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It's All About the Character

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

Writing an engaging Urban Fiction novel is not for the weak. There are key elements that ALL Urban Fiction novels need. They all need:

1. Relatable and authentic characters that reflect the urban experience.

2. Use vivid and descriptive language to bring the setting and atmosphere to life.

3. A strong and engaging plot that includes conflict and tension.

4. Research & accurately portray social & cultural norms of the environment while incorporating themes that resonate with urban communities and readers.

5. Skillful editing to ensure the work is flawless, polished, and well-written.

6. Continue to improve your skill by seeking constructive feedback from beta readers and book groups.

But as most do, the story starts with the characters. Those lovely, infuriating characters. To create a memorable fiction book character, you may want to give them a unique and interesting personality, a compelling backstory, and distinct physical and behavioral traits. Additionally, it can be helpful to give your character a clear motivation and goals, as well as flaws and obstacles they must overcome throughout the story.

The Protagonist in Urban Fiction

A good Protagonist will leave its mark on the reader’s psyche. An engaging protagonist moves from being a person to a new type of literary device i.e., an adjective or a verb. There is no protagonist more memorable than Celie, a beloved character in the Color Purple brought to life by the talented Ms. Whoopi Goldberg in the film adaptation. Did you at once see Whoopie Goldberg saying.

“Until you do right by me everything you do is going to crumble…. I’m poor, black; I may even be ugly. But dear God! I’m free!”

This character resonates beyond the pages, because during the development stage the author considered the character’s firsthand experiences, motivations, desires, and conflicts. Focus on creating dynamic and multi-dimensional characters who face challenges that are specific to the urban setting. Use vivid language and sensory details to bring the setting to life and make the reader feel like they are there. I know I felt like I was there when Celie and her sister were torn apart. There is nothing better than having a reader so immersed in your work that the characters take on lives of their own outside of the pages of your book. Some would say, avoid stereotypes and aim to create authentic and relatable characters. But honestly, we would not have many of our favorites if we did not draw from stereotypes that happen to be based on truth.

The Antagonist aka Villain in Urban Fiction

To write compelling Antagonists (villains) in Urban Fiction, complexity is the word of the day. The best antagonists are so layered, so complex and emotionally draining that they can confuse you about where your loyalties lie. Well, until you remember your book bae is everything, but I digress. Solid antagonists always have actions that tend to have consequences for the protagonist. You also should explore their relationships with other characters and how they fit into the urban setting. Finally, consider giving them a few redeeming qualities or a sympathetic backstory to make them more human (but remember where your loyalty lies lol) and relatable. When it comes to engaging antagonists in urban fiction, consider giving them complex motivations and backgrounds, as well as unique personalities and traits that will make them memorable. Show their perspectives and make them relatable to the reader, while keeping their role as the opposing force to the protagonist. Additionally, consider the impact of the antagonist's actions on the world and the protagonist's personal life. This can create tension and add depth to the story. The kind that will have you yelling at those who fall under their spell.

The Side Characters in Urban Fiction

To write compelling side characters in urban fiction, you need most of the same elements of the creating the protagonist and antagonist i.e., unique personalities, dialogue, textured, show their motivations, desires and explore their relationships with the primary and other side or supporting characters. Here is where it is a bit different. It is important to give them the ability to act or choose what action to take and please show the reader how those actions affect the plot.

I’m not saying you must go as far as creating an Uncle Ruckus, but a Smokey might be nice.

I am just saying.

So budding writer, or seasoned writer, the next time you are at your laptop remember there is best-seller inside of you. You just need to trust your characters to speak to you.

Until next time, please share our blog with your friends, visit the URBAN AINT DEAD store, drop us a line and remember no one can want your success more than you.

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