- Your characters’ main attributes should be evident through (a) what they say and (b) what they do. Having said that great fun can be had with hypocritical characters or those who don’t think they are hypocrites but everyone else around them knows differently! Eileen, for example, thinks hypocrisy is something that happens to other people! Do you like your characters? Can you see good points even in your villains?
- Even when writing fantasy stories, can you visualize your world? What do your characters love/hate about it? Every world has its faults… Can you write objectively about that? Know how your own world works and that will help fuel ideas for your creative worlds. Are there ambiguities in your world that frustrate your characters or that they can take advantage of? How does your world treat criminals? We don’t need an atlas or an in-depth history but enough details to see what you see when you write, enough to make it seem as if it could be real.
- Have you given your tale enough “oomph”? There should be no “boring bits” with information drip-fed in. You need to alter the pace a bit as too much excitement is exactly that - too much - but too little and there is no story. The “troughs” in between should give your reader information they’ll need to take your tale forward and a chance to get their breath back as it were, but not for too long. Do play cat and mouse. There should be a sense of something “coming”.
- Do your characters speak in an appropriate way for how you’ve portrayed them? L’Evallier I’ve deliberated portrayed as never using contractions, not even when stressed whereas the Queen sometimes will, partly to try to keep her “common touch” up and running.
- Your characters may be the weirdest aliens imaginable or have intellect we humans can only dream of but they should still have traits we can identify with. After all I think it’s a fairly safe bet to suggest the Daleks are a tad on the aggressive side but it’s how our hero overcomes that aggression that drives the Doctor Who stories. No aggression = no Dalek. No character trait = no character worth writing about.
- What are your characters striving for? What can they use to help them achieve their wishes? If everyone can do magic, then that’s no story but if everyone can do magic but there are those who can do a lot more then you get a tale, if only based on the inevitable resentment of those who don’t have so much.
I'm Allison Symes and write fairytales with bite, especially novels and short stories.