Character Change – What Makes a Character Three Dimensional?

Character Change – What Makes a Character Three Dimensional?

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Most of the characters in fiction are one dimensional. The avuncular shopkeeper is always avuncular. The prick boss is always a prick. The grumpy cabbie is always grumpy. But not the main character. They must be three dimensional. How do you make it so? First, consider two dimensional characters.

Two Dimensional Characters

Characters that get a lot of time in a story but aren’t central can be two dimensional. For example, the ruthless mob boss who is a loving husband and father. Or, the cheerful waitress who spends her off hours bemoaning lost loves and sitting by the window drinking.

You can see how both examples might play out in a story. The ruthless mob boss could be a force for good when his parental instincts cause him to intervene to save a child. The seemingly happy waitress may sacrifice herself in order to stop a mass murderer about to open fire on her customers.

Where does the third dimension come into play?

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Published in: on April 23, 2014 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Choosing Your Future Novel

Choosing Your Future Novel

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A novel takes a long time to write, possibly years. You want to be sure you have enough story. There are steps you can take. Let’s get started.

First, work on developing the central characters and places. It’s better to have too much story behind each than not enough. You don’t need to use every idea, but it’s good to have lots of ideas.

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Published in: on April 21, 2014 at 12:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How Many Revisions?

How Many Revisions?

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I have known for a long time that three revisions are the norm for writers. I’ve tried to ignore that standard and do it my own way and it keeps coming back to bite me on the ass.

Too few and too many revisions can both be a problem. I’m going to use blog articles for my examples. What are the problems with deviating from the three revision norm?

Too Few Revisions

We’ve all seen examples of blog articles written in one draft. There are lots of typos, some sentences don’t make sense, the topic wanders, and there are digressions that have nothing to do with the topic. This problem is easy to fix.

Any article can have a revision tracking section in the header of the file. By adding two revisions and putting some time between them, most of the problems mentioned above can be resolved.

How about too many revisions. Can that be a problem? It sure can.

Too Many Revisions

I’ve found too many revisions to be a problem with my own articles. I used to have five revisions after an idea was started as an article. They were: rough, add, cut, read aloud, and typos. I was giving myself time in between each of those revisions. The result? I revised each article so many times that I couldn’t tell if I was repeating myself. Did I write that idea in another article or am I remembering the last time I revised this one? That’s not good. I don’t want to repeat myself, but I also don’t want to drop a good writing tip.

There’s a second consequence of having too many revisions. I had far too many articles in between rough and final draft. I could see this easily. Rough drafts have no prefix. Once the rough draft is done, there’s a year prefix. Final drafts have a year prefix and x. I knew I was spending too much time on the intermediate revisions because most of my articles had only a year prefix.

I’ve found a solution to my dilemma. The rough draft is now the first and then there can be some time before revision. The other four revisions are all done at once as the second revision. I suppose I need a different word than revisions. Sub-revisions? My final (third) revision can be done when I’m ready to post or submit an article.

Sometimes the lessons learned best are the ones learned through trial and error. Have you learned the three revision lesson?


Article by Ivan Izo.


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Published in: on April 18, 2014 at 12:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Multiple First Person and the Evil You

Multiple First Person and the Evil You

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Multiple first person is one of the most difficult points of view you can use in a novel. You keep saying “I” and that makes you think of yourself as the same person while you write both first person stories. They can sound like the same person to your readers too. That’s not good. The first problem is that the first person narrator should not be you when you write fiction. After getting around that problem, you need a way to make sure that your two first person narrators are different variations of not you.

Let’s start with a bit about who the first person narrator really is.

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Published in: on April 16, 2014 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Stephen King and The Art of the Mini Story

Stephen King and The Art of the Mini Story

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When you first introduce a new character into one of your novels, do you just introduce them as Joe Blau the lumber truck driver and leave it up to your readers to figure him out as the story moves along? That’s how you make characters one dimensional. It’s not recommended. Your readers have nothing much to help them remember the character.

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Published in: on April 14, 2014 at 12:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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Novel Report 6 – The Second Draft of Book 5 is Complete

Novel Report 6 – The Second Draft of Book 5 is Complete

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After several interruptions from life, job changes, moving, good times, bad times, the second draft of my current novel is complete.

The outline took 10 months, the first draft 8 months, and the second draft 5 months. I’m speeding up.

My research on writing for blog articles has taught me what is needed for an interesting novel. Boring chapters must go. I have boring chapters to be removed. The tension must keep rising as the book progresses. My current draft has lots of rising tension. The central question of a novel needs to stand out. The central question of my novel doesn’t stand out to my satisfaction.

I must improve my novel before I can publish. I don’t want to put out a novel that isn’t a great read. I must make any changes I know will make it better.

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Published in: on April 11, 2014 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On the Importance of Setting in Fiction

On the Importance of Setting in Fiction

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Setting in fiction is a combination of time and place. Setting shows the context of your story. A murder mystery, for example, will be very different between present day New York and 1855 Edo.

How much setting plays a part in your story is up to you. You can keep it light, mention the place and time, and let your readers fill in the details. Or you can rely heavily on setting, fill in all the details, and force your readers to see exactly what you see. The more your setting is away from the everyday, the more description you will need. For example, if it’s in 1855 Edo, you will need loads of detail.

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Published in: on April 9, 2014 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Plot-holes on the Writing Highway

Plot-holes on the Writing Highway

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Are you a seat-of-your-pants novelist? Have you found that your first draft is full of problems and plot-holes? You’ve discovered the reason why writing with a plan is so popular. Don’t give up. It’s not too late. You can make plans after writing the first draft and use them to fix your story. Good planning documents will make it easier to find your place and fix those problems even now.

Without summary documents, you would need to search your entire manuscript every time you needed to make a change. That’s no fun. The two documents I describe below will take time to create but save time in the long run. Let’s do this step by step.

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Published in: on April 7, 2014 at 1:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Crime Writing in Canada – Legal Issues

Crime Writing in Canada – Legal Issues

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There are Canadian laws that make it tough to publish a crime novel in Canada. I’m not a lawyer, but any time I hear of a law that affects what I’m allowed to write or publish, I make a note of it. This is what I’ve learned so far.

Crime Comics

In Canada, it’s illegal to publish a “crime comic”, which is defined as any comic, book, film or other media that describes how to commit a crime. Many kinds of novels need at least one crime. The important thing is not to educate someone on how to become an effective killer, meth chemist, or any other kind of criminal. The criminals that get caught are the ones that make mistakes. That’s the kind of criminal that appear in novels.

It seems that the intent of the “crime comic” law is preventing the production and sale of material showing how to commit a crime. “How to set up a marijuana growing operation,” for example. Laws are always open to interpretation. Err on the side of caution and you’ll be okay. Make the criminals dumb. Don’t become an expert on crime. Become an expert on catching criminals. Or just don’t publish your crime novel in Canada.

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Published in: on April 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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19 Ways to Kaizen Your Writing Efforts

19 Ways to Kaizen Your Writing Efforts

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Kaizen is a Japanese term that refers to increasing efficiency in every way possible. Even a step that saves only a few seconds an hour counts. You can kaizen your writing by carefully examining every step of your writing process. Here are some possibilities.

19 Ways To Kaizen Your Writing Efforts

1. Do you use the same template for several types of articles and edit the header when you create a new article? Consider unique templates for your most common article types.

2. Do you stop work on novels and books at the end of chapters? Continuing to write the start of the next chapter will have you already in progress when you return to it.

3. Do you write on paper or typewriter and transcribe it into your computer later? Find a way to get it in electronic format right from the start, even if it needs to be a text file or e-mail.

4. Do you start your day with a task other than writing? The early part of the day is when you’re most creative and productive. Write first. Do everything else later.

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Published in: on March 31, 2014 at 1:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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