Novel Writing, Writing Prompts

Freewriting practice: Name your protagonist’s internal villain

In a recent blog post on writing villains, The Write Practice’s Joe Bunting says that in every story, “there is always only one internal villain… whether it is fear, lust for power, or control.” This, of course, got me to thinking about my own protagonist in one of my current works in progress. I decided to do a freewrite on this topic and share it with you.

My freewrite: Who is M’s internal villain?

She just wants to go somewhere and lead an adventure. She doesn’t seem to care where she goes, which allows her to be led by evil people to places that she doesn’t want to be. She is so afraid of being ordinary and being stuck where she is that she jumps at any opportunity to be someplace and someone different.

My protagonist could use a little Katy Perry in her.

One of the problems that I seem to be having with my protagonists in this and with Valley of the Bees is the fact that neither of them seem to have any agency. They both allow themselves to be victims of plot. I can’t decide if this is good or bad. I feel like it’s something that my protagonists need to overcome. But at the same time, I’ve been taught that characters who just allow themselves to be carried along by the plot are the weak superheroes of weak stories. Am I writing weak stories? Continue reading “Freewriting practice: Name your protagonist’s internal villain”

NaNoWriMo, Novel Writing

Get to know your characters a little better

Yesterday we had some fun with our trashy romance novel characters. Today we will get to know them on a somewhat deeper level (okay, maybe not too deep. Just one level deeper than yesterday.)


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So, you have figured out what your two main characters don’t like about each other on first impression. Now let’s think about how you can develop these two opposing characters into people who might believably come to like one another later in the novel. Maybe the slick lawyer secretly loves dogs and has a pregnant pooch back home in NYC that she’s worried sick about. Perhaps the grumpy cowboy is secretly writing a business plan that will turn his failing family ranch into an organic vegetable farm that will supply several high-brow restaurants in the nearest big city. Continue reading “Get to know your characters a little better”

Novel Writing

Logistics, logistics: Naming and dating characters

English: An Entennmann's cake donut, bought fr...
Oh, maybe I could name one of my characters “Donut!” (Just kidding!) | English: An Entennmann’s cake donut, bought from a grocery store four-variety pack. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today it’s all about logistics. The time period of my current WIP has evolved since I started the first draft. Because of this evolution, I realized that many of my character names were no longer appropriate to the times when they were born. So today, my writing activities are focused on charting out a timeline and coming up with new names for several of my characters.

In the beginning, I thought most of my characters were born after the apocalyptic event that changed their world. I was thinking they were born in a time when food would be scarce, and that parents in that time might be tempted to name their children after various food items they missed from the old days. My characters thus ended up with names like Cauli (short for cauliflower,) and Radi (short for radish.) I also had a couple of characters named Apple and Peach (which are maybe a bit too cutesy, but this didn’t start out as the serious project it has become. I was just experimenting and having fun!) Continue reading “Logistics, logistics: Naming and dating characters”

Novel Writing

Two characters walk into a bar

Edit Ruthlessly
Don’t let that editor on your shoulder stop you from putting your story on the page. | Edit Ruthlessly (Photo credit: Dan Patterson)

Is your story stuck? You’re trying to hack out that next scene, but all you can seem to do is, well, hack at it? Put the pen down. Back away slowly. It’s time to stop writing your story and start doing some free writing. This morning, I was sharing with a writer friend some advice that I’ve heard from my professor on more than one occasion, and I think this advice is worth sharing.

Here’s what you do: pick a minor character and try to get into that character’s voice. Pretend like that character is sitting at a bar telling the bartender about what is happening in the story… look at the story from a new perspective. Don’t worry about whether or not the character can tell the story well, just let him or her have his say. Also, don’t worry about writing complete sentences or stopping to fix typos. Simply sit down, tell that editor that’s sitting on your shoulder to be quiet for a while, and start writing whatever comes to mind. Continue reading “Two characters walk into a bar”