4 Steps to Dynamic Characters

I’m in the process of creating characters for the sequel to my first novel and I realized:

I don’t want to do what I did last time.

It was exciting, interesting, crazy, and took way too much time.

Like many people, I had a concept and a main character for my first book, and the excitement of writing and discovering her world made it fresh and fun. But now I know better. Writing, especially when you are actually trying to write well, is hard. I want to craft stories that are interesting, that resonate with readers, and that do my characters and ideas justice. Those are tall orders.

So what I did last time—let my characters grow organically and then edit like a maniac until my eyes bled—won’t work again. Not without me becoming alcoholic at any rate.

I need a process.

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Where’s Your Flux Capacitor?

I guess the first question is really this: What is the Flux Capacitor?


…it’s what makes time travel possible.

And that’s all you need to know.

What a great bit of storytelling! The entire Back to the Future franchise rests on the ability of Marty McFly and Doc Brown to travel through time in their suped-up DeLorean. But do we really need to know how time travel works? Nope. We just need to know that it does.

Therefore the Flux Capacitor makes time travel possible and it also makes the story possible. All without being explained in the slightest.

So the real question of this post is: What makes a story possible? What is it that a plot relies on to make all the action which follows it make sense? If you are writing a story, do you know what is special about your story which allows it to happen?

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Writing Inspiration from History: Dialogue

“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Said a love-struck teenage girl.

And NO ONE else.

A hardened military veteran is not uttering said phrase.

Neither a priest nor a prostitute nor a plumber.

Even if all of them were women.

This is the third part in a series on finding your way past writer’s block using history. Part One: Setting and Action and Part Two: Character may also interest you. For Part Three, we delve into the deep waters of dialogue. This is not intended to be a ‘how to write dialogue’ article. Rather I hope it will help you over some of the hurdles that I have experienced in trying to make dialogue interesting and revealing.

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Writing Inspiration from History: Character


That was me hitting the next wall. I made quite a dent, but couldn’t make it all the way through.

In case you missed it, this post is a continuation of a series on overcoming writer’s block. Part One was all about setting and action. This post focuses on how to use a little historical research to create characters that leap off the page.

The great thing about characters is that you are not necessarily limited to your story’s time period. People of all types lived during all ages.

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Gladiator – Great Storytelling, Bad History

Disclaimer: There are a lot of people who rag on the Gladiator movie from the historical standpoint. Which is fair enough, because there are a boatload of historical inaccuracies. But Gladiator is also an extremely well-crafted story, hitting many emotional ‘hot buttons.’ Here are five reasons I loathe and five reasons I love this movie:

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Writing Inspiration from History: Setting and Action

Sometimes you hit the wall.

The Great Wall of Writer’s Block.

You can peek over; know there’s something much better on the other side, but you just can’t find your way through.

So far, I have identified three types of walls that pen me in once a story is underway:

  1. I need a scene, but can’t visualize the setting or action in that scene.
  2. I need a character, but don’t have a voice or vision of that character.
  3. I have a great setting full of interesting characters, but they stare blankly at each other, wondering why their author is so darn indecisive.

So I’m sharing some of the ways I use to break through the wall.

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