How not to develop characters (HT: @qldwriters)

Over at d.i.y. MFA, Becca Jordan lists a few examples of how not to write or describe your characters:

Here is an actual character description from my very first novel attempt that will never see the light of day:

“. . .She finally looked in the mirror to inspect her work.

She was a fairly thin, tall girl for her age. She looked down at her skirt that didn’t quite reach to the floor – she had outgrown that too a few years ago – all the way up to her thin face which was framed in the uncontrollable locks. Her green-gray eyes and straight pointed nose gave her the look of a hawk…Now Keilli ran a finger over the large white scar that ran from her forehead on the right all the way down to her jaw on the same side. Lord Trellan had told her that it had been on her face when he’d found her, though then it had been a new wound. It was the most prominent feature on her face, something she’d always disliked. But there was no time to linger on personal appearance now.”

Seriously. No more lingering. Please.

She goes through a bunch of examples of showing vs telling to help you get your head around what works and what doesn't. The old mirror trick really is the oldest one in the book. You can Picasso it and try to subvert the trope, but best to just smash them all up.

I don’t want you to tell me that Ingrid’s quirky. I want to figure it out for myself. Any old fool can say that someone’s quirky. It’s harder to show that she’s quirky.

Read it here:

Truth Hurts but Writers Must Not Flinch (via @woodwardkaren, HT: @writerscentreau)

I'm a little behind on posts this week, as we roll towards the final stages of the imminent alpha launch of Literarium. Yes, it's been too long, but that's the nature of doing many projects at the same time as a day job. I can report that I'm personally already getting a good virtual kick-in-the-pants from my organiser list and dashboard views. Handy to record a rejection and immediately mark the project for revision. Enfin, Karen Woodward collects some information about how we as writers need to bite down and punish our characters just a little. She touches on three points, 'hook', 'plot' and 'conflict & character = suspense'.

In order to create suspense, the readers' expectations must be both met and undermined. What we are talking about here is shameless manipulation. You are telling people lies in order to get the response you want.

Check it out here:

How to Plot and Characterize Wrong via @victoriamixon

I found this post via the lovely Joanna Penn, but I try to attribute these post titles to the original author just to help readers find sources of writing advice or news. Victoria Mixon is an independent editor, and on her blog she recently posted two 'How to do it wrong!' articles, which related nicely to last week's blog posts about finding character voice, and tips for writing short stories.

Victoria's advice relates to fiction in general, of course, but I like the tone of the articles, and they are worth checking out (in fact her blog as a whole is worth adding to your news readers).

Read them here: and here:

Some things you should know about characters - via @ChuckWendig

I stumbled on this post by Chuck Wendig via a twitter recommendation (that's pretty much where I find all my industry-relevant news these days, to be honest). It's a great article of 25 things to know about characters. I've found characterisation one of my weakest points, which is painful because it's characters more than scenes or events that we fall in love with as readers. I thought these tips were pretty much spot on, and although none of them may individually give you an a-ha! moment, the list as a whole is a worthwhile bookmark for the 'writing' folder in your browser. It won't hurt to check it out once in a while to put your thoughts on characterisation back on the right track.

Read the article here:

PS: You will notice another two links to '25 things about <interesting writing topic>' at the top of Chuck's article. As an extra-curricular exercise, do check them out, they are worth your time.

More voice...The voices!

After yesterday's post talking about online voice, today's article is an older one by Veronica Roth, and relates to character voice. Of several articles about this that I've read, this struck me as one of the more succinct and pointed. Veronica links to a few other relevant articles, and they are worth surfing to.

This internet thing, hey? You could spend hours reading on it.