Moving Characters Forward

Blogging has taken a backseat recently because of packing, redecorating, and planning a move to another house. A task that has become increasingly challenging and somewhat stagnant, so in the spirit of moving, I have decided to discuss ways to better move characters forward.


Are your characters becoming stale? Do you find them moving slowly along the pages, losing their flow of dialogue, or your story slipping away?

Here are some effective exercises, but first…think back to the moment you began creating the character(s). When you added their green eyes, that deep-set dimple on the right, the way their brow furrows and the way they speak with authority.

Who are these characters? What would they say? What do they really sound like in your mind? You’ll find that if dialogue stops flowing, it’s usually because it doesn’t fit that character’s personality. You begin to slowly creep them into what I like to call “character persona non grata” (when a character is becoming unacceptable or unwelcome in the story). Usually when the writer’s mind becomes numb from plotting, drafting and/or editing, and the cast and story falls off the beaten path.

Exercise #1–Re-read some of your favorite parts of the story. This can help refresh characters that have become stale, adding new, crisp and flowing dialogue back to the weaker parts of the story.
*Be sure to keep track of any changes to avoid any confusion in the story down the line.
*Make sure new dialogue fits with where the story is going.

Exercise #2–Make “Idea Folders” I use this while I’m writing. I find certain ideas that may not work for book one might work for book two, three, or a different book altogether. I pull up a couple new tabs and keep them handy for story add-in and different angles, asking questions like: What if this happened to ______ instead of that?

Exercise #3–This one is my favorite one of all…it’s more involved because it makes you think and re-think scenes. As if drafts weren’t annoying enough, now you’re going to re-draft certain scenes of the story in 1-3 different ways to revive them and to get the best fit. (Only the parts of the story that have become flat).

Example: In my novel “The Throne of Olympus,” Gabriel’s need to protect Lena grew by leaps when his cousin Inanna made an eerie comment during dinner. Gabriel swooped in with a quick save, preventing Lena from revealing how shaken up she had become by said comment. Spoiler alert! The actual scene in the final draft was changed to Inanna flashing a photo key ring with a recent picture of Lena’s son Linx, prompting Lena to go barreling out the restaurant’s back door to get to her son. This version turned out to be the better of the other three I plotted. There are at least four different drafts of The Throne of Olympus.
*Be sure to save copies of all your different drafts.

Your characters will begin moving forward for you in no time.

Do you have any exercises that work in helping you to move your characters forward?

Categories: Fiction Tips.


  1. Profile photo of Kelli Jae Baeli

    How did you get your byline (your name as author of the article) to appear? Mine just says “by” with a blank after it. I can’t find anywhere to include my name in the articles/posts i submit. Not finding answers to that elsewhere on the site, I’m afraid.

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  2. Profile photo of Kelli Jae Baeli

    Never mind. Figured out that byline is in separate profile setup for IWN within their dashboard. Never blogged using this interface of WP. Only on my own WP site. So i totally overlooked even the admin bar up top, because i was so used to seeing it there from my own site. Didn’t occur to me it belonged to the IWN site! It is a little confusing. I wish they’d explain it better (Seems no way to delete the above comment.–so—sorry!)

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