By Paula Berinstein

Tale advisor and Writing exhibit host Paula B. provides an annotated record of forty two universal errors she sees forever. Divided into characters, constitution, reader engagement, the marketplace, and mechanics, the item deals every little thing from the Tease--the author who will get readers all excited yet does not keep on with via, to the Bleeding Heart--the author who will not "murder his darlings."

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But even if your protagonist isn't the most admirable person in the world, we need to see something about her that makes us care. That means she has to do something generous or show some vulnerability. The key is to present little moments that highlight your character's vulnerability and/or generosity. The late story guru Blake Snyder, author of the Save the Cat! screenwriting books, recommended creating "save the cat" incidents. He felt that you can make your protagonist sympathetic by showing him or her doing something generous early in the story, like saving a cat.

Your protagonist is too much like you. Yes, you're supposed to write what you know. But you can overdo it. Your character may have traits in common with you, but he isn't you. Do not put your words in his mouth. Instead, make him larger than life. Give him experiences you've never had, actions you'd never have the guts to take. Make his dialogue more to the point, more purposeful, more clever and commanding of people's attention. Use your experiences and feelings as a jumping off point, then build on them to make the character more so.

If you start with a lot of backstory, you're probably doing a lot more telling than showing. Instead, get us involved in the protagonist's life in the here and now. Show us a situation that's causing problems for him today. Then you can release the backstory gradually and show us its effects on your character's life now. The more pipe you need to lay (that is, the more you need to explain before you start), the harder the story will be to follow, and the less likely we'll be to stick with it. 24.

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