Six impossible things

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Primary characters

Primary characters are the big ones: the hero/protagonist, the villain/antagonist, the main viewpoint character. These are the characters the reader identifies as the ones the story is about. They’re the ones with the biggest stake in the outcome of the story, and usually they’re the ones who […]

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Major characters

Unsurprisingly, major characters are the ones who are the subjects of much writing advice on characterization. They’re the ones readers are most likely to notice and remember, because they are onstage the most and have the most impact on the protagonist and the plot. In an ensemble-cast […]

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Secondary characters

First, a small announcement: Amazon has my Lyra novels on their Kindle monthly deal for $3.99 for the whole month of February, so if you don’t have them in e-book and want them, this is a reasonably good time to pick them up. On to the post. […]

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Minor characters

Minor characters are the second rung up from walk-ons. They occupy many of the same niches as walk-ons – cab driver, waitperson, store clerk, army private, city guard, maintenance worker – but they’re not just there in the background. They interact with the central characters in more […]

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Walk-ons

Most stories involve more than one character. Even classic castaway Man-against-Nature stories, like Robinson Crusoe and Gary Paulsen’s Hatchett, include the protagonist interacting with other characters at the beginning and end of the story. Characters get grouped into several categories. First are the protagonist and viewpoint characters, […]

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Adjectives and adverbs

Last week I was looking at web sites and found yet another one that advocated “Never, EVER use any adjectives or adverbs!” It went so far as to advocate going through one’s work and deleting all of them. So I decided to test that technique to see […]

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Playing the game

There’s a joke I heard once, about a man who prayed fervently for forty years that God would let him win the lottery. Finally one night as he was offering his prayer once again, a voice came out of the air above him and said, “Look, I […]

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Annual Writing Goals

New year, new year’s resolutions. There are recommendations all over the web about how to make resolutions, which ones to make, and how to keep them for longer than a week. Googling “new year’s resolutions for fiction writers” got me four million hits. So I took a […]

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From setting to story

First, some housekeeping. December 23 is the last day to register for my online worldbuilding workshop at Odyssey, if you are interested. I will be taking next week off for the holidays, so no more blog posts until the new year. Now the question: I’m having a […]

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Ideas, and…

Science fiction is often described as “the literature of ideas,” as if no other kind of writing includes any, this in spite of the fact that the first question every professional writer, regardless of genre, gets thoroughly sick of is “Where do you get your ideas?” The […]

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