Nancy's Books

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Breathing Life into Characters, Part III/Calls for Submissions

Begin the story at the moment the main character faces change or conflict. At this point ask the character what would happen if he failed to succeed? What consequences would the character suffer? What is the character willing to give up or sacrifice? From these questions, you can determine the character’s motivations. By the end of the story the character should undergo change. The change may be internal or external or both.

Conflict drives the actions of the character. The character should respond in ways that reflect real life. Don’t be afraid to give the character flaws. Flaws provide conflict, and readers empathize and identify with imperfect characters. Allow the character to develop gradually as the plot develops.

Characters are the forces that tell the story. Their thoughts, actions, and dialog make a story memorable. The more believable the character, the more believable the story becomes. Spend time learning the characters before writing the story and you will develop a better understanding of how they will react in the tension-filled situations in which you place them. Your character will become more interesting and life-like and will linger in the minds of the reader long after the book is closed.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how to create a character profile.

CALYX, A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, accepts submissions of poetry, short fiction, visual art, essays, reviews, and interviews. ALL SUBMISSIONS (prose, poetry, art, reviews) should include author's name on each page and be accompanied by a brief (50-word or less) biographical statement, a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope with “forever stamp”), phone number, and e-mail address. Even if you indicate that it is unnecessary to return your submission(s), please enclose a SASE for your notification. Prose and poetry should be submitted separately with separate SASEs for each submission category.
Deadline: October 1 - December 31 (postmark dates).
Details at

CICADA MagazineCICADA fiction and nonfiction stories and poems are written by adult authors as well as by teens. CICADA also sponsors "The Slam," an online writing forum for young writer. For ages 14 and up."
Cicada is remaining open to submissions through December 31, 2010.
Details at


  1. The stories I write tend to be more focused on character. This post has given me some good points to keep in mind.

    Tossing It Out

  2. That's wonderful, Arlee. I'm glad you can use the information.