Writings About Writing – The Who

Not Doctor Who. Just thought I’d make that clear.

The Who I’m talking about is your readers: the people who read your stories. Who is your target audience? What kind of people like your characters? Who do you think most needs the message in your story, and is your story directed towards them?

From my (limited) experience, I’ve learned that a lot of writers write what they themselves like to read. There are exceptions, but most people don’t write something they wouldn’t read themselves. As a teen writer, most of my work is YA. And as a girl, yes, most (but not all) of my main characters are girls. I’m sort-of adventurous, so I occassionally write something that doesn’t have a female main character, which is always interesting, for me, at least.

It’s important to know what your audience likes, and what turns them off. If you find that your book doesn’t fit your audience, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should toss it out. Maybe you just need to find a different audience that does like your book. Look at other books that are like your book, and see who reads them. That could be your Who.

What about you? Do you write what you read? Who is your audience? Have you ever had trouble finding your audience?

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Writings About Writing – Those We Love, Part Three

Part 1 and Part 2

Here’s a tough question. (One I don’t have an answer to, too.) Why do people like some villains?

I mean, really. They’re the bad guys. (Ahem, Loki, Moriarty… Read more in this post from my other blog.) We’re not necessarily supposed to like the bad guys.

That said, maybe we can learn a lesson or two from these bad guys, to apply to the characters we want our readers to like.

Appearance. We live in a culture that is totally concerned with how people look. If you think about it, yeah. Most of the characters that get fangirled over (if that’s even the right term) are “cute”.

Backstory. This is the bigger of these two points. Now, I don’t know about Moriarty, since I haven’t watched BBC’s Sherlock, and he certainly wasn’t that likable in the books, but (from what I’ve watched, remember that I’ve only seen him in The Avengers) Loki’s got a pretty sad backstory. Adoption, under his brother’s shadow, and all of that. People like characters with sad backstories. Just don’t give your character a tragic backstory that has absolutely nothing to do with your story. Have it play in somehow.

That said, it’s back to editing… So long, friends!

Do you like characters with tragic backstories? Do you like Loki or Moriarty? Do any of your favorite  characters (in your stories or others) have a sad story, and how does that play into the overall story? Do you think a backstory needs to affect the overall story?

Writings About Writing – Those We Love, Part Two

So, what is it that makes those characters so lovable and huggable? Really?

The truth is, I don’t know.

Let’s just get one thing out of the way. For one thing, I am not an expert. For another, I don’t think I’ve created a single character ever that stuck in people’s heads and was just… amazing. So most of this is conjecture, thinking onto a screen, and… ramblings. So, be forewarned, and don’t sue me if this doesn’t make your characters any better. That said, on with it.

I asked several questions in Part One, and I’m going to be building a little bit off of that, and some other random thoughts.

Today’s question is… Why not perfect?

See, most of the characters that we love are flawed. Some in small ways, and some in much, much bigger ways. Why can’t your characters just be perfect?

Because there’s only one perfect Person, and His story is so awesome that no other perfect person could beat it.

Well, that and the fact that nobody (but Jesus) is perfect. We always seem to dislike “goody-two-shoes” in real life, so of course we’ll dislike the perfect people in stories. That’s because we don’t identify with their perfection. We have flaws, so we expect the characters to have flaws.

We look for ourselves in characters to identify with them. That’s why we like characters that are flawed and remind us of ourselves.

So, make ’em imperfect. Give them problems. Insecurities. Hatred. Secrets. Sin.

Do you like perfect characters? Are there any exceptions to this? Do you have trouble flawing your characters? What are your favorite characters’ flaws, both in your writing and others’?

Writings About Writing – Those We Love, Part One

Sherlock Holmes. Nancy Drew. Black Beauty. Charlotte and Wilbur. Velvet Brown. Despereaux. Yes, I’m just listing some of my personal favorite characters.

How did all of these authors do it? How did they make characters that aren’t perfect, but are so well loved? Sherlock Holmes, one of the most famous detectives of all times, was often arrogant, broke the law, and had a cocaine addiction. Black Beauty… well, he was a horse. Wilbur was, let’s face it, not the sharpest knife in the drawer. And a pig. That too. Velvet Brown was a skinny, sickly kid who liked to play with paper horses cut out from magazines. Despereaux. He was a mouse. Again, skinny and sickly.

So how come we love Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web and hate Napoleon from Animal Farm? (I’m not the only one who didn’t like Animal Farm, am I?)

Basically, I’ll be discussing these questions and more in this little series.

What are some of your favorite characters? Do they have flaws? Have you made any characters that you absolutely loved, or hated? What made you like them so much?

Writings About Writing – On Trips

If you’ve been wondering about the lack of posts lately, it’s becasue I’m on a trip.

Well, I’m not on one right now. Right now it is Wednesday, July 2nd. 2014. So, yes, this is a pre-written post. So, yes, I’m not here while you’re reading this. So, yes… this is confusing. Let’s get back on topic.

Writing on trips. Sometimes, trips are the worst times to write. So much is going on, and you just want a break. But other times, like on an airplane, or if you’re in a car and someone else is driving, it’s the perfect time to write. I tend to find these times are when I can get a lot done, as long as I don’t have too many books with me to distract me.

What about you? Do you write well on planes? Or do you need to have a normal desk and solid ground under your feet to write? Can you write in the car?

Writings About Writing – Description

Ooh. Yep. Description.

Description is something I always have trouble with. Mostly because I forget about it. I always have to look back in my story to see if I’ve already described a character, or if I’ve described this room, or that scenic view, or the hotel, or… well, I’m sure you get the point.

I personally think I’m okay with description, as long as I remember it. Character descriptions are usually some of the hardest for me. “Okay, she’s tall, brown hair, with green eyes.” No, I need more detail than that. How do you even do that?

Yeah. I struggle with description. And here I am, struggling with describing my struggles with description. 😉

Do you struggle with description? What’s your biggest description problem? Too much or too little? How do you describe your characters’ appearances?