Many difficulties come standard in the task of writing child protagonists. To a certain point, a person is a person no matter how small, but there are subtle differences in younger characters. Their behavior can be slightly different from that of an adult— less logical at times, or not quite sure of morals yet. Their physical limitations, of course, must differ. A ten-year-old boy cannot take the same amount of knocks on the head as the adult hero of an epic fantasy (there is considerable debate on whether the hero himself can take that many hits realistically, but the point remains). Most importantly, however, there is a child’s place in society to consider.
Any middle grade fantasy will grind to a halt when the child’s parents decide she can’t cross the street without permission.
But books about children have been around for centuries, from the Brothers Grimm to C.S. Lewis. Many people have solved this problem for their stories, many different ways. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on August 24, 2014
The Writing Excuses podcast just released an excellent episode about blocking, dialogue, and description. There were many things of note (including the awesome-sounding “Pyramid of Abstraction”, and kitten noises), but there were a few things in particular I thought were very interesting indeed. One thing was blocking.
Blocking, basically, is description inside blocks of dialogue. “Sure.” He picked up the scalpel. That description of what the character is doing acts as a signature– we know that the man who picked up the scalpel is also the man who said “Sure.” These are not two men, one with his hand hovering over the scalpel as he waits for the other to consent to be operated upon. It is one man, speaking, then picking up a scalpel.
As I realized when I reviewed Partials, blocking replaces speech tags. “Sure,” he said. “He said” is a speech tag, and when you have a long string of dialogue, you don’t want “He said, she said, he said, she said, he said…” Instead, you use blocking. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on August 10, 2013
There are two ways to get rid of a bad character. One way is to destroy every mention of them within your manuscript and smite them ’til you can’t smite no more. Another way is to change them.
The second option is so much more fun.
As Robyn Hoode pointed out in one of her many comments, one way to make characters interesting is to develop them. Though this process takes a long time, it does work if done correctly. In this post, I’m going to call “Making bad characters into good ones” character development. If that isn’t your definition, assume it is for the moment while I expound, then tell me why it isn’t in the comments. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on March 21, 2013
One thing I obsess about too much is originality. I like to be original, to know that the things I say are my own and not stolen from some movie or comedian’s shtick. I like to think that the concepts that I write about are from my mind, instead of lifted from the last book I read.
This is strange, since I often do just that.
Most people would say there’s a difference between something inspiring you and you copying something. There are also two different ways to copy something– to copy it intentionally, and to copy it unintentionally. For the latter, let’s say you read a book a year ago and then two months later got a story idea, which you wrote out into a full-length novel. A year later, you reread that book and find that a lot of things from that story of yours were copied from that other book. They were small things, but they were there. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on August 30, 2012
One of the coolest things of being a writer is having a character completely at your control. You feel amazingly powerful and great when you can just kill someone off if they displease you. It’s incredibly fun to reduce brilliant characters to gibbering messes, and, by extension, doing the same to your readers.
Unfortunately, a bad thing happening to a character does not necessarily mean that the reader will feel for him. That is the hard part, where you actually have to make your readers love the character before you make them feel like a pool of Jell-o. When you’re going along, having loads of fun killing your characters, it can be a real shock that you actually have to make them likable first. Why make them likable when they’re dying in the next chapter? (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on August 28, 2012
The three-thousandth comment has come and gone. And with Miss Vixen as the third most commented person in that last set of a thousand comments, is it any surprise that she had the 3001st comment? (I was the 3000th, so we had to pick the nearest one. You’ve had too many guest posts from me anyway.) She was awarded a guest post for being awesome.
When I heard that I was being asked to do a guest post for Liam at This Page Intentionally Left Blank, I had a moment of silent freaking out….fine. It was semi-silent. Many more people read his blog than mine, so I’d be blogging to a wider audience. Frightening, isn’t it? And there is the opportunity that I might be able to snag some more readers with some subtle hinting (verrrry subtle, mind you…nothing obvious about this…). After the freaking out moment, I had a moment of derp when my brain simply could not think of anything of which to type. So I scoured through the northern region of my brain (where the ideas are the coldest, sharpest and most polar bear-infested), and after 7.3 minutes, voila! There was my idea. Huzzah.
Onward we go. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on August 8, 2012