Saturday, July 13, 2024

Have You Established Your Main Character At The Start?

In the beginning of your story you have to grab your readers’ interest and sustain it till the end. Our hook is our character. Readers keep on reading to find out more about the character. To see what he’ll do in the story; how he’ll solve his problems. What his goals are and whether he’ll achieve them.

And because our character is the reason readers become hooked on our stories, establishing him at the start is a must in a short story. And it is essential to establish him at the start because we don’t have the capacity in our limited word length to introduce him at our leisure.

The bond between readers and character has to be developed almost immediately.

You might have a few characters though. How do you decide who your main character will be? A main character is one that drives the story.

Think of it this way… If we were to take him away, there will be no story because it’s his story we are telling. The story will unfold by what is happening or what has happened to him.

When you establish who your main character will be, the next thing to do is to find which of your characters is in the best position to tell the story. Will your main character tell his story or will you give that role to another character?

This is what we call Viewpoint and what we’ll see in more detail in proceeding chapters.

Your main character isn’t necessarily the one who is telling the story; he might not even appear in our story ‘physically’ but will be there through the thoughts of others. So the viewpoint character might be a secondary character.

Whoever is telling the story is the viewpoint character.

The viewpoint character gives the coloring of the story. Whatever this characters says, we will believe. It may or may not be true, according to the main character, but because he isn’t there ‘physically’ to voice his opinions, we will have to take the viewpoint character’s word for it.

In a novel you can play around with viewpoint. You can have several viewpoint characters. In a short story it works best with one.

So your main character, whether he’ll be telling his own story or someone else will be doing it for him, has to be established at the start of your story.

Having said that, let’s see the reasons why the main character may not be telling his own story...

• Perhaps our main character is one that readers won’t sympathize or empathize with.

• Or the main character will not view highly with our readers

• Or the viewpoint character knows all the facts and can tell the story better

• Etc.

Let me give you an example of a secondary character telling the story of a main character…

Let’s say your secondary character is a psychiatrist and the main character is the patient. Depending on what’s going to go on in the story, we’ll have to choose who’s in a better position to tell it. In this case, I will choose the psychiatrist.

I’ve done this because the patient is confused, being the one with the problems. The psychiatrist knows all the facts and his opinions will make things clearer to readers.

So, as the secondary character (the psychiatrist) unravels the story, we’ll become involved in the main character because it’s the main character’s story that is been told.

This may get a little confusing to the beginner writer. As they write they will have to keep in mind that the secondary character, although he’s telling the story, is NOT our main character.

The secondary character is there to do perform a task. He’s only the voice. It’s the main character we’ll become involved with.

A secondary character doesn’t play such an important role as a main character does. Therefore, information about secondary characters should be kept to a minimum. It’s not his story – it’s the main character’s story and the spotlight must, most times, be kept on the main character.

Take the above example for instance. It’s no relevance to the story how the psychiatrist started his career or where he received his diploma – what’s important, is what he has to say about the main character, his patient.

Introduce your main character straight away, as close to the beginning of the story that’s possible. Enable your readers to form a bond and that will keep them hooked.

Is your main character established at the start of your story?

© Nick Vernon

Source: Free Guest Posting Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

Friday, July 12, 2024

Does The Name You Chose Suit Your Character?

How do you choose a name? Do you put down the first name that pops into your mind? Initially that’s what I used to do, until someone pointed out to me that there are a few things to take into consideration when choosing a name…

1. You Have To Be Comfortable With It

We associate names with people we know. If you like a certain name but know and dislike a person who bears it, will you feel comfortable using that name in your story?

Will you mentally shut that person out or will you be reminded of them each time you type that name?

Our characters have to be likable to us before they can become likeable to our readers. Will your dislike for that person transfer to your character?

2. It Must Be Easy To Pronounce

The English language can be, at times, misleading. How many words, and even names we spell one way and pronounce another? If the name you have chosen falls into this category, will your readers know how to pronounce it?

For years I use to pronounce the beautiful name ‘Sean’ exactly how it’s written ‘Seen,’ when it’s pronounced by the much nicer sounding ‘Shorn.’ Will the name you choose bear the same problem?

If you choose a difficult pronouncing name for your character and worse, one that’s not widely known, you stand to lose the effect of that name. A beautiful sounding name can be utterly destroyed if your reader doesn’t know how to pronounce it.

Your story has to flow. If the name you’ve chosen is not easy to pronounce, the readers will constantly stop each time they come across it. This will disrupt the flow of your story.

3. Foreign Sounding Names

The same as the above applies to foreign sounding names. They must be easy to pronounce. Consider the following:

Yahiya

Indihar

Gschu

Lyudmila

These names sound exotic but they don’t exactly roll off the tongue. Should you compromise the flow of the story for the sake of a name?

4. Does The Name Suit Your Character?

Not all names suit all people and not all names will suit all characters. Like clothing and hairstyles, names go out of fashion too.

For example...

Let’s say your heroine is a lively, upbeat, modern lady. Will it suit her type of personality if we choose the name ‘Mabel’? ‘Mabel’ we usually associate with an elderly aunt or grandmother.

What about your hero? Let’s say he’s a young man who possesses a powerful personality. Will the name ‘Hubert?’ suit him? ‘Hubert’ would suit an elderly character or perhaps a ‘quiet’ character.

5. They Shouldn’t Start With The Same Letter

If you’re going to have two main characters in your story and their names start with the same letter, it will read a little awkwardly.

Example…

  • David and Debra
  • Sam and Sue
  • George and Gina

6. Surnames

Like we carefully choose the first name for our characters, we have to be careful when selecting their surnames. Just like first names, there are certain surnames, which sound better than others.

When selecting a surname, make sure it has a pleasant ring, when used with the first name. Using names, which rhyme like, Jeff Jefferson, sound amusing. If this is the effect you wish to create then using it is fine.

7. Stereotype Names

Are you thinking of naming your character Adolph or Judas? There’s nothing wrong with these names, except for the fact that we tend to associate them with that single person in history who bore them. Will your reader trust your hero if you name him Judas?

8. Famous Names

I recall a quote I once read which went something like this…

“Nothing grows under the shade of a tree.”

If you name your character Elvis, Madonna etc.. Will your character be able to outshine the ultra famous person of whom the world knows? I doubt it.

When naming characters there are also a few other points to consider…

Naming them will not only depend on what kind of people they are, but who their parents or guardians were (if the parents or guardians play some sort of role in your story). After all, we don’t name ourselves, do we? So take into consideration the following…

1) What kind of people are the parents?

a) Free spirited?

Unusual names will rank highly amongst people like this.

For example,

  • The seasons of the year
  • Or perhaps a month in the year
  • Or an object
  • Etc

b) Conservative?

These types of people tend to use the full name rather than an abbreviated version of it.

For example,

  • Kathleen instead of Kat
  • Michael instead of Mike
  • Etc

2) What Is The Parents/Guardians Nationality?

If they’re traditional, they will choose a name, which is popular in their country. Also, traditional parents/guardians tend to give their children the names of their own parents or other relatives.

Look at the name you chose for your main characters. Does the name suit them?


© Nick Vernon

Source: Free Guest Posting Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Does Each Element of Your Story Further The Theme?

Whichever theme you choose, all the elements, which make up your story, dialogue, conflict, scenes, etc should be written with the theme in mind.

Your theme should progress the story.

If you find that anything in your story doesn’t progress it, it should be cut when you are in the editing stage.

Before we see an example of elements written with a theme in mind, let’s think of a theme and a story….

The theme is…

‘Arrogance Leads To Humiliation’

Very briefly, this story is about a character that believes he is better than his colleagues.

His goal is to get promoted to a managerial position. What will prevent him from reaching his goal, is the fact that management are aware of his arrogance and they don’t believe, with his attitude, he is the right person to manage the staff.

To meet his goal, the character will take on more work than he can handle. He will do this to prove to management, that he is the right man for the job. But in the end, he will make a grave error and his arrogance will lead him to humiliation.

Now let’s take a look at the elements of this story…

Dialogue

The character’s dialogue will show his arrogance, by the tone of his voice and the words he chooses to express himself.

Characterization

I will show my character is arrogant by the way I describe him and from how other characters see him.

Motivations

I will explain what makes him think he is better than everyone else.

Goal

I will state his goal and show how it arises from the fact that he believes himself better than everyone else.

Setting

The setting is going to be in an office environment. I can show his arrogance through the setting by perhaps describing the contents of his desk (trophies) and his desk area in general (diplomas on the walls.) etc.

Conflict

The conflict will come from himself. He is the one that creates it by doing and saying things, which create dislike.

Climax

The climax is the highest point in my story where the conflict and his arrogance will come to their peak. Here we will see how he tries to overcome the conflict and reach his goal by taking on more work.

Ending

I will end my story with my character’s humiliation. He takes on more work and makes an error in judgement. Which not only prevents his promotion but also gets him fired.

My theme here would have run its course.

Does each element of your story further your theme?


© Nick Vernon

Source: Free Guest Posting Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Does Your Theme Contain Character, Conflict, Resolution?

For a theme to work and the story, which will revolve around the theme, it has to contain three things…

1. Character

2. Conflict

3. Resolution

What’s the reason for this?

If your theme doesn’t contain these three essential elements, then you won’t be writing a proper short story. It might turn out to be an essay instead.

Because without…

1) Characters

You can’t achieve emotional depth. Readers become engrossed in stories because of the characters in them. They either become the character (sympathize), or read about an interesting person (empathize).

Emotional depth is achieved when readers use their imagination and senses and/or experiences to live the story through the characters.

2) Conflict

Your story will be boring. Why? Without conflict, something to stir things up, nothing happens. And a story, in which nothing happens, is one not worth writing about.

Your characters don’t lead carefree lives. Well, not in the instance you are writing about them. In that part of their lives they are faced with a problem. They want something and can’t get it because of the conflict, which is preventing them to do so.

And it’s that conflict and the struggle the characters has to undergo that keeps us readers interested and in suspense. Will the character succeed or won’t he? And when is this all going to happen? And how is it all going to happen?

3) Resolution

Something that starts has to finish, one way or another.

Once you have created great characters, which the reader will come to care about, and you have placed them in conflict, that conflict at the end of your story has to be resolved. The characters will achieve their goals or they won’t.

That doesn’t matter.

You can end your story as you please and as it suits your story – but you have to end it. Ending the story means resolving the conflict.

Does your theme contain character, conflict, resolution?

© Nick Vernon

Source: Free Guest Posting Articles from ArticlesFactory.com