Daily Writing Tip 40 of 100, Testing and Deepening Your Characters

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Testing and Deepening Your Characters

Source – Writing the Short Story, A Hands-On Program, by Jack M. Bickham

Readers often ask whether writers start with plot or with character in developing stories. It’s the kind of question most writers can’t begin to answer because plot ideas tend to spring forth with characters already in them and characters usually spring out of the imagination with some of their plot problems already nagging them.

To put it another way: Good plots involve vivid characters, and good characters are always involved in a plot that tests their mettle.

This makes a lot of sense. Over the years I have had folks talk about making cards with ideas on them – plot cards, character cards, theme cards, setting cards…. The plot and character cards were the hardest. I think the mistake is to separate them like that.

So maybe I need to think about plot/character hybrid cards? Or one step further – plot/character/conflict cards.

Yeah… that might be the ticket.

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