Short fiction writing: When your characters suck

It’s easy to mistake short fiction writing as easy. It’s short, right? What could go wrong with a piece that hardly demands an awful bunch of word count, conflicts, characters and what-not? Well, here’s to bursting your bubble: short fiction writing is tough.

One of the primary issues encountered during short fiction writing is character formation. Creating them and making them breathe and live in your story is easy; but making their existence and their every move convincing in the readers’ eyes is always challenging.

Reading books or great works of fiction also helps bring an immeasurable pressure. At one side, you aspire to create something as or more awesome than your favourite characters. But the biting side does scare as you realise the enormity of the task.

Let’s just say that you’ve decided to give it a try: you finished drafting your own fiction and fashioned your characters. After days of leaving it dry, the day came for review: It’s show time!

The characters, in your horror, sucked. Not that you didn’t do your work (because you sure as hell did it). So, what went wrong?

  • The character was not relatable. In your desire to make them awesome, you’ve designed a chimera of character profiles and attribute. While seasoned writers knew well how to create a cohesive mesh, yours failed to manifest as a developed character.

  • The motivation is just not enough. The character decides to die and jump off the cliff. What pushes him to do it was a pair of ill-gotten shoes. That’s unusual; the reader ought to suspect something. Unfortunately, you have failed to establish anything about this ‘something.’

  • No blend in dialogs and perceptions. In creating characters, fictionists have the freedom to use the various devices and elements. The commonly utilised elements include the basic descriptions of a character, the manner of speaking and choice of words in dialogs, and the perceptions of other characters.

Not all writers are keen to using all three elements in their short fiction. Some prefer one; others scatter the character’s profile among the three elements but in a very inefficient manner.

It could be disheartening to have “finished” your short fiction and fail in making characters. Characters cause the progress of short fiction pieces. Neglect them and it will become the cause of your story’s ‘regression.’ The best remedy is, of course, revision. In most cases, it will also do well to read more and more helpful writing tips.

For assignments, students do have custom essays. Don’t bring shame in the creative writing genre by failing to be resourceful yourself. Find ways to improve, hunt for inspiration. Don’t just create faceless characters; make the unforgettable ones.

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