How to Write Better Characters: Advice from Top Authors
Here are some of the best pieces of advice from over a decade of workshops at the Miami Writers Institute. I’ve condensed some of the lessons learned from these classes, and from fourteen years of building my own career as an author, into 14 days of emails. This post is a collection of great one-liners on how to build better characters.
“Sometimes an INVESTABLE character is better than a LIKEABLE one. . . Unrelatable characters are those who have no real justification for the strange thing they’re doing or strange choice they made.”
“Give your main character your biggest fear – or your happiest moment.”
“Character development begins the moment when characters begin to do things that are not in their own best interest. The self-destructive element fascinates us.”
“(On why planning a structure is important.) If you let your characters run the story, they will just sit on their asses and eat Doritos.”
“The primary purpose of dialogue is character, not info delivery. Characters that feel alive have lines that nail them.”
“Your protagonist can be flawed but has to be identifiable and redeemable.”
“The point of a metaphor is to deepen the understanding of the emotional moment. . . . Stick with the one metaphor that matches the emotional truth.”
“The embarrassing character at a wedding is a writer’s best friend.”
This post is part of an email series that summarizes 12 years of writing classes and 12 years of building a writing career in to 12 days of emails. You can sign up here or below to get the emails.
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