Category Archives: character

Her Thoughts Became Mine – Discovering My Character

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

THE TEN D’S ALL WRITERS NEED

1. Diligence – You must push forward, even when you don’t want to.

2. Determination- Believe in yourself. Trust that others will see the beauty in your written word.

3. Dedication- Once you commit to becoming a writer set aside time each day to hone the craft.

4. Drive – A writer with drive and passion will eventually get noticed.

5. Desolation- Find solitude so you can create without interruptions.

6. Daily Routines- Writing should be done every day. If you set a routine, you will be less likely to break it.

7. Deadlines- Give yourself deadlines. Eg. Chapter one must be finished by Monday. The short story has to be completed by Saturday.

8. Dreams- Dream big. Never let anyone make you feel that your dreams are not possible.

9. Desire- You must want to write. If writing doesn’t feel like a necessity it might not be your passion.

10. Decision making abilities- Chapters need to be edited. Word counts need to be cut. Favorite sentences need to be chopped. It’s not always easy making decisions as a writer but it is required. Characters need to love, get hurt, evolve and occasionally die. You have to be able to make those decisions in order for your masterpiece to appear.

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Filed under character, editing, Inspirational, story telling, story writing, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

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

ACT IT OUT

ACT IT OUT

This blog post has been walking around my thoughts for a while. I’m glad it coincides with the first letter of the blog writing challenge from A to Z.

Have you ever got to the point in your story that is begging for an action scene? You stare stupidly at the screen in front of you. Your imagination presents to you a clear picture but the words you type out are bland. All you want to do is get your main character up the stairs (insert whatever scenario you are writing about here) quickly and down the hallway to the back bedroom where there is another hidden room that she can hide from the baseball bat carrying stranger. You feel her anxiety rush through your bones but yet you can’t convey it on paper.

There are a million action scenes that can be acted out right in the confines of your own home that will help make your scene stronger. I am forever jumping over obstacles, banging into things, pretending to shoot darts, stirring a pot just so I can experience the moment of the scene. What happens when I bump into something? Does pain shoot through my body? Do I bounce back? Do I bruise?

Please don’t think I like self mutilation because I promise I do not. But, I like to get down and dirty with my writing so I can help my readers experience the scene as if they are part of it.

If I was trying to get my character up the stairs, I’d probably find a flight and start racing up them. I’d pay attention to my movements. Do I stumble? Do I catch my fall with the palms of my hands slamming against the step above? Do I trip over clutter on the stair, causing my knee to smash into the step? Once I reach the top what happens? Do I turn back to see if the stranger is right behind? Or do I race down the hallway to the secret room only I (aka the character) knows about?

If this is not something you have done before, I suggest you give it a shot. It could be something as simple as making a pot of coffee. Act out the action and see what you come up with.

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Filed under character, constructing, Fiction, life, 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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Filed under audience, Author Interview, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, critique, critique groups, editing, Fiction, Inspirational, life, rejections, stories, story telling, story writing, Style, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult