Category Archives: Character

Three Thing Thursday

From LoriAnne

I’ve just learned something I need to do, or stop doing, when I’m trying to flesh out my character and find her voice. I need to stop reading British mysteries. It’s doesn’t work well when trying to write a contemporary 17-year-old American girl. The MC in the novel I just finished is alternately a 15-year old girl in Cornwall in 1931, and then an 85-year old woman in London in 2003. The storyline jumps forward and backward in time a lot. Anyway, while I’ve been on vacation, I’ve been writing and reading, and what I’ve been reading is bleeding into my character’s voice, as well as my own.  I used the word “ghastly” to describe the huge ugly cacti that we saw all around this island, as we were on a bus taking us to a beach excursion. I wasn’t trying to sound British, it just came out! My husband looked at me funny, “Ghastly? Since when do you use that word?” I don’t. Normally. And the MC in my novel would never use it.  I realized I’ve been having a harder than normal time writing in a close 3rd person that sounds anything like an American teenage girl. Good thing I also brought a YA book to read. And maybe I need to hang around the cruise ship’s hot tub more. Although, with all those half-naked teenagers packed in there, it’s definitely hormone soup.

Does anyone else have a hard time developing an authentic voice when you are immersed in reading a different genre?

From Me

Every spring I think, This year I’m growing a garden. And I try. Last year? TONS of cherry tomatoes that I picked off the vine for breakfast, a few green beans and peppers and a big mess of potatoes.

Growing a garden is like writing a book–a lot of hard work. But it’s worth it.  Writing just the right word is kinda like eating those warm tomatoes. You can’t believe YOU did that. Well, with help of course.

Right now I am in a hard place in my YA murder mystery. It’s like putting together a puzzle with weird edges. But when I read some of the words I think, Maybe I can do this.

The truth is, most people who want to write books never finish. It IS hard. If we rejoice in the small things, the tasty bits, there will be more joy in the work.

 

And One More Thing

I just made up a word. Slag bottom.

Or so I thought.

http://www.google.com.gt/patents/US2004152

What word did you think YOU made up?

 

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Be Very Afraid

So a week plus ago, Ann Dee and I sent in the book we wrote together to our agents. The rewrite. It’s ready for submission. Woot woot!

Before we started our project, way back when, we decided we would write something we had never done before.

We would take some risks.

We had three pages (maybe) of a dark dystopian with elements from history. (That we still need to write. And we will. I think.)

Then Ann Dee sent me a new beginning and we wrote a middle grade novel exactly like the things we would both write on our own.

I love it.

It’s hilarious. And sad. And delicious. There’s lots of talk of food.

(Ann Dee is one of the best writers in America. Yes, I believe that. How did I luck out getting to write with her?)

GingerBelle Co. That’s the title. For now.

For me, it seems perfect for a sequel.

And a sequel to this kind of book is exactly the kind of thing Ann Dee and I write.

We’ve spent plenty of time giggling about how we were going to write something different and how we did exactly what’s comfortable to both us.

 

As we got closer to the end of the novel, I started bugging the lady with the five babies under the age of four, about our next book.

We sent each other ideas.

Brainstormed.

Wondered out loud.

Went for a treat and talked.

“It has to be different than what we’d normally write,” Ann Dee kept saying.

And I kept saying, to every idea, “No. We write that already. We write that already.”

 

Why should it be different?

My dear friend, a writer I love and admire, Matthew J. Kirby, told me that I should write the book I’m afraid of. Matt knows I’m terrified to even think a thought that may include a fantasy element.

He’s right.

Fantasy? I can’t even think a fantastical thought. (And when I shared my one fantasy idea with Ann Dee she said, “My heart’s just not in that.” She wanted to laugh. I could tell.)

Fantasy is different for me.

It’s scary.

 

I’ve done it a few times. Written what I was afraid of: THE CHOSEN ONE.  GLIMPSE. THE HAVEN. Those topics all terrified me.

What happened when I let myself explore these scary ideas?

I ended up writing books in new ways. At least new ways for me.

That meant anguish. Fear. Tears. And some joy. Joy because I succeeded.

 

After going back and forth for about a month, throwing ideas at each other and keeping Matt’s suggestion to be afraid of the next thing we write, Ann Dee and I may have found it.

Our new project.

It’s absolutely terrifying.

Historical. A terrible time in history.

A different culture.

I’ve been thinking of this idea less than 24 hours and I am afraid of it. Really afraid of it.

But if we add a dose of what we love, things Ann Dee and I are comfortable with, we may be able to pull this off. Things like family. Love. Sisters. Humor. Sorrow.

 

So what absolutely frightens you?

I really want to know.

 

 

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Filed under Ann Dee, Character, CLW, Family, Life, Plot

Spring!

I love spring. I love the weather warming up, the flowers, the longer days.

I love the newness of life, baby birds, calves, baby babies. Spring is a good time to be alive.

This spring finds me working with Ann Dee, celebrating my divorce and my anniversary with my agent. And working on a book of my own.

A mid-grade.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a mid-grade on my own.

I have two characters I love and four adults I quite like.

Plus a teacher (based on my own 4th grade teacher, Miss Emery. She told the scariest stories.).

And a true life wrasseling star from the Olden Days.

Those are the players.

Then there has to be a plot. (Why? Why-oh-why must there be plot? Why can’t lovely words just make the story?)

So there’s the ‘borrowing’ of cars. Doing ‘naughty’ things. And a baby coming pretty darn quick.

And the wondering that I must do–what do these girls really want?

Will Miss Emery show up again wearing a wrasseling outfit?

Will Grampa Jo and Nanny find love?

Will Etta and Kat find themselves in the wrasseling ring?

Just what is going to happen?

We all know character moves the plot. What will my little girls and their grandparents do to make a story happen?

I’m ready to let them lead me.

There’s a murder in my next book and I gotta get words down for that.

But first.

First there’s the spring.

And a new baby in a book.

A new plot.

New characters.

Then the dark.

 

 

 

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Three Thing Thursday

Brenda:
When I write I think most of my characters end up in a Utopian world (well, except for the curves I try to put in their way.)  They never have a day like I’ve had today: I THINK it’s just a cold.  “Just”?  It started three or four days ago, by being a little spot in my throat: when my nerves had “gotten to me.” I used to suddenly sprout  one to five cankers in my mouth or along my gum, even down my throat. Hadn’t happened for YEARS. That’s what this felt like days ago.  And it HURT ! ! !  But I didn’t worry.  It’s not like cankers are catching.  (Are they?)  By yesterday afternoon the entire throat was inflamed, burning like crazy.  Woke up today with my throat less bothersome.  There: THAT’S taken care of.  WRONG.  By noon I was sure the flu shot I got in September had finally kicked in, and I had what was only going to be a “mild” case.  Now, the sneezing, coughing (through an already roughed-up throat) and runny nose feels more like a REALLY NASTY cold.  And my energy is totally sapped.
Why don’t my MC’s suffer like this?
Or what if they DID ? ? ?
It could happen.  And if I want it to feel real, it should be at the absolutely WORST time imaginable.  How does that change my MC’s mood?  Actions?  Activities?  Decisions?
Does s/he just GIVE UP?  Fight through it?  Stop everything to go to the doctor, witch doctor, community Elder?  And are their “cures” worth the vellum they’re written on?  And how much does a good Voo Doo cure cost?  And how and WHEN must it be paid?
So, what’s wrong with YOUR MC?  And how is s/he going to deal with it?
If nothing else, this may make him/her seem more “real” !
Me:
For NaNo–How are you doing?
Getting those words?
Moving that plot?
I was okay the first week. Almost made it the whole way writing 2000 words a day. Since Saturday, I haven’t written a  thing. Including for this blog. Today, I’m starting anew. I can’t let the last week throw me. If I can do more than 2000 words each day, I will. However, if I can’t, I can’t.
My goal for this 50,000 words was to finish a picture book, get a draft of a mid grade and rewrite a novel. (The novel Ann Dee and I are working on. Still.)
Picture book is done. Lots of new pages in the mid grade. And I even know some of what I want to happen there in the icky middle that’s staring me in the face.
Nose to the grindstone (OUCH!) on this Ann Dee book.
What about you?
Don’t fall behind like I did. However, if you have, pick up as though you haven’t. At the end of the month you may not have a full novel, but you will be almost there.
Or, you may add 1000 words a day and catch up.
YOU CAN DO IT.
Last Thing: I’m reading tomorrow at the library at BYU. Basement auditorium. Noon.
If you have time, drop in. Cookies when it’s over.
🙂

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15-Minute Monday–Double Dog Dare

What is the meanest thing you have ever said to someone?

How about your character?

What is the scariest thing you have ever gone through?

What about your character?

If you could do anything, anything at all, what would it be?

What about your character?

We all have at least one deep, dark secret. What’s yours?

And your character’s?

Who is the person you love most? Loved most? Who is that love you missed and are sorry, still to this day, that you missed?

What about your character?

What is the most shocking thing anyone has ever said to you?

Your character?

Who’s hurt you the most?

Your character?

What’s the most painful thing you’ve had to do in life?

What about your character?

What thing will you never tell anyone?

What thing will your character never tell?

 

The cool thing (the awful thing) about life is it makes you uncomfortable. It changes you. Shapes you. And you have a lot to do with that shaping depending on the choices you make, your reactions, feelings etc.

When our characters are real, they connect our reader to the story, and to us.

So push yourself, push your character, to something a little darker, a little funnier, a little more secret.

Don’t stand at the edge, dive in.

Scare that character of yours.

Make her feel.

Surprise her.

And surprise yourself at the same time.

 

Go!

Quit reading this.

Go write!

 

 

 

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15-Minute Monday

There’s a skunk that lives near my house. This Pepe wanders around close enough (do the have to be close?) to wake me EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

(Oh! I forgot to tell everyone I had a dream about the Property Brothers from HGTV the other night. Yes! The skunk woke me from that dream, too.)

Here is my normal night:

Go to sleep. Fall asleep quickly.

Have nightmare.

Wake up.

Cold.

Scared.

Fall asleep.

Toss and turn. Fitful dreams.

Wake up.

Curse.

Go to the potty.

Look at the clock. 12:25.

Shake and repeat.

Almost all night long.

So when I get close to having a pleasant bit of dreamy time–Property Brothers Dreamy Time–and skunk arrives . . . .

Well, I think murderous thoughts. And you can see they’re justified.

This is EXACTLY like our characters. They need to do what they really would do. And they need to be groomed for it in the writing of our novels. If one MC would never jump out of a plane, but must by the end of the book, then you need her to be getting ready for it. If one character has a social anxiety and would never speak up, but must by the end of the novel, then you need them to be taking the baby steps that will get them to this change. If one lady wouldn’t normally think of bagging a wild animal and throwing that very animal next to her worse enemy’s house, then I better get a bag, a protective suit and nose plugs.

There’s hardly anything worse (in reading) (not including a stinking skunk) than getting to the end of a book and saying, “That character would have never done that. Ever.” This means the writer hasn’t done her work. There was no character growth. At least not in the right direction.

And you don’t want to be that writer, do you?

Huh?

Didn’t think so.

 

 

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Three Things Thursday

Carol

😦

Today is a sad day for me. For the last three months or so, the girls and I have loved a doggie for another family until they left for Oregon.

Her name is Phoebe and she left today. I miss her.

It wasn’t until the hit and run murder of my other favorite dog that I realized I could use animals as characters in books.

Thelma, in Signed, Skye Harper, is based on Violet, out doggie who died several years ago.

Now I will need a little pup like Phoebe to be a character in a novel. And I’m gonna flesh out a dog in the book I’m writing with Ann Dee and fashion her after this dog I miss terribly.

What about you? How do you make animal characters lovable and human?

 

Brenda

May is National Short Story Month.  Who knew? Brian Klems, of The Writer’s Dig for The Writers Market online, was saying that while we’re all learning to write more well-defined characters  with more “layers”, more complex plots, scenes with heightened tension, and so on, today’s readers are drawn to writing which takes less space, less time, yet still offers great entertainment.  Short stories, novellas, short installments of longer works, flash fiction all are celebrating what readers really seem to want.
This made me feel like I should drag out a short story I wrote some time ago, polish it up and send it off.  This very act in and of itself might inspire me to write a follow up — I’ve always believed there was more to Tristan’s story than met the eye.
How about you?  Have you a short something that might be publishable in today’s fast-paced world?  Would it fit easily on someone’s eReader?  Telephone?  In someone’s pocket on one of these smaller devices?
Give yourself a break, and the idea a shot . . . why not?
Cheryl
For some reason, my subplots never make it into the first draft. My first drafts are about as simplistic as it’s possible to be without being an outline. They often weigh in at about 20,000 words. Almost no description, heavy on dialogue, more telling than I’d ever want to admit to. 

So while everyone else is scrambling to cut scenes and words and characters, I’m working on First Draft Part 2: The Other Half of the Story. It’s not a second draft, because I’m not correcting anything I’ve written. Instead, I’m trying to weave in a second and third storyline, matching up all the arcs, and making sure I’m not just combining two completely different novels.
What are some of your strange writing habits?

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