Updated: Apr 17, 2020
I'm a big fan of lists. Quick-hit summaries that I can refer to when seeking to spark my imagination, add variety or mix things up, or escape a writing rut.
A healthy list groups topics by high concept, then offers ideas across the spectrum of each category.
One of the best lists comes from "Writing for Emotional Impact" by Karl Iglesias (Wingspan Press). Karl provides nifty tactics to get readers on a character's side.
Jam-packed with insights for screenwriters, these techniques are just as relevant to novelists because they're all about character.
Karl sets out three broad categories for how character actions can develop their audience appeal: sympathy, virtue, and admiration.
Mistreatment, injustice, contempt
Misfortune, bad luck
Handicaps - physical, mental, health, financial
Haunted by the past, wounded, repressed pain
Not believed when telling the truth
Regrets mistakes they've made
Jeopardy - emotional, physical, social
Helps the less fortunate
Relates to children, children liking them
Likes animals, animals liking them (i.e. "patting the dog")
Change of heart, forgiving
Risks life and limb to save others
Fights for a just cause
Loves others, being important to others
Shows humanity in private moments
Power, charisma, leadership
Wisdom, wit, cleverness
Sense of humour, playfulness
Childlike innocence, enthusiasm
Misfit, rebel, eccentric
The beautiful thing about lists is that they can be honed or expanded as our writing skills grow.