Finishing your First Draft - Day Four
Now it’s time to get into the good stuff.
Way back on Day One (I know that was only three days ago, but I feel like we’ve known each other much longer), I told you that characters are the lifeblood of a story. Over today and tomorrow, we’re going to dissect this important element of your story.
In Let’s Write a Book, we break down the difference between main, secondary, and minor characters. If you need some clarification on those, I’d suggest you check out Character Basics in Chapter Five.
Developing amazing characters is a lot more than just figuring out their eye color and what they like on their ice cream (the best answer is, obviously, more ice cream). Complex characters make books great, and you can only have a complex character if you think about their:
Character growth is probably the single-most important aspect to a character. Growth doesn’t need to be positive (i.e., your character doesn’t need to hit the gym or become a better person), but it does need to drive change.
The best characters are the ones that overcome obstacles, change their ways, or fall from grace. Some characters can stay the same throughout a story, but we don’t remember those ones. We remember characters that struggle and deviate from the path they thought they were on.
The growth that characters go through is called a character arc. These arcs are the individual journeys that your made up people go through, correlating with either the main plot of your story or subplots.
All of your main characters (any protagonists or antagonists you have) need an arc. Your notable secondary characters will be more memorable and complex if you give them arcs, too.
If you want to become an expert on all things character arcs, check out this article from DabbleU: What is a Character Arc?
And do you know what drives character arcs and growth? Conflict.
Conflict is the engine that keeps your story–and the characters within it–moving. Without conflict, you wouldn’t have a story or a reason for character arcs. Think about it: why would our main characters leave their house, much less face off against a tyrannical ruler and their spooky wizard.
There are four main types of conflict plus a handful of smaller but equally awesome ones. Learn all about them by reading this article written by a really cool person (spoiler, it was me): Don’t Be Conflicted About the Four Types of Story Conflict
Don’t worry, tomorrow we’re going to cover all the fine details of your characters. Maybe you start building your story’s cast with the info we’ll discuss tomorrow, and that’s okay! But know that growth, arcs, and conflict are aspects of your character that are interwoven with your very story.
Get a strong grip on them and you’re well on your way to writing amazing characters.
Alright, time to revisit that folder I made you create on Day One. Today, I’m asking–nay, pleading–that you create a new folder within this one (and you can do that by clicking on the three dots next to your folder to open Folder Actions, then click on Add New Folder).
Name this folder whatever you’re naming your protagonist. Can’t think of a name yet? No worries. Just name the folder Protagonist. Then add a new Note to the folder, naming it Growth, Arc, and Conflict, and copy and paste the following into it:
How does this character grow?
What type of arc will drive this growth? (Moral ascending, moral descending, transformational, flat)
What conflict(s) will drive this arc?
It should look like this:
Then answer those questions! Your answers don’t need to be perfect or complete. Heck, we’re just brainstorming here. Write down whatever it is that comes to mind.
And don’t worry that this new folder isn’t in the Characters folder. With Dabble, you can simply drag and drop it wherever you want once we’re done!
Tomorrow we’ll add on all the details you could ever want for your character. Until then,
Doug from Dabble
Book marketing. Those two innocuous words instill fear and loathing into the hearts of so many writers. You just want to write your books and have them sell themselves. Why do you have to tell people about it? Well, Susan, because you do. I know you want to write, but if your goal is to write, publish, and make money from your books, then you’re going to have to find a way to make them visible. Thousands of new titles are uploaded to Amazon every single day. Millions of books are being published every year, and no matter how good your story is, without marketing, there’s not much chance very many people will find it.
What kind of writer are you? Are you the sort who writes a meticulous outline that tips into the five digits or the type who sits down in front of a blank sheet of paper and lets the words pour out of you like a runaway train? Did you know there are specific terms for this kind of writing? Writers will come up with words for anything, I swear. Plotters are the first type of writer. They like to have detailed outlines that tell them exactly where their story is going. Pantsers are the other type of writer, which is kind of a weird name, but the term was coined by Stephen King (a famous pantser) to describe writing by the seat of your pants. Cute, eh? There is no right or wrong way to write your book, and I’m going to repeat this so many times. The right way is the way that works for you.
Dystopian fiction is one of the darker subgenres of science fiction and fantasy. It takes us into dark, foreboding worlds, where oppression and bleak landscapes are the norm. Books like 1984 by George Orwell, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley have become classics that shine a light on political corruption, environmental disaster, and societal collapse.Why do we love these stories? Maybe it's because dystopian fiction allows us to explore worst-case scenarios, to grapple with the idea that the world we know and love could be lost forever. It's a way for us to confront our fears and anxieties about the future, to see what could happen if we continue down a certain path.