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    Mistreating Your Characters

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Character     Comments 42 comments

    Discussion questions: What is the worst thing you’ve ever done to one of your fictional characters? What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen another writer do to one of his/her fictional characters? And why do you think conflict and obstacles are so important in fiction? read more

    On Unlikable Characters

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Character     Comments 1 comment

    The Woman Upstairs, Claire MessudIn this 2013 interview with Publishers Weekly, Claire Messud was asked if she’d like to be friends with her character Nora from The Woman Upstairs, someone the reporter described as “almost unbearably grim.” Messud’s irritation at the question–“For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? […] If you’re reading to find friends, you’re in deep trouble.”–sparked a string of essays in defense of the so-called unlikable character.

    Among our favorites are:

    1. Roxane Gay’s at Buzzfeed: “Why is likability even a question? Why are we so concerned with, whether in fact or fiction, someone is likable?”

    2. James Hynes’ at Powell’s: “The uncensored human consciousness is not necessarily a pretty thing.”

    3. This New Yorker roundup of various authors, among them Margaret Atwood and Tessa Hadley. read more

    How to Resolve a Character Arc

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in Character     Comments 1 comment

    Character ArcRecently we’ve chatted in this space about methods to help you start writing and methods to help you stop writing. Oh, but what about that meaty middle? A successful piece of writing, both fiction and non, depends on so many elements–setting, plot, character, detail, scene, pace, on and on and on.

    Today we’ll take a look at one of those: character.

    WriteByNighter Joe G. writes in with the following question: “I’m sure you agree that the Resolution of a character arc is difficult to get right. Any advice?read more

    Do Your Characters Go Boneless?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Character     Comments No comments

    BonelessOver at Life as a Human Justine wrote about a character who went from sitting beside her patiently, waiting for his turn (i.e. her writing time) to come along, to barging in on her everyday life, unheeded: “He tugged on my sleeve during conversations, rested on my knee at meals, and followed me into the shower (shocking, I know) … This character I once possessed had taken possession of me.”

    For me, characters often take their sweet damn time to emerge, and their even sweeter damn time to act and speak. I try to move down the page, but my characters lag behind. I have to tug on their sleeves. Their dialogue comes slowly, their actions like molasses. read more