Ever have a story two-thirds written and decide your characters are blah?
Okay, I write dark fiction. I usually kill them off or at least drive them insane…might not work for you.
Here are some of my less violent hints:
Out of the blue conscious decision. Suddenly, have a drab character up and say: “Okay, I’m just sick of myself! I’m gonna…”
Quit the job. Go on vacation. Divorce/dump partner. Get married. Climb a mountain. Plot a murder. Commit suicide. Buy a pet. Buy a car. Have a fling. Pick a fist fight. Seduce boss. Develop a superpower. Serenade a stranger. Trash a bully’s car or pool. Go daredevil. Stop taking crap. Anything outrageous!
The idea is to solicit a reader double-take…that lasts.
Wimpy or mean character revelation. Wimpy might stand up for someone less powerful than he/she is. Bully might be inspired by tough but caring teacher. Make that light bulb pop on over your character’s, (and in turn your reader’s) head.
Opposites attract (readers). Give your character conflict to deal with.
Character too sweet? Give ’em a bout with Tourette’s. Hook them on a drug. Get them seduced by a bad boy/girl. Frame them for a crime (or have them actually commit one). Bury them in viral nasty gossip.
Too mean? Show their tenderness for a pet or child. Show their pain. Show their respect, humility. Embarrass them. Scare them.
Get away from the same old setting. Send characters on trips to:Exotic resorts. War. Business destinations.Clinics for surgeries. Demonstrations. Haiti to meet with bokos.Visit prisoners.
Plot twist! You’ve got 5 pages of a story going nowhere–try this: go into your Writing Prompt Cookie Jar, choose an idea; write it into your current story, no matter how bizarre or unlikely. Make it a psychotic hallucination, if you must, but work it!
News flash! Skim online news blurbs. Pick one and make it happen to your character, smack out of nowhere! Don’t pick something that would fit the story, pick something outrageous and make your character deal with it. Can be hard news to add drama, or fluff for comedy. Aim to make your reader laugh, cry, gasp or growl.
Distractions, distractions! Put interruptions/distractions (comedic or dramatic) from your world into your characters’ world:
Write outside your box. Once a month interview someone you don’t know, whose career, sport or activity is totally foreign to you, and make it your character’s: nurse, plumber, waitress, medical examiner, skydiver, miner, prisoner, fisherman, soldier, pilot, flight attendant, deep sea diver, zookeeper, archaeologist, sports figure, weatherman, mountain climber, psychologist, teacher/professor, actress, dog catcher, data entry clerk, hotel manager, garbage collector, soup kitchen server, homeless person, cop, mortician, race car driver. Ask them what they think the most interesting/boring thing is about their job, because what they think, your character will think.
Keep a running file of character bios on your laptop for ready-made characters to plug into stories. You might unearth some excellent human interest non-fiction stories in this way as well.
Now shoo! Go jazz up that blah story!