mean you can’t EDIT the hell out their asses.



3 comments on “Edit Your Characters; Not Just Your Story

  1. So true and such good advice! We need to think of all of our characters as real people with internal and external conflict, goals, and motivations. They need to have their own ticks and twitches and quirks just like everyone in the real world. Our characters must emerge from all the hell we unleash on them through the story as changed people or, if not changed, intentionally unchanged. For me, my characters psychologically evolve as I write my story and I see how they react to events and each other, as I get to know them as people. I’ve also found it helpful to actually write out their bios or major life events before the story is set, even though none of it goes into the novel I’m working on. Thanks for the advice!

  2. Wow! Finally I got a web sitye frdom where I can really obtain helpful information concerning my study and knowledge.

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