Attention writers, artists, people somewhere in between!
The Ant vs. Whale Literary Magazine will soon be accepting submissions for their very first issue!
Submit poetry, prose, or artwork that you feel best represents the connection between the cosmically large and the infinitely small to email@example.com between April 23 & May 14
And be sure to check out Ant vs. Whale on Facebook and twitter for further news and updates!
We have multiple prompts separated by days of the week in our navigation, under the Inspiration section. I also discovered we have a tag for questionnaires, but its old as balls and hasn’t been updated IN A REALLY LONG TIME. I added a link to that in the navigation under Characterization, if that is more what you’re looking for. I’ll be sure to tag all other questionnaires we reblog or make as well.
As far as having too many details, I think you can never know too much about your characters, but you can choose how much information you reveal about them to your readers. Do as much development as you’re comfortable with for them. :)
A wonderful page where you can find different audio atmospheres. The best thing in it is that you can create your own to inspire you when writing a story!
Hope it’s useful!
The Ask Box
Is now closed. We will root through the current questions we have, and re-open it once we get the number whittled down. Thank you!
Many writers lose focus when writing their novel because they don’t put in the necessary work at foundation level … And this is often because they don’t know WHAT to do at foundation level! Here is a novel pitch template to download (for your own use and/or submission to others, such as beta readers or your agent), plus a breakdown of how I filled mine in for my debut novel in English, THE DECISION: LIZZIE’S STORY. Enjoy and hope it helps!
How to Improve Flat Characters
If you’re having trouble making your characters interesting or you feel like all your characters turn out the same, you’re probably creating flat characters. If your character hasn’t undergone a significant change during the course of your novel or your audience is having trouble relating to them, you need find ways to improve this. It’s important to remember that all your characters need to have goals, no matter how small, and they need to be actively working toward those goals to stay interesting.
Your protagonist should be relatable and realistic. Even if your readers don’t necessarily agree with what they’re doing, they should be able to feel what your protagonist is going through. This is your job as a writer. You need to get your readers to understand their thought process or what they’re going through, even if they’ve never experienced it themselves. This can be achieved by using real-life emotions in your story, so it’s important you don’t ignore the emotional aspects of storytelling. Most people will understand love, fear, sadness, happiness—EVEN if they’ve never been in the situation your protagonist is in.
One of the most important things to remember is that your character’s actions should remain realistic. And I don’t mean that they need to do things only we can do in our world, but their actions need to stay true to their world. Their actions should make sense in context to what they’re going through.
Your protagonist should also be a problem solver and proactive. A character with good morals will have integrity, but we all know not all main character have good intentions. However, all protagonists should be able to do things on their own, or else they’re going to be a weak protagonist. I’m not saying they don’t need help, but they need to overcome the big challenges on their own. They can’t just stand around waiting for everyone else to finish things. They need to take initiative at some point, and this should be due to their personal growth throughout the story.
Here are some tips on improving flat characters:
Focus on primary traits, complexity traits, and character flaws.
Primary traits: Every character you write should have primary traits. These are things like smart, funny, inquisitive, etc. These aren’t necessarily anything deep, but they give the reader enough to understand what sort of category or archetype that character fits in.
Complexity traits: Adding complexity traits will be what adds more depth to your characters, and will make your characters interesting. This is necessary if you are building lead characters/main characters. With complexity traits, you plan out the primary traits with more detail. For example, if your character is smart explain what he or she is smart in. Does he or she know a lot about history? Are they good at math?
Character Flaws: Finally, give that character flaws. These flaws humanize your characters and they generally stand in the way of your character’s success. It’s important that your characters fail sometimes and that these failures are a result of their personal flaws. No one wants to see a perfect character. We want to see someone who is able to pull themselves back together after experiencing failure. We want to see them earn their success.
Next, focus on character goals and motivations.
Character goals: Every single character your write needs to want something. They need to have a goal and those goals will drive your story forward. For example, your main character might want to run a marathon. It’s a big deal for them and they spend your entire novel training (and failing at training) until the end when they finally do it. Running that marathon is their goal throughout your novel and they won’t stop until they succeed. Remember, character goals are different from motivations.
Also, keep in mind that even secondary characters need to want something. Develop each character and make sure you understand why they want to do something. What do they get from helping out your main character? Why do they care so much? Think about what’s at stake for them.
Motivations: There are certain things that will push your characters forward. Expanding on the marathon scenario above, maybe your main character has to finish a marathon because they will win 1 million dollars if they do. Maybe their family is poor and this is the only way to help them. That’s your character motivation. It’s obvious they really care about their family and they need the money. It’s important to understand why your character is doing something and why they want something. What will accomplishing their goals do for them? Why do they need to do? Again, what’s at stake if they don’t?
Character development is a long, in-depth process, but hopefully following these steps will help you out. It’s important that you keep your characters proactive or else you run the risk of them becoming boring. Characters that work actively toward their goals are the most interesting.
We have answered a question similar to this, which I will include in the resources (there are also links on that previous answer for you to look at should you need them).
Anyway… whenever I watch a television programme, an anime, a movie or read a story… hands down, my favourite character will always be the one who does the worst things but somehow manages to redeem themselves.
Here are things I have observed about these characters that might help ease your worries somewhat.
It’s Not All Their Fault
We have to be realistic about this; your character has a certain degree of influence on their own actions. For example, Edmund from The Chronicles of Narnia (my examples will focus on the better known The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe but expect spoilers from other books in the series).
In the beginning of the story, Edmund comes across as a bully, particularly towards Lucy, and he’s also petulant and selfish. Where Peter can reasonably indulge Lucy’s childlike imagination, Edmund harshly dismisses it. Where Susan can try to make the best out of a bad situation, Edmund is unappreciative of her attempts. It’s partly his nature, but he’s not without his own burdens. In the book, it’s his attendance at a new school that brings out his mean-spirited demeanour (which suggests he’s learnt to belittle others in order to keep himself out of the firing line).
So even though Edmund’s decision to trust the White Witch has various consequences, he’s not entirely to blame.
The White Witch is a grown woman - an adult - and is extremely aware of what she’s doing. Edmund on the other hand is a young boy (the second-youngest of the four siblings, which is sometimes easy to forget) and also vulnerable as a refugee.
Not only does the White Witch lure him into a false sense of security with motherly behaviour, she enchants the Turkish Delights she offers to him so that he feels a strong desire to find her again and eat more of them.
That’s not to say he’s blameless. After all, he still lies to Peter and Susan and embarrasses Lucy by refusing to support her story about their visit to Narnia. But leading the White Witch to Mr Tumnus and upsetting Lucy further is not something he does out of malicious intent; he explains everything to the White Witch in an attempt to please her.
Despite the bad things he does, we can understand that it’s not all his fault.
They Suffer Greatly
Whilst Edmund is abused and kept apart from his siblings, this isolation is juxtaposed with Lucy’s childlike wonder and discovery. She is safe with Peter and Susan, seeing a nicer part of Narnia, whilst Edmund is exposed to the very worst part of it.
They Get Their Just Desserts
Edmund is forced to see the White Witch’s true nature when she turns the woodland creatures to stone right before his eyes. He protests against it, and is rewarded by being chastised, held captive and then almost killed for treason.
If it wasn’t for all of these things, Edmund might have lacked a catalyst to reform his behaviour. It also shows that he understands his mistakes and is also willing to rectify them.
Their Better Qualities Later Come to Light
Despite everything, Edmund becomes one of the most loyal and mature characters. Previously, Peter is comparatively the more reasonable and wiser brother and it constantly highlights Edmund’s spiteful nature.
Yet towards the end of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, he sustains great injury by becoming part of Peter’s army and matures eventually to be the voice of reason between the brothers (whereas in the beginning, Peter is always the one to reason with Edmund…!)
Edmund isn’t the worst ‘bully’ character out there, but I do like his character development. Particularly because he could potentially be so much worse, but it is his experiences in Narnia that reform him into a better person.
Generally though… as long as there is a reason for your character to be a bully, and a point where they come to change their behaviour, you’re on the right lines.
I hope this helps. Best of luck…!
What can we learn from LEGALLY BLONDE about characterisation? Read script editor and author Lucy V Hay’s love letter to this great movie where the characters’ worldviews and the story sync perfectly without being overly sentimental and try-hard.
One character is physically injured. Will the other help them? How? Will the injured character accept assistance graciously?