Category Archives: character building

Use Your Phone to Help With Your Writing

Notes - iPhone 1

A few months ago I was sitting in a café with my sister and a friend. Across the room was a couple enjoying each other’s company (at least it looked that way).I found myself staring at them. They were young enough to be characters in a young adult novel. I began making mental notes. The boy had broad shoulders, dark wavy hair and eyes that made him look as if he had a permanent peer. The girl had long blonde low lighted hair with a side swept bang. Her all black clothing was lightened by tons of silver jewelry she wore as accessories. As I willed myself to remember their features, styles and mannerisms (I was character building), I wished I had a notebook and pencil. I know better not to leave the house without a notebook.

I was fiddling around on my phone when the “aha” moment hit. I did have a notebook. My nifty little i-phone came equipped with one. I’ve been jotting down notes on my i-phone ever since.

Below you will find a list of ways to use an i-phone to help with your writing. I still bring a notebook just in case the unforeseen happens, my phone goes dead, I drop it and it breaks, I lose it etc. Notebooks should not become extinct but times are a changing and anything that helps your writing is a good thing.

1. Notepad- As stated above this feature on i-phones is awesome for writers. It allows us to open up individual notes where we can jot down things such as character descriptions, character traits, settings, dialogue, anything that inspires us while we are out and about.

2. The Camera- You find yourself at a location that would be ideal for the story you are writing, no worries snap a few pictures so later you can write about the setting. You see someone that resembles your vision of a character, click away (try and do it discreetly or you can be looked at as a creep).

3. Web surfing-As long as you have a reasonable plan you can roam the web via your phone to fact check, send or receive e-mails, visit social platforms or sneak a peek at your blog stats. (I’m not the only one who does this am I?)

4. Voice Recording – You can set your phone on record to tape the noises that surround you. You’d be surprised at the noises we tune out on a daily basis. Sounds help bring the picture you are trying to create come into view. The noises you hear while dining out are different from those you would hear while fishing.

5. Video Recording- A great tool to help you write action scenes. You’re writing about a soccer player kicking the winning goal. If you have the actual moment at your fingertips it will make writing the scene a lot easier.

I’m sure all phones whether they are an i-phone or an android have the options I mentioned or similar accessories available. Was there any I missed? Do you use your phone to assist with your writing?

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Her Thoughts Became Mine – Discovering My Character

blog pic

I finally got to edit today. I won’t bore you with why I haven’t been able to in the last few weeks, but I will tell you I felt lost, not being able to be active in the world I adore, the world I create.
I have a great critique partner. She is someone that really jumps into editing and gives an honest opinion. I noticed one thing that was brought up several times through my critique. “Too many internal thoughts.”
I have a tendency to include an internal thought from the mc at the end of a sentence but it wasn’t something I recognized I did until recently.

Coincidentally, a few days prior to receiving my critique I was beginning to spot the over usage in my work. So when I read her comments, I knew she was absolutely correct.
As I deleted words that have become special to me I realized something else. The internal thoughts that I was writing down unnecessarily were necessary to me. Those internal thoughts were my characters way of introducing herself to me. So though eliminating them makes the story stronger, I am connected to my character because of them. I learned what she thought about people, what she really wish she could say to people, what she thought of herself, what went through her mind when she was scared and what memories she held.
Her mind became my mind and I discovered everything she needed to be.

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Querying?

You finished your manuscript, hooray! The hard part is over right? Don’t be so sure. The querying process can be discouraging, but luckily there are a few great sites out there that will help walk you through it. By visiting these sites and learning how to master query writing, I have gained more requests and less denials. Receiving a request for a partial or full manuscript is one of the most exhilarating moments for a writer. I have received requests that were later denied but I know thanks to everything I learned from the sites I am about to list, I got a little closer to my dream becoming a reality.
Good luck querying. You never know when your query will end up at the right place at the right time.

Literary Rambles-Spotlighting Children’s Book Authors, Agents, and Publishing. Casey McCormick does a great job with her blog. I have used her blog most often when querying. I love reading the agent interviews. At the end of each interview she lists what genre the agents are willing to represent, what their yearly sales have been and how other writers feel about them as agents.

Guide to Literary Agents Blog. This writer’s digest blog hosted by Chuck Sambuchino is inspiring and informative. Chuck features new agent alerts, agent interviews and agency news. When I want to be inspired, I read his successful queries posts. The post lists actual queries that earned writers their agents. At the end of the queries, he interviews the agents and asks them what about the particular query grabbed their attention.

Miss Snarks First Victim Another great blog for writers. Miss Snark offers advice to writers, critiques query letters and partial manuscripts. She is visited by anonymous agents who also offer their help. You will also find lots of fun contests on her blog.


Agent Query
– For seven years in a row, this site has been recognized by Writer’s Digest to be one of the best websites for writers. This free site offers a ton of information. You will find informative pieces, searchable databases, agency profiles, publishing news and e-publishing help. If you have not visited this site, race over now.

Query Tracker This fabulous site allows you to organize and track your query submissions. It also offers agent statistics, comments from others who have or are in the process of querying and an online community. They also have a category dedicated to the top ten. You will discover which agents are most likely to request, which ones are known for not responding and who are the hardest ones to land.

Query Shark– A blog offering help for fiction queries. All queries must be submitted to the Query Shark for consideration. If your query is chosen, The Query Shark may offer a critique and instructions on how to make it stronger. Reading the revised queries are great for inspiration. You are also allowed to offer comments.

What sites or materials do you refer to when writing a Query letter?

 

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COMING TOGETHER

There is something that happens when a writer writes that I like to call Coming Together. It’s the moments when our internal light bulbs click on. It’s the point where the unknown becomes the obvious. Have you ever had an idea but couldn’t imagine what it would become or what story it would end up telling?

You develop a plot, create characters and build settings, but the pieces to your writing puzzle are scattered. Eventually, somehow, they will all fit together.
In my middle-grade novel (it’s currently out on submission) I created a character who rode a bike with a horn. The character is not a child but an older man. At the time, I had no idea why he insisted on attaching a childlike horn to his bike and to be honest I didn’t care. I just knew he did. I don’t think I ever intended on exploring the reason behind it until the reason presented itself and suddenly I became giddy. It’s as if someone gave me a pertinent piece, I had no idea was missing. My story was coming together in a way I never imagined it would have.

I have learned to stop worrying about what will be and just let it be. When reading books, I find myself questioning whether I’m at a point in someone else’s book that was one of their aha moments. One that comes to mind is Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (if you have not read it, be advised I’m about to reveal a spoiler). It’s the scene where Katniss and her squad are sharing a laugh at Mitchell’s attempt to show desperation-(they are supposed to be acting, and their lack of acting skills sends them into hysteria). I can still remember the smile on my face contorting into an opened gasp when a few sentences later Boggs steps back so he can find the best light for the Holo and triggers a bomb which ends up killing him). I remember thinking, did she know she was going to do this or is it something that in the midst of a fun scene just showed up? I’d probably have to ask Suzanne directly to find the answer but I imagined her tapping at a keyboard when the realization set in that this scene required tragedy.

Writing is an unraveling of the mind. Sometimes the idea never comes together they way we imagined. But, the times they do, make doing what we do worth every word.

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Filed under character, character building, constructing, story telling, writer's life, writers, Writing

I FAILED MY CHARACTERS

This past year has provided me with many ups and downs. I received five full requests, and thought for sure by year’s end I would be announcing that I finally landed myself an agent. When the first one came back rejected stating “I’m not connecting in the way I need to be,” I thought, Okay, that’s just one person’s opinion. But when they all came back rejected with identical words, I knew it was time to go back to the manuscript. I gathered all of their rejections and came to the conclusion (something I think I already knew but didn’t want to believe) that my characters were flat. I received some positive feedback such as “This is an extremely marketable idea” and “The plot is good and pace is nice” but it was the last rejection that clicked and made me realize there is no depth to my characters. The very kind agent added a few more words to her I’m not connecting in the way I need to. She specifically said it was the characters she wasn’t connecting with. I felt embarrassed because here I was writing blogs about creating characters and questions to ask them. I should have been following my own tips and advice. She did leave her door open and said she would be willing to look at a rewrite or any other queries I might have.
I have been given a gift. An insight to why exactly my manuscript has failed to get me an agent. The day following her rejection, I headed to the book store and bought myself two writing books. I am ready to breathe life into the characters that mean so much to me. In my mind these characters were very much alive which is why I think they were dead on paper. I failed to add background stories, I gave no inclinations of how they ended up in each other’s lives (despite the fact I knew). I failed them. I failed myself.
Today I see through different eyes. I am prepared for the challenge. A story is nothing if you don’t connect with the characters. Wish me luck!

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Filed under character, character building, editing, Writing

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CHARACTER

Characters usually present themselves to me by name first. Once a name comes to mind, I start envisioning my character. I imagine their features, I hear their voices, I think about what their habits may be, how their minds think and countless other things. A great way to get to know your character is to set up a questionnaire. Below is a list of questions that may help you get to know your character better. Try asking your character these twenty questions and see if you discover anything new about them.

1. What is your age?

2. Do you have any siblings?

3. Are your parents alive? Are they married? Are they divorced?

4. If you were sent to a deserted island what three things would you take?

5. Do you have a hidden talent?

6. Do you have a habit you wish you could break?

7. What features do you like the most about yourself?

8. What feature do you dislike the most about yourself?

9. Do you have a hobby?

10. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

11. What kind of music do you like?

12. What is your biggest pet peeve?

13. What is your favorite food?

14. Do you have a passion and if so what?

15. Do you consider yourself and introvert or extrovert?

16. What is your idea of a perfect day?

17. Who is your favorite author?

18. What would the first thing be on your bucket list?

19. If I asked you to write an entry in your journal what would it be about?

20. Tell me something no one else knows about you?

Building a character is fun but takes time. Your reader needs to feel like they know the character intimately and in order for that to happen you must first know the character intimately. Why not give this list a shot and see what you come up with. Are there any questions that you ask that I haven’t listed? If so leave a comment and let me know. I’m always looking for new questions to ask my characters.

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Filed under character, character building, Fiction, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

MY GUEST BLOG POST FOR AGENT BREE OGDEN

Do you think a writer needs to go on a diet? A writing diet that is. Check out my guest post over at This Literary Life. Bree Ogden (a super agent) was cool enough to allow me to write a blog for her site. It is the first time I have written for another blog as a guest and I’m super excited.

Make sure you leave a comment so I know you stopped by.

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