The Daily Port of Call: November 11, 2014

Photo by Alexander Lvov/

Photo by Alexander Lvov/

During the month of NaNoWriMo, the Captains of Writership will be participating in this great sprint to write a novel in thirty days. In lieu of the news and recent posts we usually share in the Daily Port of Call, we’ll be passing along links to some of our favorite articles and resources on a variety of topics. In our year-long, online writing program, we follow the steps of the writing journey from idea to publication. We’ll mirror that structure here, spending a week exploring each of Writership’s Anchors: Dreamtime, Writing the First Draft, Revision, and Publishing and Marketing.

This week we’ll dive into resources for writing the first draft, and in today’s Daily Port of Call, we’ll help you get to know your characters.

Use this checklist from James Scott Bell to make your characters jump off the page.

Find out how to gain some distance when your main character is too much like you.

Discover five surprising ways regret can deepen your hero’s arc.

“Remember, a happy hero is a boring hero!” How many obstacles should your hero face?

“The trick to inhabiting a POV character's consciousness more persuasively is to understand the character's obsession. What can the character not not see?” Do you know your character’s obsession?

What is character agency? “Characters without agency tend to be like little paper boats bobbing down a river of your own making. They cannot steer. They cannot change the course of the river. The river is an external force that carries them along —meaning, the plot sticks its hand up the character’s cavernous bottom-hole and makes the character do things and say things in service to the plot.”

Your story isn’t about the plot: “Point being: stories aren’t about the things that happen in them, that is, the plot; stories are about what those things force the protagonist to struggle with, and what they force her to overcome internally in the process.”

Find out how to intensify conflict and deepen characters.

Discover how to set up the character arc when your character doesn’t know he needs to grow.

Discover tips for telling what your character doesn’t want to reveal.

Are you showing or telling your internalization?

Make your characters face their demons: Find a better way to bring inner and outer struggles together.

Discover these three steps to take your character further and deeper with anger.

Find your character’s traits in this list of 350.

Your characters will evolve and grow if you let them: Don’t be limited by your first vision.

“It’s plain to see that our characters are more than just words on a page to us.” Here are the five relationships every writer has with her characters.

“We long for something else, something better, something deeper and purer and truer, even if we have no clear idea what that might be, or how to go about naming it, let alone finding it. And as writers we transmit that yearning to our characters.” Explore the tyranny of motive.

Avoid the problems of the character who is too self-aware. “That sly pitfall puts tension at risk, limits believability (I’ll tell you how), and inhibits the ability to show rather than tell. Read to the end to get some tools that will help you find the very things that your character won’t know.”

Here are tips for writing female and male characters.

Here is the secret to writing villains.

Craft a better story: Make your antagonist the hero of his own story.

Do you need a sidekick? Find out what these characters can do for your story.

Find out why every character arc needs an impact character