Nancy's Books

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Character-Driven Stories, Part II/Contest/Call for Submissions

Character-driven stories focus on the character's emotions, needs, and flaws. That’s right, flaws. Characters should not be cast as perfect. Let the flaws draw in the reader by building empathy. The actions and decisions of the character drive the story, and some of those decisions might be poor choices. By the end of the story, the character should grow and learn from the conflict/quest/problem.

Create characters you care about. If they seem flat and dull to you, they probably will seem the same to the reader. Allow the character to engage the reader emotionally or intellectually, make the reader chuckle or tingle with goosebumps.

Become a people watcher. Notice what people wear and how they act. Listen to conversations. Eavesdrop. Use these observations in your writing.

As your story progresses, give the character an opportunity to surprise you with actions, thoughts, and dialog. Again, if you’re surprised, the reader is likely to be also. Unanticipated behavior adds interest. Refer to the profile you developed to include the character’s background and personality so the behavior remains credible.
Keep in mind the character’s motives and goals, in addition to the background. Focus on a character as s/he goes through a major change. Thoughts and emotion carry endless possibilities for your unique or quirky character. Have fun creating a character that only you can craft.

Part III will be posted next week.

Delacorte Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel The prize of a book contract (on the publisher’s standard form) covering world rights for a hardcover and a paperback edition, including an advance and royalties, will be awarded annually to encourage the writing of contemporary young adult fiction. The award consists of $1,500 in cash and a $7,500 advance against royalties.
Deadline: Manuscripts must be postmarked after October 1, 2010, but no later than December 31, 2010.
Details at

Skipping Stones provides a place for writers and artists of all ages and backgrounds to communicate creatively and openly.Writings (essays, stories, letters to the editor, riddles and proverbs, etc.) should be typed or neatly handwritten and limited to 750 words and poems to 30 lines. We encourage writings in all languages with an English translation, if possible. And, we love illustrations! Please send originals of your drawings, paintings, or photos. Include your name, age, and address along with your submission.
Details at

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