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544 Posts tagged with the self_publishing tag
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Reader profiles

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 24, 2016

You aren't just an author. You are a special agent, a very special agent. Your mission? Become a top-notch profiler. Who will you be profiling? Readers. The best way to reach your readers is to know who they are, and building a reader profile is the best way for you to know them.


    Here are the demographic categories that will help you in your profiling efforts:


  1. Age group: We are divided into groups based on common experiences. There is perhaps no greater cohesive grouping than those that are defined by age. People in the same general age range share a lot of cultural similarities, especially when it comes to music, movies, and literature. If you can clearly define your genre, you'll be able to fairly easily find the average age range of your readers.
  2. Gender: In the world of publishing, knowing the gender of your average reader can help you spend your marketing dollars more effectively. Certain genres appeal to one gender over another.
  3. Region: In some cases, what you write has geographic appeal. As an example, Southern thrillers will obviously have wider appeal below the Mason-Dixon Line. That's not to say it won't have fans that extend outside the region, but the greatest concentration of your readers will be Southerners.


You can parse the demographics down to even finer points. Hobbies, careers, politics, marital status--all of these are identifiers, and you can probably find information online that will help you build your reader profile. The more details you have, the narrower you can make your focus, and the better results you'll have with your reader outreach.


-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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The Marketing Maze

Mingle Marketing



320 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, selling, promotion, readers, target_audience, marketing_research, marketing_appeal
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A great way to get your readers to tell their friends about your book is to stay in touch with your readers. A newsletter is certainly one method to do this, but it's not the only one. A creative way to maintain a relationship with your readers over time is to bring your main character to life through social media. I've done this for the protagonist of my Waverly Bryson series via Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. It's been useful, not to mention a great deal of fun, for the following reasons:


  1. It allows me to connect one-on-one with fans in a semi-public forum.
  2. It allows me to share information about books my fans haven't yet read (e.g., posting a link to the first chapter on a friend's page as a birthday gift).
  3. It requires me to stay in character outside of the context of my books, which is good exercise for my brain.
  4. It allows me to maintain a presence between books.
  5. It gets me to log in regularly (especially the birthday feature on Facebook).
  6. It allows me to see what my readers are reading in addition to my books.
  7. It allows me to see what my readers are doing when they're not reading my books.
  8. Sometimes it's easier to have my protagonist ask readers to tell their friends about my books then it is for me to do so.


I could go on and on with more examples, but you get the point. If you have a character that readers really seem to enjoy, why not give the social media thing a try? Like most book marketing strategies, you never know if it will work until you put it into action.


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Marketing Tip: Put Your First Chapter on Your Website

 

MarketingTip: Set up an Author Page on Amazon

505 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, promotions, social_media, marketing_tip
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Everyone I know

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 22, 2016

I am frequently asked if my characters are based on anyone I know. I'm sure most writers get the same question. To me the question is a bit baffling because the characters in my stories don't often represent the best of humanity. Even the good guys are extraordinarily flawed. Why would I admit to them being modeled after people in my life? My standard answer to that question used to be, "No, absolutely not." And it was an honest answer. I didn't think I knew anyone like my characters walking among us in the real world.


But the older I get and the more I write, I realize that my denial wasn't completely accurate. I still maintain that my characters aren't based on any one person I know. They are, however, based on everyone I know. I've come to recognize certain individual traits in my characters from people I've met. They are often exaggerated versions of those traits, but they are similar to the real world edition. And one character may possess different qualities from a wide range of people in my real life, a mashup of the most interesting--and often most troubling--aspects of real world folks. And, I'm more than confident that a few of my own shortcomings appear in the characters I create.


The point is that I don't live in a vacuum with no other people around. I can't help but pick up, on a subconscious level, those traits that I find interesting from the people around me. Whether it's a speech pattern or an attitude or even something as simple as the way someone smiles, those things are going to seep into my writing. But for those who know me, rest easy, I'm not writing about you. I'm simply borrowing an interesting aspect of your personality that makes you refreshingly human and can give my characters depth.


-Richard


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Connect with Your Characters

 

What would your characters do?

392 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, characterization
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POV rewrites

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 15, 2016

I recently watched a documentary called the Beaver Trilogy. It's a story of a filmmaker's chance encounter with a colorful character in the parking lot of a TV station. The filmmaker became obsessed with the young man and did a documentary on him. Then over the years that followed, he created two narrative films based on the original documentary. In all, he produced three films that were virtually identical in story and structure, only the participants changed. The same story was told three times, and each one stands on its own, while also complementing the others.


You can use the same strategy as an author in a couple of different ways:


1. Point-of-view switcheroo: Tell the same story from another character's point-of-view. Same plot, same conflict, same conclusion, just a different protagonist. You have a whole new universe to explore in the same world.


2. Gender swap: Again, borrowing from the film industry, this could put a whole new twist on your story. Ghostbusters is, of course, the most recent gender swap experiment in storytelling. Both films are entertaining and have their legions of fans.


It would be challenging telling the same story in a different way, but we as artists welcome challenges. That is when we are our most creative. That is when we have the most fun. Your challenge is to make a familiar story different enough to keep readers engaged and feel like they are experiencing something new. I'm not talking about a word-for-word remake. This is an exploration of the same theme from a different point-of-view.


-Richard


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor


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You have more than one book inside of you

 

Rewrite for new life

 

354 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, point_of_view, pov
0

The arts community

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 11, 2016

 

I fear that you are missing a fruitful networking opportunity. You are more than a writer. You are more than an author. You are more than an entrepreneur. You are an artist. Even if you write commercial fiction, you are an artist. It's a label we indie authors are reluctant to claim. But let me assure you, you are an artist, and as such, your peer group expands beyond the writing community. You are in the broader community that includes playwrights, musicians, actors, filmmakers, screenwriters, etc.


You may already be a member of a local writers' group or association, but what about organizations that cater to the entire artistic community? You can go online and search for meet-ups in your city, and I'm willing to bet you will find a number of networking opportunities. I belong to playwrights' groups as well as groups for novelists, and by expanding my network, I've met musicians, painters, actors, and filmmakers who have explored the same kind of network expansion. We're all interested in supporting one another because we all know how hard it is to make it in the arts.


That's the key to making this type of networking effective. You have to support your fellow artists passionately. Go to their plays. Attend their gigs. Participate in their showings. Be a familiar face. They will appreciate your support. When you have a book release, they'll remember you were there for them. They'll be happy to return the favor by helping you spread the word.


Go. Expand your network. Embrace the arts community.


-Richard


 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor


 

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You Are an Artist

Building an Author Brand: Networking

 

427 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, entrepreneur, arts_community
1

The secret to writing a great book is rewriting a good manuscript. The secret to rewriting is waiting. Just as tragedy plus time equals comedy, the euphoria you feel from finishing your book plus time equals sound editorial judgment. The more distance you give yourself from a completed story, the better your perspective.


When I finish writing the first draft of a book, the first thing I feel is relief. The second thing I feel is an unbreakable loyalty to every word. I don't want to change a thing. I can't change a thing. I had worked so hard and for so long, how could the words I committed to the story now be wrong? And not just the words, but the character choices, the plot twists, the order of the chapters. Everything is perfect.


The sense of perfection diminishes hourly. Slowly. The more days that pass, the more I realize that I'm not nearly finished. I'll read the manuscript. I'll find some things I like, some things I can live with, and some things I'm embarrassed I wrote. But I won't rewrite at this point. I'll let a few more days pass, and I'll read the manuscript again, making notations and small edits. No major changes yet. When approximately six weeks pass, and after I've read the manuscript a few more times, that's when I tackle the big changes--and I mean big. I've changed the gender of characters. I've rearranged chapters to change which character is the protagonist. I've even changed the names of characters, which forced me to change the title of the book.


When it comes to rewrites, step away from the manuscript for a number of weeks. Read and reread your book. Reenergize yourself, and give yourself the mental wherewithal to make big changes.


-Richard


 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor


 

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Rewrite for New Life

 

Rewriting with Purpose

 

527 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, rewriting, editorial_judgment
0

Reviewer network

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 13, 2016

The biggest mistake you can make is to reach out to a reviewer only when you're looking for reviews. They get those requests all the time. They have a backlog of those types of requests from thousands of authors. They can't read a fraction of the books they want to read.

 

Find reviewers when you don't need them. Be a presence in their worlds. Create relationships with them that go beyond author and reviewer, and let that relationship evolve around mutual interests and benefits.


Above all, reviewers are people. They don't want to feel used. When you reach out to them just when you need them, you're creating a one-way relationship that only benefits you. It's made up of a taker and a giver.


So, be more than just another author. Be someone in the reviewer's networking circles. Your goal isn't to butter them up, so when you do finally ask for a review, they reciprocate with a glowing review of your work. Your goal is to simply be moved to the front of the line. Instead of being just like any other unknown author that contacts them, you'll be a known participant in their network.


Brands are built on relationships. The reviewer/author relationship is vital to your brand's success. Building a network of reviewers and cultivating those relationships outside of your need for reviews, makes good brand sense. Don't be pushy. Don't appear desperate. Just add value to their reviewer brands, and they will remember you when you eventually do ask.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor

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Dos and Don'ts of Soliciting Book Reviews

 

A Few Indie Book Review Media Sources

705 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, reviews, networking, self-publishing, review, book_reviews
1

 

Yesterday I received a rather desperate email newsletter from an indie author in which he essentially begged for people to review his book on Amazon. I empathized with him because I know firsthand how difficult and frustrating it can be to get reviews, especially for self-published books. But then the author did something that made my jaw drop, and not in a good way. In his plea he encouraged us to give his book a positive review--even if we hadn't read it!


I didn't respond to the email, and I won't be reading­, or reviewing­­­, the author's book. As both a fellow author and an avid reader, I'm disturbed--appalled, actually--by his lack of integrity. Reader reviews are supposed to mean something. If they're all just fakes to pump up a friend's book, what is the point? The review system is based on an honor code that should be respected. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I don't care because I'm also right.


I began my career as a self-published author, and I worked my tail off to find people willing to read and review my first novel--legitimately. Not once did I ask someone who hadn't read the book to review it. The thought never even crossed my mind. I equate soliciting fake reviews to cheating, and I don't cheat.


If a stranger, or even a friend, proactively tells you that he or she enjoyed your book, then by all means, ask that person to write a review. In fact, I encourage you to do so! There's also nothing wrong with asking for reviews via an email newsletter. But there's a clear line between supporters and readers. If you cross that line and ask supporters who aren't readers to post fake reviews, you're sullying the author honor code.


-Maria


 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


 

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Watch for Errors in Marketing Materials

 

Get Reviews for Your Indie Book

 

1,568 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, promotion, writing, marketing_tip, marketing_mistake
0

Wants

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 27, 2016

We all have wants. We wake up with them. We drift off into thought about them. We hope for them. We even talk about them with passion and enthusiasm. Our wants define us as much as anything in our lives. They say a great deal about who we are as people.


Do you know what your protagonist wants? I'm not just talking about within the context of your plot and story. I'm talking about the mundane wants that get her through the day. What does he hope for? What wants carry her from one moment to the next?


The same question can be asked about your antagonist. His wants are just as crucial to revealing his true character. Again, I'm not just referring to the wants that are tied to your story. I'm talking about the wants that weave in and out of her everyday life.


Knowing all your characters' wants can help you make a connection with them you wouldn't make otherwise. When you know something as intimate as their wants, you feel closer with them. I know that's an odd thing to say about imaginary people, but it's true. You feel their pain, joy, disappointments, triumphs, etc., on a deeper level, as if they are real people.


Spend some time when you're not working on your story making a list of your various characters' wants. The items don't have to be huge revelations. It could be as simple as what kind of coffee they want to drink in the morning or what kind of car they dream of owning. Just make a list of all their wants, and as you continue to write your story, you'll notice a closeness with your characters that wasn't there before.


-Richard


 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor


 

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Your Characters, Warts and All

 

Write an Obituary for Your Characters

 

555 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, character_development
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A character stew

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 20, 2016

I wrote a play last year that is, I'm happy to say, going to be produced this coming January. I bring it up here because during one of the many public readings, I got the inevitable question about what inspired me to write the story. Specifically, they wanted to know if my characters were based on people I knew.


I cringed at this question even though I knew it was coming. The story is about three siblings: a sister and two brothers. My wife just happens to have two brothers. The story takes place at a vacation home on a lake. My wife's brothers, their wives, and the two of us just happened to have vacationed together on a rental property on a lake. One would think that based on this information you could draw a straight line between the characters in my play and my wife's family. One would think that, but one would be wrong.


The vacation and the family structure in the play were obviously inspired by real life, but the characters in the play and their backstories bear no resemblance to the source of inspiration. I took that week together, and I said what if it were six people stuck in a house together, all with secrets and all with conflicting personalities. That is something that could be interesting. If I chose to write about my wife's family, it would be a boring play full of people being supportive of one another, offering zero conflict to capture the audience's attention.


With this in mind, I answered the question thusly: I don't create characters based on anyone I know. I write characters based on everyone I know. That is the best way I can describe the character development process. I start with a germ of an idea of what a character is like, and then I let my subconscious beg and borrow from all the people I've met in my life, and I create a character stew.


 

-Richard


 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor


 

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A Kramer by Any Other Name

 

When Writing, Don't Outsmart Yourself

 

523 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, characters, character_development
5

I have a love/hate relationship with rules when it comes to writing. I'm an artist. Rules, I once believed, were the destroyers of art. I know now that rules are the sparks that twist the creative mind into finding solutions to be artistic without breaking the rules. One must find the creative wherewithal to adhere to the rules while remaining true to one's artistic sensibilities. That is a neat trick when it's pulled off.


To that end, I would like to introduce you to my four rules for writing a novel. They are my own personal guidelines that help me be consistent while forcing myself to be more creative.


  1. A protagonist has to have a dark side: I just think heroes are more interesting when they aren't perfect. I don't like characters that don't have to face their own moral dilemma at some point in the story. It helps me dive deep into character development and paint a more realistic picture of the good guy (that's the gender neutral form of "guy").
  2. Warts are more interesting: I don't connect with beautiful people, mainly because I can't relate. My stories rely heavily on my characters' imperfections. Warts are far more fascinating to me than beauty marks.
  3. Conversations don't follow a straight line: In real life, when people talk to one another, they don't always listen to one another. The dialogue veers from alternate point to alternate point before the original point ever finds its footing. This is the type of dialogue I like to include in my novels. It's more realistic, and it gives the characters more depth.
  4. Know the ending before you start writing: While I have created outlines, I don't believe they are necessary in order to write a novel. I do think it behooves you, however, to know the ending of your story before you start writing, or at the very least, before you meander pointlessly until you finally figure out what your story's about. Knowing where you're going helps you build steps to the ending.


These are my rules for writing a novel. What are yours?


-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor


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When do you know the ending?

Creating a bad good guy

1,267 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, craft, rules_for_writing
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Beyond the visuals

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 16, 2016

I am the son of an ophthalmologist, and my father was the son of an optometrist, and there are a few more eyesight specialists who appear in my lineage. You might say I am hyperaware of visual acuity and the mechanics behind it. I am also aware that vision is a bit of a cheat when it comes to creative writing. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have sight rely heavily on visual elements when it comes to character description, setting, and even action passages.


Here is my creative challenge to you today: write a descriptive piece that leaves the visuals out. Rely on your other senses to convey your message. I read a new book by a fairly well-known author recently, and I rolled my eyes on a number of occasions. Everyone was beautiful and athletic. The women had pinup girl looks and the men had chiseled features. To be honest, I felt cheated because I wanted to know more about the characters than their looks. I wanted to know what they smelled like, the timbre of their voices, the way they breathed. Telling me that they were all athletic and beautiful was a shortcut that prevented me from connecting with the characters. This author did the same with the scenery. It was how everything looked and nothing else. Sounds, smells, temperature--they all provide deeper anchors of connection with the reader.


Think beyond the visuals. Give your book depth by using the other senses. We live in a multi-sensory world, so don't limit your story to just one. Incorporate them all.


-Richard


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

The Stranger in the Room

619 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, senses
1

I'm going to sound like a hypocrite today. On this blog, I've frequently shared the advice to stay true to the art of writing. I've often said that you shouldn't consider the reader while you write. Your only consideration should be for the story and the characters in your story. Your first draft should be a no-holds-barred work of storytelling wizardry.


But when I talk about rewrites, my advice switches gears somewhat. This is where I don't mind if you give some consideration to the reader. I'm not suggesting you ditch your artistic integrity, but I am suggesting that you're now in a better position to blend the interests of your readers with the interests of your characters. You've gone on a journey that is tens of thousands of words long, and you now have a better understanding of how far you can bend the story without breaking it.


The concept to remember as you rewrite is tweaking it to make it more marketable. I know that may sound antithetical to honoring the craft and art of writing, but the two ideas don't have to be mutually exclusive. You can find a happy medium that embraces both the risk of art and the relative safety of commercial appeal. In fact, finding such a medium may be your greatest artistic achievement.


The first draft is where you let the imagination fly, sometimes wildly, in order to get words on the page and make a connection with your characters. The rewrites are for you to use that connection to artfully give your story marketability. You always want to choose the artistic path when possible, but taking brief excursions onto commercial paths is not a bad thing.


-Richard

 

 

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

 

 

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Use Two Brains for Writing and Rewriting

The Perils of Rewriting

 

573 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, manuscript_rewrites, book_marketability
3

As I've mentioned before, I read a lot about book marketing and publishing. The other day I came across an article about an indie author who had recently published a novel about baseball. I love sports and thought his book sounded interesting, so I looked it up on Amazon. There were just two reviews, one of which was five stars and had the title: Great book. Among other glowing things, the review said the book was "a nice easy read for kids of all ages" and "well worth the time and money."


Then I noticed that the name of the reviewer looked strangely familiar. I scrolled to the top of the page and realized it was the same as the author! I couldn't believe someone would have the gall to give his own book a five-star review, but there it was, staring me in the face.


Needless to say, I didn't buy the book. How could I support such unethical behavior?


I've said more than once in this space that I believe asking friends and family to positively review your book is a bad idea. It puts them in an awkward position (what if they didn't like your book?), and it's just not credible. Reviewing your book yourself is even worse. Of course you think it's worthy of five stars; you wrote it! But that's beside the point. For reviews to mean anything, they need to be written by objective readers. That's the point of reviews.


The only time I think it's OK for a friend to write a review is if that person proactively tells you that he/she enjoyed your book. In that case, feel free to say, "Thank you! Would you mind putting that into a review?" Otherwise, don't do it. All you're going to do is shoot your credibility--and your sales--in the foot.


 

-Maria


 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


 

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Get Reviews for Your Indie Book

Dos and Don'ts of Soliciting Book Reviews

 

1,116 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, sales, writing, promotions, book_reviews
0

Your main characters don't appear on the pages of your novel alone. They are surrounded by and, in most cases, vastly outnumbered by your supporting characters. As the name indicates, they offer your story and your protagonists and/or antagonists support. Their development is as critical as your main characters'. Here are the four primary roles of supporting characters in most works of fiction:


  1. Establishing setting: Setting isn't just landscape and architecture. Supporting characters are just as crucial to setting. Accents, dialects, attitudes, cultural norms, etc., are just a few details that supporting characters can lend to a story's setting.
  2. Acting as comedic vehicle or voice of reason: Supporting characters can give a story balance. If you're writing an intense thriller or mystery, a supporting character can provide a handful of laughs to allow the reader to breathe. If you're penning a novel where your main character is on a journey of self-discovery, supporting characters can show him or her the way.
  3. Adding a curve or two to your twist: Sometimes authors use supporting characters as a diversion. What is a seemingly innocuous supporting character may actually either be the springboard to your main plot twist or he or she may be the actual twist.
  4. Contributing a piece of the puzzle: Why is your main character a steely eyed tough guy or a sharp-witted policewoman with finely honed investigative skills? Such people aren't born, they are made, and they are made by the people in their lives--supporting characters.


As you develop your supporting characters, concentrate on what purpose they serve. If they don't meet the criteria of any of the above roles, there's a better-than-good chance they are weighing your story down and can be trimmed during rewrites.


-Richard


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Too Many Characters in the Kitchen

Who Are You Trying to Please?

590 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, supporting_characters
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