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How to Craft Catchy Dialogue

Writing dialogue is an effective way to show the reader what’s happening in your story. But get it wrong and you risk loosing the readers interest. In a previous post I showed the Do’s and Don’t of writing dialogue – check it out if you haven’t already. Today I thought it would be helpful to go over some fundamental pointers in how to get your characters to show the world you’ve created through dialogue.

Tip 1 – Write as often as you can, read vicariously and listen intently. People listening is the best way to grasp dialogue. Take note when watching you favorite TV show, and see how each character is portrayed through the words they speak. People/ characters talk differently, so listen in and take pointers. Some are blunt and stoic, some blunder and waffle, while others wend beautiful, lyrical tales. Remember: be aware of whats being said, and equally what’s not being said.

Tip 2 – Don’t forget to add body language. Not only will this bring your character and the scene to life, but subtle body movements add depth to what’s being said. An easy smile changes a casual, ‘hello and welcome’ into a warm and generous greeting. Whereas, a pinched brow and clipped tone add a different meaning. Perhaps this character feels obligated to welcome someone, or maybe they’re in a bad mood.

Tip 3 – People often don’t say what they’re thinking or feeling, so layer up the context with internal dialogue. It’s a great way to show conflict and build tension. Mary pasted on a fake smile, and opened the door. “Hello and welcome.” God, she despised this woman. And yet her role as manager forced her to be polite, when what she really wanted was to slam the door in her face.

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Tip 4 – Use contractions. Don’t be afraid to shorten or combine words, to help the character sound as natural as possible. While a professor may use precise wording, a student will often use contractions. For example: Let’s, I’m, who’s and they’re.

Tip 5 – Cut unnecessary words. In real life we tend to stutter, flounder, and add filler noises like umm, well, basically, so, hey, hi, good day and how are you? Such words when used in dialogue slow the pace and become boring. Readers don’t need constant polite introductions or goodbyes, they want dialogue that keeps the momentum of the story going. Remember – that’s not to say never use such words, just be conscious not to fill your dialogue with them.

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Tip 6 – Dialogue must serve a purpose to advance the story. The whole point of writing dialogue is to show the reader things that progress the plot, build characters, show backstory and/ or entertain. It doesn’t drone on just for the sake of having characters converse. Keep everything succinct to the story and integral to the characters.

Tip 7 – Read your dialogue out loud. Make sure it sounds realistic, and then make sure it sounds like your character. Each character will have their own distinct voice. Your character may have an individual turn of phrase, or often call people buddy. These things can really help to differentiate them within your story.

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Do you have any tips on how to write great dialogue? Or perhaps you have a great line that you’d like to share from your current WIP. If so, please share it, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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3 Fun Exercises to Help You Create Irresistible Characters

I would like to introduce you to Desiree Villena. A writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world’s best publishing resources and professionals. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction, writing short stories, and giving (mostly) solicited advice to her fellow writers. You can check out Reedsy at Twitter / Instagram.

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There are two crucial pillars that hold up a good novel: first, there must be a compelling plot, and second, there must be nuanced characters who undergo this journey. Plot goes hand-in-hand with the central conflict and its resolution, so these elements are often intertwined!

Of course, not every story requires an examination of the deepest crevices of a character’s soul — but the complex layers of a protagonist often still bubble to the surface, even when they’re not explicitly explored. Just as a charismatic and thoughtful person charms others, well-developed characters are irresistible to readers, literary agents, and publishers alike.

So how can you craft characters who will feel believable, evoke sympathy, and rope your readers in? There’s no one single way to achieve this, but the three exercises I’ll be sharing with you below can get you thinking about the many facets of a round character.

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1. Let your protagonist win the lottery

This is a common thought experiment when thinking about the question: “What do you want to do with your life?” Before we get distracted by questioning our own raison d’être, let’s consider  how this exercise works.

Assume the prize for hitting the jackpot is hefty — so big that physiological security is no longer a remote  concern for your character. Without having to worry about survival, what would your character do with their money and, more importantly, their time?

What they choose to do has profound implications for their personality, their aspirations, and their skills. If your character decides to use that money to open a pottery shop, they must be somewhat entrepreneurial and industrious. They might be passionate about pottery, or they’re perhaps less aware of social issies than wider society, considering the fact that they didn’t choose to funnel their resources to a charitable cause. This exercise might also flag up certain areas of specialty you have to research, if you want it included in the story.

The decision of how to use this prize also opens up options regarding their interests and background, e.g. whether they’ve studied this art before, or if it was part of their family history or business. In any case, it’s fun to imagine this kind of scenario, since there are so many possibilities available.

You can frame this writing exercise as an interview of the character by a news outlet, or a conversation the character has with a close friend, outlining their plan. And of course, not every story setting has a lottery, so you can tweak the prompt to suit your needs (maybe your character unknowingly dug up a pot of gold) — just to make it feel more realistic, even if you don’t end up including their “lottery plan” in your actual story.

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2. Trap them somewhere alone

In a modern setting, your protagonist might get trapped in a broken elevator — or, if you really want to push your character to the limit, perhaps a crashing plane. In a sci-fi setting, the place could be a lonely and malfunctioning spacecraft (think The Martian). In a medieval setting, it could be a random sinkhole in the middle of an empty forest.

What you want to do in this scenario is the reverse of exercise #1: you want to remove practically all possibilities from your character and see how they react. Are they angry, or are they anxious? Is your character debilitated by the seriousness of the circumstances, or is their brain whirring, trying to find a solution? If they’re working on a course of action, what skills do they have to come up with and realize this plan?

Even if they’re not being uncannily resourceful and clear-headed, you can delve into what’s going on in your protagonist’s mind. Who and what are they thinking of, now that they’re coming dangerously close to death? Are there any regrets? Do they have certain memories that make this situation especially traumatic, or escape more difficult?

If you’re up for a challenge, try weaving in the emotional or psychological entrapments your character feels into your story. Let the physical space be a metaphor for the obstacles your character faces in life. This way you can explore both the mannerisms and inner thoughts of your protagonist, and the internal struggle that builds onto the central conflict of your story.

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3. Create a social media account for your character

Now I know this doesn’t make logical sense in every scenario — 15th-century knights don’t usually stop on their way to battle to post a quick Instagram story — but it’s an entertaining exercise to develop the social life and behaviors of your protagonist. And of course, you don’t have to actually create an account on Facebook or Twitter; just describing it will suffice.

What can you include in this description? Well, anything, really. Is this account used to keep in touch with close friends, or is it for a practical purpose like book marketing? (Meta!) How many friends or followers do they have? Does your character interact a lot, and what kind of content do they share?

Indeed, just by picking a social media platform, you’ve already determined some things about the character. If it’s Facebook, your protagonist might be the eloquent and argumentative type — as opposed to Twitter, where the character limit means Tweets are more concise and oftentimes quippier.

Feel free to experiment with the tone as well. Though this prompt probably gets you thinking about a contemporary setting, if your character’s from another era, you can definitely use the appropriate vocabulary and language style. (You might know of fanfiction social media accounts where the fans roleplay as book characters on Twitter — this is somewhat similar to that.) Here’s your chance to work on the voice of your character.

And that’s the nice thing about exercises like these: they don’t just make you ponder all the details you’d normally include in a character profile, they also let you experiment with your portrayal of your characters in a fun and creative way. Hopefully these exercises give you some inspiration for writing characters who are hard to forget!

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I want to say a massive thank you to Desiree. I’m sure you’ll agree she writes excellent post and that Reedsy is a valuable writing resource. I know I’ll be checking out their posts. Once again, You can follow Reedsy at Twitter / Instagram.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Novel Crafting – 12 Character Archetypes

Hello my fellow creators, and welcome to this weeks post. Have you ever wondered what archetype your character falls under? Or perhaps you’re outlining a new project and brainstorming who to include in your story. Hopefully, you’re wondering what character archetype would most benefit your story. Well, I’m here to help with a fun Inforgraph outlining the main 12 Character Archetypes. So lets delve a little deeper…

Those who yearn for utopia

Characters who fall under this category all ultimately desire the same thing, but their background, strengths and weakness all create a character with different needs and/or goals. The Innocent / Child – yearns for safety and happiness. They’re imaginative, open-minded and trusting. However: They have a low position of power, fear punishment and tend to be naive and easily taken advantage of. Whereas, The Explorer – craves freedom, and a fulfilling life, with the ability to embrace autonomy. Yet: They tend to wander, fearing entrapment. The Sage/ Mentor (not included in the Info-graph) – wants a better understanding of the world. They intelligent, a great listener, have a calming presence, craving wisdom and knowledge. Though: They fear deception. Their biggest flaw is a lack of action, an inability to learn from their mistakes, and solve their own problems.

Those who wish to leave a mark

These archetypes vary on the scale of good to bad intentions. Here we have three very different archetypes, with almost polar opposite characters.The Magician/ Wizard – wants power to alter reality. They have great knowledge, understanding and strategy. However: Hubris is their greatest weakness. They may resort to anger when facing consequences. The Hero / The Warrior craves mastery of their destiny. They’re confident, ready for action, and have great physical and/or mental capabilities. However: Overconfidence may be their downfall, by underestimating their opponent. Thus having to face their own weakness, which is their biggest fear. The Outlaw / Rebel – desires liberation and revolution. They inspire, never quit and know how to get the most out of everything. But: They’re constantly trying to outrun their fear of having little power in the world, and tend to earn things the hard way.

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Those who crave connection with others

This group of archetypes loves to be in the company of others, they thrive on it. Yet they seek their needs out in very different ways. The Lover – needs intimacy: They’re loyal, devoted and openly communicate. However: they may loose themselves in their devotion to please the other person, whilst fearing isolation. The Jester/ Joker – derive pure enjoyment from their interactions. They’re fun, loved by all and appear to be emotionally deep. However: They tend to be unreliable, selfish and in need of constant distraction. The seducer – also craves intimacy. They’re charismatic and charming. However: Their weaknesses may jeopardize long lasting relationships: They have no morals, no loyalty and can be controlling, ultimately having a fear of rejection. The Orphan/ Everyday person – They want to belong. Often well respected, empathetic, realistic and open. However: They lack confidence, cynical, are eager to please and care too much about what others think of them. They fear exclusion.

Those who provider structure

All three archetypes want to build a better world, but with utterly unique points of view. Lets explore. The Creator (I’m sure we identify with this one) – Is an innovator. Imagination is their best skill, they can realize a vision and implement it. However: They fear mediocrity. Perfectionism is their downfall. The Ruler – needs control. They desire prosperity and obtain it through leadership. However: They fear being overthrown. Authoritarian is their flaw. The Caregiver – wants to be of service. They’re selfless, compassionate and always help others. Yet: Their fear of selfishness can lead them to martyrdom.

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Personally, I embody elements of the caregiver, creator, lover and sage. But remember, there is no one-size-fits-all, we’re unique, complex and fluid in our ability to change. You’re characters will be too. What archetypes do you tend to favour in your novels, and did you identify with any of the archetypes yourself? Please share your thoughts with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.

How to Plan your protagonists journey

Throughout everyone’s journey, there are hopes, aspirations, and dreams; and in order for any of those things to come to fruition, certain steps need to be taken to get to the chosen goal. The superficial goal.

Now here’s the tricky part, the unseen truth behind those desires: What we want, isn’t what we need. That’s because subconsciously, the things we’re hoping to manifest are in fact a band-aid of wishful thinking. The inherent lie we tell ourselves is that when we achieve X, Y or Z somehow we’ll feel better, be whole and be blissfully happy.

But in reality, a better-paid job, a bigger house or faster car will never fill the void we’re trying to escape. This applies to our characters too. Therefore its simply the superficial goal – to figure out what our character needs, we’ll need to delve further and enter the first stage of our character’s arc.

As we begin to align the needs of the character, we come up against conflict and what stands in their path. How will they overcome this, what do they need to learn and how will they adapt? What is their motivation to do this? This, in part, will have a direct correlation to their personality traits, but also the external or internal factors; which is where the plot and the character meets.

Last week I explored the concept of how to hook readers from the first line through curiosity and conflict. Here we play with a similar concept of how to hook readers through character, conflict, and stakes.

What drives your character to succeed, what’s on the line if they fail and more importantly why should the reader care?

Creating a believable character that the reader can cheer for is the first step, the rest lies in the plot. The intriguing storyline that toys with something similar to this: Conflict, stakes and a failed attempt to solve the outcome, followed by a realization that what they’ve been doing isn’t working, the opportunity to try again and learn from their failures and ultimately their final decision: – Do they Awaken and grow, or remain the same and how does this decision affect the outcome of the story.

For a more in-depth look at these concepts, I recommend visiting the fantastic blog by K.M.Weiland www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com

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What do you think about this weeks post? Share your thoughts and tips, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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Creating Simple Character Profiles

We all love things that make our lives a little easier. Especially, when being a writer can sometimes begin to feel like creative chaos:

How many characters do I have?

Where were they born?

Wait! What colour did I say their eyes were?

So many questions, so little time… and how many scraps of paper, notebooks or random computer files have I used to catalogue all this info?

Fear not, to help us all become a little more organised, I’ve created some fun worksheets that can be filled in and filed away to kickstart your WIP bible.

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If you’re confused by what a writers bible looks like, then head on over to Kate’s fantastic blog to find out why you should have a series bible and what to include in them. Her posts are a wonderful resource for any writer, full of insightful, practical writing and editing tips.

Of course, characters are more than just appearances, they need to develop a distinct personality based on their fictional experiences and journey. To navigate that, I’ve developed another worksheet that delves a little deeper.

While not all of this information will be used in the novel, it will give you, the creator, a better grasp of who this character is, what makes them tick.

You might like to refer to one of my other post, How to Create Believable Villains, which will hopefully inspire you while developing your antagonist.

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I hope you found them helpful and I hope you figure out a way to print them out!!
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Let me know if I’ve missed something important and remember to keep an eye out for more worksheets in the future. I’m currently working on character family charts and Goal-Conflict-Stakes worksheets.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
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3 Ways to Keep Track of Your Stories

I’m currently tying up loose ends in my two novels before I continue writing the third novel in the Shadow Knight Series. After being away from my second WIP – Mischief and Mayhem to tighten up the premise of the first novel – Secrets and Shadows, I’ve come across a problem.

I’m struggling to remember tiny details about the different realms. And as the series develops not only is the world-building expanding, but changes continuously evolve.

This is also true for my characters. Remembering eye and hair colour is easy enough. And I’m confident in remembering my MC traits and personality types. The trouble lies with minor characters. Plus changes in hairstyles and costumes in particular scenes are starting to become problematic.


So today I’m considering different methods to store all the relevant details for your stories.

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  1. My good friend and creative writing tutor Judith Barrow is an advocate for the Pin-board Method. Above her desk, directly in line of sight, Judith uses notes and images to mind map her novels. A quick glance forward and all the information is to hand. Dates, Places and characters… whatever information deemed necessary.

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  1. Some of us aren’t lucky enough to have a cosy desk. So, for the more technological-minded writers they can use apps compatible with their computer or tablet. Similar to the Pin-board Method, except all the information can be stored in one easy accessible space. Great if you’re a writer on the go, maybe you write in a cafe or at your work during your lunch break. Carrying notebooks and files everywhere is impractical and a nuisance. Why not try one of the following?

OneNote – Notepad Classic – Code Writer – Sticky Notes – Evernote Touch

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3. My current method, The File System. Many authors love printable lists or a one page character summary. Where they can jot down character attributes, personality traits, fears, goals and flaws.

And they’re great to get the ball rolling, but I needed something a little more intricate. So I’ve been compiling information about individual characters. Copying descriptions and quirks from my novels and pasting them onto a document. These are then printed off and filed. So the next time I need to jog my memory about a setting or character, Instead of trawling through my novels using the find feature, I can flip open the relevant section of my folder and have instant access.

I’ve also discovered that by having bullet-point sections listing the descriptions, I can maintain continuity and eliminate plot holes.


Which of the three methods do you prefer? Or do you have another method? If so, why don’t you share it with me? You know I love to hear from you.

Until next time, Much Love my people.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.