4 Simple Steps to Creating A Realistic Character

4 Simple Steps to Creating A Realistic Character

One of the most key things in forming your novel is character creation. You want a character that draws people in, makes them feel like they are understood and doesn’t seem too ‘Mary-Sue’. It took years, but after a while, I began to understand how to do it. Here’s how.

1. Make them have real blood

I have read corny novels where the main character is absolutely perfect. She never gets angry, never hates anyone and never, ever (wait for it) got hurt in a battle. She could go through an entire battle and not. Get. Hurt. What even is this? A Virtual Reality? No, you’re supposed to be writing in real life. So what are you doing making them invisible? Make them get hurt, make them break, tear them down so that, in the end, they are completely and utterly human.

2. They’re not Vogue-cover perfect

I hate it when they’re perfect. Perfect body, perfect hair, perfect everything. I’ve read novels like that and, in the end, instead of relating to them, I envied them. I couldn’t ever look perfect like they do, and it made me despise the book. So, instead of making them Vogue-cover worthy, make them have a scar on their face, scar marks on their arms from past cuttings, a birthmark they cover up because they are ashamed of it. In my recent dystopian novel, I made my character relatable because I didn’t make her perfect. We live in a real world. Remember that. Perfect isn’t an option.

3. They struggle with an adamant issue

Each and every one of us struggles with some issue. Whether it be pride, anger, hate, or something even worse. Why? Because we’re human. And your characters are too. So make them act like it. I always make my characters have fears, issues, and hopes. Does your MC struggle with trust? Is she irritable? Irrational? Negative? Pick on and add it in. You’ll find that characters are easier to relate to -and to write- when you make them have problems.

4. Give them human emotions

Is your main character struggling with the death of her dad? Don’t make her strong. Make her break down into tears. Make her angry. Is your character searching for a treasure? Make her feel defeat, anger, and isolation. Is your character in a hospital, fighting against cancer? Make her scared, angry, and hurt. If you ever struggle with figuring out what to make them feel, close your eyes and breathe in. Then, open up a different page on your computer, put yourself in their shoes, and type what you would feel. The words that will pour onto the page will be completely, and utterly, human.

Story Prompt #1 

Story Prompt #1 

Today, this week, we are doing something different. I will not be releasing an article or a short story. Now, before you go all ‘arghh’ on me, I want to explain why. I am not releasing anything for me- I am releasing this for you. 

 This is your time to write your own short story based on the prompt I have provided. I have given you a chance to see what I can write, now I want to see what you can write! 

And that, my friends and happy followers, is why I am releasing early this week- so that I can have time to read them before I prepare my next post! 

So, here it is: 

“You’re looking for a new house to buy, when in the basement of an old house you find a crumpled up letter between the cracks of the concrete. Opening it up, you are clearly surprised. It’s a letter that, if it had been sent, would’ve altered history- and therefore would have changed the world as we know it.” 

Who wrote the letter? What does it say? Why was it never sent? What would it have changed? What are YOU going to do about it?
Happy writing! 

ArmyMen

ArmyMen

“Are you sure it’s such a good idea?” my closest friend and ally, Clarice, hisses in my ear as we hide behind the hedge. Her voice comes out frightened and nervous, and once again I refrain from rolling my eyes. If she didn’t like battle, she never should have signed up for it. Yet, she told me that she didn’t want me to go alone. What a help she’s been. She’s almost made me get shot five thousand times- and she did kill off one of our allies- just because she’s clumsy.

I peer around the hedge, looking at the stocky two-dimensional figures that dot the horizon. They sprout up from the ground everywhere, twisting their spindly bodies towards the brazen sky, disappearing into the smoke. They should smell like the trees back home- but they don’t. They smell sticky and slimy- like a toad that has been dead for ages.

“Just stay low,” I reply, sitting back on my heels and glancing at her in the dim light. “Everything will be fine.”

I hear another shout, and then a scream as another person falls somewhere in the battle-field that I am fighting in. Shivers run up and down my spine at their blood-curdling screams- and I can only hope it’s another of the Red Army that has fallen- and not my side.

Clarice’s eyes widen and she reaches over to grab my hand, holding onto it tightly as I feel all of the blood leave them. “You’re not planning on leaving me, are you?”

“Relax,” I stand up and tap her gun with my own. “They gave them to us for a reason.”

“I know that,” she says, her voice small. “I’m just not used to shooting anybody…”

“Hey,” I shake my head, ready to get out of her sight. “Just… chill. Please. The Red Army asked for war because they want what we have. They can’t win,” I swallow hard. “They won’t. But you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.”

After she gives a half-hearted, stilted nod, I grin at her and slowly back away from the hedge, making my way to the nearest two-dimensional soma, and pressing myself against it- holding the gun to my chest. My heart is beating a thousand beats a second, the blood pounding in my ears. I hold my gun to my chest and take a deep breath.

Inhale.

I think of what I must do.

Exhale.

And then I do it.

War ensues.

One fire after another, I shoot down one man and then go onto the next- not forgetting that these men I knew used to be my friends, my family. Now they are only one thing. My enemy. And so when I shoot, I let my anger go out with it. No doubts. No hesitations. Just me, my enemy and death dancing in between the hedges and the barricades, floating on fog as thick as clouds.

It’s a wonder, but I manage to dive and move, resisting the lasers as they come my way. Each time I nearly die and yet survive, I thank my brothers who are probably back home sleeping for making me practice late into the night with their guy friends.

The strange smelling wind sifts through my ponytail, and as the last of the enemy in my line of vision goes down, I smell its strange stench. It’s icky- like sweat and the exhale of every fallen man. It floats listlessly by, and with it, I smell doom.

And yet, standing amidst a collection, the fog at my heels and the wind at my back, I see nothing. Nothing except for the traces of men fallen and gone. I hear nothing except for the foreign cries that my ears do not recognize- until I realize they are mine.

I am screaming.

Why am I screaming?

Why do I feel so dead, so fallen that I am screaming, while I am still standing as tall as the hedges around me?

And then I realize what my subconscious mind decided. I will not go to them and waste my breath. They will have to come to me.

And when they do, they are going to have to find me.

Not up. Never up.

My instructor’s words run through my head as I glance up at the lean plane figure that looms in the darkness towards my left. They said that if you went up, you could get hurt.

But this is war.

Gripping my gun in my teeth, I slowly shimmy my way up the figure, climbing up, stopping to take a breath, and then continuing up again.

Once I reach as far up as I think is necessary, I grip my gun in a trembling, cold, dank hand, and then let out another cry- hoping I sound like a desperate human being.

Apparently I do, for after a minute I hear the noisy blunderings of another Red Army Clique- the people that are impossible to defeat because they always fight together. There are three of them, all stocky men, and I roll my eyes when they come into the clearing.

They never look up.

That’s the funny thing about the Red Army; they never, ever think through the costs. If you want to win, you have to look everywhere. Even up.

Trying not to make a sound, I reach down into my belt and take out one of the chromatics that I had hidden inside. Wincing from the effort of holding on, I threw it- far, far away towards the other side of the Red Army.

Hopefully, they will start running towards it, leaving the mark on their backs vulnerable. I remember what my instructor told me, not too long ago. Hit the mark. That is their weakness. If I hit the mark- they are done for. And so that’s what I plan to do.

I cheer silently to myself when I see the Red Army Clique turn towards the impact of my chromatic’s landing. Their backs are vulnerable.

As they start heading towards the chromatic, I aim my gun and I shoot.

My blue laser slices through the foggy air like light, plunging its silvery body into the mark of the one of the Red Army. A squealing comes from them that doesn’t sound real at all, and then the one that I hit is fallen.

The big tall one stands up and tosses a look at his fallen comrade before turning to face me.

Uh oh.

He’s seen me.

He lets out a hoot before lifting his gun to shoot at me. As a red laser shoots towards me faster than the speed of light, I barely have time to duck behind the body of the ligneous complex before it goes right past me, barely missing my own mark.

I shudder as I remember what my instructor told me.

I have a mark too. But mine isn’t red like theirs. It’s blue. Like the side that I am fighting for.

Taking a deep breath, I jump down the complex and land on the ground, my hand scraping against the rough covering. It should feel like the bark at home, on my own tree, but it doesn’t. It feels sharper. Like… even the trees are out to get me.

I merge into the fog and creep away, knowing that the two Red Armymen are close in pursuit. Shooting lasers behind me, lasers whizzing past my ears, my boots, my mark, I allow myself to believe that this really is the end.

Could it be that this time, the Red Army deserves to win?

No. I can’t let myself to think that way.

And so, with a shrug of my shoulders, I do the unthinkable. I turn around and face my pursuers head on.

What I do catches them by surprise.

They stumble, and I use their momentary hesitation to my advantage.

I shoot. I shoot, I dive, I shoot again. By the time I’m finished, both of them have fallen.

And I feel unstoppable.

Until it happens.

I hear her scream.

“Somebody help me!”

I’m finished resting and up on my feet as soon as Clarice shouts. And then I move, as fast as the wind and as deadly as the storm, until I see them. Five Red Armymen surrounding Clarice, smiling at her and aiming their guns to shoot.

I can only get out her name before it’s over.

She catches sight of me through the shoulders of the Red Army, and then she too is fallen. What happens barely registers in my mind before the Red Army turns around, and sees me, helpless. I could shoot them down, but maybe it’s not worth it. Maybe I should just surrender, and let them get rid of me peacefully.

Besides, I realize it now. I’m the only one left. The Red Army is going to win- and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Mouth dry, I drop my gun on the ground and lower myself to my knees. They surround me and point their guns at my mark. Shutting my eyes, I prepare for the impact. I prepare to become fallen. It’s only a matter of time before I do.

They all cock their guns in unison.

My breath catches.

And then-

An alarm blares.

I feel no impact. I feel nothing. And when my eyes open, I see him, extending his hand and helping me up.

Am I fallen? No. I don’t think so. Not yet.

The Red Army is heading away from me, and I realize that I am safe. I am the last man standing. The warrior, the servant. What a tiring job that is. They are all walking away, laughing and hooting, their voices loud and exuberant.

They’re probably going to celebrate with some greasy pizza and fizzy pop. They’ll laugh late into the night, celebrating their victory.

But hey, it’s only laser tag.

I might as well go and join them.

5 Things to Avoid in the First Chapter

5 Things to Avoid in the First Chapter

One of the most important things for an author to understand is how to form the first chapter. Or, more importantly, how not to. The first chapter is what the agents and publishers will read. It is also, most likely, the page that curious people will go to at a bookstore. So, if you have a bad beginning, everyone just assumes that you aren’t qualified to write and therefore do not deserve the attention. I have read books that have very bad beginnings, and so I didn’t continue to read them. What are the things to avoid in the first chapter? Here is a list of five things to remember.

1. Avoid long opening paragraphs

This is one of the things that bug me. A lot. If I open a book I want to instantly be drawn into the story. Sure, a small opening paragraph is fine. But don’t go along to write what I call a ‘Run-On Paragraph’ which is a paragraph that takes something you have already described and breaks it down bit by bit until I have a big picture- but maybe too big. I want to be drawn into the book first off. And if I am instantly put into a position when I have to read this poetic, run-on sentence, I’m going to assume that the rest of the book is that way and put it down.

2. Avoid using passive voice

Looking back at my books that I wrote years ago, I noticed I used passive voice. I told about things instead of showing them. That basically opened the door- but kept the screen tightly locked. I could smell the world, feel the warmth, see the light, but I couldn’t get in. We don’t want that. In the first chapter, and fundamentally the rest of the book, try showing things instead of telling them. For example, don’t say ‘the fall leaves’ instead, try doing something like this ‘the drying leaves crunched underfoot’. If you do it that way, people are sucked into the world, and they can almost see it, feel it, and smell it. It’s alright to use passive voice sometimes, but if you use it all the time agents and publishers will see you as immature, and won’t give your book another thought.

3. Avoid pointless facts

Do not go on to describe the color of her hair, where she went to school, who she dated, etc. right at the beginning. The beginning of the book needs to be like a movie- not a history book. Put in these facts one by one, dotting the book, letting the readers learn these things one by one. Don’t ever put anything like this: ‘Anne was twelve years old when she first went to Green Gables. Before that, she had been a lonely orphan in an asylum, and often talked to herself to keep herself from being all alone.’ That sounds quite immature, doesn’t it? Instead, Lucy Montgomery put in the facts one by one, telling the story, weaving it together, putting fact over fact, each of a different color.

4. Avoid answering questions

In the first chapter, I want to be left in the dark. I want to be asking questions. I want to have a good enough understanding of the world they live in, but I want to still be asking questions at the end. If you answer every question you proposed, I wouldn’t feel like I needed to read the rest of the book. I would feel satisfied. As mean as it sounds, you do not want the reader to be satisfied. You want them to fidget, wondering what’s going to happen next, hoping that they don’t have to wake up at 3 a.m. again to read what will happen next. Sorry, insomniacs, but it is the author’s goal to keep you up as late as possible. How do we do that? Keep them asking questions- and don’t answer them in the same chapter. Keep them waiting, hoping, sweating for the answer. And then, finally, when they get the answer, they are farther along in the book.

5. Avoid using an excessive amount of poetic similes

“Her smile was like a ray of sunshine shining on a freezing land.” These similes are fine, as long as they are used in moderation. But, I would advise you to eliminate them from your first chapter altogether. Because, most often, the similes are used to describe something we don’t need to know about. The reader will just skim over that description like this; she has a smile like a ray of sunshine. Yeah, I don’t care. Describe things as they are for now and then, later on in the book, you can go ahead and add similes. But, unless you are trying to write a very poetic book -which I caution you against- be careful when you use them. A good amount of similes can be beautiful- an excessive amount is immature.

Questions? Comments? Do not hesitate to make them known in the comment section below!

 

 

Creating A Brand New World

Creating A Brand New World

 

One of the biggest issues for me as an amateur writer was creating a world that seemed real and possible. Not just possible, but probable! I wanted to know how to create a world- and an easy step by step guide to making it realistic.

Now, you have probably come here hoping that I will provide that step-by-step guide, an easy affirmation, a stupendous instruction manual. You have been looking for the easy way to make it and haven’t been able to find it. Let me tell you why.

There is no easy way to create your universe, whether that be post-apocalyptic or a whole new world altogether. It’s that simple. Creating the world that your characters will live in, be in, and breathe in might just be the hardest -but most important- thing to figure out. You need a world that seems real, imperfect and beautiful.

I was forced to struggle on my own, hoping to find the easy guide to forming the world. Anything I ever came up with was shallow and was so thin I could see the light of reality on the other side. No matter how much I tried, nothing was working.

And then I learned something very important. In order to create the world my characters lived in, I first had to create the universe. It’s simple, really.

If there is to be the brain, first there has to be the body. The case- the protection. I cannot have one area of my world figured out without knowing the rest.

For example, if my characters live in China, I need to remember what is going on in South Africa. I need to know the whole story. My readers do not, but I do. Because what I know about the world that my characters live in will impact how they react, how they live, and how the enthusiasm of a world that I know is poured into my writing.

It’s easiest to write a book in modern times because we do not have to do the research on the past or the thinking on the future. We live in the world and we breathe inside of it.

Now, I have a question to ask.

What would our fictional worlds be like if we made ourselves live and breathe inside of it?

Everything would seem real.

And that is your goal as an author, is it not? To suck a person into a world so they forget the reality they are in?

Here are a few things I want you to remember as you prepare your world.

1. The world comes first- the story and characters second

As young authors, we tend to create the story in our heads late at night, planning and hoping, eager to write the book in the morning. But by the time the excitement fades and reality starts to sink in, disappointment settles on our hearts. We have made a mistake. A very, very common mistake. What did we do wrong? We spent so much time thinking about the characters, the names, or maybe this certain scene that we forgot to form the world. I came across this while I was writing my recent dystopian novel. I would lean back and stare up at the quotes on my wall, trying to figure out where to go next because I had no idea. And then, finally, I realized why. I created the characters first, thus leading me to create the plot-line. The void I had created was too big to patch up. This much was clear: I had to start over.

2. Patch up the pieces by writing a ‘map’ of the world they exist in

And so I opened a new document and begin to type out the attributes of the main protagonist, even though he is hardly in the book. I then went on to type out the other characters, then going on to describe the Union bit by bit- the assessment, the type of living conditions, the rules, the soldiers, and the family standards. By the time I opened up my novel document again, I had a fresh new eye on what was supposed to be written- and all of that played into my characters.

3. Remember that the characters you create are living people- not robots

Obviously, the characters you are busy creating live in breathe in the world you are forming. But that means that they are also aware of what is going on in the world around them, not just where they live. That is why it is important to form the entire universe, not just where the story takes place. If you form these things early on, the things the characters say and do will be impacted- thus making them seem more real and less animated.

4. The world you create is the world you destroy

This is one thing lots of authors forget about. They forget that, in the long run, not only will the characters be killed off. The world will be destroyed. It is important to remember that in Lord of the Rings, the Shire was destroyed. In the Hunger Games, District 12 was bombed. People forget that in order for war to be real- the world has to be destroyed as well. So when you are creating your world, make sure you figure out what can be destroyed and what can not be.

5. No real world is perfect

Flowing waterfalls, crystal skies, emerald hills, shimmering seas, marble buildings, streets of gold. I have just painted a vision of a perfect world in your mind. The world I just described is beautiful, but not realistic. If I depicted a world like that for my novel, it would instantly block the readers out. Why? Because no place except for Heaven is perfect like that. No one can imagine such pristine beauty. That is why it is important to create a world out of what you know- and what you understand. Sure, there may be areas that seem perfect; steep mountains, sweeping steppes, skies with clouds like cotton balls. But there are also imperfections. For example, the gaps that an earthquake created, the dirty children running around naked because their parents can’t afford clothes. Never forget that we live in a real world- and your characters must too.

6. Description is key

No real world is perfect- and to make sure that the readers understand that, you must describe it as so. Do the children live amidst a pile of rubble, their fingernails caked with blood as they forage for the remainder of their food? Does blood streak his body as he shields his wife, running away from the fighter-bombs? Is the world they live in nothing but ash and death and gore? Describe it to its very bones- picking apart the pieces until you have a solid description of reality. However, you do not want too much description in one part, now do you? That will make the readers feel cluttered, and they will not understand most of it. Spread the description out, putting it in a sentence here and there. I might do an article, later on, to further explain what I mean.

Creating a world isn’t easy- but it’s the most important thing you absolutely must create to make a novel whole, realistic, and painted.



Questions? Comments? Do not hesitate to make them known in the comment section below!

The Beginning of All Things

Well, I guess here is where I begin. This blog will just be a short introduction, yes, but I plan on having my first article out on Saturday. So, this is the beginning. I’m so excited and a little ‘eh’ at the same time. Hopefully, I will be what you need, when you need it! If not, goodness knows, you are on your own. So lets get started. This website may be titled Dystopian Logic, but I’m here to help you in every genre from historical romance to futuristic thrillers. Subscribe now and you will not be disappointed! My first article will be about  ‘Creating a Brand New World’ will be out on Saturday! See you then!