Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Act First, Explain Later

Twelve dos and don'ts for a riveting opening to your story

by Jodie Renner, fiction editor & author of writing guides

The opening paragraphs and first page of your novel or short story are absolutely critical. How you craft your opening will make the difference between a potential reader starting your book, then putting it down (or rejecting it online) and seeking another one, or, their interest and curiosity piqued, eagerly turning the page to read on.

Gone are the days when readers of fiction were willing to read pages or even paragraphs of description and lead-up before diving into the actual story. Readers, agents, and publishers today don’t have the time, patience, or desire to wade through pages of warm-up, scene-setting, backstory, or description, so you need to dispense with revving your engine and hook them in right from the first sentence and first paragraph of your story.

As James Scott Bell says so wisely in his writing guide, Revision and Self-Editing, about the opening paragraphs, 

“Give us a character in motion. Something happening to a person from line one. Make that a disturbing thing, or have it presage something disturbing.”

Here are twelve dos and don’ts for making the first page of your novel zing and entice readers to turn to the second page:

1. DON’T begin with a long description of the setting or with detailed background information on your characters. 

 - DO begin with meaningful, interesting dialogue and interaction, with some tension, then add in any necessary backstory information or description in small doses, on a need-to-know basis as you progress through the story.

2. DON’T start with a character other than your protagonist.    

 - DO introduce your novel's main character right in the first paragraph.

3. DON’T start with a description of past events.
 
 - DO jump right in with what the lead character is involved in right now, and introduce some tension or conflict as soon as possible.

4. DON’T start in a viewpoint other than the main character’s

 - DO start telling the story from your protagonist’s point of view. It’s best to stay in the viewpoint of the hero/heroine for the whole first chapter, preferably the first few chapters to establish them as the lead character. And don’t change the point of view within a scene.

5. DON’T present your protagonist in a static, neutral (boring) situation.
 
 - DO develop your main character quickly by putting her in a bit of hot water and showing how she reacts to the situation, so readers can empathize and “bond” with her, and start caring enough about her to keep reading.

6. DON’T start with your character all alone, reflecting on his life. 

 - DO have more than one character (two is best) interacting, with action and dialogue. That’s much more compelling than reading the thoughts or musings of one person.

7. DON’T start with your protagonist planning a trip, or travelling somewhere; in other words, as a lead-up to an important scene. 

 - DO start in media res – jump right into the middle of the action. Present her in a meaningful scene.

8. DON’T introduce a lot of characters in the first few pages.
 
 - DO limit the number of characters you introduce in the first few pages to three or less. 

9. DON’T spend too long leading up to the main conflict or problem the protagonist faces.
 
 - DO introduce the main dilemma (or at least some significant tension) within the first chapters. 

10. DON’T leave the reader wondering what the characters look like

 - DO provide a brief description of each character as they’re introduced, so the readers can form a picture of him or her in their minds. But don't get carried away with too many details, and be sure to make it from the POV character's viewpoint and impressions, not a neutral description by the author/narrator.

11. DON’T have the main character looking in the mirror as a device for describing him/her. This has been overdone. 

 - DO work in the description in a more natural way, by relating it to his or her actions or interactions with others.

12. DON’T wait too long to introduce the hero in a romance or romantic suspense.
 
 - DO introduce the love interest by the end of chapter one, to spark reader interest.


Remember, you can always start your story wherever you want in the draft stage, if it’ll make you feel better. Then in the editing stage, you can go back and cut out or condense the first several paragraphs or pages or even most of the first chapter, so that, in your final draft, your actual story starts after all that lead-up (some of which may appear later, in snippets here and there).

In conclusion, here’s some great advice for writing compelling fiction, coined by author Dan Brown: Act first, explain later.


Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: FIRE UP YOUR FICTION,  CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS, and WRITING A KILLER THRILLER, as well as two clickable time-saving e-resources, QUICK CLICKS: Spelling List and QUICK CLICKS: Word Usage. She has also organized two anthologies for charity: VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS – Stories and Poems about Life in BC’s Interior, and CHILDHOOD REGAINED – Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers. You can find Jodie on her Amazon Author Page, at www.JodieRenner.com, and on Facebook. 





Monday, September 21, 2020

Adding Tension, Suspense, & Intrigue to Any Story

 

Concrete Tips for Adding Tension, Suspense, & Intrigue to Any Story

by Jodie Renner, fiction editor & author of writing guides

Are you in the process of writing a novel? Maybe a thriller or other popular fiction that you hope will grab readers and really sell? Besides a great character and a fascinating plot, you’ll also need some tried-and-true fiction-writing techniques to take your story up a level or three.

To keep readers engaged and eagerly turning the pages, all genres of fiction, not just thrillers, need tension and intrigue – and a certain amount of suspense. And of course, you’ll need to ratchet up the tension, intrigue, and suspense a lot more if you’re writing a fast-paced, nail-biting, page-turner.

Here are some techniques for engaging your readers and keeping them riveted: 

~ First, create a protagonist that readers will care about, and give him some worries and secrets. Make your hero or heroine intriguing and complex, clever and resourceful. But not perfect – make them vulnerable too, with an Achilles heel and some inner conflict, regrets, and secrets. In most cases, you want your protagonist to be likeable too, or at least have some endearing traits to make readers worry about her and root for her. If readers can’t identify with or bond with your character, it’s pretty hard to make them care what happens to her. Essential Characteristics of a Thriller Hero

~ Get up close and personal. Use deep point of view (first-person or close third person) to get us into the head and body of your main character right from the opening paragraph. Show his thoughts, fears, hopes, frustrations, worries, and physical and sensory reactions in every scene. Engage Your Readers with Deep Point of View.

~ Show your hero or heroine in action in the first paragraphs. Rather than opening with description, background info, or your character alone musing, it’s best to jumpstart your story with your lead interacting with someone else who matters to them, preferably with a bit of discord and tension. And show his/her inner thoughts and emotional reactions, maybe some frustration or anxiety. 

~ Give your character a problem to solve right from the get-go. It can be minor, but creating an early conflict that throws your lead off-balance makes your readers worry about him. A worried reader is an engaged reader.

~ Withhold information. Don’t tell your readers too much too soon. This is so important and a common weakness for new fiction writers. Hold off on critical information. Hint at a traumatic or life-changing event early on, then reveal fragments of info about it little by little, through dialogue, thoughts, and brief flashbacks, to tantalize readers and keep them wondering and worrying.

For the rest of this blog post, with many more tips, go to:

 https://killzoneblog.com/2020/09/concrete-tips-for-adding-tension-suspense-intrigue-to-any-story.html


Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: FIRE UP YOUR FICTION,  CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS, and WRITING A KILLER THRILLER, as well as two clickable time-saving e-resources, QUICK CLICKS: Spelling List and QUICK CLICKS: Word Usage. She has also organized two anthologies for charity: VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS – Stories and Poems about Life in BC’s Interior, and CHILDHOOD REGAINED – Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers. You can find Jodie on her Amazon Author Page, at www.JodieRenner.com, and on Facebook. 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Don't Stop the Story to Introduce Each Character!

by Jodie Renner, editor & author

Want to write popular fiction that captivates your readers and sells well, with great reviews? It's all about fiction-writing techniques that will enthrall the reader, rather than turning them off.

Entice your readers, don’t bore them.

Imagine you’ve just met someone for the first time, and after saying hello, they corral you and go into a long monologue about their childhood, upbringing, education, careers, relationships, plans, etc. You keep nodding as you glance around furtively, trying to figure out how to extricate yourself from this self-centered boor. You don’t even know this person, so why would you care about all these details at this point?

Or have you ever had a friend go into great long detail about someone you don’t know, an acquaintance they recently ran into? Unless it’s a really fascinating story with a point, I zone out. Who cares? Give me a good reason to care, and feed me any relevant details in interesting tidbits, please!

In my editing of novels, I’ll often see a new character come on scene, then the author feels they need to stop the action to introduce that person to the readers. So they write paragraphs or even pages of background on the character, in one long expository lump. New writers often don’t realize they’ve just brought the story to a skidding halt to explain things the readers don’t necessarily need to know, certainly not to that detail, at that point. And it’s telling, not showing, which doesn’t engage readers. In fact, they’ll probably skim through it, and maybe even find something else to do instead.   

Don’t start with your character alone, musing or reminiscing.

Another related technique I find less than compelling is starting with the character on the way to something eventful, and as they’re traveling, they’re recollecting past or recent events in lengthy detail. It’s much more engaging to start with the protagonist interacting with others, with some tension and attitude involved. Then work in any necessary backstory info bit by bit as the story progresses, through dialogue, brief recollections or references, hints and innuendo, or short flashbacks in real time. And through reactions and observations by other characters.

Rein in Those Backstory Dumps!

Contrary to what a lot of aspiring authors seem to think, readers really don’t need a lot of detailed info right away on characters, even your protagonist. Instead, it’s best to introduce the character little by little, in a natural, organic way, as you would meet new people in real life. You might form an immediate physical impression, especially if you find them attractive or repugnant. You notice whether they’re tall or short, well-groomed or scruffy, timid or overbearing, friendly or cold, intelligent or dull, charismatic or shy.

If you’re interested in them, if you find them intriguing, you pay attention to them, ask them questions, and maybe ask others about them. You gather info on them gradually, forming and revising impressions as you go along, with lots of unanswered questions. Maybe you hear gossip and wonder how much of it is actually true. Through conversation and observation, you formulate impressions of them based on what they (or others) say, as well as their attitude, personality, gestures, expressions, body language, tone of voice, and actions.

Involve and engage the readers.

It’s also important to remember that readers like to be involved as active participants, not as passive receptors of dumps of information. Finding out about someone bit by bit, trying to figure out who they are and what makes them tick, what secrets they’re hiding, is a stimulating, fun challenge and adds to the intrigue.

Unlike nonfiction, where readers read for information, in fiction, readers want to be immersed in your story world, almost as if they’re a character there themselves. So be sure to entice readers to get actively engaged in trying to figure out the characters, their motivations and relationships, and whether they’re to be trusted or not.

Let the readers get to know your characters gradually, just like they would in real-life.

For ideas on how to approach introducing your characters to the reader in your fiction, think about a gathering where you’re just observing for a while, trying to get your bearings, maybe waiting for some friends to arrive. You look around at who’s there, listening in to snippets of conversation. A few people interest you, so you move closer to them, trying not to be obvious. You might pick up on glances, smiles, frowns, rolling of eyes, and other facial expressions. You read their body language and that of others interacting with them.

Perhaps you decide to strike up a conversation with one or two who look interesting. You find out about their personality and attitudes through their words, tone of voice, inflection, facial expressions, body language, and the topics they jump on and others they avoid. Then, if they interest you, you might start asking them or others about their job or personal situation and get filled in on a few details – colored of course by the attitudes and biases of the speaker. Maybe you hear a bit of gossip here and there.

That’s the best way to introduce your characters in your fiction, too. Not as the author intruding to present us with a pile of character history (backstory) in a lump, but as the characters interacting with each other, with questions and answers, allusions to past issues and secrets. Even having your character thinking about what they’ve been through isn’t that compelling, so keep it to small chunks at a time, and be sure to have some emotions involved with the reminiscing – regret, worry, guilt, etc.

So rather than stopping to give us the low-down on each character as he comes on the scene, just start with him interacting, and let tidbits of info about him come out little by little, like in real life. Let the readers be active participants, drawing their own conclusions, based on how the characters are acting and interacting.   

Reveal juicy details, little by little, to tantalize readers.

And don’t forget, the most interesting characters have secrets, and readers love juicy gossip and intrigue! Just drop little hints here and there – don’t spill too much at any one time. Give us an intriguing character in action, then reveal him little by little, layer by layer, just like in real life!

Readers and authors, do you have any observations or advice to offer on dealing with character backstory in fiction?


Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Captivate Your Readers, Fire up Your Fiction, and Writing a Killer Thriller, as well as two clickable time-saving e-resources, Quick Clicks: Spelling List and Quick Clicks: Word Usage. She has also organized two anthologies for charity, incl. Childhood Regained – Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers. You can find Jodie at www.JodieRenner.com, at her Amazon Author Page, and on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Concrete Tips & Examples for "Showing" Rather than "Telling"

by Jodie Renner, editor & author

 "SHOW, DON’T TELL" -- This phrase has been repeated to the point where you might feel it's hackneyed and you can dismiss it--NOT! No matter how many times you've heard it, this concept is still critical to creating fresh fiction that captivates readers and garners great reviews. It's also one of the most difficult concepts for new fiction writers to grasp, along with deep point of view. (The two concepts are inextricably entwined.) Understanding and mastering these two interrelated concepts will make a huge difference in the quality of your stories by engaging readers emotionally and keeping them turning the pages.

Showing instead of telling your story brings your characters and scenes to life. Using this technique will suck your reader into your story world and right inside your protagonist, experiencing her fear along with her, feeling the sweat on her brow and her adrenaline racing, pulse quickening right along with hers, muscles tensed, ready to leap into action.

~ Don’t tell us what happened – show us what happened.

To clarify what is meant by “show, don’t tell,” think of it this way: Which would you rather do -- go see an exciting movie in a theatre with a big screen and surround sound (“show”), or hear about the movie from someone else afterward (“tell”)? That’s the difference we’re talking about here.

A common mistake among aspiring fiction writers is to describe or narrate (or worse, summarize) important events as if they took place at some point in the past, instead of putting the reader right in the middle of the action and showing critical events as they occur, in real time, along with the characters’ actions, reactions, inner thoughts and feelings, and actual words (direct dialogue in quotations).

Bestselling author Janet Evanovich considers “show, don’t tell” to be one of the most important principles of fiction: “Instead of stating a situation flat out, you want to let the reader discover what you’re trying to say by watching a character in action and by listening to his dialogue. Showing brings your characters to life.”

~ Cut back on narration, description, and exposition.

Effective, engaging storytelling is definitely not about relating the events after the fact or interpreting for the readers. Keep the story moving and the characters interacting. The author stepping in to describe or explain things to the readers jolts us away from the characters and their plight and can be distracting, boring, and irritating for readers.

~ Don’t get in the way or interpret for us.

We like to experience things for ourselves, not hear about them from someone else. Think about being subjected to photo after photo, or even videos, about your neighbors’ vacation. Yawn. In the same way, readers of popular fiction don’t want to be kept at arm’s length, to be told what’s happening by an intermediary narrator. They want to experience the events firsthand, to see, hear and feel what’s happening. They want to sense the character’s fears, hopes, joys, and worries and draw their own conclusions.

As the late, great Jack Bickham said, “Not only does moment-by-moment development make the scene seem most lifelike, it’s in a scene [with dialogue and action and reaction] where your reader gets most of his excitement. If you summarize, your reader will feel cheated – short-changed of what he reads for – without quite knowing why.”

It’s through characters interacting that a scene comes alive, so be sure to put us right there with the characters, in the middle of the tension and conflict, using “live” action, dialogue, sensory details, thoughts, and emotions.

~ Use deep point of view.

Avoid omniscient point of view, which is distracting and distancing. Use close third-person (or first-person) POV  to put us right into your protagonist’s or other main character’s head and skin. Show us her thoughts, reactions, and plans, his inner fears, hopes, resentments, anger, confusion, tenderness, relief, and joy. Don’t keep the reader at arm’s length by describing your hero or heroine from the outside, using omniscient or distant third-person point of view.

~ Evoke all five senses.

Showing means presenting the story to the reader using sensory information. The reader wants to feel what the character is feeling, experience their fear, joy, anger, determination, and pain, know their inner hopes and thoughts, and also see what’s happening, hear the different voices of the characters and other sounds, smell the smells, feel the tactile sensations, and taste the food and drink along with them. Telling, on the other hand, is summarizing the story for the reader in a way that skips past the life-giving sensory information and just relates the basic actions and events that occurred.

~ Use powerful, evocative phrasing.

Instead of “the miner was tired” (telling), say “the miner trudged home, head bowed,” or “the miner plodded along, his boots like lead weights” or “the miner clomped over the gravel with heavy steps.” Or slogged or tramped or lumbered or dragged or shuffled (all showing).

Do a search for the word “was” – it’s often an indicator of telling instead of showing, as in “she was sad” or “he was angry.” Show their feelings instead by their thoughts, actions, words, tone, and body language.

~ Add in lots of tension and conflict.

Also, the bulk of the scene needs to be about a conflict of some kind between characters. No conflict = no scene. Tension and conflict are what drive fiction forward. As Jack M. Bickham said, the conflict part of the scene “draws readers out through a moment-by-moment drama, extending the scene suspense with pleasurable agony.” If you have a scene where everyone is getting along great, revise it to add more tension.

EXAMPLES OF SHOWING, RATHER THAN TELLING:

Telling: Jake’s words spooked me.

Showing: The hair on my arms rose when I thought about Jake’s words.

Telling: George was disgusted and angry.

Showing: George pounded his fist on the table and swore at her, his lips curling. “Don’t ever do that again.”

Telling: Janie was bored at her Grandma’s.

Showing: Janie wandered from room to room, trying to find something to do. She wished it wasn’t raining outside. She looked through Grandma’s old books but nothing interested her.

~ Also, no need to “tell” after you’ve “shown.”        

Don’t explain after the fact. The words and actions should convey what you're trying to show.

Before:

“You’re late!” the general said. He didn’t like to be kept waiting.

After:

“You’re late!” The general glared at him, hands on hips.

Other no-no examples of telling after showing:

In each case below, take out the unnecessary sentence at the end:

She moped around the house and wouldn’t answer the phone. Even TV didn’t interest her. She was depressed.

“You crack me up,” she said, laughing hysterically. Joel could be so funny.

RECAP – TIPS FOR SHOWING INSTEAD OF TELLING:

~ Show the characters’ actions as they’re occurring, in real time.

~ Use deep point of view to get right into the skin, head, and heart of your character.

~ Show us your viewpoint character’s reactions, feelings, emotions, and thoughts.

~ Add in sensory information. What are they seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, feeling?

~ Include lots of spirited, to-the-point dialogue. 

~ Look for “was” or “were” and rephrase the sentence, replacing the adjective with a compelling verb or verbal phrase.

~ Cut way back on narrative description, exposition, and lengthy explanations of the character’s past or motivations.


~ Keep flashbacks short, and show them in real time, with action and dialogue.

~ Throw in plenty of conflict and tension. 

~ Avoid telling after you’ve shown.

Of course, you can’t show everything, or your book would be way too long, and it would tire your readers out – or worse, end up boring them. You don’t want to show every move your characters make at down times, or when going from one place to the other. That’s where you summarize or “tell,” to get them to the next important scene quickly, without a lot of boring detail. 

The main thing to keep in mind is to never tell the reader, after the fact (or have a character telling another character), about a critical scene. Instead, dramatize it in the here and now, with dialogue, action, and lots of sensory details to bring it to life for the reader.

And check out these articles on Point of View on this blog:

POV 101 -- Get Into Your Protagonist's Head
Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling FictionFIRE UP YOUR FICTION,  CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS, and WRITING A KILLER THRILLERas well as two clickable time-saving e-resources, QUICK CLICKS: Spelling List and QUICK CLICKS: Word UsageShe has also organized two anthologies for charity: VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS – Stories and Poems about Life in BC’s Interior, and CHILDHOOD REGAINED – Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers  Website: www.JodieRenner.comFacebook. Amazon Author Page.

Friday, July 3, 2020

How to Create an Engaging Third-Person Voice in Your Fiction

by Jodie Renner, editor & author   

If you want to write fiction that engages readers and sells, it's critical to develop an authentic, compelling voice in your novel. The key to accomplishing this is to recognize that voice in fiction is – or should be – inseparable from the words, thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and reactions of your main character (or other important character -- villain, love interest -- in their own scene).

For example, some strong, unique voices that sweep us immediately into the character’s world and the fictive dream, are Huck’s in Huckleberry Finn, Holden Caulfield’s in Catcher in the Rye, Stephanie Plum’s in Janet Evanovich’s series, Scout’s in To Kill a Mockingbird, and Katniss’s in The Hunger Games

These novels are all written in the first person ("I"), so of course it’s a lot easier for the author to immerse us in the character’s attitudes and world-view – especially with such great characters! But I think we can create and maintain an equally strong, appealing voice in third-person (he, she), too, if we take a tip from first-person POV and keep all of the narration for each scene firmly in the viewpoint of the main character for that scene – and have at least 70% of the novel in the protagonist’s point of view. 

To begin with, of course, your main character needs to be charismatic enough to carry the whole novel, so it’s critical to take the time to first create a protagonist who’s engaging and multi-dimensional, with lots of personality and openness, fairly strong views, and some baggage and inner conflict. Then show his world through his eyes and ears, not the author’s. The same goes for any scenes shown from the viewpoint of the antagonist or other important characters, of course.

Stay in character for the narration of each scene too, not just the dialogue and any inner thoughts and reactions. It’s your character who’s moving through that world, reacting to what’s around him. Don’t describe the surroundings and what’s going on from a distant, authorial point of view – show the character’s world directly through her observations, colored by her personality and mood. 

Look through your WIP novel. Does the narration (description and exposition) read like the main character for that scene could be thinking or saying it, or is it someone else’s (the author’s) words and phrasing? Are the descriptions of the surroundings neutral? Or are they colored and enriched by the character’s feelings, goal, mood, and attitude at that moment?

Beware of stepping in as the author to blandly and dispassionately describe the scene or explain things to the readers, as if it’s nonfiction. Besides being a less engaging read, that approach yanks us out of the character’s mindset and world – and out of the fictive dream

Read through your fiction manuscript. Are there places where you can bring the scene to life more by writing the narration in the language of the POV character? 

Here’s one of many examples I could give from my editing of fiction, with details, setting, and circumstances altered for anonymity: 

Setup: This is a flashback, a ten-year-old’s frightened observations as, hidden behind a tree, she watches some bad guys in the woods.

Before: 

The heavyset man pulled out a knife and strode toward the older, slimmer one. The thin guy looked stunned, like he didn’t expect that. In one swift movement, the big guy plunged the dagger into the older man’s carotid artery. Bright red blood gushed out like a river. 

Jodie’s comments: 

We’re in the point of view of a ten-year-old who is observing this and telling us what she sees. I doubt she’d know the term “carotid artery,” much less exactly where it is. Also, she probably wouldn’t say “heavyset man,” “dagger,” or “in one swift movement.” And probably not “strode,” either. 

After: 

The big man pulled out a knife and charged toward the older, slimmer one. The thin guy looked at him, his eyes wide. Before he could do anything, the big guy raised the knife and plunged it into his neck. Bright red blood gushed out like a river. 

To me, this sounds more like a ten-year-old telling us this now.

Here’s an example of a skewed, dark description through the thoughts and observations of the villain of a novel, a nasty character, a murderer with no conscience. This is from a thriller manuscript by talented writer Dara Carr, which I had the pleasure of editing several years ago.

The setting is a tourist destination on the Pacific Coast, Cannon Beach, Oregon, with its much-photographed Haystack Rock. The popular seaside resort is usually described in idyllic terms in travel and tourist brochures. Not so in this character’s viewpoint and voice.

    A gusty wind drove a spray of grit and salt at the van’s pitted old windshield. He ran the wipers to clear his sightline. The condos, once white, looked shell-shocked and gray. In another year, Marr figured the entire place would turn into driftwood.

    Expensive driftwood. The condos were beachfront property. Personally, he wouldn’t pay a dime to live there. The Oregon coastline, jagged and sharp like the edge of a serrated knife, was good for one thing only: boat crashes. And the famous Haystack Rock? Plastered with bird shit. Home to Dr. Death, who’d plot the end of the world from his roost on top of the rock.

Note how the choice of words and imagery (voice) in the excerpt above deepens the characterization of the villain and increases tension while setting the scene.

TIPS FOR KEEPING NARRATION AND DESCRIPTION IN THE POV CHARACTER'S VOICE: 

Here are a few little techniques for livening up information-sharing and imparting it with attitude, from the viewpoint of the POV character involved. 

~ Use stream-of-consciousness journaling. 

To bring out the character’s personality in the parts where he’s thinking or planning or worrying or ruminating, not just when he/she is interacting with others, do some stream-of-consciousness journaling by him/her. Have him ranting in a personal diary about the people around him, what’s going on, etc. Also show his deepest fears here. Then use this stuff to show his personality more in the scenes. 

~ Write the scene in first-person first, then switch it back.

Write a whole scene, or even a chapter or two in first-person narration/POV to get the rhythm and flow of that person’s language patterns and attitudes, then switch it to third-person. 

~ Stay in character. 

Stay in the POV of your character throughout the whole scene. How is he/she feeling at that moment? Let the narration reflect their current mood, level of tension/anxiety, physical discomfort, and sensory feelings. 

So to bring the scene and characters to life, deliver those details on setting, characterization, and action through the viewpoint of the main character for that scene, in their voice, with lots of attitude! 

For more on this topic, click on this link to go to POV 103: Engage Your Readers with Deep Point of View and also Captivate Your Readers.

Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Captivate Your Readers, Fire up Your Fiction, and Writing a Killer Thriller. She has also published two clickable time-saving e-resources to date: Quick Clicks: Spelling List and Quick Clicks: Word Usage. You can find Jodie at www.JodieRenner.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Writing Guides by Jodie Renner:

~ Fire up Your Fiction – An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Stories   Amazon.com   Amazon.ca   Amazon.co.uk

~ Captivate Your Readers – An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction Amazon.com  Amazon.ca  Amazon.co.uk 

~ Writing a Killer Thriller – An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction  Amazon.com    Amazon.ca    Amazon.co.uk

~ Quick Clicks: Word Usage – Precise Word Choices at Your Fingertips Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk

~ Quick Clicks: Spelling List – Commonly Misspelled Words at Your Fingertips  Amazon.com,  Amazon.ca,  Amazon.co.uk