Finding Your Character

By Bob McCrillis

I like to write in the first person. That POV helps control my natural desire to tell rather than show. That means that there is a lot of dialogue in any of my stories, which brings up a continuing problem – losing the reader in the dialogue.

Everyone, I’m sure, has had this experience. I’m caught up in a book when I realize that I’ve lost track of who’s speaking. Then I backtrack to the last speech that’s tagged and work forward again. While this may not be a fatal error, anything that takes me out of the story spoils the flow of the narrative and provides me the opportunity to decide it isn’t a very good book and move on. At the very least, it’s an annoyance.

The easy solution is to tag more speeches. Duh. The thought of all those “saids”, regardless of how artfully I conceal them by using synonyms, strikes me as beyond boring. In the back of my mind I also have the Elmore Leonard rule to not replace “said” with a synonym. He says that the word should disappear into the background. I call this the said-balance solution – to have enough tags to keep the reader on track but not so many that he gets bored. Continue reading “Finding Your Character”

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Finding a Character

By Bob McCrillis

With all kinds of worksheets and techniques to flesh out your characters, I thought you’d be interested in mine.

Here’s the situation: Someone had to help my readers understand the progress of the police search for my protagonist. If I had been writing in the third person, it would have been easy – the omniscient narrator could just tell the readers what was going on. Or I could head jump among the characters to keep the reader up to date on the closing loop of the police.  Since I was writing strictly from my protagonist’s point of view, someone has to tell him how close the cops are. Continue reading “Finding a Character”

Character Development

By Susan Wagner

Sue Wagner NewRecently, I found myself binge-watching United States of Tara, Showtime’s now concluded series. I was reminded of the series because May is Mental Health Month and the series deals with the Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) of Tara, wife, mother and artist. It is a comedy-drama, quirky, well acted and thought provoking.

I love this series. Not just because Toni Collette is wonderful as Tara, though she is. And not just because I’ve had a fascination with psychology for, well, my whole life. But because there’s something as a writer I find fascinating in the ability of the human mind to create not only what it needs to survive, but to develop whole personalities, essentially different people, to live in one body. Continue reading “Character Development”