Genuine Heroes and Heroines : Part 3

by Marylee MacDonald, November 4, 2018 in Characters

What makes us care about a heroine or hero? Why do readers make the emotional investment in one protagonist and not another? In previous posts I’ve talked about flawed or dark main characters and protagonists who are average Joes or Janes. In this post, I’m going to talk about heroes and heroines whose heroic qualities […]

Brooding and Tormented Main Characters | Part 2

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters

Characters who have tortured interior lives are dark characters. Dark protagonists are suffering and in pain. Often, they’re nonhuman: fallen angels, vampires, haunted detectives, or recovering addicts. The writer’s big challenge is to make these protagonists sufficiently likable that readers will stick with them until the end. And, from the author’s perspective, an additional challenge […]

Is Your Protagonist an Average Joe or Jane? Give Them a Shot at Greatness: Part 1

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters

Do you want readers to love your protagonist? Then you must make that protagonist a hero or heroine. This is the first of three posts that will discuss what it means to be heroic. This post talks about heroic characters who are average Joes and Janes, but who perform extraordinary actions. In my next post […]

Psychic Wounds Drive Characters to Make Misjudgments and That’s Good for the Plot

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters, For Writers Doing Revisions

Characters with psychic wounds engage our sympathies. In this post I’m going to talk about the benefits of loading your characters down with problems, including attitudes toward life caused by childhood psychic wounds. My purpose is not to play amateur psychologist. Save that for the self-help books. Instead, I’m going to show how psychic wounds […]

Character-Driven Fiction Takes Readers Back to 1968 | Sharon Solwitz’s New Novel

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters, For Writers Who Need Readers

ONCE, IN LOURDES author Sharon Solwitz has one previous novel, Bloody Mary, and a collection of short stories, Blood and Milk, which won the Carl Sandburg Literary Award from Friends of the Chicago Public Library and the prize for adult fiction from the Society of Midland Authors, and was a finalist for the National Jewish […]

What The Heck Are Likable Characters?

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters, For Beginning Writers

Have you heard the term “likable characters” tossed around in your book group or circle of writing friends? If you’ve been in the writing biz any length of time, you may have even received e-mails from agents: “I didn’t find the protagonist likable” or “I just didn’t fall in love with your character.” Fifteen or […]

Character Checklists | Fill One Out for Every Character in Your Book

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters, For Beginning Writers

Character checklists can help you keep track of the people in your novel. Using character checklists gives you a systematic way to explore the wants, needs, and personality traits of all your people, not just the ones onstage at the moment. In the prewriting stage, I use the questionnaire below to help me get to know […]

Fictional Characters | Shhh! Secrets Revealed!

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters, For Beginning Writers

Know your fictional characters before you start your novel, and you’ll have a much easier time figuring out your plot. That’s because plot (which is action) arises from character, and not the other way around. If you can get your characters to share their hopes, dreams, fears, and secrets, you’ll know which obstacles to place […]

Anton Chekhov | How Many Characters Should A Story Have?

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters, For Readers

Anton Chekhov’s vivid characters live in our imaginations to this day. One of my favorites is “Lady With the Pet Dog,” also translated as “Lady With the Little Dog.” If you’ve never read his stories, or haven’t read them in a long time, here’s a site with audio recordings of them. Sit with the characters, as […]

Should You Write What You Know?

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters, For Beginning Writers

Photo Source Write what you know. That’s the most common piece of advice given to beginning writers. But, should authors stick to the mundane world of their ordinary lives, or is it okay to explore imaginary worlds? I’m not suggesting writers all rush to the side of the ship where fantasy, romance, zombie, thriller, and […]