How to Ensure Your Character Moves

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash

Movement is a complex topic but excellent practice. To keep a reader engaged, you must keep them turning pages. In other words, you need to ensure that your character (and other characters) move around. Movement could be physical, but it could be an emotional state of mind too.

Even if you’ve wrapped up your first draft, you still need to ensure that the action keeps moving. If you want your character to proceed, you need to tell your character where to go. It sounds simple on the surface, but it isn’t always! Tell them to go to the library, or the market, or to see the doctor.

But do not tell them where they cannot go. It’s a basic rule of good character movement.

Here are some tips to ensure that your characters move.

  1. Pick a goal for the primary character.
  2. Brainstorm achievements or failures of that goal.
  3. How do the other characters in the story feel? How can you accurately reveal their feelings? Are they aware of the primary character’s goal? Do they help or hinder them?
  4. Write the first sentence.
  5. Write the final sentence.
  6. Flesh out the scene in between.

In summary, you can use all of the above techniques to ensure that your characters are not static but are moving within the frame. The more you can make other elements in the frame move, then you’ll notice that your characters will stand out. So what techniques do you use to keep your feelings moving?

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Guilliean Pacheco (she/her) is a writer and editor of color, but you may also know her as the host of the Raconteuse Radio podcast. Her work has appeared in Nevada Humanities and Helen. She has an M.F.A. in Writing from the University of San Francisco. She’s a misplaced California girl who lives in Las Vegas normally if one could call living there normal. Follow her on Twitter.

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