The Three Layers of a Complex Character

Here’s a way of thinking about how to build characters. (Come to think of it, this might be a way of understanding people in real life, too.) Imagine three layers wrapped around one another like colors in a jawbreaker candy. As we get to know the character, we should get down to the inner layer. And as characters grow, they should start to understand their own inner layer.


You’ve Heard the Writing Advice “Show Don’t Tell.” What Does it Actually Mean?

You’ve almost definitely heard the writing advice, “show don’t tell.” It’s one of those tidbits passed from writer to writer, and – I’ll own up to this – heavily encouraged by the English teachers of the world. Yet, when you ask people to elaborate, you usually get a similarly vague, often-repeated answer. Add more detail. But, you know, the right details. Sensory details. But also, get to the point and don’t be too wordy. Try to, um… show? Instead of tell? (more…)