Monthly Archives: January 2015

How Strangers Can Inspire Your Characters

If you are a writer, then you are a whole thesaurus of other things too.You are an artist, an architect, a dreamer, a tactician, a politician, an anthropologist, a historian, the list continues.

Today, none of these roles are your concern, because today, you are a psychologist.

As a writer, you should be obsessed with human behavior, because human behavior is what will drive your characters:

  • Why do people do things?
  • What would make someone act a certain way?
  • Why do these people want this, and what are they willing to do for it?
  • What would change their minds?

By now, you know that motivations are important, but what else is there to creating a good character? How do professional writers do it? How badly do you want to do some homework?

Don’t answer that last one. Let’s get into two different techniques that are going to help you improve your characters:

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Like Sharks in a Harbor (Flash Fiction)

Woong counted no less than four alarms when he poked his head into the observation deck. He could pick apart each one: proximity, emergency, something blocking the cargo doors.

But the last one, a sort of angry beeping that sounded important had the sound of authority, like it wasn’t supposed to be ignored.

He didn’t know what it was, and he definitely didn’t have time to figure it out. Woong had to find the system that controlled the cargo door, disengage whatever safety protocols this freighter had in place, and get the door to open.

The short range crackled in his ear, “Woong! How’s it going in there?”

“Found the obs, it’s clear. I’m looking for the door controls now.”

“Nice. Know what you’re looking for?”

Woong scratched his head, his eyes darting from one appliance to the next. The room was poorly lit, except for the hypnotic glare from monitors, and the light from the giant window that looked down into the main cargo bay.  “I’m looking for a computer right next to an override, but I don’t-”

Continue reading Like Sharks in a Harbor (Flash Fiction)

What Motivates Your Character (and Is It Enough)?

You have reasons for coming here (you want to learn more about writing, to communicate as one author to another, or maybe you were baited by that tantalizing title). I have a reason for writing this post (to inform you, to give you a place to discuss, and to ensnare you with clickbait! HAH).

The point is, everything you and I do is brought on by some sort of motivation. We are human, we want, and we will always want.

Your characters should also want something (even if they aren’t human). Coming up with a motivation is easy: Is your thief greedy? Is your president obsessed with power? Is your romantic lead drawn to honor?

However, one motivation won’t cut it if you want to make your characters interesting. So what is the secret?

Continue reading What Motivates Your Character (and Is It Enough)?

Fear of Writing

My name is P.S. Hoffman and I’m afraid of writing. It’s a subtle thing, a small thing that’s hard to notice, but it’s always there. In between every word, there is a pause, a tick where I’m not sure if I can do it, I’m not sure if I can write the next.

I’m afraid I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m afraid nobody will care, or worse. I’m afraid that what I’ve written now is the last I’ll ever write, because nothing I do will ever be good enough.

My name is P.S. Hoffman, and I’m finished with fear. I have too much to say, I have too much to share, and I don’t have time to be afraid.

And neither do you.

Continue reading Fear of Writing