I found my critique partner through a website (Ladies Who Critique) about eight months ago. We exchanged a chapter to see if we would be a fit. We decided to chat on Google a week later and about five minutes in she said, “Can I just call you? I hate chatting.” Feeling slightly awkward about my West Virginia accent, I reluctantly agreed. (She doesn’t know I was reluctant. I’m shy. Shh, that’s a secret). That night, we went over our crits, answered questions, brainstormed. Then we spent three hours talking about writing, and story, and good books. And life. It was like we were meantRead More →
The best thing about this book (and this book has a lot going for it) are the characters. You’ve got a psychic quiltmaker. And her ex-husband, who is now the owner of the art supply shop in town. And a woman. An adorable beta artist as love interest. Sisters who are all so individual. A mom who disappeared 17 years ago and suddenly comes home. There is a big cast. And they all contribute. And they’re all real, complex, fully-formed. And yet, they don’t overpower the story.
And, at it’s core, it feels good. There are messages about accepting oneself and forgiveness that are very personal and moving (mostly because you come to care so much for these people. Um, characters.).Read More →
That’s my actual wall. Those are two of the seven GMC charts I have hung there. My two main protagonists, actually. On the top left, you’ll see an extra note: the lesson they need to learn by the end of the story. In this novel, my antagonist and her minion don’t have these. Because they fail to learn a lesson; they’re villains. Not all antagonists are villains, though. In some stories, an antagonist could be a friend or family member or even lover. In order to for the antagonist have a happy ending, they need to arc as well.Read More →
I think I opened one hell of a can of worms when I offered to post one of my sample biographies last week. Three hours later, I’ve done the prep work and I’m ready to post. The biography I’m including today is for a secondary character in the manuscript I’m working on now. Because I wanted to make comments so you could see my process, I typed it into MS Word, used the Review>Comment button to add info along the right side (in pretty blue bubbles) and, occasionally, in the text itself (but also in blue). You can download the PDF here* and itRead More →
I wanted to work on GMC for my secondary characters. I’d already written maybe fifty pages of info and backstory on my main characters. But, I couldn’t figure out what my secondary characters wanted. Why did my villain steal? From charity money to build a facility for children? I read somewhere, and strongly believe, a character can do anything as long as they have good and truthful motivation. This was a big deal to me. And I had five secondary characters to do this with. They mattered. They needed their own stories, at least in their minds. Yeah, I know, that sounds weird.Read More →
I bought another pack of index cards. I’m at this point in my story where I’m chucking what doesn’t work (after 11k words, trust me when I say: it could be worse). I’ve got to keep what works (mostly the characters) and dig deep and find the goals and the antagonist(s) and the conflict. (Why do I forget these things when I first start writing? It’s like I have to play with my characters for a bit before I can rip them apart and say, “You’re not quite right.”) So, I’m in the grocery store and there’s this pack of index cards. A bigRead More →
I learned a few years ago, when I lost an entire weekend to the time-suck that was Seasons 1 and 2 of Grey’s Anatomy, if you watch a television series in order, for at least a season, you can actually learn a lot. A season of television (good television, anyway) has story structure, character arc, and escalating conflict. Think about it. You get 22-25 or so episodes in a season of (most) TV shows. A season is structured to introduce the season’s conflict, build the tension, tie up the plot in a nice bow, and introduce next season’s story question. An episode does the sameRead More →
I’m fairly certain this comes from the site dearblankpleaseblank.com. It’s gone viral and tracking down the original is difficult. The above seems to be from the etsy store where you can buy this on stationary. Whew. All that just to point you to M.E. Summer‘s blog, Sticking to the Story, where she makes me have happy grammar dreams by telling us how to properly use things like serial commas (you MUST–my opinion, not hers) and other goodness. Also, I’m not at all calling her a grammar slut in any way. Unless she likes that sort of thing.Read More →
To me, especially when writing romance (which, I do), the two main characters have broken places*. It’s not that they couldn’t get past what’s dug in deep or that they’re incapable of healthy relationships. It’s that, just like in real life, we sometimes make bad choices when it comes to who we date and those bad choices can often be seen through a filter of our experiences. I know people can grow into their thirties, forties, fifties or older before finding what makes them choose people who are wrong for them.
In romance, to me, it’s about coming upon this person who is actually a perfect fit. Not perfect. Perfect is dull. But perfect for the character. And then it comes down to this push-pull that they’re just right because of how they not only soothe, but embrace, the broken places except the character isn’t ready yet because they need to grow. Need to arc, if you will.Read More →
There are approximately a billion ways to create a character. A lot of people use character worksheets or questionnaires. I do not use these. I will be brave enough to admit that one of those reasons is because I never spell questionnaire correctly on the first go. That alone puts me off them. But, really, they just don’t work for me. I have a few personal tricks for developing* a character. I usually, but not always, start with an idea of what they look like using pictures of actual people. If it’s not there from the beginning, it comes quickly. Once upon a time, IRead More →