Who is Helping Your Characters?

We, as writers, don’t need to rely on ourselves. We can and should have other friends (especially other writers) come alongside and give us encouragement and support. We need them to help us out when we hit the rough patches or when we think we’re ready to submit something that still needs a little bit more work.

I don’t care who your character is, the same thing is true for them. They need someone to help them. Whether you’re writing about a superhero, a new mom, a teenager, a murderer or a clueless ballerina, at some point, your character is going to need help. And that help can come from an unlikely source.

This struck home with me this weekend when someone told me that a suggestion I made in passing really helped them out. What I said was not anything particularly original or innovative. It was just what he needed to hear.

Help Your Characters

Your characters need that same support.

I realized that today, while working on my NaNo novel. As I remembered what my friend said, I began to question my whole scene.

Sometimes, our characters need that little push we receive in real life. See, my character has trouble relying on others for help. But she needs help. Desperately. And the only person she trusts is the one person she really shouldn’t be trusting. (Forgive her. She’s a teen. And he’s a super hot guy.)

But not wanting help isn’t the same as not needing it. Someone can still come alongside one of your characters and provide the helping hand that he or she needs.

So whether it’s the smile from a stranger,  the hot teacher who suggests a more appropriate crush, the friend who calls up out of the blue or the janitor who leaves his keys in the door, think about who’s helping your character – whether they mean to or not.

Who’s helping your character? Is it intentional? How does this affect your story? And more importantly: who’s helping you? Who is helping you navigate the writing life?

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  1. Beth Steury says:

    Great advice–in life and in novel writing! 🙂 A mentor/accountability relationship has a major place in my YA novel series. As the story developed, this relationship grew and I loved/am loving how well it fits.

    • Hi Beth!
      I think this person, sometimes a side-kick, can add depth and conflict to a story. What’s the title of your YA novel you’re working on? Is it a romance? Fantasy? I’m curious.
      Thanks for stopping by to comment.

      • Beth Steury says:

        The first book is “Pieces of a Life” which I just learned today will be presented to the pub board at a some publisher the first week of December. Yay! The second in the series which i working on now is title “Keeping it All Together”. I call it ‘realistic contemporary’. I came across that term some time ago and felt it described my book/series perfectly. It deals with second-chance virginity and abstinence. Lots of friends and their issues round out the cast of characters. Some of his friends give good advice, some not so good then there’s the adult who “tells it like it is” in a mentor/accountability relationship. The POV alternates between Preston and his 17 year-old girlfriend Maggie who also has advice givers. Another aspect of Preston’s story is him dealing with the negative influence and poor example he used to flaunt. Here’s a very brief summary of book #1 especially, but really, it applies to the series as well.

        What happens when true love didn’t wait? Seventeen-year-old Preston would give anything to erase a multitude of bad decisions, but that’s not an option. He commits to re-prioritize his life and head in the opposite direction. But can he rise above the baggage of those lousy decisions and become the man God wants him to be?
        Thanks for asking! 🙂

        • Wow, Beth! How exciting. Please let me know what happens after the pub board meets. I’ll keep it in my prayers that first week of December. WHEN it’s published let us know. I’d love to brag about you here or at our FB page. It sounds like a great read. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Yay, Beth! That is so exciting. A mentor or truth-speaker is a great asset in your story and your life. Great post, Michelle.

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