Make a list of qualities of your main character. Now go through your first chapter and mark evidences of these traits. They should show up, especially the good ones, in your first chapter.
[Emotion in writing handout]
Get four different colors of pens. Go through your manuscript and mark 1) dialogue, 2) action, 3) inner thoughts and 4) narration. Then, find an author you admire, photocopy a 3-page section from the book, and do the same. Are you writing in the same proportions?
Description: make it show more about the character who is viewing it. How would your POV character SEE the wheatfield?
Idea: take the cliché’d character and throw in some bizarre characteristics.
Try to introduce only one new character at a time. Limit group scenes because it’s hard for readers to keep track of who is talking.
In romance, the heroine has one goal. The hero stands in the way of it.
If the conflict can be cleared up with a two-minute frank conversation, there isn’t enough conflict.
Make sure they have opposing goals.
The story questions should be answered in the climax.
Main character wants two different things and she can’t have both. In the climax, she has to choose one.
Exercise: Determine both external and internal Goal, Motivation and Conflict.
Main characters need to have their own agenda.
A person can be her own antagonist. If that is the case, how must she change to reach her goal?
(The 3 big themes are man vs. man, man vs. nature and man vs. himself.)
If you think of a plot first, ask yourself what kind of character will get the most mileage out of this plot? If you come up with character first, what plot will get the most mileage?
On getting more various characters:
Try making a list of the ten people who have influenced you most in your life. Then make a list of characteristics, quirks, traits.
Think of an actor or acquaintance you know, and “cast” your them for your characters (model character after them).
Cut out pictures from magazines.
The climax scene is where the protagonist and antagonist come together to fight it out.
Exercise: Write a chronology of your scenes.
Exercise: Write a description of your climax.
The McGuffin: the character’s goal, but it doesn’t have much to do with the book. (The lady’s stolen money in Psycho.)