Your Main Character In Fiction – Too Good (Or Too Bad) To Be True…

The difficult part.  Creating a realistic character – or in fact, creating two.  Protagonist and antagonist.

Both are crucial to the story, but in some ways, the antagonist needs greater complexity, as that character drives the story forward – perhaps more so than the protagonist.

Stereotypes (e.g all bad, all good, all tough) don’t help.  Readers find it difficult to identify with a persistently flat character. Yet, in life, personality trends tend to fall into a few basic categories, suggesting that humans are pretty stereotypical at heart.

Until you dig deeper…

I think the secret lies in balancing the character’s strengths and virtues with their weaknesses and conflicts.  No one can be truly good all the time.  The truly good person must have conflicts of their own, regrets, resentments, etc.

Conflict provides a key to the main characters.   For instance, a writer should ask their major character questions: “What’s your problem?”, “What drives you?”,  “What’s the worst thing you’ve done that no one knows about?”,  “What are your secrets?”  Some writing coaches suggest doing exercise like these in the First Person, to get deeper insight into the character.

A further tip…make a note of the questions or character qualities that prompt a strong emotion…later, they may provide you with plenty of story questions to drive the narrative forward.  Plus, you may get a couple of satisfying, three-dimensional characters: protagonist and antagonist



Fascination With The Internet Tapers Off…

An article I wrote about four years ago when I was absolutely obsessed with the Internet, online file sharing, blogging, Web 2, etc, etc. 

A number of people, I notice, are losing interest in Social Media sites and only use them occasionally, if at all.  Some are returning to so-called old-fashioned email.  Possibly, the increase in phone Apps has led to a general feeling of bombardment – i.e. things have become too much, impossible to relax when phones and other devices constatly squeal or blare out music.

I still value the many opportunities made possible via the internet and mobile phones.  Equally, since writing the article, I’ve discovered new and other interests that don’t require an internet connection.   For instance, foreign languages.  (At the moment, I’m on Intermediate French and Beginners German. ) 

So for the first time in four years, I can actually go through two or three days without logging on. 


What I Like Most About The Internet

Initially, I took an immediate dislike to the Internet.  Like many people brought up on a diet of pens, pencils and typewriters, I was suspicious of what I probably regarded as another trend.  Then, in 1998, someone told me they might have a spare typewriter I could have, but the typewriter never materialised, so a friend lent me her word processor.

Imagine the excitement and fascination…I could already touch type, but the machine in front of me offered a lot more.  It allowed me to save work to a disk and copy/move sections of writing, and it also checked for spelling errors.  And there were plenty of those at first.  As I writer, I believed that I’d found the most valuable tool for writing.

At around the same time, one of my friends bought his first computer and we often had friendly arguments about which was better – a PC or a standard word processor?  To cut a very long story short, my friend created a Hotmail account for me that I still use today for email and storing documents, although I couldn’t see any point of having the account at first.  Within a few months, however, I’d brought my own computer and gone on an IT course.   I’ve never looked back.  Over the coming years, I studied HTML and CSS and learnt how to design basic websites.  I even enjoy reading books on Troubleshooting!

I still, of course, value life away from the computer.  Equally, I can’t imagine life without the computer or the Internet.  So why do I like the Internet so much? 

  • People with access to the Internet (they don’t even need to have a connection at home) can publish almost anything on the Web, usually for free.   Photographs. Pieces of music. Books and articles. Magazines.  Digital radio shows.  Films.  And a lot more.
  • People can download fully functioning programs (Open Source) for free, including website builders, word processing facilities, spreadsheets, digital photography and sound editing.  A few years ago, these programs would have cost a lot of money.
  • The average citizen can start a blog and engage in journalism.
  • Elderly people have an opportunity to record their memoirs for future generations. (I particularly like this.)
  • Artists, musicians and writers can showcase their work for free.
  • People can track down old friends and keep up with present friends without needing to go out and buy stamps.
  • Web 2.0 sites enable the average person to create the media content of their own choice.  The Internet revolution of the last few years is, quite literally, a revolution.

Just a few of my reasons.

Grim Coastal Town – Brief Writing Sample

I’m most of the way through a third novel, Silent, a psychological thriller set in the North, aimed at teenagers and the Young Adult market. 

In Silent, central character Gavin (17) attends a special school for gifted musicians after getting in trouble with the police back in London.  But events from the past threaten the safety of the students, along with current mind games, and Gavin finds himself drawn into confusion and danger:

The atmosphere had changed and I thought the town looked pretty unattractive now. Dying feel. Black, grey sea with its lapping waves. Tide in. Cheerless sky. Daylight ebbing away. The pylon-like structure holding up the pier. The abandoned vendor booths and empty cider cans. The dome-like room of the Grand Theatre, aged and grimy. Closer to the sea, I detected a scent, a mixture of pickled onions and diesel that seemed to get stronger and stronger, and once more, I wondered why a family like the Harlesden’s had chosen to host their piano master classes in a town like this one.

The sun had begun to set over the horizon, a strident shade of scarlet and purple, and the smell from the sea intensified. The late evening breeze turned chilly, brushing my cheeks, cooling them. So Philippa had invited Dawn and Paul too. For a moment or two, I considered giving the party a miss and getting a cab back. I wished people would stop picking on me and treating me like a kid.