Today, Mad Genius Club has an entertaining and useful post about giving fictional people hidden weaknesses to make them more believable.
“Make your character sweat to earn his fictional role. Make him worry about it, then make him fumble his chopsticks. It’ll make him more human.”
(I’ll let my readers figure out why I find this quote funny… Hint: it has nothing to do with chopsticks.)
A couple of days ago, Mad Genius Club had another good post — an excellent post — titled “The Demons of Critique Groups — Addendum to Novel Workshop.” (The whole “Novel Workshop” series of posts is good, by the way.)
Quotes from “Demons of Critique Groups”:
“Ignore anything that ten of them [readers] don’t emphatically say.”
“There’s many reasons why writers’ groups are better, though. […] Third, and more important, readers lack the vocabulary. They can tell you they like it or not, and whether they like a character or not (I love having beta readers) and they can give you a general ‘this is the best ever; but they can’t tell you ‘Chapter 22, the action lags. I think you need to set up a bigger challenge.’ For that, you need someone who has at least inked his hands with a story or two.”
The list and descriptions of ‘problem people’ (my phrase, not the mad genius’) that are found in writers’ groups is helpful, if only to show us that we’re not the only ones who’ve encountered them. A couple of examples:
“And the person who doesn’t read your genre but who nonetheless Knows Better. ‘This is not science fiction. In proper science fiction, like Star Trek….'”
“[…] the person who thinks you should have an explanation for every act of magic or instance of non-existent (and sometimes existent) technology. ‘But how does anti-grav work? When was it invented? You must tell us.'”
You should go over to Mad Genius Club and read both of these posts.