Stephen King’s “Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully – in Ten Minutes” 

Stephen-Kings-Everything-You-Need-to-Know-About-Writing-Successfully-in-Ten-Minutes
I came across the following article by Stephen King a little while ago. I believe it was originally published in a 1986 edition of The Writer magazine and republished in the 1988 edition of The Writer’s Handbook. I reproduce it here for educational and entertainment purposes, as it’s a brilliant piece. Enjoy!

I. The First Introduction

THAT’S RIGHT. I know it sounds like an ad for some sleazy writers’ school, but I really am going to tell you everything you need to pursue a successful and financially rewarding career writing fiction, and I really am going to do it in ten minutes, which is exactly how long it took me to learn. It will actually take you twenty minutes or so to read this essay, however, because I have to tell you a story, and then I have to write a second introduction. But these, I argue, should not count in the ten minutes.

II. The Story, or, How Stephen King Learned to Write

When I was a sophomore in high school, I did a sophomoric thing which got me in a pot of fairly hot water, as sophomoric didoes often do. I wrote and published a small satiric newspaper called The Village Vomit. In this little paper I lampooned a number of teachers at Lisbon (Maine) High School, where I was under instruction. These were not very gentle lampoons; they ranged from the scatological to the downright cruel.

Eventually, a copy of this little newspaper found its way into the hands of a faculty member, and since I had been unwise enough to put my name on it (a fault, some critics argue, of which I have still not been entirely cured), I was brought into the office. The sophisticated satirist had by that time reverted to what he really was: a fourteen-year-old kid who was shaking in his boots and wondering if he was going to get a suspension … what we called “a three-day vacation” in those dim days of 1964.

I wasn’t suspended. I was forced to make a number of apologies – they were warranted, but they still tasted like dog-dirt in my mouth – and spent a week in detention hall. And the guidance counselor arranged what he no doubt thought of as a more constructive channel for my talents. This was a job – contingent upon the editor’s approval – writing sports for the Lisbon Enterprise, a twelve-page weekly of the sort with which any small-town resident will be familiar. This editor was the man who taught me everything I know about writing in ten minutes. His name was John Gould – not the famed New England humorist or the novelist who wrote The Greenleaf Fires, but a relative of both, I believe.

He told me he needed a sports writer and we could “try each other out” if I wanted.

I told him I knew more about advanced algebra than I did sports.

Gould nodded and said, “You’ll learn.”

I said I would at least try to learn. Gould gave me a huge roll of yellow paper and promised me a wage of 1/2 cent per word. The first two pieces I wrote had to do with a high school basketball game in which a member of my school team broke the Lisbon High scoring record. One of these pieces was straight reportage. The second was a feature article.

I brought them to Gould the day after the game, so he’d have them for the paper, which came out Fridays. He read the straight piece, made two minor corrections, and spiked it. Then he started in on the feature piece with a large black pen and taught me all I ever needed to know about my craft. I wish I still had the piece – it deserves to be framed, editorial corrections and all – but I can remember pretty well how it looked when he had finished with it. Here’s an example:

(note: this is before the edit marks indicated on King’s original copy)

Last night, in the well-loved gymnasium of Lisbon High School, partisans and Jay Hills fans alike were stunned by an athletic performance unequaled in school history: Bob Ransom, known as “Bullet” Bob for both his size and accuracy, scored thirty-seven points. He did it with grace and speed … and he did it with an odd courtesy as well, committing only two personal fouls in his knight-like quest for a record which has eluded Lisbon thinclads since 1953….

(after edit marks)

Last night, in the Lisbon High School gymnasium, partisans and Jay Hills fans alike were stunned by an athletic performance unequaled in school history: Bob Ransom scored thirty-seven points. He did it with grace and speed … and he did it with an odd courtesy as well, committing only two personal fouls in his quest for a record which has eluded Lisbon’s basketball team since 1953….

When Gould finished marking up my copy in the manner I have indicated above, he looked up and must have seen something on my face. I think he must have thought it was horror, but it was not: it was revelation.

“I only took out the bad parts, you know,” he said. “Most of it’s pretty good.”

“I know,” I said, meaning both things: yes, most of it was good, and yes, he had only taken out the bad parts. “I won’t do it again.”

“If that’s true,” he said, “you’ll never have to work again. You can do this for a living.” Then he threw back his head and laughed.

And he was right; I am doing this for a living, and as long as I can keep on, I don’t expect ever to have to work again.

III. The Second Introduction

All of what follows has been said before. If you are interested enough in writing to be a purchaser of this magazine, you will have either heard or read all (or almost all) of it before. Thousands of writing courses are taught across the United States each year; seminars are convened; guest lecturers talk, then answer questions, then drink as many gin and tonics as their expense-fees will allow, and it all boils down to what follows.

I am going to tell you these things again because often people will only listen – really listen – to someone who makes a lot of money doing the thing he’s talking about. This is sad but true. And I told you the story above not to make myself sound like a character out of a Horatio Alger novel but to make a point: I saw, I listened, and I learned. Until that day in John Gould’s little office, I had been writing first drafts of stories which might run 2,500 words. The second drafts were apt to run 3,300 words. Following that day, my 2,500-word first drafts became 2,200-word second drafts. And two years after that, I sold the first one.

So here it is, with all the bark stripped off. It’ll take ten minutes to read, and you can apply it right away … if you listen.

IV. Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully

1. Be talented
This, of course, is the killer. What is talent? I can hear someone shouting, and here we are, ready to get into a discussion right up there with “what is the meaning of life?” for weighty pronouncements and total uselessness. For the purposes of the beginning writer, talent may as well be defined as eventual success – publication and money. If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented. Now some of you are really hollering. Some of you are calling me one crass money-fixated creep. And some of you are calling me bad names. Are you calling Harold Robbins talented? someone in one of the Great English Departments of America is screeching. V.C. Andrews? Theodore Dreiser? Or what about you, you dyslexic moron?

Nonsense. Worse than nonsense, off the subject. We’re not talking about good or bad here. I’m interested in telling you how to get your stuff published, not in critical judgments of who’s good or bad. As a rule the critical judgments come after the check’s been spent, anyway. I have my own opinions, but most times I keep them to myself. People who are published steadily and are paid for what they are writing may be either saints or trollops, but they are clearly reaching a great many someones who want what they have. Ergo, they are communicating. Ergo, they are talented. The biggest part of writing successfully is being talented, and in the context of marketing, the only bad writer is one who doesn’t get paid. If you’re not talented, you won’t succeed. And if you’re not succeeding, you should know when to quit. When is that? I don’t know. It’s different for each writer. Not after six rejection slips, certainly, nor after sixty. But after six hundred? Maybe. After six thousand? My friend, after six thousand pinks, it’s time you tried painting or computer programming. Further, almost every aspiring writer knows when he is getting warmer – you start getting little jotted notes on your rejection slips, or personal letters . . . maybe a commiserating phone call. It’s lonely out there in the cold, but there are encouraging voices … unless there is nothing in your words which warrants encouragement. I think you owe it to yourself to skip as much of the self-illusion as possible. If your eyes are open, you’ll know which way to go … or when to turn back.

2. Be neat
Type. Double-space. Use a nice heavy white paper, never that erasable onion-skin stuff. If you’ve marked up your manuscript a lot, do another draft.

3. Be self-critical
If you haven’t marked up your manuscript a lot, you did a lazy job. Only God gets things right the first time. Don’t be a slob.

4. Remove every extraneous word
You want to get up on a soapbox and preach? Fine. Get one and try your local park. You want to write for money? Get to the point. And if you remove all the excess garbage and discover you can’t find the point, tear up what you wrote and start all over again . . . or try something new.

5. Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft
You want to write a story? Fine. Put away your dictionary, your encyclopedias, your World Almanac, and your thesaurus. Better yet, throw your thesaurus into the wastebasket. The only things creepier than a thesaurus are those little paperbacks college students too lazy to read the assigned novels buy around exam time. Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. You think you might have misspelled a word? O.K., so here is your choice: either look it up in the dictionary, thereby making sure you have it right – and breaking your train of thought and the writer’s trance in the bargain – or just spell it phonetically and correct it later. Why not? Did you think it was going to go somewhere? And if you need to know the largest city in Brazil and you find you don’t have it in your head, why not write in Miami, or Cleveland? You can check it … but later. When you sit down to write, write. Don’t do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.

6. Know the markets
Only a dimwit would send a story about giant vampire bats surrounding a high school to McCall’s. Only a dimwit would send a tender story about a mother and daughter making up their differences on Christmas Eve to Playboy … but people do it all the time. I’m not exaggerating; I have seen such stories in the slush piles of the actual magazines. If you write a good story, why send it out in an ignorant fashion? Would you send your kid out in a snowstorm dressed in Bermuda shorts and a tank top? If you like science fiction, read the magazines. If you want to write confession stories, read the magazines. And so on. It isn’t just a matter of knowing what’s right for the present story; you can begin to catch on, after awhile, to overall rhythms, editorial likes and dislikes, a magazine’s entire slant. Sometimes your reading can influence the next story, and create a sale.

7. Write to entertain
Does this mean you can’t write “serious fiction”? It does not. Somewhere along the line pernicious critics have invested the American reading and writing public with the idea that entertaining fiction and serious ideas do not overlap. This would have surprised Charles Dickens, not to mention Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Bernard Malamud, and hundreds of others. But your serious ideas must always serve your story, not the other way around. I repeat: if you want to preach, get a soapbox.

8. Ask yourself frequently, “Am I having fun?”
The answer needn’t always be yes. But if it’s always no, it’s time for a new project or a new career.

9. How to evaluate criticism
Show your piece to a number of people – ten, let us say. Listen carefully to what they tell you. Smile and nod a lot. Then review what was said very carefully. If your critics are all telling you the same thing about some facet of your story – a plot twist that doesn’t work, a character who rings false, stilted narrative, or half a dozen other possibles – change that facet. It doesn’t matter if you really liked that twist of that character; if a lot of people are telling you something is wrong with you piece, it is. If seven or eight of them are hitting on that same thing, I’d still suggest changing it. But if everyone – or even most everyone – is criticizing something different, you can safely disregard what all of them say.

10. Observe all rules for proper submission
Return postage, self-addressed envelope, all of that.

11. An agent? Forget it. For now
Agents get 10% of monies earned by their clients. 10% of nothing is nothing. Agents also have to pay the rent. Beginning writers do not contribute to that or any other necessity of life. Flog your stories around yourself. If you’ve done a novel, send around query letters to publishers, one by one, and follow up with sample chapters and/or the manuscript complete. And remember Stephen King’s First Rule of Writers and Agents, learned by bitter personal experience: You don’t need one until you’re making enough for someone to steal … and if you’re making that much, you’ll be able to take your pick of good agents.

12. If it’s bad, kill it
When it comes to people, mercy killing is against the law. When it comes to fiction, it is the law.

That’s everything you need to know. And if you listened, you can write everything and anything you want. Now I believe I will wish you a pleasant day and sign off.

My ten minutes are up.

Via: http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/stephen-king-everything-you-need-to-know-about-writing-successfully/

Writer’s Workshop: Festival of Writing

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This weekend, I attended the fabulous Festival of Writing in York. It was, as ever, a valuable weekend of learning, feedback, and meeting new and old writer friends. To give you a taste of how amazing it was, here is a post from Julie Crisp, who taught at the FoW:

I spent a rather lovely weekend doing some of my favourite things: meeting new authors and talking about books and publishing. This was my first time attending The Festival of Writing in York and, as such, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be quite as BIG with so many enthusiastic attendees.

I did two workshops and a series of one-to-ones. For anyone who knows me – they’ll know how much I hate public speaking. I always over prepare and spend far too much time worrying about having an unreceptive or unresponsive audience . . . a lecture hall filled with empty seats and a long awkward silence. Thankfully – there was none of that!

The first workshop I did was: How to Get an Agent: The Dos and Dont’s. Trying to come up with something fresh to say when there’s SO much information on the Internet about it (Juliet Mushens’ post on it is especially good), is always difficult. But the authors attending were fabulous. Lots of great ideas and information were exchanged and it was chatty, informal, and lots of fun. I may have been buzzing and gabbling a bit from the caffeine overdose but no one seemed to mind.

One of the most interesting questions for me as both editor and agent was: Who has the final say in the direction your novel is going? Who decides what can be kept and what gets changed? My personal answer to that is: You. The author. Agents and Editors are not there to rewrite your entire work to fit a template of their own making. They are not there to shoehorn it in a direction that you don’t agree with. What they will try to do is help you shape it into something that fits within commercial expectations. They’ll have a vision that uses those ideas and structures in the book that work and help you to take it a step further.

And for anyone attending that who wanted to know what a good pitch letter to me looks like then this is it:

THE PITCH LETTER

Dear (get the name right please),

  1)  One paragraph of an introduction to the book (listing the market, genre and readership you’re aiming at) and maybe one line or so about why you choose this agent. If it starts to feel like you’re following a script or template just keep the letter brief, businesslike and to the point. I’d much prefer succinct professionalism than overwriting.

  2)  A paragraph or two (more than that starts to feel like a retelling of the novel) about the book. The best pitches for me are those which read like cover copy rather than a synopsis…so a shoutline and then brief description.

  3)  A paragraph about yourself listing any relevant writing credits – look at published author bios – this is what you should be aiming at. Don’t over share!

Yours,

I also did a series of one-to-one meetings which I thoroughly enjoyed. I LOVE offering editorial feedback. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. There were some brilliant concepts. Lots of wonderful writing. I don’t think I totally ruined anyone’s day. At least no one left in tears so that’s always a plus! And I did ask for one complete script which I’m eagerly awaiting.

The Gala dinner was great, I got to catch-up with a few friends and make some new ones. But I did dash halfway through so could finish prepping for my workshop the next day.

Again, despite the large turnout – it felt like a really friendly, informative, sharing workshop. Everyone had ideas and thoughts about what worked to market your book on social media. I’d put a suvey poll on Twitter the night before.

So it was interesting to see that the hit rate for readers being influenced by social media in book sales was about 50% for those who participated, bearing in mind my usual followers are pretty book engaged. If it went out to a larger spread of people I’d expect it to go down…what we do know from the workshop is that no one likes the hard sell. Not from authors or publishers. And that the time you spend on Social Media will rarely result in equivalent book sales. If you’re interested in the rest of the presentation you can find it here. It’s rough notes but could be useful. There are loads of great articles on the web though which go into a lot more detail than mine about how to market your book online.

All in all I thought the Festival was fabulous. The Writer’s Workshop organised everything brilliantly and were happy to help wherever they could. I can see why it’s such a popular festival and why so many authors return year after year. It’s great for contacts, networking, up-to-date information, advice and support. As Tor Udall, author of A Thousand Paper Birds said, ‘I sit in workshops at #FoW17 and I still learn.’

Don’t we all.

Hope everyone enjoyed it and found it as useful as I did.

I certainly did.

See the original post here: http://www.juliecrisp.co.uk/writers-workshop-festival-of-writing

How To Keep Writing In Tough Times

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If you’ve found yourself in the midst of a difficult season, what can you do to keep moving forward with your writing? Here are 3 ways to keep writing through adversity:

1. Think About Your Priorities

Consider what exactly is going on in your life and understand the time demands that come from it. Maybe you’re getting married and the planning is time consuming… but you’ve got this novel you just don’t want to let go of for a few months. Getting married is quite different than being stuck in a hospital for the better part of five months, and your time restrictions are going to be different. Whatever your tough situation, think about what you want to achieve. Maybe you can only spare ten minutes a day to write a few paragraphs. But hey, it’s a start!

2. Outline Your Goals

This is where you look at where you want to take your writing career, and realistically try to figure out how to keep writing and stay on track. Do you want an agent, a publishing deal, etc. Because all of that is going to require a time commitment. Working on your goals, and figure out how those work alongside the other needs and commitments you have in your life.

3. Always Be Doing Something – Even if It’s Not Writing

There are loads of positive things you can be doing to keep your head in the game. Read, listen to podcasts, or check out blog posts from other writers – to name but a few.

There are a lot of great writing podcasts out there:

When adversity strikes, you don’t have to let your writing fall by the wayside. But it will if you let it. However, you can not only continue on with your goals in the face of harrowing times, you can amaze others with your work ethic. The tenacity to push through is something almost everyone will admire. It’s also a really good feeling as a writer.

If you can get through adverse times and figure out how to keep writing, you’ll find it that much easier to carve out time on days when you’re not in the middle of a trial.

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Read the full article here: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-to-keep-writing/

9 Bad Writing Habits You Should Break 

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If you are a writer, just like with anything, you have probably picked up some bad habits. These habits can be hard to break, and eliminating them all together can take anywhere between 72 hours to more than 21 days. Some long-lasting habits built up over time are even ingrained at our neural level, meaning they can even determine our behaviour or outlook on life.

But this is also the perfect reason to break a bad habit, so you can make room for more successful productive ones. Here are 9 such bad habits, which might be holding you back, and if so, you should try to break them:

1. Not sticking to the writing plan

Most of us are guilty of this one. Never rely on the whimsical character of your inspiration, it will not always be on tap to get you through. Sometimes you have to lock yourself in a room and force yourself to write.

The thing about plans is that if you can promise yourself to follow it without yielding to excuses, you might actually get some writing done. Here are three ways you can make yourself stick to your writing plan:

  • Make monthly, weekly and daily goals to control the process.
  • Decide how much time (minimum) you can commit to writing and stick to it.
  • Do not review a single sentence until you finish, even if you know there are some mistakes.

2. Giving in to procrastination and self-criticism

Procrastination and postponing your writing goals to fulfill other minor errands is another mistake. Often these can appear like writing – researching writing, blogging about writing, social media on writing – but none of this is actually writing.

Believe that you are good enough and you can do it. Turn off the internet, put your phone on silent and just write. I accept this is challenging, but once you get going it can also be very rewarding.

3. Over thinking your novel when you are not writing

We all tend to sit and think about our novels – inspiration might hit you at the oddest of times, when you are nowhere near your laptop/computer. However, unless you make notes – in a notebook, on your phone, on a scrap of paper – all that over thinking is just wasted. By the time you sit down it will be gone, or have changed shape. So try to introduce a better habit of carrying around a notebook (or similar) instead.

4. Writing without enough sleep

When your mind is already dried out, you shouldn’t expect anything special to come out. Sleep deprivation can result in chronic fatigue and even severe depression. When writing a book you should allow yourself from 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day.

5. Giving someone your unfinished book to read

This might sound like a good idea, but it isn’t. Feedback is great, you should get feedback, but only after you’ve finished your first draft completely. Otherwise you might end up completely changing the book, only to find it worked better before, or you have to change it again anyway.

6. Limiting yourself with one place for writing

Whilst I think it is a great idea to have somewhere that is solely for you and your writing to help you get into that space easier, limiting yourself to just that space may mean you have trouble writing anywhere else. It is good to be flexible, so that if you find yourself somewhere new you can still pen a few words without having a breakdown. It’s a useful writer skill to have.

7. Writing too many things at once

Even if you have several ideas for different novels, I recommend you keep a separate notebook or folder somewhere for these ideas, but don’t get too drawn into it without finishing what you are working on first. Dividing your attention between several story-lines can confuse you and make the process of finishing one of these books very hard.

8. Isolating yourself from family and friends

When you are writing a book, it can be very tempting to dive into it and ignore everybody. However, this is not always a good thing, as it can make you feel very lonely and isolated. We need our friends and family for support in those moments when we are not writing, so don’t lock yourself away – take the odd break and chat, laugh, get things off your chest. It will improve your writing time no end.

9. Not eating/drinking properly 

You’re in the zone. You don’t have time to eat. You snatch a quick fatty unhealthy snack and keep going. Does this sound like you? Me too! However, this can be counter productive because not fuelling yourself properly means your creative brain won’t be functioning to its highest capacity, and drinking enough water is also key for that process. Allow yourself a half hour break, eat something nutritious and make sure you have a big bottle of water to hand. Then let those creative juices flow!

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Based on: https://www.justpublishingadvice.com/nine-bad-writing-habits-that-you-should-break/

The Secret to Being a Happy Author

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I read this lovely post by Sam Tonge, and wanted to share it here – as it is very good and grounded advice. Something all writers and authors need to take on board.

It’s a tough business, publishing. I recall, years ago, a successful author warning a group of aspiring writers (me amongst them) to be careful what they wished for – that getting published didn’t solve all your problems. In fact, it brings a different set. And I can certainly confirm this. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and consider myself very lucky to be doing it –  but signing that deal means that instead of suffering submission rejections you are faced with a whole new gamut of challenges, such as tight deadlines, bad reviews, disappointing sales…these things happen to all authors and can come as a shock after finally achieving your dream.

It pays to bear in mind that most dreams are unrealistic – the getting published bit isn’t, but it’s what we subconsciously attach to that aspiration. Your view of “getting published” might be that… you earn loads of money. Buy a big house and fancy car. Gain respect from everyone you meet. Suddenly become irresistible to the object of your affection. Never feel depressed again. End up on the Booker List. Stand on the red carpet next to George Clooney. Fit into that size ten dress. Prove to everyone who ever doubted you that their view of you was incorrect.

IT IS UNREASONABLE TO EXPECT ANY OF THESE THINGS TO HAPPEN AS A DIRECT RESULT OF FINALLY GETTING YOUR BOOK OUT THERE!

So how can us writers hold onto our happiness during such a roller coaster career?

Over the last year I’ve learn a lot from Buddhism. One of its tenets is that unhappiness comes from being attached to either good or bad things. What helps is realising that nothing is permanent. If we can do that, our life will achieve a sense of balance.

Take my 2015 bestseller Game of Scones. It reached #5 in the Kindle chart and stayed in the Top Ten for a good length of time. It won an award. Many readers loved the story. I was finally on my way to “making it” I whooped! I attached myself to that success and expected it to continue.

That was my  mistake. The next book didn’t do badly, but didn’t do as well. I felt I’d failed. I attached myself to those feelings of disappointment and wondered if I’d ever have a bestseller again.

As it turned out I did and last year Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun got to #8. However, these days I have a different perspective. I don’t become attached to the peaks or the troughs. And I have zero expectations when a book is released. I write it the best I can, with love and heart, and I promote it at the outset… but then I let it go and get on with my next project. What will be will be. There are SO MANY reasons why a book does or doesn’t do well: the publisher’s strategy, the cover, title, price, the timing of its release, the other books around at that moment… I find that if I distance myself from my successes and see them for what they are – transitory events – it gives me a much more balanced view of my career.

Remember, the path to misery is littered with expectations and senses of entitlement!

And all of this can be applied to life. Physical looks, our own and loved ones’ personalities, domestic circumstances, financial earnings, our state of health … be aware that everything is impermanent and in a constant state of flux. This makes it easier to accept your situation when the status quo changes – which it will.

By all means enjoy your highs. You have worked hard. You deserve them. And lick your wounds during the lows. But remember – neither is permanent. Work hard and keep submitting manuscripts and you will get a deal. Keep writing and learning more about your craft and those good reviews and sales rankings will once again appear. Finding working with your current publisher/editor/agent difficult? One way or another that situation won’t last forever.

In my experience, keeping detached and enjoying the good moments simply for what they are (without further expectations), and realising the bad moments will eventually pass… THAT – in writing and in life – is the secret to happiness.

Via: http://samanthatonge.co.uk/news-and-blog/the-secret-to-being-a-happy-author/

Tips for Writing Round Characters

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I’ve never had a character come to me fully formed and ready to go. They come to me like ghosts and I have to make them real by getting to know them over time. Creating (good) characters is hard work, but when you take the time and effort to make them ’round’ it’s always worth it.

So what is a ’round’ character? E.M Forster wrote in Aspects of the Novel, that:

“The test of a round character is whether it is capable of surprising in a convincing way. If it never surprises, it is flat… It has an incalculability of life about it – life within the pages of a book.”

Someone once told me that if you can imagine the character existing outside of the novel, if they have lives that reach beyond their role in the book’s plot, they’re round. It’s all about putting life back in those ghostly figures that first appear.

But it’s not always so easy to create a round character. One approach is to let the characters reveal themselves to you, to really sit down and get to know them.

Ask questions.

Write out a set of questions for your character and conduct a kind of interview. This gets your brain thinking about all sorts of random details that you can use for background info to help round out your character. If you’re not sure what to ask, check out this list of possible questions.

HINT: This works even better if you don’t know the questions beforehand. Have a friend do the asking – it’ll keep you on your toes!

Have a chat.

Imagine physically meeting your character for the first time (maybe in a cafe, or at the library – it depends on the character). How does the conversation begin? How do they respond to you? This is great for picking up body language and visualisations about the character.

HINT: It’s not recommended to tell people who aren’t writers that you’ve been ‘talking with your characters’. They just don’t get it. Believe me.

Fill out a job application.

This idea comes from an article on The Write Practice. It’s a great way to work out the facts about a character. Don’t forget the important yet sometimes over looked details like age, date of birth, and previous work history.

HINT: As the article says, don’t hesitate to add more parts to the job application and really scrutinise your character.

Write a letter.

Not many people write letters anymore, so this is a great way to learn more about your character’s motivations, their past, their friends, and so on. It’s a good exercise for creating tone and voice as well as vocabulary.

HINT: Don’t post it!

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Happy writing 🙂

Via: http://writersedit.com/resources-for-writers/4-tips-writing-round-characters/