Category Archives: Character

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, 2017, and a Chance to Win a Googillion Dollars!

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers is just around the corner. I can’t believe it. And we already have dates, and faculty, for next year. What? I know!


What would YOU do with a googillion dollars?

I would get allergy medicine that didn’t cause Alzheimer’s or dementia and the pills would really work.


What is your main character’s secret desire? How does this work with the story and the major dramatic question?

Look closer. What is the real secret desire? Does everything in the novel point to this want? Will your character be better or worse if he achieves his goal?

How will you change after writing this book?

Leave a comment

Filed under Character, CLW, Exercises, giveaways, Plot, writing process

Save on Phone Plans: 25%

I’ve lost my phone.

This worries me as I have an appointment with two friends. What if I’m late?

I fought against getting this phone. But year before last when people were messaging all over Waterford trying to find me, and the last time my agent had to listen to Carolina’s weird answering machine, I realized it was time to get a phone of my own.

Where is that darn thing?


What has your main character lost?

How important is it to her?

Does this loss play a necessary part in your story?

Look through your novel. IF this loss is important, in needs to be present. It can’t be forgotten.

When Rick Walton was ill, he was always on my mind. Always. He’s still on my mind quite a lot.

Loss can be anything. Anyone. Keep it age-appropriate, and remember loss for a young child is as important as for an older person, even if the object isn’t as huge as a lost cell phone. 😉

Leave a comment

Filed under Character, CLW, Exercises, Family, Revision, Voice, writing process

The Death Penalty-Pros and Cons

Sometimes we have characters in our novels that just aren’t doing anything to move the plot along.

Perhaps we like this character and so we mold and shape him. We give him the correct lines, witty banter. We even make him wowzers handsome.

Here’s the truth of it.

That guy’s gotta go.

If he ain’t pulling his weight, no matter how dynamic he is, you gotta get rid of him.

# 38

Look at the earlier writing prompt where you drew a circle, with your main character in the middle. All those lines lead to characters in the novel. Are they all important? Can you do without a few? Are there any people not doing their duty?

Every person who shows up in a book must DO something. No talking heads. No mannequins (unless you are Richard Peck writing SECRETS OF THE SHOPPING MALL. Mannequins WERE used in that story.)

So, get rid of all those who are weighing down the story.

And if they are super cool? Use them in another book.


Leave a comment

Filed under Character, CLW, Exercises, Plot, Uncategorized

Friday = 30

Write three memories from your main character.

One that concerns a confrontation,

one that has the MC meeting someone who is/was significant,

one that makes the MC question some belief.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character, CLW, Exercises, Uncategorized

Wednesday and Prompt #23

In free verse, and taking no more than 1000 words, rewrite your novel.

Remember forward movement, characters, and use words with power. Find out what’s most important in your novel and put it in this Spark’s Notes Version.

If you need, take a few days to do this writing.

Then ask yourself, Can I do without certain things that I’ve added? Does everything I write move the story forward? Are there unnecessary characters? Does my character burn time? What can I do without? Do I go off on unnecessary trips with my character? Is my writing too flowery? What words that carry no weight can I throw out?

Really knowing your story can help you write the best novel.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character, Exercises, Plot, writing process

Friday–What’re We Gonna Write Today?


You spend 24 hours with your main character.

What do you do?

What do you talk about?

What do you notice as quirks?

How does she make you cry?

What stories about her past does she tell you?

You go shopping. What does she buy?

What does she eat?

Can she cook?

Name three nice things she does for you.

What does she want you to do for her?

What does she read?

How does she surprise you?

Worry you?

How does she sleep? On her back? Curled up? Does she toss and turn? Snore? Talk in her sleep?

Does she want breakfast?

At the end of the day together, does she thank you for telling her story or curse you?



Leave a comment

Filed under Character, CLW, Exercises, Family, Life, Plot, Uncategorized, Voice, writing process

15-Minute Monday

Last week I was served papers.

I don’t know why, but this feels like the last big bump with this individual. Like, if I can make it through this, if I can be dignified, honest, and do my best to protect myself and my family, this will be gone for good.

Of course, life always has ‘things’ in it, right?

‘Things’ that make us stretch and hurt and worry and laugh and rejoice and wish and pray and talk to our friends and write blog pieces.

We’re different after each battle, after each joyous occasion.

Just like our characters should be.

Once I got a book on someone’s recommendation. I remember the title but I won’t tell you.  There was a lot of buzz from the publisher. The writer was gonna go places. Make tons of money. I have to admit I was both excited and jealous. So I opened the book and read. To my disappointment the feisty main character never changed. She started out a smartie-pants who wanted something, got this something, and was neither better nor worse for it. She never struggled. Never failed. Never really won or lost.

The deal is, by the end of the book our characters must change.

They cannot be the same at the end of the novel as they were in the beginning. They have to have ‘papers served ‘ to them. They have to have hard times-even if this is a funny book. There have to be obstacles that the character has to get over, on her own. As we read and watch a character stumble, get back up, try again, grow, change, become more exciting, we root for them, weep with them, love them.

What I find really cool as a writer is that I change, too, as I work on my books.

When I start a new work, I am one person. By the end of the novel, if I’ve done my job as a writer, I see the world a little differently. I’m more compassionate. Want better things for my friends and for those I read about in the news or see on Facebook that I only know there. I’ve learned things about people and places and events. A topic I may have felt fiercely about–I see it differently. Maybe more fully? It’s an exciting to see I am what? better? more human? because of my work.

Writers can change bits of the world.

We start with our characters, move to ourselves and hopefully touch our readers.


A deep breath, now, as I step into a scary part of my life.

I’ve got a few obstacles to overcome.

Let’s see what happens.


Filed under Character, CLW, Life, Point of View, writing process