Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where have all the query writers gone?

I need some help, please. After tomorrow, I have no guests for my GPF features until the 29th.

I don't like that at all. Do you?

I didn't think you would, because you're awesome.

But you know what would make you even more awesome? Volunteering or getting someone to volunteer to write one post about Querying and Submission. It doesn't have to be a how to. I'm just as curious to find out more about your experiences out there in the battle field. What DO you do with your rejection letters?

Or has traditional publishing and indie press publishing gone extinct since I checked the last time?

Please please please!

I'll even throw in a crit or beta read to the volunteers, should they need them...

EDIT: All June Spots have been filled. Thanks so much, everyone! If you wanted to volunteer, though, there are still a lot of open spaces for these months:

July: Inspired
August: Challenged
September: Self Publishing and Marketing
October: Scares
November: Keeping track

Please read here for more information and contact me if you're interested.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Key-Word Cavalry: Four Temperaments

Two weeks ago, L Diane Wolfe mentioned the four basic character traits: choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic. So... since it might draw some search results, I thought I'd write a post exploring them a bit, even though I don't really build my characters like that based on their psychological profiles.

It's still interesting, though. And useful to know, if you're someone who builds their characters to fit the situation.

So.... four basic characteristics, also known as the four temperaments. People have been trying to group themselves into these four different temperaments for millennia and the groupings of the various personalities and tastes have changed based on what was considered socially acceptable in each era.

Right now, though, people with each of the four temperaments have the following traits:

Choleric
  • extroverted
  • hot tempered
  • quick thinking
  • strong willed
  • self confident
  • independent in will and thinking
  • makes decisions easily for him/herself and others
  • tends not to make space for other people's opinions
  • always have ideas and solutions
  • practical
  • very active: tend not to sleep a lot
  • results orientated
  • love to fight for a cause
  • response to others: direct and firm
  • tend to be slow to build relationships due to their ruthlessness in going after results
  • not easily empathetic or compassionate
  • think big and go for positions of authority
Sanguine

  • extroverted
  • fun loving and easily amused
  • activity seeking
  • persuasive
  • optimistic
  • receptive and open
  • easily builds relationships
  • people orientated to the point where they're often late or miss appointments (because they forgot)
  • easily bored
  • always have friends
  • attention span = interest in person or activity
  • can change focus instantly
  • competitive
  • disorganized
  • often struggle to control their emotions
  • like sports
  • dress fashionably
  • very worried about not making a good impression
  • excel at working with people
Phlegmatic

  • introverted
  • easy-going
  • unemotional
  • response to others: slow and indirect
  • like the quiet life
  • don't get too involved with life and other people
  • approach to life: what will happen will happen
  • prefer to have a few close friends
  • once a relationship is established, they're loyal to a fault
  • resistant to change
  • hold grudges
  • avoid conflict and decisions
  • practical, traditional thinkers
  • mask their true feelings
  • can be patient to the point of not doing anything, but once they decide to take action, they are tenacious and consistent in going after what they want.
Melancholic

  • introverted
  • analytical
  • logical
  • response to others: slow, cautious, indirect
  • reserved and suspicious until sure of someone's intentions
  • timid
  • may appear unsure or have a serious expression
  • self-sacrificing
  • gifted, but perfectionistic
  • sensitive to what others think of what they do
  • organized, even if their workspace looks cluttered
  • out to make the best decision
  • when making a decision: collect information and need time to think and plan
  • fears risks and being seen as incompetent
  • tend to be negative towards change until thinking about it
  • skeptical
  • creative and capable
  • get bored with something once they've figured it out
source

Of course, most people have some traits from other temperaments mixed in. Some are combination of two or three temperaments. Then there are rare occasions that people are a mix of all four. So it could be fun to the build characters based on traits from more than one temperament. And then throw them into a situation with people with the opposite traits.

It's nice to know, if we need building blocks for a character.

So have you ever used personality types to build your characters?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday Interview: Ciara Knight

Today I get to welcome Ciara for my first fortnightly interview feature. Ciara is one of my close blogging friends and crit partners and I can safely say that she's really talented. I really enjoyed doing this interview with her. Hopefully as much as you enjoy reading it.

1

So Ciara. Easy question first. Who are you?


I began my career in late 2008 when I started writing ‘Defy the Dark’ with my fantasy, paranormal, and post-apocalyptic books. My first Young Adult Series, Battle for Souls, Love’s Long Shadow and Rise From Darkness are currently available. Fall From Grace will be released in June 2012, and Ascension of Evil  will be available in October 2012

Also in 2012, my adult fantasy, Curse of Gremdon was released.


When not writing, I enjoy reading all types of fiction. Some great literary influences in my life include Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, Francine Rivers and J K Rowling.
My first love, besides my family, reading, and writing, is travel. I've backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska. 

So what made you decide to try your hand at writing?

I've been writing for as long as I can remember. Well, not seriously, but just for fun. I wrote short stories about little people when I was in grade school, angsty teen poems in high school, and some more short works of fiction in College. It wasn't until I was married with kids that I wrote my first novel. I'd agreed to stay home with the kids, but after working in the corporate world for so long I was lost. After a few months I thought I'd go stir crazy, and that's when I started writing my first long work of fiction. After I typed 'The End' I was totally addicted and started taking writing classes.

I have to say that I've never taken a single writing class in my life. So do you have any tips for when we have to attend one?

Go with an open mind, even if you think you already know what they are talking about. There is always something that will trigger an 'aha' moment. Also, ask fellow authors what they thought of a class before signing up. There are some AMAZING classes out there that will change your entire way of writing for the better.
If you can't afford the time or funds to attend a workshop then I'd say buy a book. Goals, Motivation, and Conflict, by Deb Dixon changed my writing life. Of course, there are many others.

My two favorite writing books would be On Writing by Stephen King and The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. The latter actually was instrumental in me finishing the Doorways rough drafts. It also inspired me to blog in the first place, but that's another story altogether. 

You have a new novel being released. Want to tell us more about it?

I've always wanted to read Stephen King's book, On Writing.

In August, I'll be releasing a novelette, Weighted. This is a young adult post-apocalyptic with paranormal elements. It is a prequel to The Neumarian Chronicles. Book I, Escapement, will be released in 2012, followed by Pendulum and Balance in late 2013 and 2014.

This series is completely different from anything I've ever written. Weighted is written in first person and is not a romance at all, but it does lead into The Neumarian Chronicles which has strong romantic elements.

Blurb:

The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself.  It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.

Sounds wonderful! Where did the idea for your series come from?

The original idea of the Slags versus the Neumarians I think stemmed from watching a news report. Actually, I think it was on the history channel. My son is obsessed with the history channel. Anyway, this image of a cruel society enslaving the weak out of fear fueled my imagination. In The Neumarian Chronicles, three distinct classes emerge after the Great War of 2185. A ruling class, comprised of mostly Slags (mechanically and cosmetically altered humans), a living class, which are humans with no special abilities or enhancements, and the Neumarians who are enslaved under the false pretense of protecting the world from their gifts.

Where is the strangest place that you ever found your inspiration?

Probably the most interesting place I found inspiration was while I was stuck in traffic. A muscular man jumped from his car and threatened someone. I thought, wow, he looks totally possessed. Poof, I had a demon for Rise From Darkness. :)

That is pretty awesome. What about your other releases this year? Can you tell us a bit more about them?

Book II of the Battle For Souls series, Fall From Grace, will be released in June and book III, Ascension of Evil, will be out in October.
Of course, Escapement, Book I of The Neumarian Chronicles, will released in 2013.

I'm so looking out for them. What is your number 1 tip for new writers?

Write, write, and write some more. Once you have something you like, find a critique partner. They are invaluable. Also, find a non-writing beta reader. This is important because writers might miss something that a reader picks up on. When you are done and put your baby out into the world, don't take things personally. Reviews can sting. Go back to your critique partner and cry on his/her shoulder then move on. Life is too short to focus on the negative. Most of all, just enjoy the journey.

Great tips. Finally, where can people find you on the internet?

Website 
Pinterest 
Goodreads 
Twitter

Thank you so much, Misha.

Huge pleasure, Ciara. Loved having you on my blog. All the best with your new releases! So ladies and gents, what do you think of the interview feature? Where is the strangest place that you ever found inspiration?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Others have said: There are Rules

William_Safire_main.jpg

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.

William Safire, Great Rules of Writing


And yet, I'm breaking the rules now. And I do it often. VERY. Often. It just works for me, because conciously breaking certain rules change the feel of what has been written.

I am, however, very finicky about what I perceive to be errors. People breaking rules per accident. It just stands out more and degrades the quality.

So... what's your favorite writing rule to break on purpose?  

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Wig Is On Perfectly Crooked

Hey all! Today I welcome Sheri Larsen to my blog for today's installment of GPF. Sheri's one of the bloggers I've stalked the longest and I try to stop by her blog as often as I can, because of her useful and interesting posts on YA and writing. So if you haven't yet, please go visit her and say hi.

Before I leave the blog in her very capable hands, I just want to ask pretty pretty please for writers who are willing to take on the theme of Querying for June. I only have one writer left before my Fridays are blank, and it would be a tragedy, since so many people want to learn about all they can in this topic. So if you are interested, willing and able, please check out this post and contact me.

Okay, Sheri, over to you. Thanks so much for this great post!



My Wig Is On Perfectly Crooked

 



Characters can make or break the success of a story.

Have you ever read a book or watched a movie where you absolutely despise one of the characters? What about the hero you just can’t bear to see lose or the underdog who’s backstory is so gut-wrenching that even if they committed murder you’d still love them?

Sure you have. We all have. But why? What makes those characters resonate with us?

A relatable, emotional connection was established by the writers and filmmakers. They were able to get you to invest yourself and stake claim in the character. And if this is done well, they will also get you to connect qualities from a character with someone in your world. It might be your mother or the dog you and your BFF used to dress up in dog clothes. Or maybe the babysitter you had when you were twelve. You might even see a bit of yourself. The possibilities are endless.

Uniqueness, an element that makes the character stand apart from others, was surely also used. Take Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice. Her unique quality was her confidence and dogged opinions, which was only strengthened by the world she lived in where it was not popular to be an outspoken woman. A unique quality doesn’t have to be different in itself, just different to the other characters in your story.

Characters who make a story work are believable, flawed, and on some level emotionally jaded. Now, emotional jaded could be as simple as a character having a spider fall on her head as a young child while sleeping in a camp and developing a terrifying fear of the Arachnid. (Not that I ever experienced such an event.) Or it could travel the extremes of depression or anguish over a death, accident, or other traumatic and personal event.

The trick is to make the reader believe said character is haunted by his/her past, present, and possible future ~ whichever of these apply to your story.

How is that accomplished? Before you begin meshing the lives of your characters together in their here and now, give them – at varying degrees:

1.      A PAST worth telling and exploring. Don’t be afraid to push boundaries here. But remember, this past should help motivate the character forward in their current story world. It should help force a change.
2.      A FAƇADE worthy of description, both inwardly and outwardly. Paint a picture for the reader, but do it gradually throughout a few chapters. Nibbles always make the eater hungrier. Give them a meal, and they fill up quickly.
3.      A CHARACTERISTIC different from any other character in your story. It can be subtle or in-your-face. Play with it. Honestly, this is one of my favorite things to do, while I write.
4.      A CONFLICT that will NOT be cured within the pages of this particular story. It could be a Doritos fetish from one character that totally aggravates another character. Kind of silly, but workable, and it can add flavor to scenes.
Obviously most of this should be concentrated on your main characters, but developing secondary characters even a little can add depth to your main characters that you can use and bounce off of. And who knows, if you accomplish success with this first story you just might be asked to do a sequel. You’d have surface material on the secondary characters that you could develop more deeply.

So tip your characters’ wigs now and again. Change the color. Give them a hat of a different texture, unexpected. Make me want them to succeed or fail. If you accomplish this, either way, you’re story will be remembered.

How do you approach characterization?

Sheri Larsen is a published freelance and short story writer, and KidLit author. Her website, Writers’ Ally, is where she explores writing, children’s literature, and motherhood. She lives in Maine with her husband and four children.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sorry!

I'm so sorry, but I really can't put together the energy needed to do today's post. Really really regretting that I didn't pre-schedule like I wanted to originally.

But I'm just really tired after another long day of meetings and work.

Next Wednesday I will definitely do this post, though.

Thanks for understanding!

X

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Editing Update

Today is Key-Word Cavalry day, but I literally just walked in after ten hours at work, so I'm too exhausted to think. So... I'm going to do tomorrow's post now and KWC tomorrow, when it doesn't feel like my mind is a sieve.

As a result, this will just be a quick update on editing.

This week alone, probably about five people asked about whether I'll make my 30 June deadline.


Credit

Short answer.... I don't know. I'm really close.

Doorways is currently divided into ten parts. Some are long, but towards the end, the parts are short. I got part seven back from my first round of critting, which is the last long round left before the climax and the closing. Once I edited according to these crits, I'll send out part seven again while sending part eight to the first CP. Once I'm done with the second critting round, I mark the part's edits as done on my blog.

BUT... in June, my other CP will be available again. And I will only really see my edits as done once he'd done his crits. So I might be done by the 30th... or by August. But... officially speaking, I probably will be done enough with my edits by 30 June.

By that I mean that I will be comfortable enough with my edits to query my story.

So yeah... that's where I am with my edits.

How's your WiP coming along? Are you drafting/editing anything?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Flash Fiction Blogfest



Today I'm posting my entry for Cherie Reich's Flash Fiction Blogfest.

It's really short, since it's intended to capture a brief moment.

But yeah... this isn't exactly light reading. Unfortunately, my muse could not be convinced to give me something else...

Please feel free to crit if you want, although this piece won't be for a larger piece. 

Word count: 147


Lastly


Lightning flashed, but the thunder that roars after it is the loudest I ever experienced. I see the earth lift up into the sky as death rises up. Everything around me shudders and groans its last breath. Wind blows to the explosion as death inhales, raising to its full height. People around me scream and run, but I watch transfixed. 

Where would I go?

There is no running from the death expanding its head like a cobra preparing to strike. It would be too fast.

For a moment I think about things I could have done different. Things I should have said to people I love. Loved. 

Love.

I should have told them more… God. This is really happening. It’s rolling towards me now. Little particles of dust and stone and bone hit me as death reaches out in all directions. 

I close my eyes and wait. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Others have said: It comes to you when you need it.


Nancy Werlin
Credit



I have come to understand there are no coincidences in writing; the information you need comes to you when you are ready to receive it.
 Nancy Werlin





Sometimes, I get so frustrated. I make time to write. Hell. I wake up at 3 a.m in the morning to write. I take out my pen and notebook. I open it full of anticipation to FINALLY have a chance to get some writing done.

And...

Nothing.

Not a whisper. My muse decided she's taking a holiday in Hawaii without me.

It makes me want to scream. Because here I am. Wanting to write. Ready to write. But the words aren't there. Because I don't know what I'm supposed to be writing.

I used to go into a flat spin because OMG I'm having a writer's block. But it's not really true. It's just my muse taking a break to sort out what she wants to happen.

Or if you don't like such fanciful words, it's my mind sorting out the spaghetti that's my story and plot ideas. If I don't give it time, there's no way to know where I'm supposed to go.

So once my mind/muse is ready to deal with whatever happens next, I'll know what to write. In the mean time, I can just chill... Maybe even catch up on my blogging.

Do you ever find that information you need to write comes through exactly the way you need it, when you really need it? What do you do while you wait?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Characterization

Hello wonderful people! Today I welcome L. Diane Wolfe to MFB. Her blog, Spunk on a Stick's Tips, is a great place to stop for advice on writing, publishing and marketing your book.

Before I let her get cracking, though, I just want to mention that I'm still looking for writers in June. Theme: Querying and Submission. If you are interested in doing a guest post, please read here and contact me. Have a great weekend!

Admin's done. Now you can take it away, Diane.


Characterization

If the plot is the backbone of the story, then the characters are the heart. Creating believable characters that your readers will identify with is crucial to a good story. Your characters must have depth, personality and the ability to evoke an emotional response from your reader.

Many writers envision the setting first and the people inhabiting that world second. This sometimes results in shallow characters. Developing a character in depth, complete with flaws, will give you a basis for your narrative. It is easier to build a plot around an individual than force that character into unrealistic situations.

Two factors will determine your character – their background and their personality type. Humans all share similar feelings and needs, but how they respond to those depends on their upbringing and their basic, fundamental personality. 

Race, culture, religion, and economic status all contribute to one’s development as a person. A person’s moral compass is affected by their upbringing. A person raised in a loving family on a farm and someone raised on the streets of New York will not react the same! Flesh out your character with a family history, interests, and experiences.

I recommend that you become familiar with the four basic personality types – choleric, sanguine, melancholy and phlegmatic. (“Personality Plus” by Florence Littauer is an excellent book for researching personality types and traits.) A bold, first-born choleric would likely take charge in a situation, while an introverted phlegmatic would step aside.

Avoid the temptation to create a perfect character. People are flawed creatures. Give them weaknesses, impulses, and unresolved issues. They will also need strengths and dreams to carry them and the story forward.

Remember these three points:

1 - Create a background for you characters

2 - Develop their personality

3 - Give your characters weaknesses, strengths, and dreams based on their background and personality

Characters will always be the drive and focal point of any story. Build on those characters first. Once you have established that foundation, you can begin creating an intriguing tale!



                                               
L. Diane Wolfe
Professional Speaker & Author
www.thecircleoffriends.net

Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the NSA and a motivational speaker. “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, ties all of her goal-setting and leadership seminar’s information together into one complete, enthusiastic package. She also conducts seminars on book publishing and promoting, and assists writers through her author services. Her YA series, The Circle of Friends, features morally grounded, positive stories that appeal to both teens and concerned parents. Wolfe travels extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, and contributes to several other sites and newsletters.

Thanks for this great guest post, Diane! So, bloggy friends. Are you strong on character? Do they walk into your head fully formed or do you custom build them yourself? How do you make sure that you have intriguing characters?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tension

No, nothing to do with my considerable time constraints today.

I'm talking about tension in a story. And how I got it wrong for a considerable portion of mine.

It started at the very beginning of my Doorways crits. My one CP extraordinaire, M Pax, kept asking me to let her see into one MC's past. And I wouldn't, because, well, she was just as coy with me. Why should I share info when my MC wanted to let it come out in her own good time?

Besides, I thought, the mystery about her past just adds to the tension.

True. But as this post points out, it adds to the wrong sort of tension. After I read this post, I got to thinking about Doorways. And realized what a huge mistake I'd made. I ended up spending the greater part of my day rooting out and fixing it. Luckily for me, a few subtle changes were enough, but it could have been a lot worse. Which is why I'm writing about it today as well.

Real tension in a story comes from the fact that characters have questions and goals. We readers experience tension because they don't know if those questions will be answered or the goals attained. We hope they will be, but we know that possibly they won't. So we read on, hoping (and if the writer is really good, praying) that things will end up the way we and the character want them to.

The reason why we care this much is that by the time the goals and questions become known, we feel like we know the character. We can't care if we don't see why the goals and question are important to the character. So you can't make us care if you don't give us the information we need to bond with the characters.

Yes... the mystery in the character's past adds to tension, but unless it's the foundation of the plot (e.g. if the character's question is about his/her past), it will make the reader hurl the book to the nearest wall.

The blog post above gave a few examples of bad tension, so I'm just going to let you go there to read them. But to sum it up, I'm now thinking about tension like this: Tension should be forward looking. It should be about the story going forward to the end and about whether the end will be the one the reader wants.  


If your tension is back looking, i.e. coming from the fact that the reader isn't being allowed to see into a main character's past, odds are pretty great that you'll be annoying the life out of your reader.

Trust me. When I put my reader cap on and read my MC's intro, I wanted to strangle the writer.

So do you also write your tension to be back-looking? How do you make sure that the tension in your story doesn't annoy the reader?

PS: Mary. So sorry about Callan. She's a lot better now. ;-P

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Key-Word Cavalry: Challenges in writing first novel

Every Wednesday except the first, I take a look at the search key-words that draw visitors to my blog. If I feel that the key-word/phrase is interesting or that I haven't written about the topic enough, I write about it on Wednesdays.


Today's phrase has me imagining that the person who wrote it is thinking about writing a novel, but have never tried it before.

So firstly, I want to commend this faceless person for not being stupid and going: "Phht. Writing schmiting. This is going to be easy."

Because it isn't. There are definitely some challenges, but they differ in size and variety from person to person, I think. However, here are some of my challenges:

1) The sheer scope of the story. I'm just going to give it to you straight: NOTHING prepares you for the work involved in writing a full-length novel. Not poetry. Not writing short stories. I know. I did both (and did really well with both) before I started novelling. Think about it. Poems can be long, but most of them don't go too far beyond one or two hundred words. Short stories: maybe 5- 10 k words. Novels' word count: 80-110k or more. Even if you write the equivalent of that in poems and short stories, it's not the same. Why? Because...

Credit
2) Sustaining focus on a novel is a bitch. Really. You have to stick with a 80-110k word story through thick and thin, and if you've never done it before, you're probably have a lot of problems after the first quarter of the book. But don't give up. Eventually you will understand what it takes to get a story off the ground. It took me five years to get past the first quarter. Then I started on Doorways and got past the 25% barrier. After that, things went smoothly. I was lucky in that I didn't have any problems in the middle of my story. You might not be that lucky, but then, you might not take 5 years to get past the first quarter.

3) Time. If you're thinking: "Oh I want to write a novel, but I don't have time..." I'm going to have to say that you either have to change your thinking or change your mind about writing. The reason why I say this is that no writer technically has time to write, unless they do it for a living. And even then, life is full of distractions. The only reason we're still able to write is because we put it high on our priority lists. If you're not willing to do this, I fear that this challenge will prove to be insurmountable.

4) Finally: The Doldrums. This was probably the biggest challenge I had while writing Doorways. Basically, if I got writer's block or burned out after writing too much at a time, I'd have weeks of almost no productivity. These periods probably doubled the time it took me to write the story. Sad thing is, I don't have a remedy for them except to wait them out.

But these are definitely not the only challenges to writing your first novel. So I'm going to ask my writing bloggie friends: What were your greatest challenges to writing your first novel?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Interview, anyone?

So I've been thinking that I love getting to know you ladies and gents better, but that there isn't really that much of an opportunity to do it.

After doing two interviews recently, I thought that I might open it up to all of you.

Would you be interested in letting me interview you?

If you are, please contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Others have said: Writing is more than work.





Writing is a job, a talent, but it's also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.
Ann Patchett (Truth and Beauty: A Friendship)







I sometimes forget how privileged I am to have the talent to write.  It's just that, with my time now so severely constrained, I feel like I have to use every free moment that I have to write. Those two words "have to" become a problem to me. Because they turn writing into work. A chore.

While writing does take some heavy commitment in order to achieve something with it, I don't think it's supposed to become a chore most of the time I write.

Rather, I need to focus on the fact that writing is my friend too. Writing always listens when I want to rant, or when I'm sad. It celebrates with me when I'm happy.

I miss writing when I don't spend time on it for a while. But like most friends, I get a little tired if I force myself to be with it all the time. Sometimes, although writing might be my sanity's saviour, I need to see other friends too.

But the fact remains that when I'm not writing, I feel trapped in my life. As if I can't breathe. Writing frees me.

I need to remember that the next time writing starts to feel like a chore.

Do you sometimes feel as if writing is a chore/too much work? How do you remind yourself of why you write?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Enriching Characters

Hi all! Today I want to welcome my crit partner supreme, M Pax, here on a stop on her blogtour for her new release: The Backworlds. Take it away, M!

Enriching Characters

I confess character is something I was light on, something I struggled with more than other things in writing. They were great in my head, but they didn’t come off as great on paper. They were so two dimensional.

It’s something I had to practice. Going deeper, deeper, deeper, enriching my character’s lives. Writing their stories before my books begin was a huge help. I make sure the connections matter and have an impact. Real life isn’t quite that neat, but fiction isn’t real life, and everything we construct should matter and impact our stories.

My critique partners, who are better at character, constantly pushing me was another help. Eventually, it began to sink in and I made steps in the right direction. Steps became strides. Strides now become habit, and I still push myself to go farther.

Then I found this quick and dirty tool to help me add more depth and more details at an RWA (Romance Writers of America) meeting in January. It’s basically a Glasser analysis for characters. You can get more information and the worksheets at http://www.judithashleyromance.com/ Maybe I don’t use all the details, but they’re there and they help add. 

The last piece of the puzzle was taking a dvd course called Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writers Craft. From GreatCourses.com. I borrowed the dvds from a crit partner. Writing lengthy sentences isn’t always the answer, but how it taught to let the reader in on our thought process and how to add emphasis and more and bigger and richer, was very useful. 

The benefit of all this practice, listening, and learning is my writing. The Backworlds was a definite beneficiary. The characters in this first book in my new space opera series are among my favorites I’ve invented so far.

What tools and resources have helped you to create better characters?


The Backworlds

Backworlds.jpgAfter the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available as an ebook from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Feedbooks
Free on Smashwords & Feedbooks. Will be free on Amazon in a few weeks.

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About the author:

MPaxrs.jpgM. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spend her summers working as a star guide. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her website, http://www.mpaxauthor.com/ and at Wistful Nebulae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodread, FB and other sites.





Thank you very much for stopping by, M! All the best for The Backworlds.

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