Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who are your chraracters and what are they doing?

When you start a new story you have to create characters, major ones: the good and the bad, and minor ones again, good and bad. As you write, there will be background characters that are there one minute and then they are gone--sometimes never to return lets call those the extras.

So today we are talking about the majors and a little about minors.
Your characters need a few things to be well rounded:
1- Believable
2- 3 Dimensional
3- Memorable
4- Do what they need to do

The majors will generally have all four elements and your minors will have any where from one to three of them. Since they are not the spotlighted character though, you don't need to spend as much time developing them in the story--usually.  :) The extras need to say or do whatever and leave...no need to really develop them beyond that.

So #1:  Believable. You need to make sure that you don't allow your character to overstep his or her bounds. If she is in a wheelchair she probably isn't going to jump up out of nowhere and fight off would be attackers with her mad ninja skills, round house kick and everything.

#2:  3 Dimensional. As people we want to be well rounded, so should your characters. Think about how they would react in different situations. Do they change their goals often? How do they respond when something doesn't work out? But a key here is be consistent with your character.

#3:  Memorable. Tie your reader to your character. You can make him or her identifiable with characteristic tags. Hermione Granger: frizzy hair, super smart, likes to read, level headed, all about the facts. Using things about your character helps people remember them even after the story is over because they are relate able.

#4: Do what they need to do. Give your characters the skills or opportunity to gain the skills needed to accomplish their goals. If they have to get to the Castle to kiss the princess but there's a dragon guarding it, a small bottle of water isn't going to cut it to defet that dragon. Give him time to gain courage, strength and sword skills to win and a breath mint to kiss the girl, okay that last part is more for the girl, but it could help his confidence too.

I often find that if I am stuck in my writing that I have a character (or four) that is missing a part of their development and once I go back and fix it the story can resume smoothly--if writing a story ever goes smoothly. :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Worry the Reader

What makes you turn the page?

Or stay up late to read the next chapter?

Why do you follow one character with interest?

Why do you buy the next book in a series?


My characters have goals. For some achieving it will improve their lives, for some the goal is to ruin someones's life.

But my goal as an author is always 
to worry my readers.
•inner demons--the fight within
•background--can't outgrow your upbringing
•conflict--there's always something going wrong
•antagonist--equal to or greater than your Main Character
•pacing--stretch out that misery

How have authors you've read worried their readers?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Giving Back

Welcome to the Gratitude Giveaway Hop where we thank all our followers with the simplest entry EVER.

Just follow this blog and leave a comment where you can be contacted if you win. That's it! Good Luck.

What can you win on this site? A 
$10 Amazon Gift card.

Now go enter all the other blogs' giveaways.

And welcome to the iWriteNetwork.

If you're a WRITER, click over to the iWriteNetwork and join with other writers in a community of learning and support for writers and authors.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Social Media Shout-out

The second you think you might want to be a published author, you need to start using social media. 

Maybe, even before. 

What, you ask, is social media? It is only the very best way for a debut author to come out of obscurity or shine the light on yourself, if you will. If you aren't already using social media and don't know where to start, I've complied a list for you to click-through. 

Now you can sign-up for 9 different avenues to getting your name out there.
There are others, but these are the major ones out there.

Make sure you are signed up for each one and fill out your profiles for each. 

Some are more important than others and you should limit your time on them. Use them effectively and you will win. Spend all your time with them and you will get lost in the maze of social media. I spend no more than 1 hour a day on social media.

The top 4 are a must and the next two are pretty important. If you write non-fiction, get involved with linked-in for sure. The last 2 are extras, but you should at least have a profile on all of them.

Play around with each of them and get familiar with them, then, when you're ready to launch your books, you'll be a pro at social media and you'll be able to get maximum traction with your book. 

You will be in the light.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Congratulations, Shirley!

Congratulations, Shirley! 

You won the Amazon Gift Card.

HaPpy ReAdiNg!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Perseverance and Determination

I'm in the throes of NaNoWriMo and an election. An ugly one at that. Either of these would be enough to make me throw in the towel at times. The latter attacks my belief in the decency of the people in my community while the former makes me question my own abilities.

As you're making this writing journey do you ever enter a bookstore or walk up the book aisle at Costco and really look at the sheer number of published books there? I don't know about you but that intimidates me on a grand scale.

First, all those books make me question my hope to be published. There are so many of us. Never in my life have I met such a plethora of aspiring authors. A lady at church published a book for her grandchildren. Another mentioned she's writing a YA fantasy. One of the department heads at work confided tome that one of his daughters is writing her third book, and when he retires he wants to write a book. These aren't bad things.

But we writers sure seem to be coming out of the woodwork. With so many new books being published how do you make yours stand out and be noticed? I find I tend to leave bookstores depressed since I started writing.

My second issue is personal. It relates to my writing abilities (or lack thereof). Can I ever be good enough to qualify as one of those people on the bookshelf?

What's your motivation for writing? Do you dream of being the next J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer? Is it just a fun hobby? Are you putting yourself out there to shut up the voices in your head?

Whatever your reason for writing and (perhaps) seeking publication, I believe it's a good thing. Human beings crave story. We can devour a great tale and immediately turn around wanting another. While the bookstores and the Internet may be full of tragedies and comedies and mysteries and fantasies, we will continue to want more.

So don't give up on yourself. We can get good at writing by writing, by reading the best authors, by learning from others. We need to find our own unique voices.

I enjoy the delightful presentation of Ira Glass's words in the following video. But I love the meaning behind the words. They lift me and inspire me when I feel insignificant and ready to give up. They fill me with determination to persevere.

Click here for the Ira Glass video (it wouldn't embed). It's short and totally worth the time to watch.

Give Thanks!

November is a great time to remember 
all the things we are thankful for.

To enter our giveaway of a $20 Amazon (US) Gift Card:
1) Be or Become a Follower of this blog (by clicking on the "Join This Site" button on the right-sidebar)
2) Leave a comment telling us what you are thankful for
3) Include your email (in case you win)

Click on the picture above to see the other blogs participating in this Giveaway Hop.

If you're a WRITER, click over to the iWriteNetwork and join with other writers in a community of learning and support for writers and authors.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNo How-To: You Can!

For the next thirty days, you're going to be hearing a lot about NaNo. No, we're not talking about Mork and Mindy ... we're talking about National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November. Thousands upon thousands of writers pour their hearts out onto paper through their fingertips to see if they can be NaNo winners and hit the 50,000 word mark before midnight on the 30th. It sounds impossible, but many succeed.

How do they do it? What are the secrets behind NaNo success?

In listening to these authors explain their methods, several things were common between them.

1. They had the support of their spouses, children, and other family members. They held a family meeting and explained what they were trying to accomplish, and asked for support. When spouses and children pitch in to help reach a common goal, chances of success increase exponentially. Kids can make dinner and clean up after themselves. They can do a few extra chores. Spouses can take over some of the tasks that usually fell to the writer. Teamwork is what makes it come together. Can you win NaNo if you don't have a supportive family? Of course. This is just one way to make it more possible.

2. Each of these writers had a plan. They knew what they wanted to accomplish. They had either outlined the book beforehand, or they would take a few minutes at the end of each writing session to think about what should happen next so they could dive right back in and get to work instead of staring at a blank screen for an hour.

3. None of these authors let themselves get hung up on the idea that what they wrote had to be perfect. In fact, NaNo is not about perfect writing - it's about getting thoughts and ideas onto the page as quickly as possible. You can edit it later - you're told to edit it later. Spend November just getting the story down.

4. Most importantly, each of these writers had a dream, a desire, and determination. They would not let something as simple as fear of failure keep them from trying. They pushed on regardless.

Now, how can you take these principles and apply them to your own NaNo journey?

A. Decide what you want. What burns within you so brightly that you couldn't extinguish it, even if you tried? For writers, it's to write. It's to touch people. It's to reach out and make a difference. Focus on that. Keep that desire in front of you at all times.

B. Whether it be in a Word .doc or a notebook, sketch out your story. You don't need every detail - just hit the highlights.

C. Sit down and write. Seems like a simple step, but you'd be amazed how many people don't take it. Don't hold yourself back. Just pour it all out on the paper. Get it out there.

D. When you need a break, jot down notes so you know where your mind was going. When you come back, you can pick right back up with that train of thought.

E. Eat and drink plenty of good, healthy food during this time. When a writer is on a roll, they often forget to take care of themselves, and then they burn out. Don't do that to yourself. And no, Coke and chocolate do not constitute good, healthy food.

F. Do not turn your computer off at night until you know what you're going to write the next day. Brainstorm. And keep a notepad next to your bed in case inspiration strikes while you're drifting off ... because you know it will.

I'm not much of an outliner. I like to fly by the seat of my pants. But in a challenge like this one, you need to determine your course before you take off, or you'll spend too much time flapping around, trying to find the right wind current. Jotting down your next set of ideas does not limit you - it helps you get those tail feathers turned in the right direction.

Good luck with all your NaNo goals, and be sure to check out the website for the rules. Even if you don't win, or even if you only get a few thousand words in, you will feel such a sense of accomplishment for having participated.