Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Like me, like me not

April 29, 2010 Gray wrote, I'm writing a medieval fantasy story with a large cast. I have this fear of making my main characters unlikable and completely outshined by my supporting characters.  I've found this restricts me from creating lots of lovable characters that suck a reader into the story.  How do you balance your characters' "lovableness?"

Sounds like the problem may mostly be making your main characters lovable, a problem I share.  According to my editors’ comments after reading the manuscripts of all three of these, Fairest, Ever, and Fairies and the Quest for Never Land, I failed to create sympathetic heroines .  Before I revised, I asked the editors to point out the places where the characters seemed unappealing because I couldn’t tell.

I vaguely remember what the difficulty was in Ever, and it went something like this: Kezi believes she has only a month to live.  She brought her impending death down on herself by an act of extraordinary kindness, a perfect case of the expression, Let no good deed go unpunished.  Olus loves her and wants to help her.  She appreciates this, but she doesn’t know him well and she’s a tad angry, a little absorbed in her approaching demise.  When she gets mad at him it’s because he’s the only person around.  I expected this to be clear, but it wasn’t.  The editor found her ungrateful, so in revision I softened her.  The book works now and didn’t work then, and I always wanted the reader to love Kezi, but I may have sacrificed a little complexity.

In Fairies and the Quest for Never Land, Gwendolyn, my main character, is living with the fairies.  If something bad happened to a fairy, she thought about the consequences for herself rather than about the poor fairy.  I did this without realizing because the consequences for Gwendolyn were going to move the story forward, but, alas, she came off as selfish.

You might want to keep these two questions in mind as you write your main character:  Are his feelings understandable?  Is he reacting in a caring way to others?

It’s a balancing act, as writing so often is.  We’re in our main characters’ heads more than we’re in the minds of lesser characters, even if we’re writing in omniscient third person.  We don’t want a paragon for a main, or the reader won’t identify.  And we don’t want a main whose interior monologue is mean, or the reader won’t identify.  We can’t really reflect life, because if a mind-reading device were ever invented, most people would be unsympathetic, at least sometimes.  I certainly have unacceptable thoughts and feelings on occasion that I keep to myself.

So how to achieve likability?

If Holly, your main character, is thinking mean thoughts you may want to make her aware of this and self-critical.  I hate men who wear tee shirts with suit jackets, Holly thinks.  It’s so pretentious.  The reader begins to dislike her until her next thought, which is, How can I hate a whole class of people without knowing them?  The reader starts forgiving her.

Or Holly can think something horrible and do something nice.  She hates these tee-shirt-jacket guys, but when one of them asks her for directions, she helps him to his destination, going way out of her way to do so.  The reader notices.

Your main character can be grateful when life is going well, even temporarily.  Holly appreciates.  The air smells like earth after rain.  The sunset is the color of her favorite scarf.  She thinks how lucky she is.  The reader is happy to be in her company.  She doesn’t think, I suppose this is just the beginning of another drought.  Good things never last, and a sunset that beautiful means something bad is about to happen.  Ugh!  Let me out of this character’s head.

You can think of real people you like and what you like about them and insert their qualities into your main characters.   Alice is completely dependable.  Zelda thinks the best of everyone.  Barry has the most astonishing insights.  And so on.  There are many ways for people and characters to please us.

It may be more difficult to show your main’s good sides than a secondary character’s.  For example, if Holly tells Barry about a problem and he gets it instantly and shows it to Holly in a new way, she can think, How perceptive he is, and the reader will like Barry better - and Holly for noticing.  But she can’t advise Barry about his problem and then think, How perceptive I am, without coming off as boastful and unlikable.

Not that a main character always has to be likable.  For example, the main character, Titus, in M. T. Anderson’s young-adult novel Feed (middle school and up, I’d guess) is not likable, not to me anyway.  I pitied him, felt for his limited life, and wished futilely that his world would change - and couldn’t put the book down.  He’s not even interesting; he’s utterly shallow, which may be the point of the book.  In this terrible world, no one can rise above circumstance to develop depth.

The characters in Christopher Buckley’s Thank You for Smoking (high school and up) are not admirable, but I laughed my way to the end.  And is Hamlet likable?  I’m not sure.  He’s terrible to Ophelia and also to her father, Polonius, and yet we feel for him.  Few people walk out in the middle of the play.

As for secondary characters, go ahead and make them lovable, as many as you like, in my opinion.  You may need bad characters for tension, but you can still populate your pages with charmers.  In Ella Enchanted, Mandy is a delight, and her delightfulness doesn’t lessen Ella’s appeal.  Adorable secondary characters may even help your main be more adorable himself.  In life we sometimes judge people by their friends.  I’ve doubted people who seemed nice but whose friends made me uncomfortable.  You may have had the same experience.  And I may trust someone more if I like her friends.  Besides, it can be enjoyable to travel through a book in pleasant company - not always possible; it depends on the story.

Here are three prompts:

•    Your main character Yvette is popular.  She’s with several of her friends at a school function.  An odd, unpopular boy is there, too, and Yvette goes out of her way to be cruel to him.  Write the scene and make Yvette sympathetic even while she’s behaving badly.

•    Four friends are hiking together.  Make each one likable in a different way.

•    Same friends, same hike.  They run out of trail mix.  One sprains an ankle.  Rain starts to fall.  Camp is still three miles off.  Make them all deteriorate into annoying people.  Create a crisis and bring them back to likable.

Have fun, and save what you write!


  1. Great post, Mrs. Levine! Just another thought to add: one thing I love about First Person POV (but it wold probaly work for any POV) is that you can make the main character's motives clear without revealing them through the dialog or actions of the character, simply by using a phrase like "trying not to hurt his feelings but still make my point, I said-". Just a thought.

  2. How do you avoid writing Mary Sue's? Great post!!!!

  3. Great Post!
    I once read a book where a new character was introduced and the other two characters had different opinions on her. One character really liked her and was kind to her, but the other (Branwen) found her untrustworthy and a monster (the new character was an owl in a human body) The new character was suppose to be Branwen's body guard and a good character, but the whole book i still didn't like her, even when Branwen started to. Did the author mean for that to happen?

  4. Great post! It's making me think again about what characteristics I show about my main character and is she likable enough from the start? Hmmm....

  5. Insightful post, Ms. Levine! I'd better make sure my main character is likable because I don't switch point of view very often.

    One more thing I thought I'd add - even likable characters have their flaws. If not for flaws, they wouldn't come across as human (unless, of course, your character isn't human). Sometimes, the mention of a flaw helps the reader connect with the character - perhaps they share the same flaw. But as long as the character is aware of his/her flaws and tries to change them, they still can be likable.

  6. Great post! This post caused me to notice a quirk about myself. In almost all the books I read, I always like the secondary characters a lot, sometimes more than the main character. It is seldom that the character whose viewpoint the book is in, or the book focuses most around, is my favorite.
    My favorite characters:
    In the Harry Potter series- Remus Lupin
    In the Percy Jackson series- Grover
    The Maximum Ride series- Iggy
    The Fablehaven series- Bracken
    But yet in all the books mentioned above, I never stopped reading. Even though I loved the secondary characters (sometimes more than the main), I still found the books worthwhile and compelling. Whacky, huh? I guess you can make secondary characters lovable but still keep reader's interest.
    Thanks for the post Ms. Levine! 'Twas quite thought provoking.

  7. @ Grace - I agree. I love a good secondary so much. The best examples of amazing supporting characters are in THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J. R. R. Tolkien. (But then, for books like that, what's the diff between a main and a secondary anyhow? I hardly know.)

  8. Great post, as always! You may have already answered a question like this, but -- I've read in a lot of books on writing that you should 'show' instead of 'tell.' My problem is, I'm not entirely sure how to do that. Do you have any advice?

  9. Great post! "Likability" is such a difficult thing to define...@Rose I agree! In books like those, there seem to be a lot of principle characters. I tend to think books have several main characters because people and characters are so connected that a "main" character couldn't be "main" without the others.

  10. @ Rose and lilyofseafoam, you're totally right. Lord of the Rings has such a large cast but they're all connnected. Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without any of them and the story wouldn't have been nearly as interesting if the reader was just following Frodo's story. Tolkien did an amazing job with asserting all his characters.

    I have a question for Ms. Levine, do you have any tips for letting for keeping characters seperate? In a project I'm working on I have eleven main characters and I am now fearing that eleven might be too many, but I think they are all essential to the plot. Any ideas on how I can let the reader keep all the names and faces straight? Thanks!

  11. Although I haven't really struggled with this before, it still helped! Now I can be careful and watch out to see if my characters are becoming unlovable. I tend to be a bit complicated with my plot, and therefore my characters. Thanks for this post!


  12. Great post! :) I never thought that our characters, whom we may think to be good/likeable, may actually end up being a little of the opposite. Hmm.

    @Mya, Grace: Heh, a leetle too late for commenting on the last post. Glad you've joined up, Mya, and that you're going to, Grace! :D

    @Erin: Thanks for the naming tips! You know, I never thought about looking at them in another language.

  13. Wow, thank you so much for this post! I struggle with this a lot myself. In my current project, I love all of my protagonists except one, because she started out cliche and a bit of a mary-sue. I think I've brought her around as the people who've read my novel seem to like her, but I'm still a little paranoid that she's not likeable.

    One thing that sometimes helps is if you show a character during a chapter from a different protagonist's POV. You get to write them like a supporting character, so if your supporting characters tend to steal the show - there you are.

    And a completely unrelated question: When you were trying to get Ella Enchanted or Dave at Night published, did you write query letters? And do you have any tips for how to write one that will impress editors?

  14. Rose, Lilyofseafoam, and Grace, I agree that Tolkien did an amazing job on that book! I am reading the Lord of the Rings for the umpty-millionth time right now, and I have found all the characters likeable, even the infuriating ones(aka, Elves), and two of the Urak-hai(I forget their names.)

  15. @ Happiness - I wouldn't go so far as to call the Elves "infuriating," but I never really felt as connected with them as I did some of the other characters. I don't know why - it's the way it was - I'm quite impressed by them, but I can hardly say I would be friends with any of them.

    @ Grace - My personal feeling is, eleven characters each narrating a part would be too much. But eleven well-developed main characters going around doing things, especially if it's a rather long book, could work out.

  16. Kara--I'd never come across the term "Mary Sue" before. Thank you! I love to learn new expressions. I googled this one, and the definitions conflict, so can you tell me what you mean by a Mary Sue? Then I'll probably want to write a post on the subject.

    OhSoSqueamish--There's a chapter in WRITING MAGIC called "Show and Tell," and I touched on the subject in my post of 9/22/09. Please take a look, and if you have more questions, let me know.

    Grace--I've added your question to my list, for at least a partial post. I did talk about this somewhat in my post of 6/23/10.

    Blackandwhitedreamer--In the good old days when I was trying to get published, many publishers still took unsolicited manuscripts, so I kept my letters short, just this is what I'm submitting, look forward to hearing from you. (It was still hard to get published!) Querying is something the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) can really help with.

    To all--If you have a comment or question about a previous post, please write it on the current one where I'm sure to see it. Thanks!

  17. By "Mary Sue", I mean a character that's perfect in every single way. It would be so helpful if you made a post about it!!!

  18. Clarification on the Mary Sue issue: (yes, there's an article on it!)

    Found these by googling "Mary Sue Definition." Hey, there's even a quiz out there for determining if your character may be a Mary Sue . . . I have had mine come out positive before . . .

  19. Hey Ms. Levine! I have had many encounters with Mary Sues, so I can definitely help you out there.

    TV Tropes also has a good definition of what a Mary Sue is, as well as different incarnations of the many various Sues:

    (just a warning, TV Tropes is very addictive)

    The Mary Sue Litmus Test (is your character a Mary Sue?):

    Urban Dictionary (an online dictionary of all the slang you can think of):

    Encyclopedia Dramatica (this one might contain profanity, it's also generally a NSFW website, but it highlights the attitude of fandoms toward Mary Sues quite well):

  20. Thank you Ms. Levine and Rose for the advice!

  21. Great post Mrs Levine!=D I never gave much thought about a character's likeability. In quite a few books, I didn't like the characters much at all, but the story was interesting so I kept going. But I do think if I hated the characters, I probably wouldn't have gone too far into the books.

    In a short story I'm working on, my character is supposed to be perfect, but terrible things happen to her, and she's surrounded by a cast who're either cowardly, or downright evil. Its pretty exciting, trying to make the story intriguing without turning her into a complete Mary Sue. ( I think you know what it mean by now Miss Levine=D. I know a perfecto male is called Gary-Stu.)

    @Grace: Its pretty funny, I have a two friends exactly like you, one read the harry potter series just for Remus Lupin and the other for Sirius.

    @F: Thanks! What is your username on NaNoWriMo? I decided not to work on my version of Twelve Dancing Princesses, since I've written quite a bit already. I'd rather do a spontaneous, and probably sloppy piece.=D I did read that you only edit after November, so its not too bad eh?=)

  22. @ Mya, haha, that's funny =D. I didn't read the books just for Remus. But I have to admit, he was a highly contributing factor...
    I would be eternally happy if J.K. Rowling made a series dedicated to the Marauders, and wrote about them when they were at school. Of all the cool backstories in books The Marauders' story is totally up there as one of the coolest.

  23. I WANT A SERIES ABOUT THE MARAUDERS!!! I want one SO bad! :(

    And about the Mary Sue - I would love to know your opinion on that, too, Ms. Levine. And, adding to that - how do you make your character 'human'? Imperfect, with flaws, etc.. I mean, I really don't want to just insert a flaw for the heck of it, but that's what I've done. That, or made the MC similar to me...and that's not good. Have you ever had that problem? The character being too similar to yourself?

    @Mya: I'm Lady_Warrior. (Please don't judge. :P) You'll see my posts quite a bit round the Games forum, hehe.

  24. I suppose it's a bit off to ask who these Marauders are that everyone is so interested in . . .

    Yes, Ms. Levine, I'm also interested in a "how to" on making characters relateable-to.

    @ Priyanka - One of my characters from my younger days actually failed the Mary Sue Litmus Test. But since I never could publish her stories anyhow (they're fanfic), I never considered it a problem.

  25. @ Rose, its fine not to know who the Marauders are. They're mentioned in the Prisoner of Azkaban (book) and some of the later Harry Potter books. "The Marauders" is what James Potter (Harry's dad) Sirus Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew called themselves during their years at Hogwarts school. They made the magical Marauder's Map, had nicknames for each other, and secretly explored Hogwarts. Their story is never narrated though it is mentioned. I amoung others would think it awesome if J.K. Rowling wrote their story in a series of books instead of just mentioning it as a backstory in the Harry Potter books.
    Wow, this was way longer than necessary, but oh well, sorry for my lengthy explanation... =D

  26. Have I got this Mary Sue business right? Is the question about writing characters who don't dissolve into cliches, basically about inventing original characters?

    F--Is writing a character too similar to yourself an aspect of the Mary Sue problem?

  27. Ms. Levine - the way I see the Mary Sue problem is, it's a character that's wish-fulfillment, who can do just about anything, who gets the world-rules bent for them all the time, and who everyone always likes (and if they don't, it means they're the bad guys).

    And thanks for the explanation, Grace - I've actually never read anything by J. K. Rowling, so I get my plot points in bits and pieces. I agree, it really gets to me when an author has all kinds of nice backstory and only mentions it in passing!

  28. Hello! I haven't gotten around to commenting until now, but this post was delightful to read. More often, I find myself struggling to develop secondary characters who play a critical part in the story but are not physically present.

    In a story I wrote a while back, the heroine leaves her best (guy) friend behind and enters an Alice-esque world where she first meets the other main male character. Their relationship blossoms. However, she ultimately returns to her own world and the original friend, at which point several readers expressed their disappointment. I was surprised. Without really noticing, I had invested everything in building up the relationship I could see, leaving the other--but equally important--male character behind.

    Do you have any advice about how to go about striking a balance with non-present characters, or have you encountered similar problems in the past?

    Thanks for all of your insight!

  29. Just my two cents about Mary Sue.

    I agree with Rose. A "Mary Sue" would be someone who is perfect and always finds herself in perfect situations—very pretty, nice, fun, generous, always overcomes obstacles, good at problem solving, always wins, never truly struggles, is popular/liked by all. She would be a cliché superhero girl, though she may or may not have powers. Think of most MCs from young girl TV shows (cartoons in particular) and you'll probably end up with a Mary Sue.

    All Mary Sues also tend to be "unique" in similar ways. "She has dark hair and violet eyes..." [unusual complexion, usually the eyes] or "She was the team captain, got A's on all her tests, and still found time to help out in the local soup kitchen on the weekends..." [excellent time management/over-achiever] or something like that.

    Disney's Cinderella, when taken at face value, can be kind of a Mary Sue. She's had a horribly tragic past (mother died giving birth, lost her father at a young age, left with a step mother and sisters who are cruel to her, forced to be a servant in her own home) and yet she's beautiful and sings so lovely that all of the animals love her, and by the end of the movie all her wishes come true (with minimal effort on her own part).

    Mary Sues are cliché because they all act the same way. They're undesirable because they aren't human. It's what Silver the Wanderer was referring to: Even likable characters need flaws in order to be relatable. And relatable, sympathetic characters are the ones that in the end readers find lovable (your point in this week's post).

    Okay, so instead of two cents you got about five dollars worth out of me. ;) But I hope it helps!

  30. Oh, I forgot to mention: Mary Sues often are the author's ideal character. So, sometimes they'll write themselves or someone they love/idolize as the character, had they been born perfect (or rather, if all of their perceived faults were fixed/missing). In other words, they're the "author's pet" (like a teacher's pet, virtually perfect in their eyes and the character can do no wrong).

  31. Everything April said is right, and I'll add my few cents.=) Writing a character too similar to yourself is a mary sue type problem, since many people, including myself, tend to enhance the good qualities in ourselves and leave out the true things that make us unique and human.

    I hope I don't offend anyone here, but another example of a mary sue would probably be the main character from the twilight series, Bella Swan. I feel terrible! But I think its true, and being a teen girl, its pretty bold statement lol.
    I just think the character is too perfect. She has a few "flaws" the author gives her, like clumsiness, but that turns out to make her more attractive than not. Her name is beautiful, she has a perfect, vampire boyfriend, a perfect best friend, and is portrayed to be an intelligent, average looking, brown haired, chocolate eyed girl with ivory skin. However, all those features have nothing average in them, and obviously she's rather pretty.
    I've seen a photo of the author, Stephenie Meyer, and she rather fits the description of the character in looks.

    I hope I'm not based in hatemail for this.l= But it seemed a perfect example for a Mary Sue problem. The plot is great I think, its the the main character seems much a too bland.

    Okay I'm really worried now lol. Better post this before I change my mind!

    To Grace and F: I LOVE the Mauraders too! I just wouldn't like to see them bully Snape in their schooldays.

  32. I have learned a lot about Mary-Sues from these comments; not at all what I thought it was just from reading the term. I guess that is a lesson that I should look things up. :)

    @Mya - I think your analysis of Bella is very interesting! I have to admit, my main character has the same color hair as I do and I even tried to write it differently, but I just couldn't make it work for me. But I guess I only have to worry about that if I get famous.

    @blackandwhitedreamer - In addition to SCBWI you might try:

    @Grace - I'm sure that Ms. Levine will have much more insight than me, but to get you started, you might try analyzing a book that is similar to yours. Count the characters and pay attention to things that help you keep them straight.

    For example, off the top of my head, I would say that ELLA ENCHANTED has 1 main character and 8 supporting main characters, 9 if you count her mother who died after the first chapter for a total of 10 characters. I was surprised that the number was so high, but I think that shows that Ms. Levine did a good job of keeping them all separate. Among other things(if I remember correctly), the characters are introduced very slowly. Only three in the first chapter, probably two more in the second? Ella, her mother and Mandy in the first chapter. Char and Ella's father? in the second. I'm doing this from memory so I might have it all wrong! But maybe you get the idea.

  33. @Ms. Levine: Yes, yes it is. It's the author basically writing herself/himself into the role, or rather, a glorified version of themselves. I'm scared that most of my characters are just extensions of various parts of me that I wrote unconsciously, and I don't want that! I want original, UNRELATABLE characters. :(

    @Mya: I agree with what you said. About the author matching Bella...I hadn't figured that out until I saw THIS:


  34. @ April - that's exactly what a Mary Sue is, what you said about the "author's pet"!

    And @ Mya - kudos for standing up to the literally overwhelming popular viewpoint. I'm not allowed to read Twilight and frankly I'm not interested in reading it even if I was allowed. From what I've heard, it's not the sort of thing I want to fill my mind with. Not that I'm against other people reading it - a lot of my friends have - but it's just not my cup of tea. Also, I've heard other people who've read it talking about Bella's blandness and "perfection" and how she always gets her way.
    I feel like a book advertiser, but really, I know at least one book that's good for people who want paranormal romance with a _strong female MC_.

  35. Well, I have no qualms about stating it directly: Twilight is garbage.*

    Sure, the marketing campaign is well done and clearly the author did something right to earn so many fans, but the writing itself is quite poor and her characters are either flat or unrealistic.

    Yup, Bella is a Mary Sue, no doubt. And so are several other characters in the book, like Edward. He may not be the author incarnate, but he's clearly what the author considers the ideal "hero."

    I think Twilight is very good at doing what gets female readers titillated—all romance genre novels follow a basic standard formula, and Meyer has that down pat. But had it been a better constructed plot with well-crafted writing (and thereby, more realistic and interesting characters), it would have made a much bigger explosion than it did.

    I have wondered more than once why Meyer's editor didn't hold this back until they whipped it into better shape. Guess we'll never know.


    *Don't feel attacked if you personally really like the Twilight series. No book/series is loved by everyone, and I'm just a reader who isn't a fan of this one. There's no reason to feel guilty or insulted if you're a fan. :)

  36. Ms. Levine-
    Do you have any suggestions for developing a good antagonist? Unless I'm writing a short story based on an event in my own life, and it's in first person, I usually end up feeling sympathetic to the antagonist, especially if he/she/it is human, and then I can't get a good story going. Do you have any suggestions on writing good antagonists so I don't end up feeling so sympathetic?

  37. Is it okay to have some secondary characters outshine others? I try to make characters that are of equal importance to the MC equally lovable, but sometimes it doesn't work. Here's an example:

    In one of my stories, my MC has two sisters. Some friends who I shared the story with said that they loved one of the sisters, but they couldn't picture the other one because I never really gave her a personality. I recognized the problem, but I can't figure out how to fix it. I want my readers to care about both of the sisters, but how can I create a personality for a character that I can't picture?

    I considered taking the sister out of the story, but I kind of need her. Do you have any advice for how I can give her a personality, or is it okay to leave it as it is?

  38. Alexandra - I don't think it's a problem to be sympathetic to your antagonist - unless you're trying to write them as The Absolute Evil like some fantasy authors, and maybe even then. In real life someone we see as an antagonist almost always has other sides to their personality, and more sympathetic characteristics that just aren't visible to your MC.

  39. I have exactly this problem. The main character in the novel I'm working on is supposed to be sarcastic, judgmental and independent but I want the readers to know that she's conflicted with trying to blend in with everyone and actually cares about what other people think. Her two best friends are a lot of fun and very sympathetic. I enjoy writing about them and now I'm wondering why they are even friends?

    It's kind of like how every teen show out there has a group of 3 friends, usually two girls and a guy or vice versa and one of them is the dumb one, one the normal and the other the bossy one who gets all the attention.

    I want my character to grow and change over the course of the novel to see that her attitude is wrong, but I'm not sure how "bad" she should start off. I was thinking of trying to apply the advice you wrote in Writing Magic about making your character suffer. Maybe the reader can see how she works under stress and problems and they will see the real person underneath and sympathize?

  40. Alexandra and Young-and-Writerly--Coming up, a post about writing antagonists!

    Jenna Royal--I've added your question to my list too.

  41. This is a great post! I'm definitely struggling to make the hero in my story likeable. He's always so down and mopey and his friend Riley seems to always outshine him. I'll definitely use these techniques to lighten up my character. Thanks!

  42. Thank you for writing this amazing post! It will really help me with my stories.

    -Tai Tai

  43. @ McWriting - this may not work for you, but I had a similar problem, and my dad heard about it and said, "Why don't you tell it from the interesting friend's perspective?"
    Just thought I would throw that out there.

  44. Hi.
    I am at a point in my own story where the main character is at a carnival, and something exciting is suppose to happen. I am trying to write a bunch to which leads to the exciting part but it seems too long, and i am not at the exciting part yet. I also have to write after the event, but at the moment, my events leading up to that main event is too long. I would not like to stay at the carnival for too long or else the reader might get board; but now i don't want to speed up all the events to make her visit shorter.
    What should I do ?

  45. @Lizzy - Don't try to force more than you naturally want to write. I have a problem with forcing extra details, and the fact that I do is sometimes very obvious in my writing. I would try either adding some more events before the excitement to keep things interesting; or just cutting out (and saving) all the stuff leading up to the excitement and just writing the exciting part, and then coming back and adding the part leading up to it later.
    I don't know if this will help or not, it depends on the story, but I hope it will!

  46. Thank You Jenna Royal, it did help!

  47. @ Lizzy - Or you can simply leave her somewhere in the carnival after brief description: "after an overly-thrilling ride on the roller coaster, X staggered into the Handicrafts and Hobbies building and decided to look at art for a while..." Then pick up again after she leaves the art building.

  48. @Rose- Thank you! I'll definitely think about that.