I’m from Australia and I’d be more than happy to help this anon if they have any questions about Australia.
Some words to use when writing things:
craving, demand, gluttony, greed, hunger, inclination, insatiable, longing, lust, passion, ravenousness, relish, taste, thirst, urge, voracity, weakness, willingness, yearning, ardor, dedication, desire, devotion, enthusiasm, excitement, fervor, horny, intensity, keenness, wholeheartedness, zeal
agitate, awaken, electrify, enliven, excite, entice, foment, goad, incite, inflame, instigate, kindle, provoke, rally, rouse, spark, stimulate, stir, thrill, waken, warm, whet, attract, charm, coax, fire up, fuel, heat up, lure, produce, stir up, tantalize, tease, tempt, thrum, torment, wind up, work up
attack, advancing, aggressive, assailing, charging, incursion, inundated, invasion, offensive, onset, onslaught, overwhelmed, ruinous, tempestuous, strike, violation, ambush, assail, barrage, bombard, bombardment, crackdown, wound
admirable, alluring, angelic, appealing, bewitching, charming, dazzling, delicate, delightful, divine, elegant, enticing, exquisite, fascinating, gorgeous, graceful, grand, magnificent, marvelous, pleasing, radiant, ravishing, resplendent, splendid, stunning, sublime, attractive, beguiling, captivating, enchanting, engaging, enthralling, eye-catching, fetching, fine, fine-looking, good-looking, handsome, inviting, lovely, mesmeric, mesmerizing, pretty, rakish, refined, striking, tantalizing, tempting
atrocious, barbarous, bloodthirsty, callous, cruel, feral, ferocious, hard, harsh, heartless, inhuman, merciless, murderous, pitiless, remorseless, rough, rude, ruthless, savage, severe, terrible, unmerciful, vicious, bestial, brute, brutish, cold-blooded, fierce, gory, nasty, rancorous, sadistic, uncompromising, unfeeling, unforgiving, unpitying, violent, wild
able-bodied, athletic, beefy, big, brawny, broad-shouldered, bulky, dense, enormous, great, hard, hardy, hearty, heavily built, heavy, hefty, huge, husky, immense, large, massive, muscular, mighty, outsized, oversized, powerful, powerfully built, prodigious, robust, solid, stalwart, stocky, stout, strapping, strong, strongly built, sturdy, thick, thickset, tough, well-built, well-developed
animalistic, bodily, impure, lascivious, lecherous, lewd, libidinous, licentious, lustful, physical, prurient, salacious, sensuous, voluptuous, vulgar, wanton, , coarse, crude, dirty, raunchy, rough, unclean
alarming, critical, fatal, formidable, impending, malignant, menacing, mortal, nasty, perilous, precarious, pressing, serious, terrible, threatening, treacherous, urgent, vulnerable, wicked, acute, damaging, deadly, death-defying, deathly, destructive, detrimental, explosive, grave, harmful, hazardous, injurious, lethal, life-threatening, noxious, poisonous, risky, severe, terrifying, toxic, unsafe, unstable, venomous
atrocious, corrupt, forbidding, foul, infernal, midnight, morbid, ominous, sinful, sinister, somber, threatening, twilight, vile, wicked, abject, alarming, appalling, baleful, bizarre, bleak, bloodcurdling, boding evil, chilling, cold, condemned, creepy, damned, daunting, demented, desolate, dire, dismal, disturbing, doomed, dour, dread, dreary, dusk, eerie, fear, fearsome, frightening, ghastly, ghostly, ghoulish, gloom, gloomy, grave, grim, grisly, gruesome, hair-raising, haunted, hideous, hopeless, horrendous, horrible, horrid, horrific, horrifying, horror, ill-fated, ill-omened, ill-starred, inauspicious, inhospitable, looming, lost, macabre, malice, malignant, menacing, murky, mysterious, night, panic, pessimistic, petrifying, scary, shadows, shadowy, shade, shady, shocking, soul-destroying, sour, spine-chilling, spine-tingling, strange, terrifying, uncanny, unearthly, unlucky, unnatural, unnerving, weird, wretched
enticing, exquisite, luscious, lush, rich, savory, sweet, tasty, tempting, appetizing, delectable, flavorsome, full of flavor, juicy, lip-smacking, mouth-watering, piquant, relish, ripe, salty, spicy, scrummy, scrumptious, succulent, tangy, tart, tasty, yummy, zesty
delectation, delirium, elation, euphoria, fervor, frenzy, joy, rapture, transport, bliss, excitement, happiness, heaven, high, paradise, rhapsody, thrill, blissful, delighted, elated, extremely happy, in raptures (of delight), in seventh heaven, jubilant, on cloud nine, overexcited, overjoyed, rapturous, thrilled
delirious, enraptured, euphoric, fervent, frenzied, joyous, transported, wild
amatory, amorous, aphrodisiac, carnal, earthy, erogenous, fervid, filthy, hot, impassioned, lascivious, lecherous, lewd, raw, romantic, rousing, salacious, seductive, sensual, sexual, spicy, steamy, stimulating, suggestive, titillating, voluptuous, tantalizing
catch of breath, choke, gulp, heave, inhale, pant, puff, snort, wheeze, huff, rasp, sharp intake of air, short of breath, struggle for breath, swallow, winded
ardent, avid, excited, fervent, fervid, fierce, fiery, frenzied, furious, impassioned, intense, passionate, raging, scalding, scorched, stormy, tempestuous, vehement, violent, ablaze, aflame, all-consuming, blazing, blistering, burning, crazed, explosive, febrile, feverish, fired up, flaming, flushed, frantic, hot, hot-blooded, impatient, incensed, maddening, obsessed, possessed, randy, searing, sizzling, smoldering, sweltering, torrid, turbulent, volatile, worked up, zealous
appetite, ache, craving, gluttony, greed, longing, lust, mania, mouth-watering, ravenous, voracious, want, yearning, thirst
avid, carnivorous, covetous, craving, eager, greedy, hungered, rapacious, ravenous, starved, unsatisfied, voracious, avaricious, desirous, famished, grasping, insatiable, keen, longing, predatory, ravening, starving, thirsty, wanting
forceful, severe, passionate, acute, agonizing, ardent, anxious, biting, bitter, burning, close, consuming, cutting, deep, eager, earnest, excessive, exquisite, extreme, fervent, fervid, fierce, forcible, great, harsh, impassioned, keen, marked, piercing, powerful, profound, severe, sharp, strong, vehement, violent, vivid, vigorous
damp, cream, creamy, dripping, ichorous, juicy, moist, luscious, melted, moist, pulpy, sappy, soaking, solvent, sopping, succulent, viscous, wet / aqueous, broth, elixir, extract, flux, juice, liquor, nectar, sap, sauce, secretion, solution, vitae, awash, moisture, boggy, dewy, drenched, drip, drop, droplet, drowning, flood, flooded, flowing, fountain, jewel, leaky, milky, overflowing, saturated, slick, slippery, soaked, sodden, soggy, stream, swamp, tear, teardrop, torrent, waterlogged, watery, weeping
agile, lean, pliant, slight, spare, sinewy, slender, supple, deft, fit, flexible, lanky, leggy, limber, lissom, lissome, nimble, sinuous, skinny, sleek, slender, slim, svelte, trim, thin, willowy, wiry
beef, cry, gripe, grouse, grumble, lament, lamentation, plaint, sob, wail, whine, bemoan, bewail, carp, deplore, grieve, gripe, grouse, grumble, keen, lament, sigh, sob, wail, whine, mewl
(exciting,) affecting, effective arousing, awakening, breathless, dynamic, eloquent, emotional, emotive, expressive, fecund, far-out, felt in gut, grabbed by, gripping, heartbreaking, heartrending, impelling, impressive, inspirational, meaningful, mind-bending, mind-blowing, motivating, persuasive, poignant, propelling, provoking, quickening, rallying, rousing, significant, stimulating, simulative, stirring, stunning, touching, awe-inspiring, energizing, exhilarating, fascinating, heart pounding, heart stopping, inspiring, riveting, thrilling
compulsion, demand, desperate, devoir, extremity, impatient longing, must, urge, urgency / desire, appetite, avid, burn, craving, eagerness, fascination, greed, hunger, insatiable, longing, lust, taste, thirst, voracious, want, yearning, ache, addiction, aspiration, desire, fever, fixation, hankering, hope, impulse, inclination, infatuation, itch, obsession, passion, pining, wish, yen
ache, afflict, affliction, agony, agonize, anguish, bite, burn, chafe, distress, fever, grief, hurt, inflame, laceration, misery, pang, punish, sting, suffering, tenderness, throb, throe, torment, torture, smart
aching, agonizing, arduous, awful, biting, burning, caustic, dire, distressing, dreadful, excruciating, extreme, grievous, inflamed, piercing, raw, sensitive, severe, sharp, tender, terrible, throbbing, tormenting, angry, bleeding, bloody, bruised, cutting, hurting, injured, irritated, prickly, skinned, smarting, sore, stinging, unbearable, uncomfortable, upsetting, wounded
aberrant, abnormal, corrupt, debased, debauched, defiling, depraved, deviant, monstrous, tainted, twisted, vicious, warped, wicked, abhorrent, base, decadent, degenerate, degrading, dirty, disgusting, dissipated, dissolute, distasteful, hedonistic, immodest, immoral, indecent, indulgent, licentious, nasty, profligate, repellent, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, shameful, shameless, sickening, sinful, smutty, sordid, unscrupulous, vile
charming, gratifying, luscious, satisfying, savory, agreeable, delicious, delightful, enjoyable, nice, pleasant, pleasing, soothing, succulent
bliss, delight, gluttony, gratification, relish, satisfaction, thrill, adventure, amusement, buzz, contentment, delight, desire, ecstasy, enjoyment, excitement, fun, happiness, harmony, heaven, joy, kick, liking, paradise, seventh heaven
avaricious, ferocious, furious, greedy, predatory, ravening, ravenous, savage, voracious, aggressive, gluttonous, grasping, insatiable, marauding, plundering
bliss, ecstasy, elation, exaltation, glory, gratification, passion, pleasure, floating, unbridled joy
adamant, austere, definite, determined, exact, firm, hard, rigorous, solid, stern, uncompromising, unrelenting, unyielding, concrete, fixed, harsh, immovable, inflexible, obstinate, resolute, resolved, severe, steadfast, steady, stiff, strong, strict, stubborn, taut, tense, tight, tough, unbending, unchangeable, unwavering
abrupt, accelerated, acute, fast, flashing, fleeting, hasty, headlong, hurried, immediate, impetuous, impulsive, quick, quickening, rapid, rash, rushing, swift, brash, brisk, brusque, instant, instantaneous, out of the blue, reckless, rushed, sharp, spontaneous, urgent, without warning
(forward) advance, drive, forge, impetus, impulsion, lunge, momentum, onslaught, poke, pressure, prod, propulsion, punch, push, shove, power, proceed, progress, propel
(push hard) assail, assault, attack, bear down, buck, drive, force, heave, impale, impel, jab, lunge, plunge, press, pound, prod, ram, shove, stab, transfix, urge, bang, burrow, cram, gouge, jam, pierce, punch, slam, spear, spike, stick
amazed, astonished, aghast, astounded, awestruck, confounded, dazed, dazed, dismayed, overwhelmed, shocked, staggered, startled, stunned, gob-smacked, bewildered, dumbfounded, flabbergasted, horrified, incredulous, surprised, taken aback
agony, anguish, hurt, misery, pain, punishment, suffering, afflict, angst, conflict, distress, grief, heartache, misfortune, nightmare, persecute, plague, sorrow, strife, tease, test, trial, tribulation, torture, turmoil, vex, woe
(physical) - blow, brush, caress, collide, come together, contact, converge, crash, cuddle, embrace, feel, feel up, finger, fondle, frisk, glance, glide, graze, grope, handle, hit, hug, impact, join, junction, kiss, lick, line, manipulate, march, massage, meet, nudge, palm, partake, pat, paw, peck, pet, pinch, probe, push, reach, rub, scratch, skim, slide, smooth, strike, stroke, suck, sweep, tag, tap, taste, thumb, tickle, tip, touching, toy, bite, bump, burrow, buss, bury, circle, claw, clean, clutch, cover, creep, crush, cup, curl, delve, dig, drag, draw, ease, edge, fiddle with, flick, flit, fumble, grind, grip, grub, hold, huddle, knead, lap, lave, lay a hand on, maneuver, manhandle, mash, mold, muzzle, neck, nestle, nibble, nip, nuzzle, outline, play, polish, press, pull, rasp, ravish, ream, rim, run, scoop, scrabble, scrape, scrub, shave, shift, shunt, skate, slip, slither, smack, snake, snuggle, soothe, spank, splay, spread, squeeze, stretch, swipe, tangle, tease, thump, tongue, trace, trail, tunnel twiddle, twirl, twist, tug, work, wrap
(mental) - communicate, examine, inspect, perception, scrutinize
bathe, bleed, burst, cascade, course, cover, cream, damp, dampen, deluge, dip, douse, drench, dribble, drip, drizzle, drool, drop, drown, dunk, erupt, flood, flow, gush, immerse, issue, jet, leach, leak, moisten, ooze, overflow, permeate, plunge, pour, rain, rinse, run, salivate, saturate, secrete, seep, shower, shoot, slaver, slobber, slop, slosh, sluice, spill, soak, souse, spew, spit, splash, splatter, spout, spray, sprinkle, spurt, squirt, steep, stream, submerge, surge, swab, swamp, swill, swim, trickle, wash, water
abominable, amoral, atrocious, awful, base, barbarous, dangerous, debased, depraved, distressing, dreadful, evil, fearful, fiendish, fierce, foul, heartless, hazardous, heinous, immoral, indecent, intense, mean, nasty, naughty, nefarious, offensive, profane, scandalous, severe, shameful, shameless, sinful, terrible, unholy, vicious, vile, villainous, wayward, bad, criminal, cruel, deplorable, despicable, devious, ill-intentioned, impious, impish, iniquitous, irreverent, loathsome, Machiavellian, mad, malevolent, malicious, merciless, mischievous, monstrous, perverse, ruthless, spiteful, uncaring, unkind, unscrupulous, vindictive, virulent, wretched
agonize, bend, jerk, recoil, lurch, plunge, slither, squirm, struggle, suffer, thrash, thresh, twist, wiggle, wriggle, angle, arc, bow, buck, coil, contort, convulse, curl, curve, fidget, fight, flex, go into spasm, grind, heave, jiggle, jolt, kick, rear, reel, ripple, resist, roll, lash, lash out, screw up, shake, shift, slide, spasm, stir, strain, stretch, surge, swell, swivel, thrust, turn violently, tussle, twitch, undulate, warp, worm, wrench, wrestle, yank
pitviperofdoom asked you:
Dragons. Do you have any useful links on dragons? Different types from different mythologies, different designs and features and abilities, that sort of thing?
- What is a Dragon?
- Dragon Theories
- Dragons and Dragon Lore
- Dragon Abilities
- List of Dragons in Mythology
- Dragons of Greek Mythology
- Dinosaurs and Dragons
- Dragon Anatomy
- Dragon Anatomy and Physiology
- Advanced Dragon Description
- Comparing Dragons
- Dragon Physiology and Powers
Dragons are one of those cliches that a lot of people still love, but it can’t just be a dragon. It has to do more than exist and breathe fire to be interesting.
Some cliches about dragons are:
- Super wise, intelligent, sentient beings
- Hundreds or thousands of years old
- Only one species exists
but this is more of a pet peeve/an observation rather than a cliche but I guess it could be an unintentional cliche
- Almost always Western-style dragons
- The hero gets to ride a dragon which may or may not have been tamed by said hero
Why Stories About Dragons Suck - read before you judge the title
I think 90% of writers will agree that in their first drafts of their first pieces, they’d describe a character like “she had blonde hair and green eyes” and leave it at that. I’m guilty of it, I’ll admit. But why not have some great, specific descriptions that flesh out your characters and how others perceive them?!
A quick note about eyes: In all honesty, eye color isn’t always apparent. Eyes may look dark from a distance, and you only realize they’re a deep blue when you get closer. Don’t feel like you have to mention eye color right away. It can be something mentioned later, when your characters have a soulful heart to heart.
Btw, I threw this list together in about 10 minutes so I’m sure there are other things that could be added. Feel free to comment or message me, and I’ll add them to the master list.
- Tied up
- Pronounced (cheekbones)
- Body (build, frame)
I also claimed stuff like this will help with characterization. I’ll give an example. For a body frame, “scrawny” and “willowy” mean kinda the same thing—someone with a thin, slight built. If your character is describing the girl they’ve had a crush on forever, they’d probably use a word like “slender” or “willowy,” because they’re fond of her. A longtime rival or enemy might stick to words with a negative connotation, like “scrawny” or “bony.” For someone they’ve just met, the terms will probably be more neutral. Consider how your narrator thinks of the person they’re describing, and how that’ll affect the words they use!
I’ll include some examples…?
- Ignoring his warning, I stepped back towards Liam and the barely-contained Suni. She was pretty, now that I got a good look at her standing up. She was half a foot shorter than my own 5’6”, with shapely curves hinted at even with her loose clothing. Maybe a bit chubby by today’s toothpick thin standards, but more with muscle than fat. Strong cheekbones and full lips accented her long mahogany face, but it was her eyes that dominated her features. Sharp aqua eyes that were fixed on Kent. If looks could kill.
- Kent was back at my side as the knight-armored man turned to face us. Although still young, he had to be at least ten years older than me, with a broad face and warm green topaz eyes staring down a surprisingly dainty nose. Deep, carrot-red hair framed his face. When he smiled, it was kind and genuine, and it dimpled his sun-kissed cheeks.
- “Hey, girl,” she said, grinning in a way that showed she was trying to be in with the teen slang. She was blonde like my dad, but shorter and with a little more weight around her neck and cheeks, since she didn’t have to appear on national television all the time. There was also a sparkle to her eyes and an air of carelessness in her frazzled, tied back hair and the dimpled smile of her cheeks—features I’d never see from Dad (frazzled and smiling, I mean), who was always the perfect News Anchor Ethan Cresswell.
Sorry for shouting but, yeah, giving your world a history behind it and, maybe more importantly, having characters that know and interpret it is a great way to give life to your world. For example; your M/C is travelling with a group through a ruined city (as they do) and your readers will automatically want to know what happened. Try to tell them the interesting bits, the useful bits, and don’t focus too much on long-winded descriptions of scenery. Most importantly, however, if you want your reader to be close to your characters you should try to ensure that they learn most of what they know about the world and story through the characters. In this way even secondary or one line characters can seem alive and vital.
Here’s what not to do;
"The ancient, ruinous city had once been a hub of trade and wealth long before the attack. All that remained now were the toothless, rubble strewn shells that Darn and his group were sheltering in. The wind tore through the old tunnels, almost sobbing their history in its passage." - So this sounds ok but what does it actually tell us? Well, nothing really.
- We know the city used to be important
- We know it was attacked
- The use of language implies a sad story
- We know the characters are in the city.
Not all that much, right.
Instead try this;
"Darn eyed the nearest ruin with trepidation; it was so high, so shadowy… there could be an army in there and he’d never now until they were bearing down on him. Lilit bounded ahead; the wilder was as much a part of this landscape as the buildings and she, unlike the rest of them, had no fear of it. He pressed his tongue against his teeth, counting the missing ones and clenched his uninjured hand,
"What’s with this place?" Roger growled under his breath like a frightened war dog, steam rising from the wet cloth clinging to his broad shoulders. A bead of water ran down his crooked nose before he swatted it away with a snarl, his dark skin emphasizing the whites of his frightened eyes.
"It used to be the Jewel in the North…. Baraba was the trade hub," Marnie said quietly and pursed her small, bloodless lips, "Then the Kinna crossed the east sea and attacked," her eyes flicked to the shimmer of water in the near distance, "they ripped the heart out of the city when they killed the high priestess… the wilder are afraid of this place."
"Are they?" Darn eyed Lilits impassive back,
"Aye," Marnie shivered, "They think the battle is still raging, somehow… they believe that when the last building falls the Kinna soldiers will rise again for another battle." - Whats the difference?
- We now have a host of characters who now have names and the beginnings of personal traits. We also have some information about them physically; Marnie is very pale, perhaps ill? Roger is broad and dark skinned. Darn is missing teeth, perhaps due to age or violence?
- We have a name for the city; Baraba, and we know it was once a great trading centre. It is in the north of this world.
- We know who attacked Baraba and we know what the locals think of the ruined city.
Now there is a sense of a world, or at least a country, around this city. A country with other people not involved in the story.
Secondary and one scene characters are the most underrated resource an author has (in my opinion).
What better way to make a living world that to give every character your M/C encounters a sliver of humanity; a job, a life, a dream? Sometimes it can be as simple as a name or distinguishing feature. There’s nothing worse than a story populated by stock badguy#1s and shopkeep#3s, for example,
The bad (read, boring/lifeless) bad guy.
"Lilit licked her cut lip quickly and glared at the man who stood between her and the door,
"Move." She hissed and narrowed her eyes but he was unimpressed; a shrug and half a chuckle was all she got before he thundered towards her."
This bad guy seems like a cardboard cut out of every dumb shit bad guy thats graced a screen or page, right? And worse still, he gives your reader the idea that your world is full of such types. He can be redeemed, however;
The good (a.k.a genuinely Bad) bad guy.
"Lilit ran the back of her hand over her face, smearing the blood across her lips. This one could be trouble; his red hair was shorn close to his scalp, doing little to hide the conspicuously non-existent state of his left ear. He grinned at her and licked the gap left by a missing tooth; his sly eyes were still and narrow as if in expectation.
"Move," she hissed, skin at the back of her ears tightening, "now! Out of my way!" Her barked orders seemed to break against his skin like wooden arrows against steel,
"Nah," he shrugged, "I think I like watching your mind work, girl… think i’ll enjoy cracking it open more." He rolled his heavy shoulders, "Unless you’d fancy just giving me the money?”
"Fuck off, prick." Lilit shook her head and snarled at him, drawing back her lips in warning,
"Nah, didn’t think so," his grin was lopsided and strangely plesant, "Hell I like you… if you didn’t look so much like my sister I’d fuck you," his snort of mirth was vulgar and coarse, "hell, I might anyway."-
So he’s a bit over the top, yes… but he’s bad and he’s good at being bad. And he seems like he’s lived; he’s missing bits and he’s sly and hard; he’s probably had a shitty life, in short, and decided he’s more of a bully than a victim. He’s not smart but he’s not dumb either; it’s that animal, vicious cunning that we see in so many everyday villains. The knowledge of who they can and can’t push. He’s petty and nasty and utterly misogynistic; in short he could be an actual jerk who’s got a chip on his shoulder or a taste for violence.
One scene characters make a world and so you should make them memorable. Make them petty, angry, bitter, cruel or make them righteous, vain, moral but overbearing. Make your reader wonder what happens to them when they leave the story and you’ll have a world that goes on behind the scenes.
The conspicuously blank world is a sure sign you’ve gone wrong somewhere.
Unless your characters are in a desert or a frozen wasteland there will be scenery and wildlife and plants! Even in the former two there will be some non human life.
- Forests that are quiet at night; either something scared away the animals (a battle, a fire or, even, something demonic?) or it’s not going to feel like a forest, Anyone who’s been camping will tell you that a forest is as noisy as any city at night, especially in places like the Amazon, the Congo and big wildwoods like the Black forest in Germany. Think about what type of woodland you’re setting the reader in e.g a jungle is noisier and more dangerous than a small woodland, a large woodland may hold deer, wolves and miscellaneous mammals but it’s unlikely you’d find a chimpanzee or tiger.
- Lowland hills that are suspiciously devoid of rocks, trees and farms; Even in medieval and pre-medieval times lowland pastures would have had farmsteads dotting them: in fact it’s more likely that they would be devoid of (human) life in a modern setting due to urbanisation. If you’re going for a medieval-esque society/world then you can be certain that there would be lonely farms dotted everywhere on such arable or pasture lands. Likewise, due to the lack of demand of housing, the landscape would be rougher than in modern times as the local would not yet have cleared vast swathes of their vegetation and rubble to make way for farmland or housing.
- 'Ancient' ruins that have not been overrun by nature. The very nature of man made ruins that are ‘ancient’ in definition, here meaning that they have been ruined for at the very least a few centuries (perhaps four or five), is that eventually nature will come into its own again. Unless built on a bare rock face the ruins will start to be overrun by ivy, weeds and small animals looking for shelter. Perhaps even bigger animals like wolves or bears using the depths of such places as dens. Even in the case of desert or tundra wastelands the natural world will take over; ice and snow will crack the stone, the sand will reclaim the space, eventually burying untended places.
- Life;Sounds stupid, I know. But we’re not talking about the big picture, theoretical life like that of a drawing or novel. I mean actual life; birds, insects, other people, flora and fauna, make the world you build full of non-essential life and you’re well on your way to making it come alive.
- Detail; think realism or impressionism rather than abstract. If you’re not a hug stickler or exact detail then give enough that the mind of the reader can discern and add itself. In the same way that the mind can see a tree in a bundle of lines in the right basic form it can also spot history in the merest details. An old building says nothing but scattered, worn books, toppled desks and big, light welcoming windows suggest library. These are the kind of implies histories that say “I was something more, I once had purpose. I lived and died before you were conceived of”. In short “The devils in the detail” and the human mind will pick up on it all.
- Empathy; in all senses. Give your reader something to empathise with; a social injustice, an orphaned child, the happiness of a victory. Likewise make your world an empathetic one; there will be some people in your world who strive to make it better and the world will change with the times. Battles ravage the earth as much as industrialisation; prolonged war will leave fields fallow. Your world should react to the events that take place within it.
Hopefully this representation of three years of frustrated learning curves will be helpful to you! Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or extra detail if you feel its necessary!
It can be hard to figure out how many characters you should have in a particular manuscript. There are important factors regarding who should be in your novel and who shouldn’t be. You don’t want too many. You also don’t want clichéd characters or ones that add little or nothing to the plot. It’s difficult to find the right balance and you don’t want to ruin your story over your character choices.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when you’re beginning to develop your characters. I also have some general tips about characterization and what you should avoid when you’re actually writing.
Be careful when naming your characters.
Obviously, the name of your characters depends on the world they live in, but you want to avoid overly “exotic” names. If you live in an alien world, the name khaskhfeu1782 will be hard for readers to connect to. It’s too strange and difficult to pronounce. Also, naming your character John Smith is too simple (unless you’re Stephen King and your book is The Dead Zone). Extremely hard names can be difficult for the reader to keep track of if there’s more than one. To reiterate, I’m NOT talking about names tied to certain ethnicities because those are necessary to characterization and should never be described as exotic, I’m talking about names made overly difficult in order to show that the character is from a strange planet or a specific fantasy world.
Refer to your character in the same way throughout your novel.
It can become confusing if in one chapter you refer to your character by their first name and then by their last name in another. Pick a name and stick with it. Characters can have nicknames, but make sure you point those out and make them clear throughout your novel. Avoid giving your character too many nicknames or alternative names.
Properly introduce all of your characters.
Don’t just jump into your story thinking “well, they’ll understand these characters eventually.” Readers like to know who they’re rooting for and they need to know important things about each and every main and secondary character. Think about why each character is important to each story and what your audience should know about them. If a character has a skill that will be useful later, make sure you foreshadow it. The character traits, skills, and personalities you take the time to explain need to have some bearing on your plot.
Avoid introducing too many characters at once.
It can become hard to remember who is who, so try not to overwhelm the reader with too much at once. You might end up with a lot of characters the reader doesn’t care about and none they can root for. Even if you decide to have a large cast of characters, you should space out their introductions and make it clear for your audience.
Stock characters should be avoided.
Try to avoid stock characters like “the charming prince” or the “mad scientist”. If you can’t, you need to give them unique characterization to make them stand out from the rest of the crowd. Don’t give them the clichéd character traits to go along with the stock character. It’s up to you to make them interesting. There’s nothing wrong with drawing from archetypes, but you need to make them unique and develop them along the way.
Anonymous asked: People say a lot that there have to be a purpose for a chracters death, what does that mean? What is a good reason for killing a character?
Let’s start with bad reasons to kill a character:
- for shock value
- to liven things up
- for the development of another character
- because you don’t know what else to do with them
Character deaths should serve a purpose beyond furthering another character’s development. It should set off a chain of events, provide an important piece of information, force a decision or other action, or act as a motivator. That’s not to say a character’s death can’t also affect another character’s development, that just shouldn’t be the sole reason for their death. Ultimately, a character’s death—especially if they are a main character—should come as a natural completion to their story arc. For example, you may be writing a fantasy in which a woman rises at court, becomes a powerful queen, loses favor with the queen, and falls from grace. You could have the king stash her away in an abbey somewhere and leave it at that, but if her death could serve a purpose—perhaps motivate a rebellion or inspire another character to poison the king—it would be quite okay for you to have the king execute her because her story arc is complete, and being executed by the very king who brought her to power is both a tragic and fitting end. And, if her death leads to the eventual death of her murderer husband, all the better.
Just as a real person will, a character’s reactions change based on what situation they’re placed in. When a character is somewhere they find dangerous, they may be more jumpy or quieter. When a character is in a place that reminds them of happier times, they may be more jovial or relaxed.
Just as importantly, they’ll change based on the person they’re set in front of; like human’s own personality will alter depending on who they’re talking to. Human beings are creations built of several faces which can interchange flawlessly or with great difficulty, all depending on their own history and mindset.
With characterization, showing is always better than telling. The one of the greatest ways to show to your readers the character’s personality — without directly saying ‘he’s confident on the outside but can be insecure’ — is to place this character in a situation where they’re allowed to show their confidence, and then face them with a person who makes the confidence flee them; whether they like it or not.
Even if your character is the classic ‘confident, fearless leader’, take into account if they meet someone who intimidates them, they may be more withdrawn and submissive. Even if your character is naturally withdrawn, be aware that if they meet a very boisterous and charming person, they may be inclined to reach out more than usual.
In order to do this while staying in your character’s personality, you have to know their Causes and Effects. Is your character withdrawn because they find everyone else beneath them or because they’ve never found someone that engages them enough? If the latter, then that charming person may be just the one to pull them out of their shell in a way that seems ‘out of character’, but is actually a realistic scenario. This shows them as more than ‘shy’, but in fact a human being with dimensions to their personality.
Do you have that rebel character who orders everyone around and never takes no for an answer? If you have them face someone who is just as strong and unwavering, and they’ll conflict. However, have them meet someone who is skilled in persuasion – and maybe manipulation — and the rebel may end up conforming.
It’s all about dancing around the edges of their Limits without actually pushing them too far. This also helps you in the way of backstory, to show previous character growth without a lot of extra explaining.
For example: say you have two characters, Alpha and Beta, who were in the military. Alpha was Beta’s commander, but later they left the military and went their separate ways. In his other life, character Beta is tough, capable, and always the leader of his group. Character Alpha, his former commander, comes rolling in just as capable, even tougher and demands to be the leader. Character Beta conforms.
That’s a sharp change in their personality that could be considered out of character if your reader took it in a glance. But once you hint to their past – though random mentions of rank or ‘yes, sir’ – the reader can see that Character Alpha has always held authority over Beta, and so it’s natural to Beta to conform, even if it’s outside their current natural behavior.
That makes it character development. Beta has grown past the subordinate position and is able to take command for themselves now — but it’s very easy for them to fall into old habits. Alpha may be friendly and open to opinion, but they’re used to giving commands to Beta and always default to their previous relationship.
These dimensions to a character matter. This is what makes your character bounce off a page with tones your readers can recognize and relate to. This creates conflict, tension and general spark in a story, even if it’s at the low point of a plot. It’s your characters who draw us and we have to believe in them to really connect. While writing, make sure to stop and evaluate how your character reacts with the other characters.
Imagine a character that is very frank in manner, who tells his mind to anyone no matter who they are, and never is intimidated by anyone. There is definitely one person out there they’re hesitant about, one person they’ll hold their tongue to. Maybe it’s their children, who they are afraid of offending and driving away. If so, there has to be a cause. It might be they find their children too valuable to lose, while everyone else is fun but not necessary to be around.
Maybe it’s their mother, whose good opinion they take great stock in; but they think very differently than her and most of their confrontations have led to a tainting of that opinion. Maybe it’s a celebrity they admire as a better person than them, so they’re afraid of lessening themselves more than already by one off word. That requires a cause as well — a root of the reaction. They might find themselves more confident with others because they feel they have nothing to lose, while with those of great value to them, they feel they have everything to lose.
This leads us back to the rule of thumb; Cause and Effect will answer all your questions. Taking a moment to think of how your character reacts to individuals will shed light on how they see the world and themselves, which is fundamental for their character and its development. As the writer, you must know all of this information, and your character will give it to you; you only have to test it.