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

Are Short Stories Becoming Popular Again?

By Tabitha Levin

With the rise of digital publishing, it seems that the humble short story is indeed becoming popular again with readers.

Short stories lend themselves to e-readers well, since most people use their Kindles and Nooks while travelling to and from work, relaxing in a coffee shop in their lunch breaks, or snuggling into their pillow just before bed. All of these times are limited to how long the reader has, so being able to finish a story before switching off the lights has great appeal.

That’s not to say that novels are less popular now, not at all, in fact the rise in reading lengths is across the board from short fiction to epic novels, but nevertheless it’s good to see that short form fiction is on the rise.

In the past, traditional publishers thought they were not profitable enough to print due to paper and publishing costs, which is why novels became the standard (better profit margins). The only place that short stories remained popular was fantasy and science fiction due to magazine publications that were happy to publish them. But with digital publishing that is no longer a factor, and both fiction and nonfiction of all lengths can be produced for little cost.

The short length is popular with young adults especially, who in today’s culture, often don’t have the attention span to stay with a long novel. If they can get all of the action they want in a few pages, along with a tight plot and interesting characters – that suits their fast paced lifestyles better.

But it isn’t just young adults that don’t stay with long novels, with so many entertainment mediums competing for our attention, from television, iPads, cinemas, and e-readers most people have limited time. Choosing a story then becomes a much more attractive option.

Many short stories are also being optioned to become films, since the shorter length translates onto the screen much better than a full novel, which requires substantial editing to get it to fit to less than two hours. Recent movies including Brokeback Mountain, iRobot and Fight Club all started this way, and many more are being made or optioned right now. It’s of no surprise that Hollywood directors are scouring the Amazon bestseller lists for potential movie ideas, and just recently independent author Hugh Howey got the interest of producer and director Ridley Scott for his excellent story Wool.

It’s not only readers who like short stories, many authors, including myself are also enjoying writing short fiction. []Click here to see my latest work (including short stories and bundled collections) and while you are there make sure to read some more reasons to read short stories.

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