#1 from Cheryl Van Eck
I finally read Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl last week. I thought it was absolutely brilliant.
For me, the character of Deanna does something that few characters ever do: She makes honest mistakes.
Not “Oops, I didn’t have enough information” mistakes.
Not “This terrible person is making me choose between a rock and a hard place” mistakes.
Honest-to-goodness “I feel like doing this and I know I know better but I don’t care” mistakes.
I love that.
Because as a teenager, that’s what I did too, more often than I care to admit. I think that’s what all teenagers do. It’s part of being a teenager.
That, to me, is what made her character so realistic. However, when you make a character so realistic, you run the very real risk of also making them unlikeable. We only like small doses of reality in our fiction, after all. Sara Zarr, in my opinion, pulled this off beautifully. She rode that fine line to the last page and nailed it. Many others are not so lucky.
What about you? How do you balance between reality and likeability? Or can you think of other characters that have pulled this off successfully?
#2 from Brenda Bensch
To Critique, or Not to Critique, That is the Question!
If you are in a regular critique group, when do you submit something to be critiqued? Or, if you just want a friend’s reaction, when do you submit the manuscript? I’ve belonged to a critique group for many, many years. We meet once a week. Of course, not everyone submits every time, but we usually submit a chapter (or two or three) if we turn anything in.
Problem: if you get major critiques, do you make changes right away? Or do you wait until you have a finished project before submitting it? What are the advantages and disadvantages to each method?
What would be your “ideal” way to receive critiques? How would you then respond to those critiques with proposed changes?
#3 from Brenda Bensch
At WIFYR last year, Cheri Pray Earl assigned our class to change the POV in a scene from our manuscript. Change 1st person to 3rd, or 3rd to 1st. Tell part of the narration in some character’s voice, etc. I ended up doing that particular assignment on the next-to-last day, and chose a minor character to experiment on — didn’t want to “spoil” anything major.
I was NOT prepared for the consequences: my “minor” character assumed a new (and huge) importance in the story. It also diminished my “hero” somewhat, who was already too weak: major changes necessary there. I’m hoping a little in his POV will throw more weight his way now.
Try it. You’ll love it . . . or hate it. But that’s OK. It’s an experiment. And you can always hit delete if it doesn’t work out. It’s a great way to force yourself to think in a different way. And maybe it will put new life into your story!
And Your Romance Writing Prompt
What other characters/love interests are there?
Get to know each one.
Just like the first guy our main character has met, number two (three and four and five–or however many) needs to be fully fleshed out. Real. He needs to be so well drawn we can’t decide between 1, 2, 3 etc a the end of the novel. We should CRY when she leaves people behind.
(They can’t all be perfect.)