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…]

KP Book Review: Creating Character Arcs

Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development by K.M. Weiland

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

According to Writer’s Digest, K.M. Weiland runs one of the top one hundred writing sites, and she spends a lot of time on her blog giving advice to writers. Since I’ve followed her blog and read her books for several years now, I had high expectations for her latest book on fiction writing.creating_character_arcs

But with this book, Weiland matched and even surpassed my expectations.

In Creating Character Arcs, Weiland delves into the art of crafting character arcs and structuring a story around the protagonist’s character arc in a way that leads to deep themes. As Weiland points out, one of the key benefits of a strong character arc is how it unifies the story. Plot and character are too often viewed as opposing forces. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

How To Create An Intriguing Character

By Mark Kamibaya

Note: I refer to characters and readers as masculine. However, these principles can also be applied to female characters and readers.

Creating a character is often the hardest part in writing. It should be. God created every human being with an intricate and complex personality or nature. Putting all of that complexity on a page is no easy task. Characters are also the main reason why readers will want to read your story. An amazing character can hook a reader even if Intruiging_Charactersthe plot is cliched or even boring. It rarely works the other way around.  A lot is riding on your main character. He can make or break your story. How can you ensure that your main character will hook your reader? One word: conflict.

Characters, especially main characters, must have conflict. There are many ways to add conflict to a character. The easiest way is conflict in surroundings. This is where you put an ordinary person into an extraordinary situation. Like a simple hobbit thrust into an unexpected journey or a young shepherd boy called by God to slay the giant champion of another nation.

Another almost cliched (but nonetheless effective) way is conflict of the past. The best example is the tortured hero: the protagonist that is tortured by his dark past and the personal demons that stem from it. As I said before, this method is overdone, but it can still be used to great effect when you put an original spin on it.  One way to put an original spin on this cliche is to not have him be the instigator or victim of whatever horrible incident, but to make him a bystander of the incident so that his inaction is what plagues him.

[Read more…]