Archive for the ‘CHARACTERIZATION’ Category

Ah, sidekicks. Sam, Ron, Sancho Panza… the list goes on and on. I always kind of figured that a sidekick (loosely defined) was a way to give readers/viewers an “easy way into” the story. Like: for years, millions of youngsters have figured it would be just great to be Robin, so that you could get […]


One of the things I keep learning as I write is how important it is not to mistake your own emotions for your readers’ emotions as they react to your story. Late in 2008, after what seemed like an unbelievable amount of planning & continuity problems, I finished a draft of a novel and went […]


People often talk about round vs flat characters, dynamic vs iconic characters. Instead, today, I want to ramble a little bit about another distinction — a distinction, you might say, between archetypal heroes and distinct characters. I’m not trying to make this the Grand Unified Theory of all fiction here, just pointing out something interesting that I’ve seen […]


Everybody already knows what Hemingway said: all writers need a good bullshit detector. But what if I told you that all your characters needed good bullshit detectors too? Okay, maybe that’s overstating things. Some characters need to be dense, always catching on last. Terry Bisson even wrote that it may help to make your POV […]


Flip the Story

14Mar12

Yesterday at SpecTechnique we looked at cases when a cliche is deformed or expanded. When you’re going into a deformed cliche, you think you’ve seen this line before. Then when the cliche flips around on you, you’re taken by surprise. This is a technique writers can use to breach their readers’ defenses. Today we’re leaving […]


What if every speculative invention & gimmick you wrote, also came packaged with a reasonable explanation as to why it was possible? If you’re a hard science fiction writer, this probably sounds like an immense blessing. Say goodbye to worrying how you can make the physics work out. It’s now easy to think up second-order […]