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Improve Your Writing Skills

My local library reserved a couple of hours a month for a writers’ group. As I am the most experienced, I happily share my knowledge. With this blog, I hope to help more writers with a few tips. What makes a reader turn the pages of a novel are compelling characters, especially in romance writing.


Creating Compelling Characters

<i>“You can never know enough about your characters.” W. Somerset Maughan.</i>

The actions of the main protagonists, usually two in romance, propel the story forward. Both plot and setting are subordinate to characterization. Central to the action is the relationship between the principal protagonists. That relationship is almost exclusively determined by what kind of people they are, and what their previous experiences have been. The plot may throw the protagonists into certain situations, but the direction the story takes is controlled by the reactions they have, both to the events and to each other.


A mainstream novel may have a multifaceted plot, which may contain plot elements and an entire sub-plot that are independent of the principal protagonists. It doesn’t quite occur in this way in a romance novel where you mustn’t let the story or the setting overwhelm the characters. Nor should you abandon your characters for the sake of furthering some issue by means of the novel, no matter how important you may believe it is.


In order to determine what your main protagonists will do in any given situation, you must know them thoroughly. They must be more than names. They mustn’t be stereotyped, not even the villain(s). They don’t have to be crushingly beautiful, poised, intelligent and highly educated, but they can’t be too ordinary either. Readers identify with characters to escape reality for a few hours, even if the novel centers around a difficult subject.

Next time Building a character profile.

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