Category: dramaturgy

Why you should let your characters fail

Why you should let your characters fail

As a writer, you need to understand the value of your characters.

You can write an amazing story, but if the characters are boring – no one is going to read it. But what defines boring?

One of the biggest mistakes writers make is thinking that people only want to read about good things – they want the characters to get the girl, find the perfect job, win the lotto … unfortunately, that’s not the case. And just like in reality, no one likes someone who “wins” all the time. It’s boring!

It’s unfortunate, but it’s true – we want to see other people fail. And it’s not because we are horrible people – it’s because we want to know that those perfect people also have their flaws. And watching a character in a novel try, and try again, is much more interesting than watching them succeed all the time.

It adds a sense of nervousness, “will they or won’t they”, and it helps the reader relate more. Unfortunately, we don’t all lead perfect lives.

Why you need to let them fail

These are four reasons why you should let your characters fail.

No one likes perfection: Mary Poppins wasn’t even perfect. No one is. So why would you make the characters in your book perfect? It takes away the realism. If you want your characters to be more human, then sorry – but they have to fail at some things. Relatable = Likable and if people find something in common with the characters in your novel, they’re likely to stick around.

Constant success is boring: If your character always does everything right and never makes mistakes, your readers will be yawning in no time. There’s no mystery – we already know they’re going to succeed in everything they do, so why bother reading? Adding disagreements, guilt, miscommunication and conflict is a great way to keep readers interested.

Change is important: We discussed this in our other blog. The fact is, everyone changes and through making mistakes or failing, it proves to the reader that your characters are no different. Change is a natural progression in life and as such, should be a natural progression in your story.

Humans are complex: You need to recognize that humans are complex. We’re certainly not black and white, we’re all kinds of color. We’re irrational, brave, terrified… we offer bad advice and we ignore good advice. And again, if you want your audience to relate to the characters in your book, you want them to be as “human” as possible (even if they are aliens with 30 arms and a robot brain).

How can you include failure in your story

Failure for your characters doesn’t have to be complex.

There are actually plenty of ways you can include failure into the storyline, and most are quite simple. They’re generally easy to write and will help you to determine another path for your storyline.

Here are a few examples:

  • Refusing to take someone’s advice
  • Trusting someone who isn’t telling the truth
  • Not accepting help
  • Overhearing incorrect information
  • Failing to do something physically
  • Arriving too late to an event
  • Getting simple directions wrong
  • Losing something that’s important to the storyline
  • Not saying something that needs to be said
  • Forgetting an important event or item
  • Rushing to do something

While there are plenty of ways your characters can fail, what’s most important is how they get back up again. How do they rectify the situation? That’s what readers essentially want to know.

Not sure where to take your characters?

bibisco is a novel writing software that gives you all the tools you need to get your novel off the ground, including help to create characters and their stories.

Why You Should Let Your Characters Fail - bibisco main character design -

Try it yourself today.

Why if your characters don’t evolve your novel is useless

Why if your characters don’t evolve your novel is useless

If you’re writing a novel, you’ll understand the most important aspect is the characters. And ensuring those characters keep people interested while they’re reading is vital. If your characters are doing the same thing, day in and day out, people are going to get bored quickly. This is why the evolution of characters in your writing is essential.

Think about those novels that you remember that you may have read 20 years ago. Why do you remember them? It’s the characters. And most likely, it’s because those characters underwent some sort of physical, emotional or psychological transformation. (Take a look at The Hero with a Thousand Faces of Joseph Campbell).

So, why if your characters don’t evolve your novel is useless?

The fact is, everyone changes

If you want people reading your book to relate to the characters, you want them to be as realistic as possible. Our lives are never mundane, and there’s no such thing as ordinary. Almost every year of our lives is filled with some type of change, and for some of us, it’s every month or week.

Couples, for example, meet for the first time, they start dating, get engaged and then married, they have children, then grandchildren – they may even get divorced. It’s a natural progression of life. Not only that, but we change jobs, we travel, and we do things in our lives that are significant. You want your characters to embody all of this as well.

So, what is change?

And how can you incorporate this into your characters? Change is anything that happens in life that is outside the “norm”. You can get up every day at the same time, shower, eat breakfast, get in the car or catch a train, and go to work at the same job you’ve been at for 10 years, doing the same job you’ve always done. That’s the norm.

But if you catch a train and all of sudden, you trip and fall and break your hand – that’s change. If you get to work and they’re holding a party for you because you’ve been promoted, that’s change.

How to plot change

You want to make the change believable and relatable to your character.

If your story is about a poor farmer girl in the 1800s who falls in love with a rich city boy, she probably shouldn’t grow fairy wings all of a sudden. Unless of course, that’s what your novel is all about.

But change for your characters should evolve slowly throughout the book. It’s best if you write down all the character changes before you start your novel – it will make more sense when you’re writing. Set the scene for each chapter and set expectations for what might happen.

Once you have the character features set, it’s time to shake it up a bit. Which part of the story could do with a bit more excitement? And how are you going to introduce that?

For example, you have a story about two young lovers in the 1900s, on a farm, and they’re standing having a conversation about the weather. Suddenly, a storm hits and floods the property, and the boy gets washed away. This changes everything (and opens the path for a pretty good story).

Use your own experiences

We understand why if your characters don’t evolve your novel is useless.

The best, and easiest, way to draw on change for your characters is to think about your own experiences or fears. For a simple example – if you’re afraid of spiders, your character could be also – and they could come face to face with a huge spider as part of the storyline. Think about what makes you tick and what impacted you when you were growing up – and use it as part of your character’s storyline.

Remember, you want the characters in your novel to be remembered forever. This means they need to create a psychological and emotional connection to the reader. By evolving, the characters in your story are more relatable – in life, we all evolve.

If you need help to do this, bibisco is a novel writing software that helps to turn your good ideas into a fantastic novel.

Why if your characters don't evolve your novel is useless. - bibisco architecture - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco architecture section

It can help you to create your characters and define where they’re headed within the story. Try it yourself today.

You don’t have to judge, you have to understand

You don’t have to judge, you have to understand

We’ve all been there, you see someone doing something and just think that’s crazy.

Watching someone spend thousands on a dress, when you can get the same thing for a fraction of the price, can certainly seem crazy.

However, you need to remember that you don’t know the situation that person is in.

When you assume they’re crazy you’re judging them when you need to understand them. In effect, you need to walk a mile in their shoes before you can attempt to understand if their actions were crazy or not.

Applying This To Novel Writing

bibisco is a novel writing software designed to helps you to see your character.

You don't have to judge you have to understand. - bibisco main character's section - 
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco main character’s section

The software focuses you on developing the character and on staying true to the characteristics you’ve already defined.

That’s the real secret to successful writing.

You need to know your characters inside out. As a writer, you have to be able to see their strengths, weaknesses, and their flaws.

You don’t need to judge them, you simply need to understand them in great detail.

It’s up to the reader to judge the characters and feel for them as they go through their personal struggles.

Don’t forget, every good novel has a flawed central character, it’s their demons and how they deal with them that creates the fundamental storyline.

Some people will inevitably side with the character and others will side against them.

That’s your reader judging your character, not you. It shows they are emotionally invested in your story and you’ve written a good novel.

Building Character

It’s true that we all live our lives from our own perspective. That’s the view we have of life, and it can be hard to see things through someone else’s eyes.

That’s why bibisco has created the interview.

You don't have to judge you have to understand. - bibisco interview mode - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco interview mode

In effect, you can interview your characters. It allows you to build their characteristics and understand their responses, without having to judge them.

Of course, if you want to be a successful writer, you need to be able to emphasize with a variety of characters. Every character in your novel will have their own perspective on life. For you to write convincingly it’s essential that you appreciate the different perspectives.

That’s why the interview approach is so good, you don’t just understand your characters, you can write as though you’ve experienced their life. You’ll give your characters, and the novel, depth.

Why Understanding Is Good

Instead of seeing this as a difficult or even unnecessary process, you should consider the benefits of understanding why you don’t have to judge, you have to understand.

Building Relationships
For anyone to grow as a person they need to move outside of their comfort zone. As a novelist, you’re not looking to judge their actions but you do need to understand what defines their comfort zone.
This won’t just help you to push the character out of the comfort zone, it will illustrate why this is necessary. Resolution of personal conflict is essential for the success of your novel.

Conclusive
Judging people feels good in the short term but leads to conflict as you are incapable of changing your opinion of their actions. This will prevent you from writing the natural direction of a character. By judging them you’ll automatically change them into something that you find more acceptable. That’s not necessarily in keeping with the character or the book.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking for life lessons or the best novel writing software, you need to learn how to understand instead of judging.

It will ensure your novel is heading in the right direction and your character appears human, making them relatable and the novel worth reading.

If you need additional inspiration for your novel then take a look around you and look for something that seems crazy. Then, try to understand why they are acting that way. You’ll be surprised at how many doors are opened for you.

You can not please everyone. Who you are writing for?

You can not please everyone. Who you are writing for?

The key to successful writing is to understand who you are writing for.

If you are interested in writing, it’s not enough for you to have a vivid imagination and time to put words to paper.

You can start by letting your ideas pool and then create a storyline that you can work with. But, in order to successfully do this, you need to consider who you are writing for.

There’s a big difference between the style of the Harry Potter series and the Da Vinci Code. The difference isn’t in the writer or even defined by the genre, it’s in who the target audience is.

Understanding who will be reading your novel ensures you create a story that they will enjoy reading. This approach ensures you are aware of the most appropriate writing style to keep your reader engaged.

The Message

Once you’ve established your target audience, you need to answer this question: what message are you conveying?

There’s a big difference between creating a factual story and a fictional one. A factual story revolves around the facts, your aim is to tell the story compellingly but stay true to the facts. A fictional story gives you a license to write almost anything. But this is where writers often lose focus.

That’s why you need to establish a core message first.

Are you writing about love? Perhaps you’re looking at your vision of the future, or want to write a classic action hero story.

Your message can even be a feeling that you want to convey, such as awe, or even to make people feel connected.

You must know what your message is before you start writing. This will ensure your writing stays true to your message.

When you know the message you’ll find it easier to write and you’ll know exactly who you are writing to.

It’s more than just a genre of people, knowing your message allows you to visualize your readers, enabling you to write to them as though they are friends.

Choosing The Tone

Once you’ve established your target audience and your message you’re going to need to consider the tone.

In some cases, this is defined by your message.

For example, if you’re looking to write a historical romance then the style of writing is already dictated by the speech patterns of that era.

But, a modern romance has a very different tone, as does a futuristic thriller or love story.

Alongside this, you need to define what point of view you intend to adopt. Are you writing as the main protagonist or as an innocent bystander? You need to define what perspective you’re adopting to ensure you maintain this throughout the novel.

How bibisco can help

bibisco is especially helpful at this stage.

It has a premise tab that enables you to define the purpose of your novel in one sentence. That’s your message.

You can not please everyone. Who you are writing for? - bibisco premise card
bibisco premise card

bibisco also offers the opportunity to define the conflict within your novel. By interviewing the characters, you can get to know them thoroughly and identify the central issues to be resolved in the novel.

You can not please everyone. Who you are writing for? - bibisco character’s interview
bibisco character’s interview

Conclusion

Successfully writing a novel requires you to define who you are writing for.

This creates the definition of the novel and the direction.

These are the two most important elements and it’s worth taking your time working these out.

With them done properly, the art of writing is surprisingly simple, you simply need the right novel writing software to support your ideas.

You can’t please everyone, but you aim to please yourself and your intended audience, bibisco can help you achieve this.

What is the climax?

What is the climax?

Have you read Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare?

Do you remember when Romeo kills himself thinking that Juliet is dead? And then Juliet kills herself too?

If you do, you know that it is when the story reached its peak intensity, to its climax. Then, with the help of the falling actions, offered readers an interesting resolution.

The Climax is the part of a story where the action or the tension reaches its peak

In his Die Technik des Dramas, the German novelist and playwright Gustav Freytag put forth a 5-act drama structure. According to his theory, a plot must have five different parts, which are:

  • introduction
  • rise
  • climax
  • return or fall
  • catastrophe
Freytag's Pyramid
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Freytag’s Pyramid
By SinjoroFoster – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83149750

The Greek philosopher Aristotle, on the other hand, coined the idea of a plot as a single action needing to have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

If you look at both of these ideas together, you would know that the climax comes at the end of the middle section; when the story arc bends and starts descending through the falling action and toward the resolution.

So, climax can be defined as the dramatic point when the story turns, the point when the story aims to resolve the main conflicts for good.

In literary terms, it is the highest point of tension that drives the story towards its ends.

To put it simply, it is the moment when the protagonist reaches their goals or fails to reach them.

In narrative storytelling, the climax is often depicted with a confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonist or an opposing force, pitting against each other to get what they want.

The Climax needs to be fitted in the larger story arc perfectly

If you go back to the 5-part drama structure in Freytag’s Pyramid, you would see that the climax is not the whole, but an important part of the story arc. It sits in the middle with two pillars on each side.

Therefore, it’s very important to find the perfect spot for your climax to be integrated into the narrative.

If it happens too soon, the setup would be too short and the end would be too long; making the story boring for the readers. If the climax happens too late, the resolution would be too short for a satisfying and memorable ending.

Getting the climax right with our novel writing software

Thankfully, you can take advantage of our novel writing software, bibisco, to create an intense and exciting climax.

If you didn’t know already, bibisco is a comprehensive novel planning software. With it, you can expand your plot, create a narrative structure, define the premise and the settings, etc. You can also know your characters in-depth, which in turn, aids in creating an emotionally intense climax.

The bibisco feature that most benefit the placement of a climax is its ability to organize and re-organize chapters and scenes, while also keeping them at the forefront of the author’s eyes.

bibisco chapter's detail
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco chapter’s detail

As a result, an author can revise their story, adding or deleting scenes to fit the climax perfectly in the story.

Conclusion

Whether you follow the structures of Aristotle, Freytag or Lajos Egri; there is no other way but to write a memorable story or a novel without climax.

After all, it is the point when the readers come to know what happens to the protagonist’s goals.

As it’s not easy to create a climax and incorporate it in the story arc, you could hugely benefit from using our novel writing softwarebibisco.

Let’s try out its features now!

Do you really think inspiration is enough?

Do you really think inspiration is enough?

So you have got a big idea for your novel.

When you feel inspired, you sit down and write a few passages. The inspiration wears off and you stop.

After all, what’s the point of filling out pages with words if not guided by the inspiration?!

You think the fire of inspiration is what makes a novel so great.

Unfortunately, relying on inspirations alone to write or finish a novel is a notion that traps many writers into thinking this way. It often translates into an unfinished or unorganized manuscript far away from the story you wanted to tell and the way you wanted to write it.

Inspiration alone isn’t enough to write an engaging novel

Whether you are writing a novel or a short story, the chances are that it would begin with inspiration. It’s like a light bulb moment, an idea coming to a creative mind seemingly out of nowhere.

But inspiration can only do so much.

To turn an idea into a compelling story, an author needs to go through an elaborate, highly structured process.

Popularly referred to as the art of storytelling, it involves a step by step process starting before the beginning of your story and continuing until after the end.

Think of it like building a house. You would need to source a lot of different materials, measure different elements, create a structure, and then give the house a form brick by brick. If the architect just relies on their inspiration, the building would fall apart.

So, just like an architect needs to know the principles of building a structure, an author needs to have an in-depth understanding of the rules of narrative storytelling.

The rules of narrative storytelling involve multiple steps

The Greek philosopher Aristotle, in his Poetics, first coined the idea of a dramatic story needing to have a single whole action.

A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end.

Aristotle

Therefore, to give your plot or story a rich narrative structure with a single whole action, you would need to rely on a step by step process along with the inspiration.

Often discussed in the writer’s manuals, these steps include:

  • Working with the idea to make it compelling for the readers.
  • Creating unforgettable characters with authenticity and flaws.
  • Expanding the idea into a narrative plot.
  • Setting out the scenes and the chapters.
  • Researching the context and intensifying the main conflict.
  • Bringing the characters and the drama to its climax.
  • Giving the story a satisfying resolution by closing all the loose ends.

Of course, these processes vary from author to author and also depend on the method of writing the novel. For example, if you use bibisco – our novel writing software, you would get a rich interface to follow all these steps and finish the story on time.

Do you really think inspiration is enough? - bibisco's architecture section
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s architecture section

A personal project developed to facilitate our passions for writing, bibisco enables an author to create a structure, define the premises of the story, fabula, narrative strands, as well as the geographic, social, and temporal contexts of the novel.

Conclusion

There is no magic solution to writing a memorable novel or story.

Hence, the best process is often the ways the author feels most comfortable with.

Regardless of the methods, however, inspirations alone won’t be able to fuel your writing spree. Instead, you would have to approach it in a methodical way, perhaps structured according to your preference.

Considering that, our novel writing software bibisco comes with intuitive feature sets that are both functional and enjoyable.

Let’s check it out now!