Your Characters Should Hold a Grudge

Your characters should be holding a grudge, possibly several of them. Not against you, of course, unless you’re George R. R. Martin, but against other characters. People that they could reasonably hold a grudge against.

I was thinking about how I owe some guy at my school named Nate a big FUCK YOU for something he did earlier last semester (deets here towards the top) and I realized that I am definitely the kind of person who holds grudges. However, my characters aren’t. They don’t remember that one time that girl got them detention in 4th grade for something they didn’t do or the time their “best friend” decided to ignore them for two year to join the popular kids. Now, just like not all people hold grudges, not all characters do. Some forgive and forget.

However, I think it’s much more fun not to have a character forgive and forget. It can give them motivation to do anything, really. Need your character to get to the next city over for the plot to progress? She has a grudge on an old bully and wants to go make him wash her car. Need your character to be caught by the hunky police officer she’s going to sleep with? Have her being caught egging the house of her ex. You know the one, the guy who stole her cat and cheated on her, not the nice one who wore sweaters. Sweater dude made nice pizza.

Grudges are a great way to add some depth to your character. Is Judy more relaxed but Sally is confrontational? Show that through a conversation about how Sally hasn’t forgiven her first grade teacher for playing favorites and Judy trying to talk her into forgetting about it. It can also add humor to a scene when Sally recounts how incredibly unfair it was that Timmy was given FOUR gummy bears but she was only give ONE. (And yes, these can be adults. Adults can be petty, and all characters need flaws.)

So, Nate, in honor of upcoming Valentine’s Day, here is my gift for you:

f

So now I don’t have to worry about flipping you off it I finally see you around campus, because all of my followers now know that I’m crazy.

What’s something one of your characters has held a grudge for?

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NaNoWriMo For Newbies – Part 2 ½, Your Love Interest

As you can see, I’ve labeled this as part 2 ½ because I know that many of you aren’t writing romance. That’s fine. Tune back in for part three, but for those of you who want to put that spark into your writing, this is the place to be. (If you missed it, part one, the plot is here and part two, your MC is here.)

Alright, so your MC is going to fall in love with this love interest, who’ll be called Squishy from this point on. If you’re writing a romance, you likely considered Squishy when writing your plot from part one. However, you might not have. I didn’t:

My story is about a fun-loving girl who needs to keep her secret hidden in order to continue impersonating the princess until the real one is found.

Because there are other elements in my story, there’s no hint of romance in it. So we need another fill in the blank.

When MC meets (Squishy) he/she thinks (blank). Then, (blank) happens and they (blank).

That’s very broad, but here’s how I would apply it to my story:

When Wild meets Daviat, she thinks he’s boring and rude. Then, he’s assigned to guard her at all times, and they are forced to put up with each other.

Clearly, just from that sentence you can see a plot emerging. Wild is fun-loving, but Daviat is a stick in the mud. He guards her to keep her in line while she’s impersonating the princess, and you can think of all the situations where they could connect since they’re together 24/7.

Here’s another fill in the blank to be applied to the second act of your novel (or at least it shouldn’t happen in the beginning if you’re writing a romance):

(Squishy) proves his/her love when he/she (blanks) for (MC).

My example: Daviat proves his love when he runs away from the castle with Wild to protect her.

Once you’ve completed that, here are some general romance tips:

  • If your main genre is romance, you need subplots. You can’t have an entire novel of MC and Squishy falling in love.
  • Avoid love triangles, please.
  • No matter what genre you’re writing, your characters CANNOT fall in love instantly unless they acknowledge that it is way too sudden but they can’t stop it OR you’re using as a plot device in YA like, “Oh silly teenager you think you’re in love.” By taking out the slow progression of romance, you’re killing the genre.

Anyways, I hope this helped! Part three will be sub-plots!

NaNoWriMo For Newbies – Part Two, Your MC

So, you’ve got your plot. A basic one, at least. Now you need a character. I think it’s important to develop your character before fully developing your plot, because your character can change the plot. My nano novel was going to be about a girl who was a shapeshifter, but shapeshifting had to be her secret power that she was afraid of. Once I learned more about my character, I realized that Wild would think that shapeshifting was AWESOME. She would LOVE it. So I had to change her power, which changed the plot.

In my opinion, the best way to develop your character is to take as many character quizes as you can. Not the “Your Character is XYZ” type of quiz, but the ones that ask you tons of questions about your characters. Quizes for dating sites might work too. Here are some sample questions that you all can start with.

What is your character’s full name?

Wistar “Wild” Banister

Who are your character’s parents?

She was raised by a washerwoman and her husband along with her three daughters. Wild’s real parents are hidden to avoid possible spoilers, but I know who they are 😉

What does your character look like? (Tip: Never should this entire description appear in your novel in one area.)

She has short black hair and bright purple eyes. Her skin is very pale, almost white, and she’s a very dainty woman. She looks very young and has a slender nose and red lips.

Does your character have any quirks, strange mannerisms, annoying habits, or other defining characteristics?

She’s eager to talk to anyone new she sees, almost like a dog. She trusts everyone she meets and thinks that everyone has good inside of them. She gets annoyed when someone doesn’t want to do whatever fun thing comes into her head (like climb a tree or go swimming).

Has your character had his/her first kiss? Is he/she a virgin? Are they currently in a relationship?

No, yes, no.

Who means the most to your character (at the start of the novel)?

Quade. He found her when she thought she would die from loneliness. Granted, he’s the only person she interacts with, and if her dog was a person she’d probably pick her, but that’s that.

What is your character’s greatest fear?

That she’ll be lose control and end up completely alone again.

If your character could change one thing about him/herself, what would it be?

Wild wishes that she was just like everyone else, with a family and something to do every day other than run around with her dog.

 

I’ll leave you guys to find your own quizzes, because you might be able to find some tailored to your exact gender GENRE (I cannot believe I wrote gender, this is because the Amish people in Breaking Amish are wearing distractingly bright clothes). So go forth, flesh out your main character! You can do it for as many characters as you want, knock yourself out.

Next time we shall be talking about how to develop a love interest (so feel free to skip that for those of you not dealing in romance).

Part One is here.