The Dichotomy of a Great Character


What does a pirate who is afraid of water have in common with a thief who has a conscious or a snowman who loves summer? What about that monster who is innocent and wants to be loved? That vampire who detests human blood? That sister who wants to save a life but must kill to do it?

At a conference awhile back I heard an agent talk about internal contradictions in characters. Basically, she claimed that the greatest characters, the ones who keep coming back around, are those with the greatest internal and external dichotomy –what they do contrasts with who they are.

This contradiction causes tension and conflict. We are being pulled to opposite ends. It begs resolution. How can we bring these two sides together so there is peace? Continue reading

Beauty is in the Details

Pen Friends~

For our Feature Friday we want to welcome The Spinning Pen’s new Contributor, Ira McBee, a writer of Young Adult fiction, among his many other trades. His current novel is a YA fantasy titled, The WatchmanHis first post is below ~ Welcome Ira!


One time a witchdoctor healed me after being wounded in a sword fight. That’s kind of how it went, mostly. Well, not exactly. The wounded part is legit. Oddly enough, so’s the witchdoctor part. The sword fighting? That’s a stretch. Continue reading

Falling for Your (Side)[1] Characters

path divergingHave you ever gotten side-tracked in the midst of a climactic scene? Say your Hero is just about to charge into battle, or the Heroine is finally going to open that forbidden door, and a side character pops in to play a partial/ important/ crucial role, and then suddenly you’re off, writing their backstory, romping through their history and quirks, and discovering what their dreams in life are.

If this phenomenon sounds familiar, then welcome! Continue reading

A Protagonist Worth Reckoning With

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Let’s do one of those little exercises you might expect to do at a psychologist’s office. Don’t worry, we won’t go too far back into your childhood or keep asking you “why do you think that is?”. I want you to think back to someone you’ve been attracted to at one point in your life.

Why were you attracted to begin with? Was it her status in the corporate world, his personality, the way she made you laugh, or his aura of mystery?

Someone worth spending time with pulls you in. They’re interesting.

For different reasons, albeit, but if s/he doesn’t interest you, that person is doomed to the inescapable dreaded pit we call the friend zone.  Readers have a similar relationship with the protagonist in a book.

Sure magical lands, mythical creatures, or witty dialog can intrigue us, but story ultimately centers on people. If the protagonist can’t pull you in, it’s time to say “bye bye Felisha”.

So what to do about the predicament of your protagonist?

How do you prove to your reader your protagonist is worth reading about? First things first…
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4 Simple Ways to Create Memorable Characters

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They have a way of weaseling their way into our hearts.

After the years have passed and the details blurred, the thing that remains is our relationship with people.

That’s the magic in reading a book. We spend time getting to know characters and in turn, they let us into their lives.

Creating lovable characters is no easy task. There’s no set formula. There are, however, tools that can help. Here are four tools you can use to develop your characters.
Continue reading