How Symbolism Benefits Character Arcs

Character arcs are bothersome.

Let me clarify: creating character arcs is bothersome. Character arcs in and of themselves are terrific; they aid with theme, character development, and the execution of vital plot points. Yet, they require effort to pull off correctly. Writers risk dumping all the character’s growth on readers like a pile of bricks, rendering the change heavy handed and ineffective.How_Symbolism_Benefits_Character_Arcs

This is where symbolism dashes to the writer’s rescue. Symbolism occurs when an object, person, or place embodies or alludes to an idea or belief. When it is incorporated into character arcs, the changes necessary to the arc are shown, not with words, but with objects. By studying how symbolism is utilized in other stories, we can discover how symbolism enhances character arcs and apply it to our own tales.

Symbolism and Abstract Ideas

Symbolism might seem complicated at first, but once you learn about it, it’s not so scary after all. In one sense, symbolism is like associating memories with objects, people, or places. When your character experiences or believes something, the people, places, and objects around him becomes a landmark to that sentiment or occurrence. Afterwards that object is a monument that will remind your character what happened, just like you might recall a street your best friend lived on or ice cream you ate while celebrating a special event. That is symbolism. [Read more…]

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Gabrielle Pollack currently resides with her family and many cats amidst a small wood she wishes was Narnia. Her interests are varied, and when she isn’t writing or studying, she enjoys karate, archery, introverting, and hanging out on the Kingdom Pen forum. She relishes the cool wind that rushes in before a thunderstorm, the scent of fresh rain, black clouds, and in summary, all things storm. As a lighthearted INFP, she loves horses, spring, strawberries, and sitting on the roof of her house.
She fell in love with stories many years ago and immersed herself in epic books like The Kingdom Series and The Peleg Chronicles, living the adventures and loving the characters. It took her a while to realize she could write epic stories herself, but once she did, she was a lost cause. She never quite recovered her sanity and often rants about good storytelling to innocent bystanders. Gabrielle has written two books since, and has a plethora of other ideas swirling inside her brain, waiting to turn into people and worlds. She desires to glorify God through her books, short stories, and blog, and looks forward to learning more about her trade.

Three Types of Telling You Must Erase to Create an Intimate POV

You’ve just created a new character and are excited to share his point of view with readers. He’s witty, charming, flawed, and about to embark on the adventure of his life. You’re desperate to bring readers up close and personal with him. If you don’t, you’re worried they won’t love him as much as you do. Believe it or not, the key to accomplishing this is showing.

You’ve no doubt heard “show, don’t tell” before. Sounds like solid advice, but what does it truly mean? For the sake of this article, I will separate telling into three categories: telling in description, telling in thoughts, and telling in emotions. Once you eradicate telling in these areas, readers will feel much closer to your character and your book will be one step nearer a masterpiece.3_Types_of_Telling_You_Must_Erase_to_Create_an_Intimate_POV

Not All Telling Is Evil

Before we jump in, please realize that telling isn’t an enemy writers must avoid like gold-obsessed dragons or One Rings. Telling is simply summarizing. You can’t write your entire novel without summarizing; otherwise your book would double in size and slow to an unbearable crawl. The examples in this article are only suggestions, not rules you must obey. Your book should contain showing and telling, not exclusively one or the other. [Read more…]

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Gabrielle Pollack currently resides with her family and many cats amidst a small wood she wishes was Narnia. Her interests are varied, and when she isn’t writing or studying, she enjoys karate, archery, introverting, and hanging out on the Kingdom Pen forum. She relishes the cool wind that rushes in before a thunderstorm, the scent of fresh rain, black clouds, and in summary, all things storm. As a lighthearted INFP, she loves horses, spring, strawberries, and sitting on the roof of her house.
She fell in love with stories many years ago and immersed herself in epic books like The Kingdom Series and The Peleg Chronicles, living the adventures and loving the characters. It took her a while to realize she could write epic stories herself, but once she did, she was a lost cause. She never quite recovered her sanity and often rants about good storytelling to innocent bystanders. Gabrielle has written two books since, and has a plethora of other ideas swirling inside her brain, waiting to turn into people and worlds. She desires to glorify God through her books, short stories, and blog, and looks forward to learning more about her trade.

The Sheer Awfulness of Christianity

As much as I appreciate saying “you” instead of “thou,” I can’t help feeling that modern English has lost some of the richness our language once possessed. The word awful is a prime example. Today we use it to mean “bad” or “disgusting,” but its original definition was more along the lines of: “inspiring such awe and admiration as to border on terror.”The_Sheer_Awfulness_of_Christianity

I don’t think we have a word for that emotion anymore, or even any concept of what it looks like.

In my opinion, an understanding of the sheer awfulness of Christianity is the primary ingredient missing from Christian fiction today. I hope to combat this deficiency by delineating three areas where writers can improve their portrayal of Christianity.

God as an Antagonist

I will start with how we view God, since this forms the cornerstone for how we view everything else. We are in grave danger of misrepresenting God. Whatever led the ancients to craft gods in their own image is still at work today. Yet it has evolved. Instead of fashioning gods in the likeness of ourselves, we treat God as a servant who is beneath us. In Christian literature, God is often cast as the one prompting people to come to him and find the answers to all their troubles. God is essentially a mentor figure or sidekick. He is there to help the protagonist reach his goals through gentle reminders and friendly persuasion. Of course, God usually isn’t an actual character in the story. He’s seen indirectly, but this is still the impression we get of him. Although he seems nice, it’s like he’s tacked on to the plot. [Read more…]

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Daeus is the published author of two books, Edwin Brook and Treachery Against The House Of Fairwin. He is a Christian seeking God’s face when he remembers to and finding that that is all he was seeking when he seeks for something else. He is a joker who takes himself too seriously and a sack full of ambition who likes to relax. Among his top interests are poetry, reading, philosophy, theology, gardening and permaculture, athletics, marketing, psychology, and interacting with his friends. You can also find him participating in such activities as ranting about the glories of frozen raspberries or making impromptu music for every occasion.
He also is a fanatic over The Count Of Monte Cristo. Be thou forewarned.
If you would like to sample his work, you can get a free copy of his novella, Treachery Against The House Of Fairwin at the link below.

Five Methods to Flesh Out a Character

By Naomi Jackson

It’s happened to every writer. You push through thousands of words like butter, and then a pivotal character suddenly dries up. The voices in your head stop talking. You’re stranded without a plot or character arc, because it’s impossible to portray a person you know nothing about.

Never fear! Below I will describe five ways that have helped me uncover more random facts about my characters and delve into their motivations to understand who they truly are. Once you’re inside a character’s mind, it’s easier to predict what he wants and where he’s going.5_Methods_to_Flesh_Out_a_Character

Interview Your Character

You’ve probably seen graphics on Pinterest that prompt writers to jot down ten or twenty details about their characters that readers may never learn. These lists can be a great asset. Scribble down whatever pops into your head first and feel free to be silly, but it’s crucial to dwell on the tougher questions too. What is your character’s worst fear? Favorite childhood memory? Why did she choose this profession/quest/etc.? What drives her forward? [Read more…]

How Villains and Side Characters Can Deepen Your Protagonist’s Character Arc

The core of story is conflict. If your story contains no struggle, it’s just a tale about nobody important who never overcame anything. Conflict takes many forms; physical, mental, and spiritual conflicts are all crucial, and even necessary. Ideological conflict, however, is invaluable to developing character arcs. Without it, your protagonist won’t grow because his beliefs are never questioned. Ideological conflict is often facilitated by villains and side characters who challenge the hero’s beliefs and worldview. If you start with your protagonist, creating these characters is relatively simple.How_Villains_and_Side_Characters_Can_Deepen_Your_Protagonist_s_Character_Arc

How to Create an Effective Villain 

Let’s say your hero has a positive change arc. This means your protagonist initially has a negative Experiment in Living and clings to a lie that damages or hinders him somehow. Over the course of the story he learns the truth, which he eventually uses to replace the lie and defeat the villain. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Gabrielle
Gabrielle Pollack currently resides with her family and many cats amidst a small wood she wishes was Narnia. Her interests are varied, and when she isn’t writing or studying, she enjoys karate, archery, introverting, and hanging out on the Kingdom Pen forum. She relishes the cool wind that rushes in before a thunderstorm, the scent of fresh rain, black clouds, and in summary, all things storm. As a lighthearted INFP, she loves horses, spring, strawberries, and sitting on the roof of her house.
She fell in love with stories many years ago and immersed herself in epic books like The Kingdom Series and The Peleg Chronicles, living the adventures and loving the characters. It took her a while to realize she could write epic stories herself, but once she did, she was a lost cause. She never quite recovered her sanity and often rants about good storytelling to innocent bystanders. Gabrielle has written two books since, and has a plethora of other ideas swirling inside her brain, waiting to turn into people and worlds. She desires to glorify God through her books, short stories, and blog, and looks forward to learning more about her trade.

Beyond the Evil Overlord: Three Dynamic Character Arcs for Villains

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a hero in possession of reasonable talents and good looks must be in want of an arch nemesis.”Beyond_the_Evil_Overlord

Although the above statement is nothing more than a bad Jane Austen paraphrase, every writer knows that a story is vapid without a villain. Without darkness, how will the light shine through? No one can test, provoke, or push the hero to reach his full potential the way a villain can. In all likelihood, without the villain, the hero would still be a poor moisture farmer in a planetary backwoods.

But even though we recognize that a villain is essential to the success of a story, we tend to focus our efforts on fleshing out our protagonist’s motivation and personality. We may create the most unique and compelling character of the century, but if our main villain is a lazy, dark-lord-Sauron imitation, the story’s overall quality will be reduced.

A stagnant villain is a boring villain. With that in mind, let’s examine three dynamic character arcs villains can follow. [Read more…]

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Sierra Ret is a homeschool student who spent nearly her entire childhood with her nose buried in a book, and consequently decided she wanted to write one of her own (preferably filled with dwarves and elves). Actually getting her thoughts down on paper regularly has proven to be a far greater challenge than she first thought, but Kingdom Pen was kind enough to step in and give her some much-needed deadlines by honouring her with a temporary spot on their writing team. When not hermiting behind a laptop screen, Sierra enjoys gallivanting across Canada and adventuring near her home in rural Ontario with her family. Currently her chief fantasies include making a living as a travel blogger and someday moving to New Zealand. But above all, her chief aim is to live a passionate and meaningful life for the glory of God.

How to Write an Unlikable Hero

A dark, brooding hero isn’t particularly nice to anyone, and he is particularly mean to a few nice people. A tragic event in his past has shaped his sour outlook on life. He might live on 221B Baker Street, or he may call up CIA agents just to tell them they look tired. He’s conflicted, fearless, and terrified.

Also, he’s very popular in modern YA fiction.How_to_Write_an_Unlikable_Hero

But, unfortunately, failure awaits those who attempt to write him. A dark, brooding, unlikeable character is … unlikeable. The chances are slim that he will hold readers’ attention through a book.

Many authors try to skirt the problem by throwing in backstory that explains how the hero became such a jerk. They think readers will pity and ignore the hero’s rough edges if they understand that he lost his parents at a young age.

Wrong. [Read more…]

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Raised on C.S. Lewis and matured (to whatever extent) on Tolkien, Brandon Miller is a huge fan of Christian speculative fiction. His favorite stories artfully bend the physical reality to reveal spiritual realities which apply to all realms, kingdoms, districts and solar systems (including our own.)
When not writing fiction Brandon spends his time tending his blog The Woodland Quill, sportsing, or just struggling through that last-year-of-high-school/first-year-of-college which is really neither but is definitely both.

How to Use Personality Types to Deepen Your Characters

If you’ve been an author for any length of time, you’ve probably heard about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Maybe you’re enthralled with it. Maybe you’ve glanced at the confusing muddle of letters and given up deciphering it. Or maybe you’ve heard others talk about it. Whatever the case, if you aren’t acquainted with MBTI, welcome to your introduction to personality types.

How_to_Use_Personality_Types_to_Deepen_Your_Characters

Although other personality tests and categories exist, MBTI is one of the most popular. With eight letters in pairs of two (Introvert or Extrovert, iNtuitive or Sensing, Feeling or Thinking, Perceiving or Judging) and sixteen possible combinations, the range is comprehensive without being overwhelming.

This topic is fascinating for those of us who enjoy delving into other people’s minds, but do personality types have practical applications in writing, and what are the limitations? [Read more…]

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Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/

Are You Helping Your Protagonist Cheat Her Way to Victory?

By Rachel Keller

You’ve written a novel that you love (ironically) beyond words and handed it to beta readers to prepare it for the final editing stage. You’ve aced all the details (characterization, plot, theme, setting). You’re sure this is the novel that will launch you into publishing. Then you receive disturbing feedback from your beta readers:

“I didn’t care about the protagonist.”Are_You_Helping_Your_Protagonist_Cheat_Her_Way_to_Victory

“The protagonist won too easily.”

“I couldn’t help feeling more drawn to the side character or villain.”

Your momentum slows as you read their comments again and again. What happened? Your character suffered greatly! She dragged herself to the end! You spent considerable time developing her story. How can they dislike her? What did you do wrong?

I had this experience on the flip side as the reader. Excited to delve into a new book, energized and intrigued by the plot. Yet, I repeatedly slammed the book down in frustration. [Read more…]

Why Characters Who Love Each Other Won’t Ruin Your Novel

It’s possible you were taken aback at the title of this article. Maybe you once read a novel about happy people doing happy things in a happy world that caused you to cry in agony and run as fast as you could in search of a caged fight. Love means nothing ever happens, right? If people get along perfectly, where’s the conflict? And who wants to read a book about people who adore each other?Why_Characters_Who_Love_Each_Other_Won_t_Ruin_Your_Novel

As if romance isn’t a popular genre.

But I’m not talking about romance. I’m talking about love in general. Your characters should love each other, and despite the legitimate objections against this, your story will benefit. Here I will explain how. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Daeus
Daeus is the published author of two books, Edwin Brook and Treachery Against The House Of Fairwin. He is a Christian seeking God’s face when he remembers to and finding that that is all he was seeking when he seeks for something else. He is a joker who takes himself too seriously and a sack full of ambition who likes to relax. Among his top interests are poetry, reading, philosophy, theology, gardening and permaculture, athletics, marketing, psychology, and interacting with his friends. You can also find him participating in such activities as ranting about the glories of frozen raspberries or making impromptu music for every occasion.
He also is a fanatic over The Count Of Monte Cristo. Be thou forewarned.
If you would like to sample his work, you can get a free copy of his novella, Treachery Against The House Of Fairwin at the link below.