Productive Ideas That Create Creativity

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ideas (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

No matter what type of creativity you crave, chances are you are always looking for inspiration. In the writing world it has never been easier to share our imagination, ideas and creative thoughts with others through proper use of the internet. It is also tougher as well. With all the distractions life has to offer, and all the others available online, a writer of any level can find themselves far from where they want to be creatively. Below is a short list of tips that may help to get your creative juices flowing, some will help to provide productive distraction that eventually leads you back to the creative world, while others will provide you with a new outlook on your approach to writing.

Productive Ideas To Create Creativity:

  • Write it out. No matter how silly, strange or unstructured, get it on paper so it is not stuck in your head.
  • When inspiration hits, drop everything and indulge.
  • Play with children. They see the world differently and can be a huge source of inspiration.
  • When you are not inspired, don’t write. This is the ideal time to enjoy distractions, who knows maybe they will spark an idea.
  • One small idea can be just as great as 100 big ones.
  • If something is messing up your mojo, move it or lose it entirely. This includes people.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a break. Spending too much time on one task creates stress and leads to less productivity in the long-run.
  • Get up, get out, get moving. Exercise and human interaction are excellent for the creative brain.
  • Make it fun. If you are feeling really blocked make your work into a game. Try naming 100 things that start with B, or that are red. When you make writing fun again your brain is more likely to co-operate.
  • Don’t force an idea. It is better to let an idea enter your mind itself than to try to force it. Forcing the idea too early often leads to frustration and eventually confusion due to over-thinking. Let it simmer, it’ll come.
  • Change the way you write. Sometimes a simple change of style is enough to get you back on track.
  • Seek inspiration in the small things. A short post about anything takes the same level of creativity as a large piece, but less time and sometimes more freedom. Spend time writing small things, even if you never publish them, they can be useful sources in the future and often lead to larger works down the line.
  • Write everything down. If you are a writer you should have a pen and paper (or something of the sort) at all times. As soon as an idea strikes write it down. Be sure to add as many details as possible so you are not looking back at a note later wondering what “One Eyes Pete and the laser of life” means.
  • Share what you have learned with others. Teaching others is a wonderful way to inspire yourself.
  • Update the past. If you are at a loss pick up older pieces and give them a fresh start, or a face lift.
  • Nix the negativity. Whether it is your own self-inflicted negativity or the criticism of others, dwelling on it is not going to get anything done. Lesson number one in life: You will have far more haters than you ever will fans. (So it’s probably best if you are on your own side.)
  • Stop aiming for perfection. The best thing you can do is write it, and get feedback. Don’t try to make it a final draft the first time around, you will end up miserable and overworked, with a wreck of a story that has been hacked to death. Remember the worst that can happen is that it will suck…. Guess what? It can be deleted and re-written!
  • Enjoy yourself. If it’s not enjoyable for you then don’t do it at all.

Until Next Time…

Write On!

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Creating Content for the Web

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I have written about Web Writing before, but it is a very broad topic, and an important one as well. Those writer’s interested in writing good web content have the potential of being very successful with the right knowledge and tools.

Writing for the web is very different from writing a novel, article, poem or school paper. Very rarely do readers on the web read a page word for word, instead they spend most of their time ‘scanning‘ a page in search of information, or something that catches their eye. It is this ‘scanning‘ instinct that makes web writing an often complex avenue for writers to navigate and succeed in on the large-scale. With a little effort and some basic knowledge you can achieve success writing for the web. Many writers have found satisfying careers online and have even created reputable names for themselves as web writers.

Online audiences are generally in search of specific information, and quite often they are doing so on a limited time schedule, because of this web readers have a tendency to ‘scancontent. If you want to attract readers to your content it is important that you make your site ‘scan-able‘, this can be done in many ways…

How to Create Scan-able Content:

  • Use Highlighted Keywords. This can be done simply by using a bold font, or with a different typeface or color. You want to draw attention to the keywords so readers can quickly and efficiently find the information they are looking for without added time or in-depth reading.
  • Use Clear Headings, and even clearer sub-headings. Headings and sub-headings help to break-up your content and allow readers to quickly find what they are looking for. Don’t aim to be clever, as you would with a newspaper or book title, instead ensure that your headings explain what the content is about in as much detail and as few words as possible. Using content specific titles and headlines will make your content easier to locate through search engines, and more reader-friendly for web-based audiences wanting to quickly located the information the need.
  • Utilize the bulleted list option. Lists are far easier to read then lengthy paragraphs, and they naturally draw the reader’s eye to the information they provide. Use lists and bullets to highlight important information that you want your readers to see more clearly.
  • Be clear from the start. Being clever and catchy is important, but being clear is the key to successful writing on the web. Begin your post by clearly stating what you are writing about or your run the risk of losing your readers right out of the gate. Start with a clear outline of your content and work from there. Ensure that you are putting the most important information at the beginning of your post, and the less important content towards the end. Don’t forget to sum up everything you have written in closing as well, this helps readers to retain what they have read and allows them to see if they have missed anything while scanning the content.
  • Short and Sweet. A general rule of web writing is to keep it short and sweet. This applies to your paragraphs, which should only house one thought per paragraph, as well as your word count, where less is always more. Web readers live busy lives and often have a thousand other sites to visit along with yours, keeping your content to a minimum will keep your readers happy and actually encourage them to spend more time on your site. Feature only the most important information and save the rest for another time and place. Web writing can be beneficial because it allows you to create future content based on the short posts you have already written. Each post has the potential of turning into ten more through links to past content, and expansion of future content on your site.
  • Back up your facts. With the magnitude of information available online it can be difficult to tell what is true and what is false, be sure you support any facts with evidence. Credibility can also be achieved using graphics, professional writing, and outside links to similar information or sites. Using links will show your readers that you have done your research and that you are not afraid to direct them to other sites, it will also help generate more traffic to yours in the long run. Be sure to cite any sources you have used to gather information and give credit to those authors that may have inspired your post from content that was written on their site. Not only is this important for professionalism and general politeness, it is also a great way to gather readers from other areas of the online community that may not have found your site otherwise.

Web writing can be a rewarding career or an enjoyable hobby. It is a great way for beginning freelancers to break into writing and make a name for themselves. You can easily gather followers and fans with good writing, and you can help readers from all different walks of life learn and discover new information and ideas.

If you have the desire to succeed, and you create content that is easily read and rich with information, you can potentially earn a fair income writing online content in various forms. Whether you choose to write for yourself, or you gain a contract writing online content for another source the basics always remain the same. You simply need to remember that online readers want to find the information they are looking for quickly, and they want detail without hassle. If you make your site ‘scan-able,’ providing the essential information in an easy to read format, you will succeed as a web writer, a world in which the sky is the limit.

Until Next Time…

Write On!

Do you have any advice for aspiring web writers?
What has your online writing experience been like?
Do you have any questions or concerns that you want addressed?

Feel free to post in the comment section below, or send your inquires, questions or submissions to:
perfectlyprompted@live.ca 

Write When You Don’t Want To…

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We all have those days when no matter which way we look at it we just don’t feel like writing, but avoiding your work if you truly hope to succeed is not the way to accomplish your goals. Procrastinating or pushing aside your writing once leads to further avoidance and before you know it too much time has passed without a single written word.

You do not have to spend hours writing to get things done, in fact, often times just a few focused minutes will do just fine. Below are a few ways to get yourself writing, even when you really don’t want to…

  1. Make Lists – A large number of my posts on this site, and others are built around lists. Making lists is a great way to generate ideas while keeping your thoughts focused and organized. Build a list of your favorite sites, quotes, or even post ideas you want to complete in the future. Creating the list will get you writing and chances are it will lead you to completing, or at least starting, one of the items you have come up with.
  2. Create Catchy Headlines – Lets be honest, after a long day it can often be overwhelming to consider writing a long detailed post. Instead of wearing yourself thin trying to come up with an entire article write only headlines. Writing and creating headlines works a lot like writing lists, it generates ideas and gets your writing gears moving in the right direction. Don’t feel as if you have to finish anything at that moment, simply create ideas for a time when you have the time to write.
  3. Edit Old Posts – If you are really stuck for new topics consider looking to the past. Editing old articles or posts can be very inspiring and often leads to new ideas that are expanded from old ones. Visit the early posts of your site and re-write one of your posts, you will probably be surprised by how much your writing has improved in just a short time.
  4. Clear The ClutterWriter’s block can happen because our minds are filled with too much clutter and we have no room for new ideas. Make room for inspiration by clearing out the crap that is cluttering up your brain. To accomplish this all you need is paper and a pen (or your computer) and a few minutes of your time. Sit down somewhere quiet and simply write whatever comes to mind. Don’t think, don’t attempt to make sense, and most of all don’t edit it in any way… Just write and get it all out of your head and on to paper so that new ideas can fill the empty space you have created in your mind. Remember to keep this ‘free-writing‘ sheet and look at it in the future, you may be able to pick out useful pieces out of the chaos that was inside your head, but if not don’t stress the point is to simply clear your mind, inspiration and usable content is not important.
  5. Relive a Resolution – One sure-fire way to get something written is to write about a problem that you were able to solve. Perhaps you figured out how to get grass stains out of your 8-year-old’s favorite jeans, found a solution to rebellious teens, or simply discovered a quicker way to clean the kitchen, writing about how you solved a problem is a great way to get writing, and it might help others who are facing the same dilemma you once were.
  6. Seek Inspiration Elsewhere – It might sound strange but you can easily find inspiration in other people’s writing. Visit your favorite blog and read through the content than take a piece and re-write it with your own spin. (Remember to link back to the original author) If you are uncomfortable re-writing someone else’s idea than consider expanding on their piece instead, again being sure to link back to the original post to give the author the credit they deserve.
  7. Answer a Question – Much like sharing a resolution, answering a question can be a great way to get a post on your site. Ask readers to send in questions, or simply create your own based on your site’s content. Sharing information about yourself or your business helps your readers to connect with you on a different level and opens up ideas for future posts.
  8. Explore Unusual Genres – Many times when I am stuck for something to write I will turn in a completely different direction for inspiration. I find writing in an unfamiliar form to be very inspiring. If I am having trouble finishing an article I will step back and pound out a poem or short story. Doing this keeps me in the writing mode, but allows me to look at things from a different perspective. By the time I am ready to tackle my original task I usually have an open mind and plenty of new ideas to write about.
  9. Outline – Outlining is a great way to get started without having to get too in-depth. If you are not in the mood to write try outlining something. You never want to avoid writing because it will lead to lost time now and later, the more you avoid it now the greater chance your writers block or lack of motivation will grow and lead to further avoidance. Instead of walking away from your goals do something that will help them move forward. Outline a post, short story or article that you can write in detail later, this way you are still writing, but you are not forcing yourself to spit out usable content that could have been better written when you are in a writing mood.
  10. Write a Letter – If posts, poems, and articles are simply out of the question for your writing mind at the moment than write someone a letter. When was the last time that you sat down and wrote a letter (not an email) to a friend or family member? Letter writing is a dying art, but I am seeking a revival. Writing some one a letter (even if it never gets sent) is a great way to get yourself writing without the pressure of having to do it well.
  11. Be a Teacher – We learn a great many things in our lives, why not share those lessons with others? Teaching is a wonderful thing, you don’t have to be an expert to teach people something, simply having some experience and an opinion is more than enough. In the modern-day it is easy to sill in the holes that you may not be sure of and with a bit of research you can create a factual post in no time. Use your life lessons to teach others and help them accomplish the same things you have without the hassles you had to face.
  12. Seek Out Strangers – Lastly, if you are really stuck for something to write about, look out the window. Pick a stranger on the street (or from a photo if no one is around) and write about what the picture tells you about them. The man in the park feeding the birds, the woman with her child that has tears in her eyes, the teenage girl with the pink spiky hair… Look around you, there is endless inspiration to be found in every face you see. If you are feeling really gutsy then strike up a conversation with someone and see where it takes you. You never know who you are going to meet.
If you want to succeed as a writer you must write. This is not to say you should force yourself to create amazing works of art when your heart, and mind, are just not in it, but you need to keep writing no matter your mood. If you have decided to be serious about your writing than you have probably scheduled daily writing time into your routine, it is important that you keep this appointment with yourself. Use the ideas above as inspiration on those days when you really don’t want to write and work yourself thorough it. It is not about writing something amazing, it is only about writing. Don’t pressure yourself to be amazing, just be the writer you know you are inside.
Until Next Time…
Write On! 
How do you cope when you don’t feel like writing?
What inspiration do you use when you face writer’s block?
Share your tips and thoughts in the comment section below and remember that questions, comments, thoughts and submissions can also be emailed to:
perfectlyprompted@live.ca

Get on Track to Productive Writing

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The year-end is fast approaching, and for many this is a remind of the resolutions they made at the stroke of midnight many months ago. For some these resolutions were aimed toward a healthier lifestyle, a happier lifestyle and a more productive lifestyle. For others these resolutions were aimed towards their writing, if you resolved to be a more productive writer this year and have found yourself falling behind, don’t get discouraged, you still have time to get back on track…

Helpful Tips to Get Your Writing Back On Track:

  • Write Every day.
    Being productive in your writing does not need to be difficult, it is more about actually writing than it is about the amount of usable content. Resolve to take 60-90 minutes each day and focus on only your writing. Choose a time when you are relaxed and able to focus distraction free, early morning and late evening seem to be the best times for most writers, but choose a time that works best for you. Perhaps you have free time in the afternoon while the little ones are at school or down for their nap, whatever time you choose use it to focus on your writing and only your writing.
  • Don’t Stop.
    Once you have found the time to devote to writing every day, do it without stopping. Don’t think too much about what it is you are writing, simply write. Don’t allow your mind to stop for at least 30-60 minutes or you run the risk of getting distracted by other responsibilities and losing your train of thought.
  • Don’t Stress.
    Stop worrying about the way you are writing and just write already. It can be hard not to compare yourself to other writers, but remember that there is no writer in the world that doesn’t produce an awful first draft of their writing. (well they might be one or two, but they are freaks of nature and we don’t like them very much at all!) Accepting that your first draft of anything does not need to be perfect should relieve a lot of stress and allow you to focus on getting the words down on paper. Don’t waste time stressing about perfection, just focus on getting your thoughts out of your head where they can be read, edited, re-read and re-edited at a later time. shaping them in to the final piece of art you are wasting time trying to create right now.
  • Write The Way You Talk.
    You will save yourself an ample amount of time if you simply write the way you talk. There is nothing complex about this statement so don’t bother over-thinking it, do as it says and write exactly the way you would talk to your best friend. A large amount of time is wasted trying to get a first draft to sound, or read, just right… This is unimportant at this point, the main focus should simply be getting the content on the page to be edited later, so write the way you talk and you will find that your writing flows more easily and you will produce more usable content.
  • Don’t Give Up.
    Every writer has a bad bout, moments when no matter how hard they try they are unable to really write. If you find yourself facing a major block simply wait it out without giving up. It is important that you still write during these times, even if what you are producing is junk, it is about working through the wall and getting into the next batch of ideas. If you find you are unable to focus on one project, test out some lighter writing. Writing poetry, stories or different forms of writing than you would regularly write can be a great way to beat a block and open up your inner muse. The point is to battle on and never give up on your writing.
Remember, it is never too late to get back on track with your writing. Don’t put yourself down because you have not accomplished your goals, instead make new goals and start towards them without regret.
Until Next Time…
Write On!

Essentials of a Good Scary Story

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October is the month of ghosts, goblins and vampires. It is the season of fear and the home of Halloween, it is also the ideal time of year to read, and write, scary stories.

The history of the horror story dates back to the beginning of time, and modern-day horror stories fly off the shelf as fast as they are printed. Authors like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and even Edgar Allen Poe have turned the art of the horror story into the popular genre it is today.

Writing horror can be rewarding, and interesting work, but there are basic essentials that every horror story should have if it hopes to gather an audience and frighten the reader enough to keep them coming back for more.

The Essentials of a Good Horror Story:

The basics of good horror are not much different from that of any written work. Good characters, good plot and plenty of detail make up a great portion of any story, but there are things that a horror story must contain if it hopes to be successful and the least bit scary.

  1. Suspense – Every good horror story or movie is built upon suspense. It is that ‘what is going to happen next’ or the ‘I know something is going to happen next’ feeling that pushes the reader to continue on. Good suspense can be built in two ways, either with the reader know what it is that is going to happen but not knowing when, or with the reader not knowing what is going to happen or when it is going to occur. The first example is one of the most difficult to achieve as a writer, Stephen King is the master of this form of suspense. King has the amazing ability to take an event and turn it into pages upon pages of suspense, all while keeping the reader hooked on each and every word. Creating good suspense requires practice, but one of the easiest ways to achieve this is to feed your reader only pieces of the story, little bits at a time. This action causes them to read further in the hopes that the puzzle will all fit together in the end. There is no short cut for creating suspense, it is all in the details and it takes time to write. Be patient and prepared to edit often.
  2. Death – Death is a major part of fear in humans and is a major detail in all, scary stories. Death in your writing does not have to be gruesome to create fear, but it has to be realistic. Using death to induce fear in your reader is not a difficult skill to master, it is about leaving blanks of information to be filled in at a later time. It goes hand-in-hand with suspense and all other aspects of horror writing and again, it all takes time.
  3. Realism – No matter the plot of your story it has to have some sort of realism. What was considered scary 10 and 20 years ago is not the same as today. Society has been desensitized to the horror story over the years, ghost, goblins and alien invaders are not considered the doom they once were. Horror stories today have far more realistic plots and min-altering story lines that leave the reader wondering if they could possibly be true. You can still utilize the old favorites of ghosts and vampires, but you need to be sure that you will be able to use them in a new and exciting way. No longer can a writer simply ‘create’ something and claim it to be true, today’s stories must back up their creations with proof if they truly hope to induce fear.
  4. Suggestiveness – This is another element that helps to build upon suspense, to induce fear and write a good horror story you must leave it to the reader’s imagination. Feed your readers only what you must to make the story move, but allow their imaginations to create the rest, right up until you bring on the ‘big twist’ and the shocking end.
  5. Strong and believable characters – As with any other genre, believable characters play a major role in the horror story. Your readers must connect with your characters, they must want them to live, and they must be engrossed in their battle to survive. Also, you must have that character that your readers hate as well, that character that they know is doomed, and they truly don’t care. Be sure that you spend a lot of time on character creation if you are planning on writing a horror story, as with every other element involved, this will take up time but the result is worth it. Horror stories are often character driven, so if you go wrong here you run the risk of ruining the entire story right from the start.

Things to Remember While Writing Horror:

If you want your story to be a success remember the following…
Avoid clichés – Too many scary plots have been played to death, avoid the obvious fearful situations such as, a woman alone in a dark house, the experiment gone bad, the haunted woods, and the Ouija board are just a few. If you have seen it a hundred times, read it a hundred times, or told it around a campfire when you were 12, choose another scenario.
Be Realistic – You can not get away with writing a story these days that is based solely on fantasy, it just won’t fly. Readers want stories that are realistic in at least some sense. Even if your idea is based on fantasy you must have some realistic elements to back it up. Scientific evidence is a major part of today’s top-selling horror novels, it requires a lot of research on the writer’s part, but it also helps make the story more believable and thus more frightening.
Be Aware of the Gore – There is a fine line between gruesome and grotesque, be aware of the gore content in your writing. You want to scare your readers, but not completely gross them out. Keep the gruesome details to only the necessities  and avoid going overboard.
Keep it Organized – It is absolutely imperative that you keep your information organized or you risk losing your reader’s attention. There is a ton of prep-work to be done when writing scary stories, and keeping organized notes can make the whole process a lot easier on you as the writer.
Set the Stage – Both your characters and your setting should help set the stage for your main point of conflict. Right from the start of your story you need to connect the two and create instant suspense.
Remember that God is in the Details – There is nothing more important that good detail to the writing of a horror story. Use descriptive words, explain and describe the surroundings, characters and emotions. Horror relies on the reader being able to visualize the scene in their mind so the more vivid the image the more fearful they will be when the time comes. There is no need to go overboard, but make sure that your readers can see the scene as you do being the writer.
Until Next Time…
Write On!

Print vs Web – Interesting Facts for the Online Writer

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In this information age the World Wide Web is the go-to for everything from news to reviews. It is the main source of information today, and it is great place for a writer to build themselves a name and get their content published. Although, writing for the web is very different from writing a newspaper or magazine article and it is these simple, yet important, differences that can make or break a writers online pursuit.

Web Readers want to go places, they are engaged in what they are reading and are often in search of specific information. They know there is a plethora of sites to see and they want to keep moving.

Print Readers are aiming more towards relaxation and are in a relatively passive state. They are geared towards being entertained, and are often seeking pleasure rather than factual information.

The differences between writing for print (such as a newspaper article) and writing for the web may seem simple, but they require some basic knowledge of reading styles, and a different approach to the content itself.

Headlines are the first place that you will notice a difference between print writing and the online media. Where a newspaper might use a catchy headline to grab a reader’s attention, web writers need to be very specific in their wording in order to have their content found in the search engine results. A rule of thumb for online headlines is that they must have keywords, details, and facts. A newspaper has the advantage of attaching a visible photo which coupled with the catchy headline, helps to reel readers in through curiosity. Web writing relies on search engines to gather readers and most titles are listed in plain text, thus they must clearly state what the piece is about. An article about the effects of ballet on the feet in a newspaper might get away with a title of ‘Tippy Toes‘, but online it would be lost among the excess of articles, and would surely be beaten out in the search engine by results that are more specifically worded.

When you are writing headlines for a piece online you must consider exactly what a reader will type into the search engine in order to find your page, the closer you are to their wording, the higher you are on the lengthy search results list. Clarity over cleverness is key to writing on the web, and clarity can be achieved by using informative text in the first 3 words of your headline. Web writers speed read and scan and thus they rarely see a link in its entirety, be sure you catch their attention with clear, concise headlines and follow-up with easy to read factual information.

The web is aimed towards more specific information, so an article about the effects of ballet on the feet should include reviews of ballet shoes, solutions to the issues, and suggestions for preventive measures. Where a newspaper article will skim the surface of an issue, feeding you the basics you need to know, an online article needs to dig deep and cover all the bases. A good online article will tell you not only how to avoid, ease or erase the issue at hand, but will specify exactly who to see, what to buy, where to go, and how to do so.

Another major difference between print and online media is the tone. Print publications are geared more towards relaxation and entertainment than solution-hunting. In print writing you can use a more personal tone to ‘tell a story‘, where writing for the web requires the use of much more factual information. Storytelling online is often viewed as filler, and tends to slow the reader down, or stop them altogether. Web readers are in search of information, and they often want to find it fast. Ensuring that you have all the facts in place, in an easy to read format, will help your readers gather the information they require without the added effort.

Keeping content to the basics is an important part of online writing. Web readers will often only skim through content to find what they are looking for, and a ‘story‘ that would be otherwise amusing become a road-block on their immediate mission. Sentence structure and detailed paragraphs become somewhat unimportant in comparison to easy to find facts. Keeping your word count and content to a minimum is actually a plus in the world of web writing. Be sure that you get to the point quickly and provide only the essential information.

The last major difference between print and web is the readers requirements. Print such as newspapers, magazines and even television are author-driven and the reader is often willing to tag along for the ride in the hopes of being entertained. Writing on the web is different, readers online want to be in control of what they see and read, thus the content becomes reader-driven and often needs to be more in-depth and flexible. Web writing is an action based media that allows the reader to choose which information is important to them, and which they don’t care to see at all. This is an important fact to remember when writing for the web and can easily make (or break) your site and its content online.

These rules do not apply to all styles of online writing, and like any other advice, it is simply advice and there are always examples of these rules being broken with great success. Always do what you think is best for you and remember to have fun with your writing.

Do you have any online writing tips you wish to share?
Feel free to post your tips, tricks, advice, and questions in t comments section below or email your submissions to:
perfectlyprompted@live.ca

Until Next Time…

Write On!

Quick Tips for Character Creation

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Realistic and lovable characters are a major part of good fiction. Character creation can be one of the most challenging parts of writing, and a lack of in-depth characterization can completely ruin a great plot. Below are a few simple and basic tips to help you create solid characters, with depth and personality, that add to the story-line and help to make your piece as close to perfect as possible.

Quick Tips for Character Creation

  1. Every character in your story needs to have a story themselves, you don’t need to spend hours getting to know your secondary characters but you should have a basic outline for everyone involved in the tale. Make notes of important information such as name, age, job, social status, gender, relationship status, and any other relevant basic personal information. Rule of thumb; know your secondary characters like you know your acquaintances, and your main characters as you know your best friends.
  2. Along with their story each character needs a goal. This goal may be something simple or a large mission to save the world, either way this goal needs to be clear and have purpose behind it.
  3. To tie together the above factors of a story and a goal, your characters need to have a history. Even the simplest of characters has to have a past that somehow connects them to what is happening in the present moment. The characters of a story are often connected through an intricate spiderweb. John may know Sheila through her cousin Paul, who has been murdered by Ben, and John might be Ben’s Uncle. Whatever the case each of your characters has to have at least a slight past and some form of connection to the story that you are writing. They need a reason for being where they are, with who they are, and for what they are doing. The process of creating history takes time and organization, plan carefully and be sure that you fill any holes.
  4. Once you have the basics of each character you need to personalize them. The best way to bring your character to life is to give them real life issues. Habits, compulsions, and obsessions are a great way of making your characters more human. Perhaps your main character is a compulsive hand-washer, a smoker, an alcoholic or is constantly quoting cheesy comedy films, whatever the case they need to have a human habit that others can relate to, something that makes them vulnerable and realistic and life-like.
  5. Build emotion in your character to create empathy and connect them with your readers. Even the most frightening of villains has to have a soft spot, some one needs to be able to connect with what makes this character tick. The deepest emotion a character can express is crying, but they need not actually cry to express this human trait, just showing that there is something that is capable of causing this sentiment is enough to connect them to the real world. Find the one thing that would hurt your character and share it in some way with your readers, this builds trust and creates a connection.
  6. In line with personalizing your character, be sure you create flaws. Flaws are another way of humanizing a fictional character. People are not perfect, and they will not enjoy reading about someone who is. Create some kind of flaw for your main characters to help your readers relate to them. Perhaps they harbor a deep dislike for another character in your story, maybe they lie a lot, swear a lot, or have trouble focusing on what is important. Give your characters some kind of flaw so they are not perfect, unbelievable icons that your readers can not relate to on a personal level.
  7. The last step in character creation is to ensure that you have covered all the bases. Sort out all the details of your characters, especially your main characters, such as personality, appearance, distinctive traits and personal information. You should know your main characters as well as you know yourself. Even if you are not going to use the information as part of the story line, things like zodiac sign, and favorite foods, will help you connect to the characters and create a consistent flow in your writing. Creating characters is a bit like being an actor, you need to get into the role and be a part of who they are. Let your imagination run wild and remember the more information you have the better.

How you create your characters differs with each writer, some writers prefer to outline all characters before they write a single word, where others will set out the basics of their main characters and create the rest along the way. Experiment and find what works best for you. The great thing about writing is that there are really no rules and you have the freedom to be creative. If you are a beginner than character creation may take a bit of time, but with practice it will become easier. Keep in mind how important a solid character is, and think of the time spent creating them as an investment in your story. The process can be tedious but it is worth the effort to have a well-rounded character without any gray areas or unanswered questions. Take your time and be thorough, and most of all have fun. The sky is the limit and you can go wherever your imagination will allow you.

 

Until Next Time…

Write On!

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