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Characters, Plotting and Action: Writing Tips from Diana Peterfreund

Posted by inkpopbecki on September 10, 2010

How do you write a series? How do you define your characters? Diana Peterfreund, author of the new book Ascendant, is here to tell you this and more. Want to try your hand at writing action? Join the Ascendant Writing Challenge on inkpop.

On Character Names
My favorite trick for dealing with a recalcitrant character: recast him or her with a new name. Rare is the character whose disposition cannot be improved upon once christened anew. To me, changing the name of the character is more like changing the key of a musical piece. You end up with a very different person. Victor can’t be the same person as Cody. Allison is not the same person as Persephone.

“Get In Late, Get Out Early”
I didn’t make this one up, but it’s still one of my favorites.
Basically, what it means is start the scene at the latest possible point where it still makes sense to the reader. (“It’s a dark and stormy night,” isn’t necessary if you say “The lightning flashed on the hilt of her knife as she plunged it into the unicorn’s heart.”) Ditto for the ending — stop the scene on a hook that propels the reader into the next scene.

Be a Little Sadistic
Don’t be afraid to hurt your characters and make them suffer. No one wants to read a book about a happy, flawless person who never has any problems. It’s boring. They want to read about someone overcoming their problems, or dealing with their flaws. Conflict drives a story. Let the bad thing happen. Even better, let your hero be somewhat responsible for it.

Save Nothing
Series may be popular right now, but if you “save” all your good stuff “for the sequel,” your first book is going to be boring. Use what you’ve got, stuff your story to the gills. I promise, there’s more where that came from.

2 Responses to “Characters, Plotting and Action: Writing Tips from Diana Peterfreund”

  1. Jessica Daniels said

    I have recently found out that I love writing action!
    I wrote an actions scene just for the fun, and found myself continuing the story into a novel.
    These tips are helpful, I hope I have achieved them in my book Code White Fang, a badass werewolf with some serious mysterious problems, which the reader can only find out about by reading more 😉
    This is my first action novel, so I know it won’t be perfect but I hope it’s good.
    These tips make a lot of sense, and I will use them to the best of my abilities =D

  2. Lycanthrope said

    Whoa, very interesting tips… huh

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