One bit of advice that I have found so helpful (and had to remind myself of a thousand times), addresses the idea of developing the characters in your book. Here’s the bit:
Think about everything from your character’s perspective.
I know. It’s a no-brainer, right? But let me share with you some ideas that may help you take things a step further.
When your writing takes character “Blank” into a certain scenario, try putting yourself into Blank’s shoes (or maybe they’re barefoot), and then let all the information you gather infiltrate your narration and influence their response.
“Standing against the wall, Blank watched as the villain approached.”
- Is Blank a girl or a boy?
- How old is Blank?
- What does Blank look like?
- Where is the wall? City or Country? Outside or in?
- What’s the setting? Time period?
- What’s the weather like?
- Is the villain a stranger?
- How does Blank know this is a villain?
- Is Blank rich or poor?
- Does Blank believe in God?
All of these questions and more should reflect within the words of your story, and influence the direction your characters take. Not every sentence will describe each of these thoughts, but they will be reflected (i.e. Blank’s gender and age may already be established at this point of the story, however the reader will have those premises in mind to guide their mental image of the scene).
“Blank huffed shaggy hair from his eye and pressed his back against the rain-soaked bricks of the hatter’s shop. He hoped the drab color of his garments would help to conceal his small frame in the shadows as he watched Mad Barnaby approach with a swirl of his black cloak and a click of his gold-tipped cane. Blank lifted his face to the weeping sky and breathed a prayer for strength as he prepared to risk an escape from the notorious child-catcher. Blank refused to be dragged back to the workhouse, especially after today’s taste of freedom on the streets of London.”
This is just an example of enriching facts with details. One more note! Let your narration reflect the attitude and mannerisms of the characters. Example: Here’s a snippet from Hebbros. See if you can figure out what type of character Bradley is by reading this bit of narration (then read the book to find out if you’re right!):
“A cursory glance told Bradley that an elderly chap was driving the cart while a child, a little girl, rode perched on the back. The wide eyes of both persons followed his progress across the street, widening even further when he made a flying leap—a most excellent execution of athleticism, if he might have said so himself—that landed him on the donkey’s back. The beast gave a terribly noisome protest, and Bradley had just enough time to shout over his shoulder for the others to hold on tight, before the whole lot shot forward at a maximum speed that somehow seemed to increase by the yard.”
Happy writing (and reading)!