Readers want to hope and fear for a character. To feel this, they must not know what WILL happen, but do need to suspect or know what MIGHT happen and feel tension about the possibilities.
Archive for the ‘Advice for New Writers’ Category
Character and problem by themselves don’t go anywhere. You still have to build reader tension to a sharp point. So how do you do that?
Writing is a risky career choice and one that doesn’t always yield a lot of concrete reward or social approval. But if one pretends it’s not a choice, then one doesn’t have to worry about those things, or at least not in the same way.
In my last two posts, I identified a number of things that make people and, therefore, characters interesting to us. In this post, I’ll present the last two draws and introduce the next condition for reader suspense.
I would like to share ten resources, more or less, that I think are really terrific when it comes to getting the science right. These will be biased toward my areas of expertise, and will span books, websites, and software. Old-fashioned books first.
All life is nurtured by death, and a story is defined not so much by what it is, but by what it is not. Our fiction cannot take on life unless we are willing destroy all of the beautiful possibilities but one: the best one.
We cannot help but be interested in characters who are, do, or have things we want. In fact, this is one of the main draws of fiction–experiencing something wonderful or cool, even if it’s vicariously.
In my last two posts I discussed the fact that readers are not going to hope and fear for a character unless that character raises their sympathy and sense of deservingness. But is that enough? Do readers stick around if the characters are utterly boring?
All of us have an automatic scale of justice inside of us. We can’t turn it off. Nor can we ignore it. It’s very simple. If someone’s bad outweighs their good, then we think they don’t deserve good things. Conversely, if someone’s good outweighs their bad, we think they should be happy.
Sympathy starts when we see someone in trouble. That’s not the only thing that’s required. Some people who are in terrible trouble only evoke pity or even antipathy. So there’s more to this than trouble, but trouble is where sympathy starts. So what kind of trouble are we talking about?