Reacting to darkness

If I had to summarise how to reveal the character of your protagonist in simple terms, it would be show how your character reacts to things that happen. Notice, it’s not just a reaction to things that happen to them, but generally. One of the darkest things that can happen around your protagonist is the death of someone close to them. This is why it is so revealing.

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Trusting your reader

When you invite a reader into your fictional world, it involves an element of trust. Part of this trust involves writing to respect your reader’s intelligence without assuming they have psychic abilities.

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Getting back to the work

One of my writer friends recently said that our North Star has to be the work. The actual process of creating is what makes us feel good so it makes sense to always come back to that. Regardless of that, sometimes it is hard because life gets in the way. It is those times that I remind myself of a quote attributed to Confucius: “It does not matter how slow you go as long as you keep moving forward”.

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Creating memorable characters

They elicit potent emotional responses from the reader. They stick in readers minds and sometimes become cult icons. And despite what you may think, they do not have to be likeable.

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Diversity without appropriation

As writers, we are nosy little thieves. We eavesdrop and pick the juiciest tidbits to repurpose for our work. We wonder. We draw from whatever and whomever interests us. With this in mind, how do we sensitively navigate our privilege and avoid cultural appropriation or the oppression of minorities in the process?

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Finding inspiration from nothing

What happens when inspiration is MIA? I’m not talking about traditional writer’s block. It’s more the sense of ennui that can lead you to an unhealthy relationship with Netflix. You’ve written the first draft, and then you get stuck. Or maybe your new project has lost its lustre halfway through.

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How much is not enough?

In great writing, every word counts. There’s no need for extraneous sentences. Dialogue starts at the last possible moment and finishes once the point is made. But there is a balance between using words sparingly and leaving the reader unsatisfied. 

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Following your characters

Getting to know a new character could be like hiking: you follow a map, you get to the destination. The writer leads the charge, using a well drawn “map” to take the characters on a journey. In my experience, character development is more often like hiking with a map drafted five hundred years ago.

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Finding the child writer within

I like minimalism, and I dislike clutter. Yet, I had box upon box of paperwork languishing in storage that I knew I would one day have to wade through. Not just tax returns, but tree upon tree of written words. No doubt you have the same, if you are writer. Maybe it is all of your hand-corrected drafts that you can’t throw out in case you need to go back and find that one stroke of genius that you shouldn’t have deleted?! I found some of those, and through gritted teeth, recycled them.

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