In Due Time – Writer’s Block

It’s amazing to me that I’ve spent a year blocked in many of my writing mediums. Blogging became a chore that caused more stress than pleasure, writing a short article came with as much pain as a tooth extraction and everything else, down to advertising copy, seemed “blah.” I was fighting an enormous block, mostly surrounded by medical conditions, treatments and therapy. But blocked, I was.

I finally went out and purchased a brand new journal and wrote only when something incredible happened. Not all those incredible moments were good, but incredible still. As I found comfort in working with words again, I ventured outside of my self-imposed barricade and began taking note of extraordinary happenings in the world around. With that, I had a little more fuel for that only-sometimes-used journal.

I decided that I was going to no longer work as a paid writer.

Yep. I said it.

I evaluated why I once loved writing and why that changed. I received my first-ever blue ribbon that came from writing almost twenty years ago. I loved words then. I explored new avenues of writing, didn’t harbor any self-doubt. Everything I did was perfect, because it was done. I cherished that time in my life as a writer.

But today, I can say that I don’t like deadlines. I do not like stress. Simplicity is what I need; in writing, living and life. So simplicity it is. And a very long hiatus from writing, at least writing anything for anyone.

And now, I have a great relationship with my Muse again. I only write inspired words and write them when inspired. I keep my notebook and pen handy for the moments when I cannot devote hours to writing as to retain that which my Muse delivered. And I play. I am nurturing all aspects of my creative self – including painting, again. The process of keeping myself readily available for my muse in all creative aspects has made me able to write again, for an audience.

Every writer experiences writer’s block. Good writers know when to put down the pen. For me, that pen was down for nearly a year. And now, it feels good to write.

Do you spend time nurturing other creative avenues in your life?

Support And Sounding Boards – Share Your Unfinished Work

The value of support, and a sounding board, during the writing process can be immeasurable.  While there are writers who keep their work locked in a vault of secrecy until the first (sometimes second and third) draft is finished, I am not one of them. I have never been able to complete a chapter without support, feedback, constructive criticism, and encouragement from advance readers.

Call it artistic insecurity, or call it vanity, but I get a little boost when I hear, “Wow that rocked!”. The enthusiasm of advance readers can be just the kick in the rear you need to keep going. I often (no less than three times a day) and like many other writers think, “Why am I writing this?  Have I completely lost my mind?” The backing and encouragement of a trusted friend reminds my of my motives for writing. I write to be read.

Sharing what you write when you are at the top of your game can come in handy when your self esteem takes a dive, too. Your advance readers can reignite your enthusiasm and excitement. When you face that nasty bout of writer’s block they’re there to push you to keep writing. When the work knocks you on your rear they’re there to pull you to your feet and dust you off.

My favorite thing about the champions of my writing is their never tiring of willingness to brainstorm with me. They don’t mind reading the same paragraph twelve times. Sometimes it’s just a thought or word they share that spurs my imagination. A five minute conversation can turn into three thousand words and a captivating new plot twist.

A true advocate will also spread the word when your work is done. He’ll back it as if it were their own.  Friends will feel a sense of shared ownership and pride in the finished product and be eager to help you market the work.

Without the supporters who spend countless hours reading, critiquing, and loving my work, I’m not sure I could have finished my first novel, let alone plunged into the ones that followed.

What are some of the other ways you stay inspired? Who do you trust with your work before it’s finished? What do your advance readers do for you?

If you haven’t shared your work yet, I highly recommend it, and I guarantee a smile.

Goals: Empower Your Writing Aspirations And Dreams

Goals: Empower Your Writing Aspirations And DreamsI remember back when I was in grade seven, being forced to sit at my desk and think about what to achieve during that school year. Each year, until twelfth grade, we had to fill out a goals form. I hated doing those forms. I’d rather work on an essay. It wasn’t until after I graduated from high school that I realized how vital aspiration is in life.

Goals are incredibly important in getting what you want out of life. For writers, goals for our writing are more than just important; they’re life. Without these aspirations, we have no motivation. We grow lazy and directionless. We accomplish nothing. Our personal and professional world closes in around us. We stop writing, which as a writer you know is a little like death.

I have been writing for a good chunk of my life but I had never submitted my writing to publishers. I’d never shared my writing with anyone. I write and then put it aside, in a draw, forgotten. Later I’d stumble on something I’d written months or even years before and wonder why I wrote at all.

One day my mother found something I’d written. After reading it, she asked me why I never tried to have my work published. I blinked with surprised. To be honest, it had never occurred to me. I never considered it. I’d never even thought of doing so. She suggested I make publication a goal of mine, and I did.

Goals can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. It all depends on who you are and what you want to achieve. I find many short-term goals helps me along the way to my main long-term goal. You know what, let’s do this together. Create a goal for your writing life, right now, with me.

First we need a main long-term goal. Mine is to:

  • Publish and produce screenplays.

Notepad with Goal ListBreaking this down into smaller short term goals I started with:

  1. Find an idea that excites me.
  2. Write the story.
  3. FINISH that story. – This is a tricky one for me because I tend to start many stories but rarely finish any.
  4. Edit and polish that story. – Editing not my forte.

These goals continue leading to the final to publication and production of my work.

Goal setting in this way might not work for you but it gives you an idea of how to begin planning ahead and setting the course for your own writing future. Your dreams and aspirations do not have to be elaborate. Some can be very easy to attain while others require more effort. Accomplishing a simple milestone makes me feel like I’m leaping towards the future I want for myself.

Whatever you’re striving to achieve, make sure to set your goals, write them down and place them where you will see them every day. Repeatedly reminding yourself of what you want to accomplish helps you focus and can increase your motivation. Go for it!

What writing-related aspirations do you have? What smaller goals and milestones do you create on the way to your primary goals?

Photo Credit: 07-11-08 © Michael Krinke
Image Credit: 08-05-09 © porcorex

Motivation Techniques To Reduce Writing Job Stress

Motivation Techniques to Reduce Writing Job StressHas a lack of motivation ever seen you sitting at your desk or curled up in your favorite chair with your laptop—and no inspiration to work on your writing? Not even one word?

This is how I feel today. And I thought I’d blog about it here because surely other writers and bloggers have experienced this same thing.

Some days I’m on fire, writing and writing. The ideas are endless. My passion for words keeps my fingers tapping away at the keyboard. Then there are days like today. Days where I just want to crawl back under the covers and stay there until the inspiration comes back.

Folks, the muse plays tricks on our minds!

Whether it’s a headache, feeling blah – physically or mentally/emotionally – or dealing with life, there are times when I feel like I can’t bring myself to purge one word from my soul.

Of course, if you’re building a career as a writer, crawling back under the covers until the muse comes back to sprinkle her inspiring dust about, is out of the question. When writing is your job you can’t always afford time to give into job stress.

Here are 5 motivation techniques that keep me writing—especially when I don’t feel like it:

  1. Connecting with my writing friends. Communicating with other writers and bloggers, who know exactly what I’m going through, is crucial to the health of my writing craft. They do this job too so they know the stress I’m feeling. By the time they’re finished tossing out quotes, words of wisdom, advice, encouragement, and even a joke here and there, I’m feeling refreshed, confident, and ready to take on the words. This motivation technique’s added benefit is motivating the friend too!
  2. Reading quotes, blog posts, or a few pages from my favorite authors. I find great inspiration from motivational people like Maya Angelou. After drawing strength from her words, anything is possible!
  3. Yoga. I’m a huge fan of yoga (particularly Ashtanga style) and have found that my writing is much more prolific, inspired, and meaningful when I practice regularly. You don’t have to take an hour to feel the benefits and motivation of this technique. As little as five to twenty minutes of yoga can reduce stress, clear your mind, stretch and warm your muscles, and inspire your creativity!
  4. Gardening. Sometimes it takes nothing more than a few minutes strolling through the garden, inhaling fresh air and seeing the fruits of my labor, to feel my motivation levels rise.
  5. Eating or drinking something nutritious. My brain needs food as much as my body. So if I’m hungry or have forgotten to eat, I’ll notice it affects my writing. Whether it’s a salad chock-full of veggies and a little protein, a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit, or a raw juice or smoothie, fueling up my body results in filling pages!

I hope these motivation techniques have sparked your interest and given you a few ideas you can try for those days you can’t find your motivation – or muse – but need to get the job done.

What do you do when you have to write through lack of inspiration, motivation, and/or chaotic, disruptive days? Do you ever just throw up your hands and crawl back under the covers or hide away somewhere in your house? Or do you press through? What tips and tricks do you have? Do share!

Photo Credit: wagg66

7 Secrets to Writing “On Demand”

After 19 months of caring for my daughter while also handling a full-time freelance writing workload, I did the smart thing and hired a babysitter. It’s true what people say: “It’s easy when they’re very young.”

I didn’t plop the baby in her swing in front of Baby Einstein all day, either. I practiced my own form of attachment parenting, and became adept at typing one-handed while I nursed a baby. I remember one night cradling the baby, about 6 months old, in my lap while I typed furiously to make a morning magazine deadline. Today if I did that same balancing act, my daughter would want to type, as well. I realized that the best thing for me, my career, and my daughter was to get some help.

For the first time since 2006 when I left Paintball Sports Magazine as the Editor-in-Chief, I am keeping “regular writing hours.” I write when the babysitter is here, from 10 AM until two or three, and then at night after my daughter’s asleep.

As a freelancer, I’ve always believed in schedules, but mine were very loose, falling prey to the weather, (“It’s a nice day for a bike ride!”), my husband’s ideas (“Let’s go for a bike ride!”) and whims: (“I think I’ll go work off that vanilla milkshake with a walk around the mall!”) In my pre-parenthood life, when I wasn’t writing I was eating, shopping or cycling. Days off meant a lot of late nights, but I was able to write whenever I wanted to, and, more importantly, not write when I didn’t want to.

Can I Write On Demand?

After surviving my first week “on the clock,” I can say that yes, I can keep to a writing schedule and WRITE during that time. Better yet, I’m poised to offer tips for those of you who want to create a more structured writing schedule rather than waiting for the muse. Or, as Stephen King puts it, “It’s a lot easier for the Muse to strike you if she knows where to look.”

  1. Work with your natural writing rhythms. The owner of this blog, Rebecca Laffar-Smith, recognizes that she writes best from 10 AM till noon and from 8 PM to 10 PM. So she schedules this as her “writing time.” For me, I write best from about 3 in the afternoon, onward. Unfortunately, my writing times coincide with things like dinner and bedtime for my daughter. But, years of editing magazines where I did a lot of writing have helped me “train” myself to write during office hours, so I can manage a 10 AM to 3 PM writing schedule. I still expect I’ll get more done at night, during my 10 PM to 2 AM writing spurts.
  2. Avoid distractions. Schedule set times to check your email and do social networking, and then turn off the internet and the phone if you have to. Michele L. Tune wrote an excellent article on avoiding internet distractions.
  3. Find a motivational writing partner for accountability. Sometimes it helps to have company. One writing colleague of mine plays a “game” called “1, 2, 3.” She connects with another writer through a chat program, and they set a time to write for a half hour straight. At the end of that half-hour, they report on their progress and decide if they want to continue for another 30 minutes.
  4. Have your ideas in place. It’s easier for me to write “on demand” when I know exactly what I’m writing about. Setting an editorial calendar for each day you write helps you get started. No more staring at a blank page thinking of ideas, because you’ve already brainstormed the topics in advance. You can also use writing prompts for this purpose.
  5. Have a ritual that sends your brain the signal it’s time to write. A writing ritual shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out process. I like to brew a cup of tea or coffee, check my e-mail quickly, and then settle in to write.
  6. Establish a writing place. One benefit of having a babysitter is I get to work in my home office again. I’ve used Feng Shui color schemes to encourage creativity, and adorned the walls with inspirational posters. Like writing rituals and set times, having your own little corner to write in, separate from the rest of the family, minimizes distractions and can inspire you.
  7. Treat it as a job — which it is. Money has always been my primary motivation to write. When you put yourself into the mindset that your writing is your work and set expectations for yourself, you can obliterate writer’s block.

I always liked this quote from W. Somerset Maugham: “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

Now, I find myself living it.

How do you “summon the muse” when you have to write “on demand?”

Piece Together Characters From Family Members

Character Traits Pieced Together From FamilyOne of my favorite aspects of writing is character creation. I usually start my stories due to an interesting character popping into my mind, with a story to share. Often, I’ll know right away what they look like, what their general outlook on life is, and what their goals are.

However, I may not know what their favorite breakfast food is, what nervous habits they have, or their belief system. Some character attributes may not be needed in the preliminary stages of writing, but if I don’t know them up front, it can cause problems later on in the story. If I don’t know that the antagonist killed their parents in a war twenty years ago, then I have no idea why she is so determined to stop his reign of tyranny now.

Borrowing Attributes From Family

If I am unsure of my character’s attributes and motivations, I turn to an unending source of human characteristics – my friends and family. It doesn’t get more realistic than using actual traits and habits that other people have. However, you need to ensure that you don’t make a character who is exactly like your Uncle Bob, and ends up leaving his wife and developing a drug addiction. That could be perceived as slander, and cause ill will and even court cases between family members.

To avoid that possibility, I take observed characteristics and play mix and match. I might take my best friend’s eye twitch, add on my grandfather’s quiet attitude, and place those traits onto my protagonist’s thirty year old love interest. That way, there is no possibility of anyone seeing themselves within one character.

Also, allow the characteristics to change and grow throughout your story. Whereas my friend might twitch her eye when she is angry, my love interest character would twitch his eye when he is lying instead. His silent streak, borrowed from my grandfather, could go away completely by the end of the story, as he opens up and learns to trust the heroine.

Observe People Everywhere

Of course, family and friends aren’t the only possible sources for character creation. Inspiration is everywhere! Take your notebook and go to a crowded cafe, mall, or park. Make notes to yourself about specific attributes that catch your eye. Add these into the mix along with those traits you picked from your family, and you will have a completely different character. Even television, music, and online friends offer more character possibilities.

Once you’ve compiled your character, you might want to write out a character creation sheet, that lists all of the facts about the character that you know so far. This can range from hair and eye color, to identifiable habits, to primary and secondary motivations. Whatever you need for your story, you can outline, and add to or subtract from as necessary.

To further ensure that your character is differentiated enough from your family, write a short story that shows a “Day in the Life” of your hero. Let your family and friends read it, and see if they identify with the hero. If they do, you may need to change a few traits.

Have you ever drawn from real life people to create a character? What are your tips to ensuring you get just the right blend of fact and fiction?

Image Credit: egarc2

10 Types of Blog Posts That Draw Traffic to Your Site (Part Two, 5 – 10)

The more I think about it, the longer my list of “types of blog posts” could be. Looking over Part One of my list of “Top 10 Types of Blog Posts” I wonder how I ever run out of ideas for my blogs. If you’re having trouble writing, simply pick one of these types of posts and go for it.

Rather than keeping  this series continuing forever, I’ve narrowed down the list to the 10 best posts designed to generate traffic, and, I admit, many of these are my personal favorites to write.

6. Motivational posts – Most people need a little kick in the pants sometimes. Motivational blog posts are designed to spark your readers into action, remind them why they love their industry or hobby, or just make them feel good.

7. Fun stuff –
A cartoon. A funny photo. A quick joke, quote or one-liner. These are the fun things you can put up in a hurry, when you don’t have time to write a full-length post. It gives your readers something new to see when they visit your blog and takes you only a few minutes to find and share. These posts, usually culled from other sources, have a great chance of going viral. (Who doesn’t love to share a good joke or funny picture?) You’ll also get the benefits of spreading the link love when you share the original source (which you should, of course).

8. Controversial posts – My post “Is Ghostwriting Ethical?” was designed to spark debate. It did, but perhaps not as much as I would have liked. Part of the secret to writing successful controversial posts is knowing what really sparks strong feelings in your readers.

In the freelance writing world, posts about money and rates generate controversy. It’s the same argument over and over again, but people never tire of it. When you post about a controversial topic, add a new perspective or a fresh viewpoint. Don’t generate controversy just for the sake of argument (so to speak). But if a situation has really gotten your hackles up, post away! You’ll get to share your views and generate traffic to your website. It’s a win-win, as long as you monitor the comments and make sure no one gets nasty about it.

9. News posts – When the FCC introduced fair disclosure standards for bloggers, this was big news for the industry. Many writers shared their views, tips and advice on the subject. The trick to writing a successful news post is either to break the story or to come up with an original perspective — to share insight you haven’t read anywhere else. (If you can’t be first, be the best!) You can also take a news topic not directly related to your industry and think about how it affects your blogs readers.

10. Videos – Like cartoons and photos, videos have a great chance of going viral. Since this is a writer’s blog, I won’t offer too many tips about posting videos on your blog. There are nearly as many types of video blogs as there are written blogs. I will say this: Even if you think of yourself as a writer, be open to posting a video on your blog now and then. You may find a whole new audience for your work.

Why types of posts have you had the greatest response with on your own blog?

Use Feng Shui to Build Your Creativity

Creativity is the lifeblood of writers, whether we write fiction, non-fiction or blog posts to promote our business. People in every profession come to me during a Feng Shui consultation and want to find easy ways to enhance their creativity. Feng Shui is about the observation, collection and distribution of chi, or energy, throughout a space. When the chi flows, the residents of the home are healthier, more vibrant and perform better which will contribute to their wealth and ability to take advantage of opportunities to achieve their goals.

Activating the Creativity Area of Your Home or Office

Download The Bagua Chart PDF for a great place to start.It all begins with the bagua. Once you understand this simple Feng Shui tool, you can activate the energy (the chi) in the creativity segment of your home or office. When you lay out the Bagua in your home or apartment, you’ll see nine different sectors in your home, corresponding to various areas of your life. If you are looking into the room from the door, the children and creativity area is the section against the right wall, up to the center of the space. To enhance your creative mind, you want to focus on the energy in this space.

You can also lay the bagua over your office floor plan or your desk, enhancing your creativity by focusing on that area of the bagua in any space.

Assess the Chi

When you enter the area of the room where you write, how do you feel? Look around: What colors are dominant? What objects do you see? If you feel you have uplifting chi in that space, chances are your creative energy isn’t suffering at all.

But if the area makes you feel down, depressed or simply “stuck,” this could explain why you are not having as much success as you should in your writing career. Your creativity may be suffering.

Enhance the Creativity Segment of the Room

The children and creativity segment of the bagua corresponds with the element metal and the color white. Placing anything metal in that area, including creative sculptures made of metal or colorful artwork in metal frames, will enhance the chi in that corner.

Here are some other objects you can use the children/creativity area of the room to encourage the flow of uplifting chi:

  • Metal windchimes or a bell. These objects not only represent the element of metal, but they increase “sound chi“ with bright, lively chimes. Wind chimes also add movement to an area, helping the chi flow.
  • Metal Toys. What can be more playful and creative than toys? Add fun metal toys — such as race cars or a fun metal toy that swings with kinetic energy — to your creative area to add a sense of playfulness to your workday.
  • White flowers. You can enhance a space with “living chi,” by adding objects such as plants or flowers. White plants, which correspond to the color of the element metal, work best in the creative area of your home or office. Be sure to replace flowers as soon as they become wilted. Fresh flowers bring living chi to a space, but dead flowers should be removed immediately.

The Command Position

Feng Shui your office to advance your career and make more money.Whether you have a home office or work at your kitchen table, the place where you write should have you sitting in the command position of that room. The command position places you so you can see the door, but are not directly in line with it.

If you must sit with your back to the door, placing a mirror in front of you will help you avoid the feeling of “being stabbed in the back” by clients and people you work with.

Dress for Creativity

Along with organizing and decorating our workspace with objects designed to enhance our creative energy and enhance the flow of chi, we can also dress in colors that raise our creative chi. White, as the color that corresponds with metal, is a good color for writers, as is bright blue and green. Green represents new hope and new ideas. You can also incorporate rainbow colors into your wardrobe to enhance your creative thoughts.

Ken Lauher advises individuals, businesses and organizations on how to implement practical Feng Shui solutions to help achieve their goals and live a more fulfilling life.

His inspiring and transformational work with well-known actors, actresses, TV hosts, singers, songwriters, CEOs, businesses, and corporations has made him a sought-after speaker on feng shui and life enhancement. Ken recently appeared on NBC’s Weekend Today show and TLC’s Moving Up!

Based in New York City, Ken works with local, national and international clients. To learn more about Ken, to download your free Feng Shui Guide, or to schedule a Feng Shui consultation, please visit

Your Most Significant Freelance Writing Relationship

Your Most Significant Freelance Writing Relationship, Yourself.

What’s Your Core Strength?

“While at the flower store, ordering a nice bunch of orchids to honor the longest-term relationship I’ve ever had–with myself, I noticed that many people were more focused on what to get or do for their significant others, or what they were getting done for them, than how to celebrate their own selves.

“In fact, out of the 20 or so other people who were there, not one of them were wrapping up blooms from them, to them. When they found out I was, it was like a kitten had popped out of my jacket pocket. “Ohmigosh–That’s SO cute!,” they said, eyes wide with the sheer quaintness of it all.

“It struck me then, how weighted we can get towards our external offerings and relationships. It’s rare to see someone taking themselves out for dinner, and choosing the nice restaurant over the quick fix, or taking the time to appreciate themselves with a love letter, a kind remark or even the simple beauty of flowers. “ ~ Sadie Nardini

Loving Relationship

When I started reading Sadie’s recent article, “What’s Your Core Strength?” (Yoga Journal) I couldn’t stop. Her words are so fresh and inspiring – and true.

I mean, as freelancers, how often do we truly appreciate ourselves? Our talent? Our bodies? Our health? Our time?

How often do we skip meals, lose sleep, push ourselves through sickness, exhaustion, blood-shot eyes, headaches? More often than not, right?

Why is it that we throw all of our love, passion, time, strength, mind, body and soul into our words, stories, books, characters, work, and give ourselves so little? Why do we strive to please our editors and clients – yet don’t give a thought to the simplest pleasure that we might enjoy?

Freelance Relationships

We spend so much time working on creating, building, and nurturing the relationships with our editors, clients, fellow freelancers, and potential clients. Why is it then, that we find it so hard to have a relationship with ourselves? To be kind to ourselves? Take care of ourselves? Do something just for us?

Relationship Deprivation

Oh, yes, money is an issue. We give and give and give until we’re all written out and our bodies and minds are worn out. Our bank account may be growing and expanding but our once youthful, cheerful, well-fed souls may be withering away to nothingness!

Is it hard to imagine treating yourself to a bouquet of roses – just because? Does it seem impossible to spend your hard-earned cash on a massage, a new outfit, your favorite restaurant, or even just a stroll through the park or a leisurely day (or even hour!) spent watching a little TV, reading a book you’ve been meaning to read, or taking that yoga class you’ve been fantasizing about?

Rich Relationship

Life is so much richer when it involves vibrant relationships. But you don’t have to be in a relationship with someone else to know that you’re special. You don’t have to receive a dozen roses from someone else to smile. And you don’t have to be a freelancer to give yourself a little TLC.

If we can be as creative as we normally are without treating ourselves, imagine what a superhero we would be if we did!

You’ll have to excuse me, I have a date – with yoga and myself. After that, I’ll be refreshed and ready to greet my freelance life with a smile!

Do you having a love-filled, caring, sweet, thoughtful, compassionate relationship – with yourself? Do you think it’s silly? Do you think it sounds inviting? Do you love yourself enough to treat yourself better – or at least as well – as you treat your clients and editors, and expect others to? Have you ever written yourself a letter? Bought yourself flowers? Dined at a restaurant alone (on purpose)? If you could have any relationship with yourself, what would it be: spontaneous, encouraging, luxurious, simple? Can you be as faithful to yourself as you are to everyone else?

Photo credit: Michael Melrose

Five Traits Your Heroes Must Have

Your Romantic Hero? What character traits does he have?No matter what kind of fiction you write, you have to have a main character, a hero, with various traits. This is especially true in romance writing. Your characters are tall, dark, and handsome. They’re perfect.

Or are they?

Romantic heroes should have great qualities. Here are five qualities your heroes need to be well-rounded, believable characters:

1. Likeability

If you don’t like your hero, your reader won’t either. More importantly, neither will his intended love interest. No interest on the heroine’s part, no story regardless of how much your hero wants to be with her.

Even if he isn’t likeable in general at the beginning of your story, he has to have at least one likeable quality. He also needs potential to grow to be more likeable.

2. A flaw

Let’s face it: People aren’t perfect. Your hero shouldn’t be either. He needs to be flawed.

Give him a physical imperfection. He’s tall, dark, and handsome, with a limp. His face is badly scarred from being burned in a fire.

Give him a psychological imperfection. His uncle is a renegade vigilante who leads bands of clansmen to ambush rival clans as they travel. He’s a womanizer who has been told he has to get married or lose his title and position.

3. A love interest

While your hero could be narcissistic and love himself, he also needs to have an external love interest. What else is a romance but a story between two people, regardless of sexual orientation, as they fall in love and deal with the conflicts that arise as their relationship grows? Well, okay, it could also be a suspense, mystery, or historical, just to name a few. The lover needs to give the hero a reason to grow, to change. He can’t be the exact same person at the end of the story as he was at the beginning.

4. Other interests/events

Do you have one interest and only one interest in your life? I think the answer is no. You have more than one interest. Your hero should, too.

What else is going on in his life that takes his attention away from his one-and-only? War drags him away just as things are starting to get hot and heavy. Hunting takes him away for shorter times. Injury, and possibly near-death, keep him away for longer (but also serves for good growth in their relationship if his love interest is willing to act as his nurse). His job makes him travel cross-country. Football keeps him glued to the television on Mondays.

Give him something else to be interested in. Otherwise, you will have a flat character that no one – including you – cares about.

5. Motivation

What drives your character?

Other than spending time with his heroine, there is another driving force in your hero’s life. Perhaps it is protecting his people, getting a promotion, defending his family’s honor, or making enough money to live comfortably. Without motivation, your character is a dead-beat.

That’s not very romantic.

There are a lot of factors that go into creating a strong character. These five traits, while not exhaustive by any means, provide a good foundation for creating your hero. They are also not exclusive to men. Your heroines also need these qualities, which should complement the hero’s, at least in some ways.

Above all, your heroes and heroines need to be individuals and not cookie-cutter copies of previous characters with different names. Figuring out these main five traits will help develop their individuality. How else can you set your heroes and heroines apart from other characters?

Jen Nipps is a talented romance author and freelance writer/editor based in south-central Oklahoma, USA. She currently spends time in the hands of her love, the hero of her latest historical romance, “Trevor’s Triumph”.