5 Tips For When Your Characters Are Stuck In The Mud #amwriting

Are your characters as lifeless and mired in boring as a stick in the mud? Try out these 5 tips for generating more excitement and perhaps learn a thing or two along way.





Capture#1  If you are looking for a hobby or job for one of your characters, try this tip: Go to Amazon Kindle’s bestsellers list to look for free and low cost nonfiction books. A writer should write what they know. Well read a book or two on a subject for free, then some blogs and most of the time you’ll have enough information for you to mold a character’s employment or hobby.

From today’s search in Crafts, Hobbies & Home…I could write a character who combines her love of Horses with Foraging to create: A entrepreneur who owns a Trail Riding company that specializes in foraging trips for upscale restaurant owners/chefs.

5a95aec2e8e6c6bc9e0583e9fbf9d9a6#2  You need inspiration for your new character’s features, but don’t want just another vanilla yuppie. This is when I enlist the help of Pinterest. I like Pinterest because I already have an account there, but this idea will work equally well with Tumblr. Or, if you are still kicking it old skool and you feel like wading through tons of pictures, you can use a Google search. The Google method takes a lot of time, so it isn’t my go-to method. Tip: use unique key word searches in Pinterest like  ‘futuristic’ ‘hairstyles’ ‘men’, or replace futuristic with another word that describes your genre, like cowboy, Edwardian, or steampunk, for example.

4179594_6-travel-bloggers-you-need-to-know_6049bf0a#3  As you know from my tip above and my post about storyboarding using Pinterest, I’m a big fan of the site. If you are too, you can do a search much like tip #2 to find amazing locales for your characters to visit and live. However when I really want to wow readers with amazing locations I turn to Travel Bloggers. Why? They have the dirt on all the places yet to be on the radar for the average joes, so you are sure to find a place to dazzle your readers. Tip: Search for Travel Bloggers to get a list of blogs to read, or use the keywords like ‘blog’ ‘travel’ ‘exotic’ ‘vacation’ ‘escape’ ‘retreat’ to refine your search until you find the perfect place.

Capture2#4 Retellings of classic literature are all the rage right now, but how many rehashed  Cinderella’s can one really make money selling? If you still want to get in on this trend but have been banging your head against your keyboard, you need better source material. Tip: When looking for classical storylines I turn to Wikipedia searches. No, I don’t take everything I find there as written in stone, like Moses’ documents, but most of what you have there is linked back to the original sources. An example, say you want to do a modern retelling of a fairytale. Well you need to have a list of tales to start with then look through them to find one to inspire your creativity.  So a search on Wikipedia for ‘List of Fairy Tales‘ gets you everything from Abdullah the Fisherman  to The Young King Of Easaidh Ruadh, basically a-z or over 550 different fairy tales to choose from.  And that is just from fairy tales…a search on Wikipedia for literature gives you an nearly overwhelming load, but you can begin whittling down the list by looking at drama, poetry, or prose. From there you can stick to your own genre for inspiration, or bend a new genre to fit your own. Happy hunting!


#5 So far we have covered a lot of ground toward making your characters and stories more interesting. So now that you have a great Job/Hobby, Look, Place, and Story Line for your new book what else might help? I’ll be honest with you, even if you have the best ideas and the most amazing character the world has ever known, none of this work will do you any good if your character doesn’t have an equally interesting motivation. A story without motivation is like a sandwich with nothing between the bread.

Now you can Google for a plethora of articles about the subject.  However, when speaking about your main character, motivation is key. Why? Events and action that amaze your reader are cool, but who takes action without motivation? It is the motivation of your character that indirectly and directly affects each scene in your story. Their motivation keeps the story moving forward, and a consistent motivation that gets resolved, leads to a satisfying story for your readers.

These are the tips I run through when my stories are going over like a lead balloon or boring as dirt. Let me know if the tips are helpful to you or if you have other tips to share about making characters interesting. Just leave a comment below.


10 thoughts on “5 Tips For When Your Characters Are Stuck In The Mud #amwriting

  1. Very helpful tips. I also watch documentaries or search U-Tube about animals with particular characteristics, since incredible creatures are real. I morph actual animals into sci-fantasy creatures and have loads of fun. I watched U-Tube videos that demonstrate how cuttlefish change colors while swimming, because I imagined my dragons’ wings glow with swirling colors to communicate. Flamboyant cuttlefish actually do that!

    1. Diane, I love YouTube, I watch a lot of ‘how to’ videos when my character needs to do a complex movement or explanation. Online videos are a treasure trove to the writer.

  2. I have found ancient myths very inspiring. My stories draw upon Greek, Slavic, and other, more obscure mythologies. And you know what I find? There really are only a few stories. Everything else, while worth reading, is based on a few basic ideas or story arcs.

    1. Exactly Scott! There are basically only so many forms of storytelling. An example is the Hero’s Journey…Hero goes on an adventure, moment (s) of crisis, decisive victory, Hero returns a changed person, or at least that is the basic formula.

  3. I’m not an author but I do get the fun of kicking in some ideas when Rebekah is stuck. Once she is about half way in, she sends me chapters as she writes them so that I know the characters personality. All the fun for, none of the work!

    1. Onisha, you are so right I think part of the fun is getting know what my characters will and won’t do and why.

  4. Great tips. I’ve started using Pinterest a lot in the past couple of years and see the benefits of it. I’m becoming a regular at the library in preparation for my next book, reading up on the cultural events & fashion of the period I will be writing about, as well as the occupations my characters will have. Now I just have to remember to keep myself on track & not over research.

    1. I know what you mean Rebekah, I have a history degree so I can get so caught up in the discovery of new and exciting information, I don’t have as much time to write as I should. :/

  5. I actually use my wife as a sounding board when I get buried neck deep. Usually she either has an idea or the act of talking it out makes it a lot easier to get things moving.

    1. Nick, I have a person who is my sounding board. We often talk out our plots before they become stories. Finding another person who ‘gets’ you is so important. As writers we can tend to be antisocial…LOL

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