Monday, May 28, 2012

Different Ways To See The Same Thing

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Time for a craft post! I love craft after all - especially concerning character development. I've talked before about writing through the eyes of your MC. But I want you all to consider for a moment the way your MC connects and interacts with your other characters. Of course each of these characters must be fully developed as well, you have to know them all. But what I'm talking about here is the relationship between characters.
The first thing you have to ask yourself if you want these relationships to come to life is, "How does this character view my MC?" Let's check out an example!
Let's go with Harry Potter on this one, shall we? There are too many characters to mention so we'll look at just a few key people. (See what I did there? They're so real they're people)

  • Ron: Harry's BFF, he loves the guy and would lay down his life, but he also has some jealousy issues. He's constantly overshadowed by Harry after all, just like he was by his siblings growing up. 
  • Snape: Wow. The whole complex mystery behind this character truly revolved around just this question, didn't it? Harry represented everything he wanted but couldn't have, meaning (spoiler alert) Lily Evans. And to make it worse, the woman he loved chose the man he despised most, his tormentor in school, who Harry happens to be the spitting image of. Except for those eyes. Lily's eyes must be a constant reminder to Snape of the mistake he made and the promise he lives to fulfill. Talk about complex and mixed feelings. 
  • Mrs. Weasley: The mother Harry deserves. And indeed, she loves him as a son, to the point that she attempts to protect him when it's nearly impossible. She is his surrogate mother.
  • Petunia: Lily's sister and Harry's aunt. Harry is a constant reminder of everything she wanted but was denied. Another case of jealousy, which is why Harry is treated so horribly by her entire family. 
Do you see what I'm doing here? It's like looking at motivation, but it has to be directly related to the MC. This defines the dialogue and the general interaction/choices that the characters make in relation to the MC and therefore the plot. 

One more example that we'll make up. Say we have a love triangle. Ouch! Pointy edges. The MC is a girl named... Julie. Her two boys are Sean, who has loved her from across the street for years, but scarred by his childhood he uses sarcasm to disguise his true feelings, and Carl, the hottest guy at school who sees her as his best arm candy. Now of course she doesn't know this, nor do we the readers at first. 

Two interactions:

Great, just what I need right now, Sean. I try to concentrate on my broken heel instead of the dark eyes that always penetrate my defenses. He's probably coming to gloat.
"You have a run in with a yetti at that dance?" He smirks and I resist the desire to smack him or burst into tears. 
"Yeah, that's exactly what happened. Why don't you go back to brooding in your room?"
His grin turns into a scowl. "Are you okay? Did he hurt you?" 
"Why? You want to give him a high five?"

Okay, now one with Carl:

"Nice performance in Lit."
I glance up from my Tuesday Special to find Carl Landers standing over me in all his ripped glory. Is he teasing me? No, his eyes crinkle in the corners and his smile... Oh wow. Don't drool, Julie.
"Thanks," is all I can muster.
He straddles the bench next to me. "I have a game this weekend."
As if a single person in this lunchroom wasn't aware of that.
"Are you going?"
I take a sip of water to wet my dry mouth. "I don't know. I hadn't thought about it much." 
"The school needs you there," he says. 
I narrow my eyes. "How do you figure?"
"Well, if you're there, in the front row, I'll play better and maybe we'll win Homecoming."

Now go write out your characters viewpoint of the MC and try writing a few practice scenes. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Read to Feed

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First of all, the winner of the first chapter critique (as chosen by is C. Lee McKenzie!! 

I've been busy lately. Life has gotten crazy and I've been practicing my mad juggling skills between kids, volunteer work, and writing. Oh and I'm pregnant, which I didn't announce publicly until now, but what the hey! Three times is the charm. :D 

What's my point? Through everything, I've been bound and determined to keep at it. To keep writing because it means - YOU ALL MEAN - so much to me. I can't imagine my life without it now. But something was missing. When I did find a precious few minutes, and I forced myself to work, I was still having a lot more trouble than usual expressing myself the way I'm used to. 

I figured it out, folks. So I have to share it with all of you. The problem was that I had let something important go in favor of writing time. READING time. I've been in book withdrawal and I hate it! Reading is just as important to writers as writing. Let me repeat that because it's so important.


The more I feed that part of my brain with delicious, nutritious books, the better I'm able to write with confidence. Do I copy authors I love? No. Certainly not consciously. But I let them INSPIRE me. I try to note what I love and find what's missing in my work so that I can round it out. Example? I just finished Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. OMG I devoured it. If you don't read her work, go fix that RIGHT NOW. I have four more books bought and ready to be gobbled up as well. And it's pumping up my writing brain. I can't explain how it works exactly, I can only tell you that it does. 

You need to read anyway. You need to know your genre and others. But if you don't get joy from reading you're probably in the wrong profession. So do me a favor and join me, will you? Go read a good book. Give up TV time or something else. But squeeze it in. 

I posted today on Enchanted Inkpot about what makes a fantasy classic. I'd love it if you visit me there too!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ!

A smile. An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Each day people interact with us, help, and make our day a bit brighter and full. This is especially true in the Writing Community
Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writing friend who listens, supports and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration when asked.
So many people take the time to make us feel special, don't they? They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

Kindness ROCKS!
To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I'm participating too!

So many of you out there are incredibly supportive and deserving. So I've decided to do more than one thing. First of all, I'm going to donate a new MG book to my son's school library. Why? Because librarians are AWESOME. My mom was one and she's the first one to encourage me to follow my dream and become a writer. Second, I want to honor Jemi Fraser because she's been supportive and sweet from the very beginning. Jemi, I'm offering you a first chapter critique, which I hope helps out! I hope you all visit Jemi. She's one of those people that you just want to reach through the computer and hug. I feel like there are so many more of you that deserve honoring. I wish I had unlimited time! So in representation of that, I'm also offering a first chapter critique to one of you. Just comment and leave me a way to get a hold of you. 

Do you know someone special that you'd like to randomly acknowledge? Don't be shy--come join us and celebrate! Send them an email, give them a shout out, or show your appreciation in another way. Kindness makes the world go round. :)
Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.
Have you ever participated in or been the recipient of a Random Act Of Kindness?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Spy Like Me

If you don't know Laura Pauling, then you must correct this egregious error by clicking on her link because she has one of the best writing blogs I know. BUT did you also know that Laura's book, A Spy Like Me debuts TODAY???? 

Laura researched (and believe me when she researches she researches) and decided that in her case self publishing was the best move. Well, I had an opportunity to read A Spy Like Me and I'm going to tell you about it right now. 

First, here's the description from Amazon: 
Stripping your date down to his underwear has never been so dangerous.

Seventeen-year-old Savvy Bent expects magic on her first date with Malcolm - in Paris! Except over a picnic of sparkling cider and strawberry tarts, a sniper shoots at them. From the top of the Eiffel Tower to the depths of the catacombs, Savvy must sneak, deceive, and spy to save her family and friends and figure out whether Malcolm is one of the bad guys before she completely falls for him. Or he tries to snuff her out.

I know! Stripping down to his underwear got me too. Laura won a first chapter critique on this blog and I LOVED her first chapter so much I couldn't wait to read the book. And read it I did. 

A Spy Like Me is a fun and fast read with a spunky heroine and a hot guy you aren't sure about until the end. Laura is a plot and structure guru so it does not surprise me in the least that structure was solid. But beyond that, the voice was nailed. I was in it with the MC from page one. The chapter ends were so good, I had trouble putting it down. It was a fast paced ride with lots of twists and turns. 

To me, spy novels are just as fantastic as paranormal. It's like becoming a superhero vicariously and how fun is that??

In celebration of the official release of A Spy Like Me, Laura Pauling is hosting a three-week blog series: A Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon. Woot! Woot!

Authors galore, guest posts and book giveaways almost every day!
Gemma Halliday, Cindy M. Hogan, Elizabeth Spann Craig,
Nova Ren Suma, Elisa Ludwig, and Anne R. Allen....Just to name a few!
And here's why she's celebrating!
Stripping your date down to his underwear has never been so dangerous.
After dodging bullets on a first date, Savvy must sneak, deceive and spy to save her family and friends and figure out if Malcolm is one of the bad guys before she completely falls for him.
Head on over to Laura’s blog for the start of the Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon. You won’t want to miss this sizzling series as we head into summer. Stock up on some great thrilling reads! If you dare…