The official blog of Jane Domagala


A good book is a one that allows you to connect with the characters. Most writers do this by getting their readers to feel what their characters are feeling in the moment. There are several ways to do this, including:

Body language
Inner thought
Physical reactions

Body language – This one is quite powerful. Body language allows you to show the reader how your character feels instead of telling them.  

He slammed his fist down on the table.  
Her shoulders stooped and her eyes fixed on the ground.

Inner thought – This one is a useful tool for getting across emotions quickly. 

How could they do this to him? He wanted to hit something.
She didn't dare look up at the king, for fear of losing her head.

Physical reactions – This helps to get the reader close to your characters. This is the physical reaction your character has to an emotion.

His blood heated, his muscles tense readying to fight.
Dread settled in the pit of her stomach and her mouth went dry.

Memories – If you've set up a scene earlier in the book that has a similar emotion, or something similar has happened to your character in the past, then you may be able to use it to convey the emotions in the scene you're writing.

He couldn't believe this was happening again. At least this time  he was prepared to fight.
The image of her friend's execution flashed in her head, she did not want to die like that. 

Dialogue – This is a quick way to show the reader how the characters are feeling. Be careful, however, not to be blatant. "I'm angry" or "I'm afraid" aren't very interesting, nor do they sound realistic.

"How could you do this to me?" he asked. "I should beat you black and blue." 
"Please, don't hurt me," she said. "I promise I'll behave."

Try combinations of the above, and don't rely too heavily on one method alone. The main thing is to avoid telling your reader the exact emotion your characters are feeling. Instead, show them in any way you can think of. You'll find people will connect with your characters more and want to keep reading.

What's In A Name?

Ever struggled to come up with a title for your novel? Try this brainstorming technique.

Write down all the words you can think of that describe your book. As an example, imagine a fantasy book about a war against demons. Some words might include: swords, war, demons, shields, fighting, tragedy, betrayal, blood, magic, warriors, honour, intolerance, love, hatred etc...

Make your words as strong and emotive as you can. It doesn't matter if they conflict (it's better that they do), as long as they represent your story.

The next step is to combine two or more of the words. Some combinations will be silly: Magic Intolerance, Hatred Demon Shield. But then some will make more sense: Blood Betrayal, The Demon Shield, The Swords of War...

Try as many combinations as you can think of until you find the one that fits your story best. Remember, you want your title to be strong, and to be representative of what your story is about. There's no point coming up with a title like, Demon Blood, if demon blood isn't important to the story.

Your title has to stand out enough so that people will want to pick your book up from the shelf instead of the one next to it.


Some time ago, I created a character who was extremely disturbed, extremely violent, extremely narcissistic and completely delusional. Sounds like a charmer, right? I gave my story to one of my readers and the feedback was that they didn't like my character, who I'll call Dark, and didn't want to read Dark's scenes.

I was disheartened by this. After all, isn't it a writer's job to make their characters connectable to the reader, whether the character is good or bad? Yes. Unfortunately, there was nothing about Dark that was redeeming, nothing nice, nothing that the everyday person could relate to. Dark was a wretched human being. It did, however, make me as the question: how does one go about making bad character likeable?

A good friend once said, they need to be interesting. Great advice. People want to be able to understand your characters and feel they know them. They want to have something that connects them to the antagonist, even if he/she is a beastly demon bent on destroying mankind. Give them a back story and a reason why they do what they do. It may that they were just born that way, like the human killing demon. To make our demon interesting, they may,  in contrast to their desire to kill humans, also find humans fascinating. Or they may enjoy reading books.

Another suggestion is find something normal about your antagonist. If they're experiences are too far removed from the reader's, the reader may not connect. Our demon likes to be well groomed and picks food from his teeth to keep them clean.

The stereotypical bad guy who only does bad things leaves your antagonist two dimensional. Remember, your antagonists have families and friends and people (or demons) they see every day.

It helps to go back through your character's childhood. Were they always bad? Did something happen in their life to make them bad? I believe both nature and nurture can play a role in why someone might do bad things, so you're evil characters don't always have to have come from an abusive home. Dark was from a very normal, happy family. He was simply a born psychopath.

Find the things that are dear to your antagonist's heart. What is it they care about? Besides killing, do they have any passions? Do they have any favourite things/possessions? Do they have morals? Do they have a sense of humour?

We often label bad people as monsters. My advice is to keep delving into what makes your evil character tick until you find that one thing that allows you see them (even the demons) as human.

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