The Four Cornerstones of Strong Characters

Truly strong characters are complex enough to carry the story, pull in the reader, and give a sense that there’s more going on under the surface. It’s not about being tough. It’s about being well-written.

Plot can springboard off of a strong character from various “soft spots” engineered specifically to propel it forward. Those soft spots are nestled in the cornerstones.

The Four Cornerstones are:

The Fear, the Secret, the Flaw, and the Quirk.
Keep reading to find out how and why you should use them…

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The Ultimate Guide to Defeating Writers Block: Know Your Plateau

Understanding your blockage is the first step to defeating it. Are you at a learning plateau?

You sit down at the computer and end up staring at a blank screen for hours, your muscles tense and your brow furrowed. Or perhaps you write, but you’re frustrated with the drivel you’re producing. To put it simply, you have writer’s block.

Writer’s block comes in many forms, and while there are a lucky few that claim to have never experienced it, the majority of us have the doubtful privilege of butting heads with it multiple times in our careers. It might come in a different form each time, but it’s still good ol’ writer’s block.

What causes writer’s block? It can be any number of things, but the most common is reaching a plateau in your learning curve. Despite the popular “steep learning curve” usage, leveling out means that time is passing and you’re not advancing. The first step to fighting writer’s block is figuring out if you’re on a plateau. Keep reading about writer’s block and plateaus…

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8 Things Writers Can Learn from Magicians

A few years back, I spent some time as a magician’s assistant. It’s not as glamorous as you might think, but I learned quite a bit about life and people. Some of the lessons are directly applicable to fiction writing.
Keep reading for insight on how to create magic with your writing…

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Structure Is Not a Formula

Many writers think that structure is formulaic. In writing groups, they scoff at structured, ‘formulaic’ writing because it lacks creativity. Maybe you’ve scoffed; I know I did.

The Formulaic Misconception

Formula fiction does exist. It follows highly structured paths in the form of often-used plots. Change a few key details, use good ‘show vs. tell’ skills, and you have a highly saleable manuscript.

But in looking at formula fiction, you can get the wrong idea about structure. Keep reading about what structure really is…

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Need-to-Know Exposition

You had a grand plan for your character, Jack. His adventure would rival Frodo’s in the minds of your readers. But they never got that far. They read as you set the stage of a war-torn kingdom. They pushed on through the report of Jack’s father’s demise and the subsequent decline of his mother’s health. They slogged through the process of farming magic beans. They drew the line at the only way to kill a giant.  Jack’s adventure was derailed by exposition.

The above story is a classic example of an infodump. It exposes too much, too soon. Infodumps aren’t limited to beginnings, though. You have to guard against them throughout a story.

Readers get bored without action or characterization. They want to get sucked in, and learn about a character as they would a new acquaintance. And they definitely don’t want to learn exactly how the conflict will be resolved before it ever begins. Keep reading about how to artfully expose what your reader needs to know…

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