Tag Archives: writing reference

How do I write a training? All my attempts to describe a training for teenagers are silly.

The best way to learn how to write training is to experience it for yourself or, at the very least, observe.The most honest way to do this is to select the martial art that you want your character training in and find a local school that is willing to let you sit in and watch their training sessions. It’s common practice in many schools to open up their classes to prospective students. Ask the instructors in charge specific questions about training (even if you think they’re stupid) and about training teenagers. I suggest this because while there are base similarities in how to prepare and teach both body and mind, each style (and each school) often have unique perspectives on what works best for them. The only way you can know what those are is either by asking or by experiencing it for yourself.

In most non-training story narratives, writers have a nasty habit of going too hard and being too brutal. Many seem to believe that all training works the same way as R Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket. R Lee Ermey was a staff sergeant in the Marines and his style of teaching was specific to both the Marines and the 70s. Unless you’re specifically writing a Vietnam War era drill sergeant, I suggest looking elsewhere.

Training is not a mystical mysterious experience, it is at it’s core all about a teacher and a student. It’s about learning much in the same way you do in a high school or college classroom except that it involves physical activity. The best way to write a training sequence is to discover what is being taught, what knowledge is being imparted to the students, and how the teacher is choosing to teach the student that information.

A good instructor will push a student past their self-conceived physical limits and out of their comfort zone without pushing them past their actual physical limits. Unlike in Divergence, no one will be left to flounder and guess at what they should be doing. Techniques will be shown to the students by the instructor and then the students will be asked to perform them under the instructors supervision. They will repeat the technique through a series of repetitions, often breaking it down into pieces and performing it on a count so that the student develops a full understanding of all the pieces of what they are doing. On each count they will be asked to hold position while the instructor and their assistants check the students’ body positions and make corrections. It will be slow and, for many students, it will be frustrating. Expectations will often be dashed when faced with the slow accumulation of knowledge, but that is also important because it teaches the student patience and respect for what they are learning. Humility, patience, perseverance, and generosity of spirit are all qualities that the student is being taught as they learn to fight. Learning when it is appropriate to fight is as important as learning how to fight. This is true of both Eastern and Western martial arts, where the student is taught to fight in defense of themselves, defense of their home, and defense of their homeland.

The difficulty with writing a training sequence is that the author has to be a teacher. It’s their job to communicate how something is done to the reader, not just to the characters. In order to write an effective training sequence, you yourself have to be an authority on the subject. This is part of why I feel the Karate Kid remake actually works better at this aspect than the original because Jackie Chan was teaching Jaden Smith during production and they developed an authentic rapport. This is also why Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small quartet and Trickster’s Choice/Trickster’s Queen novels are successful because they have done the research but ,more importantly, knew what the end product of the training would be.

We don’t train someone for training’s sake, we are training them to do something. Once you figure out what the end goal of the training is, then you can limit your search to the appropriate skill sets and venues that specialize in what you are trying to create. Once you know that, you then do extensive research on the subject until you understand everything you can about it. Then, you can write your scene.

So, ask yourself some simple questions:

What am I training my characters to do?

Does what I’ve chosen for them to learn match up with what I want them to do (for example, if you want your characters to be aggressive fighters then aikido is not the right choice)?

If yes, then awesome. If no, then does what they are being trained to do make sense for what their culture expects or requires of them? Do they feel it’s something they need to be learning?

What are the skill sets the real world professions require? (If you’re having trouble figuring out the above this might help to get you started.)

I hope this helped answer your question. I know it’s a little long winded and roundabout.


On Writing: Psychological Shock

There are two different kinds of shock that can easily be confused with each other: physiological shock from receiving a grievous injury and psychological shock which is an acute stress reaction to a terrifying or traumatic event. In this article, we’re going to talk about how a writer can communicate that their character is experiencing psychological shock without having to outright state it. There are many tips out there that are useful for writing fight scenes and most of them won’t be helpful when your story requires coupling an action sequence with an acute stress reaction.

So, let’s go below the cut and talk about it.

In this, we’re going to talk about psychological shock from the writer’s perspective and how to use it. However, we are not medical professionals. For a full understanding of psychological shock, more research will be required.

What is an acute stress reaction?

An acute stress reaction comes from experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. This could be anything from watching a random passerby get gutted by a mugger, being attacked by a mugger, finding a family member dead in their bed, being the victim of violence, experiencing a betrayal by a close friend, being on the wrong end of a gun, etc.

This experience links into both the fight or flight response and the combat stress response.

Okay, so what does that mean?

If you’ve never experienced an acute stress reaction before to a traumatic event in your own life then manufacturing it on the page may be difficult. Even if you have, reliving the experience in your own mind in order to get it right can be incredibly traumatizing. What is most important to presenting shock in your story is not that you focus entirely on getting the exact symptoms right, it’s getting the feeling right and making sure that the same feeling infuses every aspect of the scene if it’s being written in either First Person or Third Person Limited.

I mean everything from pacing to word choice should be representative of selling the experience to your audience. This is how you make anything in your story authentic. You have to sell it as if you were experiencing it yourself.  Method acting will help; imagining the scene as if it were happening to you will help if you’re willing to go there.

How to do that:

I personally describe shock as feeling sluggish and dazed. I felt far away from my body, far away from reality and what was happening around me. Information came in slow, but my reaction to it was dull and, depending on the situation, nonexistent. In events that happened after, I remembered everything that had happened with perfect clarity but it still felt like I had been on autopilot. For me, how hard I get rocked by shock often depends on what I was expecting going into the event. If I’m completely blindsided, it can take a while to recover. If I was prepared for it or had begun preparations for it, I have less to work through before getting back to the regular world. I apply this to my characters when working through how they feel about events and what parts of the process they get caught in.

You can communicate shock fairly easily through some simple techniques.

Remove the active verbs.


Looking down at her hand, Margaret saw blood.


Margaret looked down at her hand and saw blood.

One of these is fast and I’ll admit, the one with “looking” sounds better, but it also moves more quickly and feels more active. When you want your sentences to move more slowly, to feel more sluggish, it’s worth taking a step back and taking your time because from the character’s perspective everything has slowed down. (Always remember though, time is keeping pace for the other characters in the scene unless they are likewise affected, so keep them moving at normal speeds.)

Long sentences interspersed with short sentences.

Margaret looked down at her hand and saw blood. Blood. Whose blood? My blood. No. No, it couldn’t be. It couldn’t be her blood.

By interspersing long sentences with short ones, you can develop an awkward, intentionally jerky feel in the pacing which adds to the sense that the character is feeling out of sorts and distant to what’s happening around them.


 Margaret looked down at her hand and saw blood. Blood. Whose blood? My blood. No. No, it couldn’t be. It couldn’t be her blood.

We can use repetition of the same word over and over to emphasize that sense of distance; that the character is taking a while to come to terms with what he or she is experiencing. The information is taking a while to sink in. We also add in a denial of the reality present which results from surprise.

“He shot me! You shot me! Derrick! Why would you shoot me?”

Shock can follow your characters for a while, so even at later points in the story it’s important to call back to it through changes in your character’s behavior. So, remember to keep track of that. Whether it’s pain from the wound:

Her cheek hurt. Why would it hurt? Oh right, Margaret thought, she’d been shot.

or from a distinct change in their lifestyle:

I turned my head, hand tightening on the remote. Dad always came home at five after five and he’d give me hell if he caught me watching television. I waited, listening for the familiar thrum of the Ford Taurus as it wound up the driveway, the catch of the headlights on the windows, the blur of green through the white shades. On the tube, Batman laughed but no grinding wheels came up the asphalt. It was just another car passing our front door outside.

Oh. I paused. Oh, right. Dad wasn’t coming home from work today. Dad wasn’t coming home ever again.

Give it a try. See what you turn out.

Happy Writing!


Thank you for having such an awesome blog. I always appreciate the knowledge and realism you guys answer questions with (like that people’s inexperienced characters would really lose in a fight against someone trained or their biological reactions to being injured, etc, which many books ignore completely). I was wondering if you would expand on a person’s natural fight-or-flight response to being in danger, especially if they are untrained or the situation is out of their normal life. Thank you!

There’s a bunch of different possible responses to fight or flight, there are lots of ways that it can go horribly wrong for the person who is experiencing it. Fight or flight is a natural instinctive response that is there to save your life, the problem is that instinct is a killer. Relying on your natural instincts will get your killed, I don’t really care if you’re a supernaturally endowed Vampire Slayer or an average person on the street. There’s a reason why martial combat involves retraining the instincts and, in most cases, outright replaces them with an entirely different set of responses is because the natural ones stink.

A lot of books try to cheat their way out of that with characters just “instinctively knowing” what to do because that’s easier for the author to use as opposed to crafting a character that can deal with the situation. Unfortunately, a character who is relying on their instincts is one that’s no longer rationally processing information and is running on their emotions, their fear and their terror. These emotions can be powerful tools, assuming the person is still in charge of their higher brain functions. If they’ve given in, then it can become deadly for them.

This rule is true even for trained martial artists. If you’ve been trained specifically to subvert an instinct, then you can take advantage of anyone who hasn’t been conditioned against that specific instinctual reaction. Starke did this to me when he showed me bursting (which is a technique common to Krav Maga where two strikes happen simultaneously instead of as a one and two in a combination), I’ve been trained to deal with one strike not two at the same time. So, I instinctively moved to block the one that came high, instead of the important one which was coming into my stomach. I’m trained to respond to any form of movement entering into my peripheral vision, but not to look for two strikes at the same time. So, I’ll respond to the one I see first. This won’t actually work against someone who is untrained, because the attack is betting on a very specific kind of response from a trained combatant.

Combat works by being one step ahead of where someone else’s training already is and it takes work to stay ahead of the curve. Not to bash on Joss Whedon and Buffy too hard, but the sad truth is, if the show played out under real world rules, that Buffy could be taken down by any decent martial artist. She has an over reliance on her own instincts and acts with the expectation that she’ll naturally know what to do instead of working under the assumption that she has to train to stay one step ahead of the competition. Forget about other characters with superpowers, Buffy could be taken out by Mulder from the X-files and he routinely gets his ass handed to him by characters with more combat training throughout the show’s run.

Some common reactions to fight or flight:

Freezing up. It’s common for someone to go with neither fight or flight, instead they get stuck between the two. Their brain is pulling them in two different directions and the end result is that they do nothing at all.

Running away. This is the flight response. However, the problem with the flight response is that the person in question is not necessarily in control of which way that they are running away. They’re just trying to flee. Instead of taking inventory of their surroundings and choosing the best route that will lead them away from danger, the individual in question has about a 50/50 chance of ending up in a situation that’s worse than the one they were in before. This could involve fleeing into a dead end alley, not running far enough away, not taking cover if the person who is chasing them has a gun, or turning around and fleeing into the arms of a secondary captor. They’re just running, that’s it. Running without purpose or thought. This will also not stop the person who initially triggered this response from chasing them. At that point, it’s a question of who has the better athletic ability and who is running with their brain turned on. It’s hard to get away if you’re not thinking about where you’re going.

Fighting back. Then, there’s the fight response. It’s worth noting that just because someone responds by fighting that doesn’t mean that they’re actually going to be any good at it. They could be powered by a lot of things, anger, rage, adrenaline. But, here’s the issue: fighting on anger alone is fighting stupid. People who fight on anger forget that they can be hurt and they become reckless. If the initial aggressor has kept their cool then they are the ones that are actually in control of the fight. Sometimes, pain is enough to knock someone back into reality and that’s when fear takes over again. Then, the fight stops, the person who acted on instinct loses their steam, and they lose.

The Fugue State. We make a big deal about fugue states and berserkers, but the problem with a fugue state is that the person in it is still only acting on anger and rage. The fugue state does not endow them with any more skill then they previously had and they are in even less control of their body than the person who just acted on the anger response. If the person in the fugue state has blacked out, then all they are doing is acting on instinct alone and while they may not notice the fact that they’ve been hurt they’re even more vulnerable to an aggressor who can manipulate someone’s instinctive reactions to their benefit. If the fugue state fails to scare the aggressors into backing off or unsettle them so that their technique suffers, then there’s very little else it can do. It works against the average schoolyard bullies, but that’s about it.

There’s variations within all of these, but nothing else we’d categorize as unique. It’s worth looking into more though if you’re interested. People can react in a variety of ways, but whether or not those ways are going to be helpful to their specific circumstance is questionable.

I hope that helps!


On Villains: Some Thoughts

Personally, I love villains. Whether that villain is physically represented as a person, the crushing weight of external circumstances crushing down the hero, or their own internal antagonist pushing them around by their flaws and fears, a good villain is one piece that a story can’t do without.

What is the role of an antagonist?

The role of an antagonist is to create conflict within the story. This is their primary role. If they are not an acting catalyst for conflict in the narrative, then you’ve got a problem. (Your hero should also be creating conflict.)

Make Them Better Than Your Hero:

What is your hero’s goal in life? What is it they want most in the world? Who do they want to be? What do they want to be good at?

Give those traits to your villain.

When your villain is everything that your hero thinks that they want in life you can create great conflict by having them reevaluate those goals. You worry the reader because we know that the villain is a better X, be that a better leader, a better strategist, a better fighter, or a better politician. It gets even better if they fit into and are good at the things the hero is not good at. Your hero may be the greatest swordsman in the world, but he sucks at world play and politics. This may seem like an advantage at first, except that the villain can control all the inner workings of the city and control public opinion. Where the hero is a battering ram, the villain is a spider plucking at their web. The hero must find a way to get to them, but they have to do that without landing their ass in jail.

A great representation of this strategy (when it’s handled right) is Lex Luthor versus Superman. Lex Luthor is the corrupted version of all the ideals Superman has sworn to uphold. Superman can’t just go battering down Luthor’s door and deal out justice, he has to prove that Lex is in the wrong. But, Lex is protected by government officials and public opinion, every time Superman tries to catch him, Lex slips away. The same is also true for Lex, he sees in Superman all the power that he dreams of having. He wants to be the Lex Luthor version of Superman and it gnaws away at him.

Take Them to the Extreme Edge:

Hero: “I want to be free.”

Villain: “I want to be free and the only way I can be is if I enslave everyone else.”

See the difference?

Some antagonists live in extremes and they take it to the furthest edge. A noble goal on it’s own is just a noble goal and it may even be the same goal that the protagonist has. In fact, if your hero is someone who hates the status quo and wants to be free but is forced by the villain to defend it through the virtue of their own ideals then you have some great internal conflict. In the end, your hero and your villain want the same thing but the ways that they go about getting it is what makes all the difference.

Through the Mirror Darkly:

Some of the best villains and hero match ups are drawn from the same place with the added bonus fear that if the author flipped them around that they would each become the other. I always hold up Darth Vader versus Luke Skywalker in the Original Star Wars Trilogy as one of the premiere examples of this theme.  Vader represents Luke’s possible future, he is what Luke could become and what Luke fears he will become. Vader acts as a looming threat in the narrative, not just to the success of the heroes physical, real world goals but also their spiritual ones. As we learn more about Vader, we know that the monster was a man once and that leaves the possibility open that any Force wielder (in this case Luke) could become him. More than that, once we know the truth, we know that Luke will continue to put himself into danger to save Vader and that brings him into orbit of the villain that acted as the catalyst to make Vader what he is. As the narrative evolves between the three movies, what Vader’s role changes in what he represents thematically. However, without him, the narrative would completely fall apart.


Writing the Gender Swapped Batman

Since I’ve seen that Batman/Gary Stu/Mary Sue post going around, I thought I’d discuss how to write a gender-swapped Batman as a non-Mary Sue. This isn’t about the current Batwoman, Kate Kane, who is a marvelous and wonderful. This is about how one could create a gender-swapped version of Bruce Wayne and keep the spirit of the character while making a small adjustment in gender. The ironic truth is: you really don’t have to change much. No, really. Whether it’s a Bruce or a Beryl, Batman’s traits and quirks are extraordinarily gender neutral. The trick is figuring out the elements that make the character tick and what the audience connects to without wearing gendered goggles.

When you’re looking to gender swap a character, you first have to look at what is that sells them and who they are. Batman is an extraordinary superhero, he’s supposed to be just a normal man with money but within his own narrative, he can compete with any super powered hero in the setting. So, how does a good narrative like Hush or The Long Halloween or the TAS Batman sell him without making him a Mary Sue? The answer is actually pretty easy. For every trait that allows the character to be good at there must be a complimentary flaw that keeps everything from being easy.

Bruce Wayne is a billionaire, a playboy, and a philanthropist. Batman is a superhero who can compete with any superhero in the DC Universe, including Superman and Wonder Woman. All the women and some of the men want him and his angst just makes him more appealing. This is all true, however, there’s a second side to Batman that comes out in the more compelling narratives with him. He has a darker edge that leaves him much like Gotham.

Batman is a workaholic. Whether it’s supporting his cover as Bruce Wayne or prowling the streets as the Dark Knight, Batman is pretty much always on the job. Batman has a cover identity named Bruce Wayne

Batman is intelligent, but also obsessive. Batman is a control freak. Batman sleeps (at most) four hours a day and is constantly pushing his body past its safe limits.  Batman does not have a social life. Remember that whole business about “billionaire, playboy, philanthropist”? It’s a cover to secure a secret identity. Those relationships we’re desperate for? They’re doomed to failure. Batman has one true love and that love is Gotham. Batman cannot trust anyone else to protect Gotham like he can, even when they have shown themselves perfectly capable.

There’s nothing here that couldn’t be passed on to a female character. In fact, the socialite angle works even better with a woman. After all, who would suspect that Paris Hilton dresses up in Kevlar armor every night and leaves criminals hanging off of rooftops? When Lindsay Lohan gets sentenced to rehab, drops out of the clinic, and disappears for six months would you believe that it’s because she’s gone to do training with monks in the Himalayas? The larger the disparity between Beryl Wayne’s public persona and the Dark Knight, the better with just enough crossover sprinkled here and there to cover any new bruises, broken ribs, or training accidents, but that can easily be rectified with a character who is a known daredevil. This justifies the times when they can’t change and need to drive up the wrong side of the highway going 80 miles an hour to slam into an oncoming criminal while in their civvies.

So, how do you make the character work?

When Beryl Wayne was eight years old, her parents were murdered while coming out of a (insert appropriate venue here). On that night, she swore vengeance. Over the years, Beryl sought out advanced training in many different skills from martial arts to criminology. She became known for her jet setting and was rarely ever in Gotham, spending her vast fortune on world travel as a means to escape from her problems (or so it seemed). Then, in her early twenties, Beryl returned to Gotham to take control of the family fortune. At the same time (or just a few months before) a masked vigilante appeared prowling the streets of Gotham. The rest is history.

As a character, Beryl is an exceedingly driven individual. She spends her time training, working, and invested in keeping Gotham safe. She barely sleeps and is constantly working often to a point that exhausts even those closest to her. She is a closed off, slightly neurotic personality, who is deeply suspicious of outsiders and believes that no one else can do the job satisfactorily. She is a bit of an egomaniac, but every billionaire needs a few eccentricities. She is ends justifies the means to a point and has no problem roughing up and terrifying suspects into behaving. In her public persona, Beryl Wayne is seen as selfish, a little vapid, and self-absorbed. The men she chooses to see are the ones that she knows she won’t care about and they are pursuing her for the status and her vast fortune. She is a philanthropist and more dedicated to the public good than most, but she is still seen as heartless. She has been described as polite and fun but cold by more than a few former suitors. With her vast intelligence, she finds it hard to get excited and knows that to be able to do her job well she needs to avoid any true romantic entanglements. (She can’t help falling into them because she does have quite a few real suitors in both the criminal and superhero community, but her general attitude is “love ‘em and leave ‘em”). She only really cares about the opinions of people she trusts and can be exceedingly vengeful when she feels they’ve betrayed her. If she shuts a character out into the cold, they’re going to be there for awhile. She doesn’t really know how to apologize and mean it. Sometimes, she goes too far in her willingness to protect Gotham and has to be hauled back by those around her. She’s constantly making personal sacrifices in order to be the best vigilante that she can be.

She’s definitely on the fascist end of the political spectrum and if you’re going to be in her city, then you play by her rules. She’s exceedingly practical in her combat gear and is constantly inventing to keep ahead of the curve. Some criminals in Gotham aren’t exactly sure if she’s female because she doesn’t advertise her gender. However, she doesn’t hide it either. Why would she? (Egomaniac!) She’s not a Femme Fatale. Instead, this is a character that is willing to work within gender stereotypes when it suits her and jettison them completely when needed. She plays by her own rules and no one else’s.

If you want to do Batman right, you have to take the villains and some of the supporting characters with you because the long standing ones are representative of Batman’s shattered psyche. Gender swap them around as needed. I suggest making Lucius Fox female, because powerful female CEOs are awesome and girls gotta stick together. I’d gender swap the Joker too. You can gender swap Catwoman or supplant her with another character in order to play with the male versus female Batman idea such as The Question (the first one or the JLU one) or Green Arrow.

I personally wouldn’t run the lesbian route with this character because there’s always the risk of getting into some nasty stereotypes if you’re not careful. However, there’s no reason that you couldn’t if you put the effort in.

Anyway, there have been many versions of Batman over the years and this is not the only way to play a female version. You will all come up with new and different answers.  No matter Batman’s gender, always give him or her antagonists that meet them in equal measure and reflect them or their politics in some way. You can learn a lot about how to structure a good antagonist for your hero from looking at the Batvillains that stick around and by studying the multitude that have fallen by the wayside.

Once you’ve settled on the understanding that gender is mostly irrelevant when looking to craft a hero, the throng will open up to you as sources of inspiration. Have fun!


On Scars

Scars are the part and parcel to our life experiences. They are the marks left behind that we can point to and say: when that happened, I got this. Every character will have a few scars. However, whether they got those scars on the battlefield or from running into a piano when they were six is anyone’s guess. It’s important to remember that all scars can have meaning and they do not necessarily rate importance based on how traumatic the experience receiving the scar was. Scars are part of your character’s physical history and a memory inhabits each that only they may know.

Scars can be an important physical indicator of a character’s life experiences and whether your character is a casual martial artist or a soldier, it’s likely that they’ll have at least a few. The character who the scar belongs to is the only one that can tell other characters what it means, only they really know the full extent of its history and what it reminds them of. So, when you are writing about scars, it’s important to track what a character will say, what they won’t say, and what the scars they carry can give insight into who they are and where they’ve been.

In fiction, scars are mostly used to indicate that a character has a tragic past. In YA, it’s become common to show that the character is special or different in some way. However, scars can mean a lot of different things and not all of those are stories that indicate a tortured life. Not all scars are obvious and not all scars are ugly, some of them are almost nonexistent and they do fade over time. A character may be proud of their scars. They may pull them out to show when telling a funny story at parties. Depending on the character’s attitude, even the most doom and gloom scar can become one they show off.

It’s important to remember when you’re writing that scars aren’t universal. Each one can depict a different experience and, in that, a different emotion. I have several scars that I will tell stories about and some that I generally keep to myself. I used to have one on my abdomen that I got when pulling a cookie sheet out of the oven at sixteen. It was a long, thin, brownish red stripe that hung out just below my belly button. I still find it embarrassing, and even though it’s been gone for the past four years, I end up checking for it if my pants slip down too far. On my left hand, I have a scar that is a concentric circle on my palm. It’s just below my index and forefinger, and hidden in between the pads. I got it when I was eight and accidentally leaned down on the top of an electric lamp during a family camping trip. Our Head Instructor George used to say that he thought it was cool, but I have to stretch my hand to see it now. Midway up the outside of my right forearm, I’m missing a chunk of flesh. I lost it to a brick during my third degree test when I broke the first with a palm strike, but failed to break the second two. I lost the flesh during an adrenaline rush when we forgot to clear away the broken brick before trying again. The most noticeable of all are the four perfect circles from the external fixator that are located on my left leg, just above my ankle and below my knee. These scars are a milky white and made of smooth, waxy skin that differs from the rest of my pale complexion. I’ll often talk about my broken leg, but I rarely show the scars. One they are difficult to get to and two, the external fixator was a source of fascination among my peers in middle school and I don’t like to be reminded of the way they used to stare.

A character can use their scars to do many things. If they are ashamed of their scars or feel that others find their scars disgusting or off-putting, they may try to hide them. If they are the sort of loner who wants to drive others away, they may show them off and leave them exposed. Scars can be a source of great pain, showing a wound that never properly healed or be the reminder of wound long after it did. Scars can be a source of shame and disgust, but they can also be a source of pride. When other characters look on a character with obvious, visible scars they may shy away or feel afraid. Scars can make someone appear dangerous in ways that tattoos never can.

However, it’s important to remember that what other characters may feel when looking at a character with obviously visible scars is not necessarily a genuine assessment of who that person is. What a character may be trying to achieve by showing off their scars is also not necessarily true to how they got that scar.

It’s okay for your characters to lie about stories they’d rather keep hidden and okay for them to be wrong about each other. No one can ever fully understand the breadth of another’s life experiences.

So, think about your scars. Think about what they mean to you, good or bad. Then take those feelings and try to apply similar ones to your characters. What scars do you have that are funny? What scars do you have that are sad? What scars do you hide? Which ones do you show off? Come up with those and you can add some realistic details into who your character is and their backstory.