Tag Archive | character development

The Secret of Success=Balance


Balance. An important concept in all things from nature to personal health. Throw off the balance and there will be conflict and trouble.

Balance is a common device in literature, too. We call it conflict. We put our characters in situations where they have to choose a path, make a deeply personal decision, and eventually solve the dilemma–at least for awhile. It’s an essential element to the novel. Learning how the protagonist works his/her way through the situation keeps readers turning the pages, right?

Solving the dilemma through our characters is difficult. But put the element of balance in your own life, and well that’s a completely different animal. Keeping work, play and meditation balanced is a constant struggle. Like little children, individually they cry for  your attention. If one aspect gets too strong , it pulls on the others. And  ta-da! You’re in conflict. It makes for a good story, but in real life, being out of balance sucks.

Keeping a healthy balance equals SUCCESS to me. Unlike a lot of my contemporaries, who think success is a pile of money, big houses and expensive cars--although, I wouldn’t object to any of this–it might be fun to even money to get all the bills paid on time, success to me is a  healthy balance of work, play and meditation.

I’ve come to the conclusion in my middle-age life that in order to achieve success, I have to work at something  I enjoy; I have to play enough with friends, and I also have to have enough time alone to maintain a healthy spiritual life. If I can keep these three things even,  happiness and contentment follows.

My present challenge in keeping balance is struggling with my desire to have a vacation–to get away and not think of the challenges I have at home. I’m sure you’re thinking — so get on a plane, already. But here’s the conflict. I also have a strong need to keep my husband who suffers from MS safe and cared for properly. That responsibility and desire is pulling me away from the vacation I need just as strongly. I feel it would be selfish to just take off and leave him and my everyday life behind. I know I should go.I know I need to go, but so far, I haven’t figured out a way to have peace of mind knowing Ken would be all right while I’m gone. And until I do, I will be out of balance. And so it goes.

The moral to this tale: When you’re feeling angry or sad about something, look at the balance in your life. Is it out of whack like mine? If it is, try to pull it back and see what happens. I’ll bet you feel better if work, fun, and spirituality each have their equal piece of the pie. Go ahead, try it. I dare you!


Tricks of the Trade, I Mean “Craft”

thinking writer

This morning is COLD.

Am I complaining? Or, am I stating a fact. And, how do you know the difference?

Unless I tell you more, you never will know,will you?  Unless I flesh it out for you with details, you will consider this simple sentence–well, simple. But if you saw me shivering, then you would definitely think I was complaining. Or, if you saw me looking out the window with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, while I was smiling, then you would know I was merely stating a fact because I was happy because you saw me comfortable and warm.

That’s what we have to do for our readers, isn’t it? We have to let them “see” the character’s actions and surroundings ,so they can figure out how what the characters mean when they utter words.  It’s our job to let our characters express anger without saying, “She was very angry.”  We’re a guide so those feelings of  happiness, sarcasm, anger, joy, contentment, etc. etc. comes through without blatantly saying so.

So how do we do this?

I’ve been reading several accounts from other bloggers about the subject and came across a couple I thought were excellent. I hope you think so, too. One blogger discussed, ““The Trick of Particularity,” which is to be specific about the character’s surrounding. Was their room cozy or stark? Was it comfortable or cluttered? Did it send a message of “come in” or “stay out”?  The details are small, but significant; and the odder the detail, the more believable the character becomes.  After all, we have our quirks, don’t we?

Another tip came from, Diane Gray–one of my favorites bloggers (or as they would say in her native Australia, “favourites”).  She expressed when she’s creating characters, she asks her friends and writing buddies to interview her as if she was the character, preferably over a glass of wine. Their questions help her see things about the character she may have not considered or missed.  This sure beats simply writing a character sketch, doesn’t it?

With both of these tips in the foreground of my mind, I’m going back over the two novels I have “in the works” and scrutinize the details. I need to see if I’ve done a good enough job to add oddities that will help the characters become real.

And then I’m going to bribe my friends with a margarita and ask them to interview unlovable Stephania. Now that I have a few more tricks in my toolbox, this tough character better watch out!