* As the character becomes stronger to the reader through detail and familiarity, the character’s options for action and dialogue become fewer.  Therefore, every author seeks good characterization for strong, inevitable motivation of characters.


1) Be careful to show the character’s desires, not to tell the desires, which is easier.

2) Be sure not to doom characters; they must have possibility to choose.

3) As characters move through a story, don’t forget someone introduced earlier.  Ask who hasn’t been heard from for a while.  Don’t lose characters.

4) Although it is essential to use the point of view of a character for development, remember that too much access to one character’s point of view can be deadening.

5) Remember that a character from life who is described with adherence to reality is limited in the dynamic, unique, fictional character development necessary in the best literary fiction.

6) Check character development by studying a unified overview of all actions and dialog of the character in the story.  Be sure that words and actions are driven by motivations that are right for the time in the character’s development and are reasonable for the exact moment in the story.  This is one of the most difficult skills to develop as a fiction writer, but it is the key to developing an identity as an author.

7) Be aware of inappropriate responses in dialog among multiple characters—especially of words, syntax, and ideation.  Each character’s response must fit the immediate range of emotions of all the characters at that story moment.  When character responses are right, setting, other characters’ feelings, reader enjoyment and acceptance, and even basic momentum of the story are enhanced.

G.  Plot

In general, plot may be thought of as everything that happens in the story.  But in literary fiction, characterization is the main element of plot; it is the inner story of characters that moves the outer story of plot action.  Easy to say but difficult to do, mainly because making the character’s inner story believable, yet unique and forceful, takes skill and practice.

Common plot types in genre fiction (for example, search, revenge, rivalry, quest, mystery and others) do not require development of characters to the same emotional level needed in literary stories.  This helps make literary stories unique where characters’ thoughts, emotions and actions generate the plot.  In genre plots with predetermined action, the characters often act without regard to inner conflicts, and the plots are fatalistic and dependent on coincidence.