Imaginative Writing – Inner Depths 

 Author Annette Young

By Annette Young

When I talk about imaginative writing, I mean, extending your  initial concept, stretching it and shaping it. Your aim is to bring it to life in a way that will engage the readers. You have to think outside the box. Fiction mirrors real life, it has to, irrespective of the genre, and when we utilise real life, we include the dramas, the highs and lows and deep reflective moments too. To do this, we have to spend time crafting realistic characters.

You have to draft multiple layers so that your characters have a present, a rich history and, a future filled with hopes and dreams.  Characterisation techniques mean that the readers learn new elements, with snippets of information seeping into the story as it unfolds. In other words, there is compelling development throughout.

If you consider people you already know, you’ll realise that you learn more and more as time continues. It’s a constant but gradual process of learning. There’s no trust initially and it takes time for trust to build and for compatibility to grow.

People have multiple facets. They may be kind, they may be warm-hearted, they may be stubborn or feisty. They may have selfish elements or be quick to anger or, they are likely to be a combination of all things. We learn new aspects about those we know all the time.

People react in unexpected or strange ways at times, they surprise us or even shock us. This is important and you may witness those you know acting out of character – especially if you believe that you know them well. This happens for several reasons, either your perception of this individual is wrong, or, it could be that their actions are fuelled by past experiences. People can be motivated by certain things, or demotivated by something else.

Imaginative writing calls for your characters to be multi-faceted, and this makes them far more interesting as a result. Consider all these factors before you even start to write. What are you trying to achieve? Do you want the reader to feel sorry for the character or to recognise strength in the presence of adversity? Do you want the character to start off being nice and then, gradually reveal a more sinister or selfish side? Is the character manipulative or just a lost soul? This type of creative thinking is the only way to truly bring your characters to life.

One of the greatest aspects of writing for me is being able to craft and develop interesting new characters and to breathe life into them. I like to test out their reactions and to put them in situations which will make them react in a specific way. Seriously, sometimes, I am surprised by how my characters react and yes, if you think I am talking about them as if they are real, well, they are to me.

Imaginative writing gives you the tools to take your creations a step further. You spend time creating convincing and compelling characters and by doing so, you begin to believe in them completely. You don’t just see them in your mind’s eye, you know them inside and out and you’ve added flesh to their bones.  Create the essence of these beings by considering all aspects of their persona. Give them hidden depths and keep the readers hooked while you reveal secret aspects of them.

Want to know more about characterisation? CLICK HERE

Novel Writing – Too Many Characters?

Characterisation

by Annette Young

As many of you will know, I spend a great deal of my time providing manuscript critiques or editing manuscripts that come in through the Creative Competitor or  Creative1 Publishing and I often see a very common mistake, that of having far too many characters.  Although there’s no hard and fast rule as to the number of characters within a novel, you have to think from the perspective of the reader. Where there are many characters, it is difficult for the reader to truly connect with any or all of them.

It also makes it difficult for the writer.

How much emphasis can you place on each character if you have a great many milling around within the plot? Each character should have a definitive role to play so you need to consider this. It’s true that some books do have a lot of characters and it’s up to the writer to be able to craft and then pull the layers of these creations together to ensure that they add to the storyline rather than to detract from it. In a novel, it is possible to have main characters and secondary characters and those, as I always think of them, who are bit players, these are the characters that are only relevant in certain scenes so the readers do not need to know them that well.

if you are new to creative writing and have the desire to start writing a novel, try to limit the number of characters and make it a little easier on yourself as a starting point. Above all else,  spend time developing these characters so that they feel real as you are writing and so you are able to portray them with confidence. At the core of crafting 3-dimensional characters is your ability to lay the foundations of these beings and to bring them to life slowly by adding essential layers until you truly believe in them. You don’t need lots of  characters to make it interesting for the reader, you simply need a good plot and strong characters that are believable.

If you feel that your characters are weak or that you have too many in your novel, spend some time considering the importance of each one and lose some if you need to. Spend time working on those that are intrinsic to the plot and  you’ll see the difference.  If you can, always try to view your writing through the eyes of any potential reader and assess what they will get from your story, then you’ll keep your writing and intent honest.

Want to learn the art of novel writing? Click here.

Want to learn more about characterisation? Click here.

Characterisation – Falling Out of Love

Life as a writerby Annette Young

It’s not a great feeling. You prepare to start writing and then you have to face up to the feeling, you have lost belief in your characters and worse, you don’t even really like them that much.  If you feel this way, stop, there’s no point plodding on because the finished result is likely to be that your readers don’t care a jot about your characters either.

 Good characterisation is vital. You really have to care about your characters and be prepared to invest in them in respect of your time, your energy, your experiences and your desire to bring them to life. If you have done all this and yet, still, you feel a little flat, you need to identify what’s wrong with your creations and consider how to make vital changes. 

If you have created character profiles, then take the time to review them. It may be that your character profile is insufficient and your focus has wandered a bit throughout the developmental stage. It may be that your plot has digressed and your characters no longer quite fit with your initial vision. 

It’s easy to make changes, as long as you are honest about your waning interest. Battling on and gritting your teeth determined to finish will always make the end result a little lack-lustre. There’s no cheating the steps towards creating great fiction and characters that do your story proud. Writing fiction can be difficult enough but when it comes to characterisation, you really do need to consider what you want to achieve and go all out to do just this. 

I would always recommend creating character profiles if you are working on a lengthy piece of fiction. It will keep you on track but enables you to really get to know your characters quickly and easily. If you feel that your characters just don’t do it for you, stop, think and then amend some of their traits. Remember, for a character to be believable, they have to have likable traits as well as traits that are irritating. In real life, we are never all good or all bad. We have good and bad habits as will your characters.  Think about how you would like your character to be viewed and add in a few quirky but nice qualities and you’ll soon enjoy writing about your characters once more. 

If you have a clear vision of all that you are trying to achieve, you’ll spot any potential issues sooner than later. 

For more information on fiction and good characterisation, take a look at the Fiction Masterclass

Step Inside the Mind of a Killer

Author Annette J Young

by Annette Young

I’ve long been a fan of crime novels enjoying the cat and mouse game of murderer versus crime solving sleuth but as a writer, there are important steps to take if you wish to create a killer with more than a dash of evil. When I write, I strip back the layers of characterisation and then replace them but emphasise those darker, alternate aspects so that my character is capable of committing my chosen crime. So instead of the character having reason, logic and empathy, there may only be a deeply rooted need to murder someone whether for pleasure or for some perverted sense of justice.  I create a clinical sense of logic and reason – relative only to this character’s goals.

So when creating a killer, you add or detract characteristics, mixing them together in a large creative bowl blending until you reach the right level of murderous intent that suits your needs.

But what motivates your killer? This will make a huge difference as to the blend of evil potential. After all, some people kill out of rage or out of deep emotional pain. In real life, murder victims often know their killers, so there is a tangible link between them. Other murders may be more sinister, the one who stalks the victim, hunting them down for prey – whether for sexual purposes or to merely revel in the game of life and death, these are the characters who send shivers down the spines of the readers.

When I wrote my own murder mystery, I had to decide whether to give the killer free rein. Was the character going to be the star of the book or a shady character lurking in the shadows? Would there be more suspense and intrigue than a cold, calculating desire to take a life? Would the readers share empathy for the killer’s purpose? At the very least, I wanted to make my readers understand why.

writing course
Characters That Kill Writing Course

Learn why characters might kill HERE

The killer must have a reason, even if they own only a distorted logic. Your role as a writer is to create and fine-tune that logic so it becomes a tangible reason to create acts that we all fear in real life.

When you step inside the mind of a killer, you must expect the unexpected and discover the sense of darkness that invades the soul of one who could so easily extinguish a life. When you do so, you create a character so terrible that the reader is hooked to the final page.

Read: Step Insider the Mind of a Victim

Murder Mystery Novel

If you fancy reading a deeply compelling murder mystery novel, you can purchase it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

 

Writing Fiction? Don’t Forget the Building Blocks of Characterisation

foundations of writing

Author Annette Youngby Annette Young

When writing fiction, one of the trickiest elements is being able to create the solid building blocks of good characterisation. Even if you are eager to dip into the writing process, you shouldn’t bypass this stage because you will only end up performing an awful lot of re-writes.

Failure to consider these building blocks will certainly impact your ability to create characters that seem real. If they don’t act naturally, are not compelling or believable, then you will certainly lose that connection with the reader.

I’m a firm believer that you should get to know your characters well before even starting the writing process. This doesn’t mean you have to sit down for hours, furiously scribbling out a back history; you can think and create important character traits while you tackle the mundane chores of everyday life. Alternatively, if you work better by creating an in-depth profile, do so.

You have to know all about your character if you are going to write with authority. Trust me; the words are likely to flow once you know how your character should act and why.  If you are writing a novel and know your plot, it’s easier to create a character that is going to respond to the various traumas and obstacles that you will throw at them, if you don’t, then you may suddenly get inspiration for a plot through creative characterisation. There are no rules as to which way you should work.

When writing fiction, consider the following points for characterisation:

  • What was your character’s life throughout childhood, those teenage years and into adulthood?
  • How does your character make a living? Does the character enjoy this work? Has your character had problems in the work-place, before or currently?
  • What does this character do for relaxation or for enjoyment?
  • Relationships – does your character have a serious relationship already or, are there issues when it comes to dating i.e. bad relationships, serial dater, broken-hearted?
  • What sort of outlook on life does your character have?

When writing fiction and, in particular, novel writing, you have to consider just what makes the character tick. The points included today are only a fraction of the elements needed but it’s a good starting point. You need to understand that former experiences will impact perception in life and will affect how the character thinks and acts. But there are many components that make an individual unique. It’s important to know how to build in the back-story and to create a character that is rich in layers and that has a unique voice.

The next time you are writing fiction, try writing a profile for yourself and consider all the elements that make up a character that almost walks off the page.