Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Links of Interest

SHARPENING THE HOOKS:


CREATING UNIQUE CHARACTERS:


THE ACTIVE CHARACTER:


UNLOCKING THE FIVE SENSES IN YOUR WRITING:


IDENTIFYING YOUR AUDIENCE:


THE NARRATIVE FOCUS:


WHERE TO FIND FREE IMAGES ONLINE:


THE SECRET TO WRITING A SERIES:


FIXING ROUGH TRANSITIONS:


TIPS FOR RESEARCHING POLICE PROCEDURALS:


MAKING THE READER CARE ABOUT THE HERO:


MARKET NEWS, PARANORMAL SHORT STORIES WANTED:


OMNI MAGAZINE RIGHTS GRAB:


IS THAT SUBPLOT HELPING OR HURTING YOUR STORY:



Monday, March 23, 2015

Making Your Characters Sound Different

QUESTION:  My critique partners say most of my characters sound alike in dialogue.  Help!


Cast all your characters with actors you are very familiar with so you can hear their voices when you write dialogue.  Unless you have a tin ear for speech, you will rarely have two characters sound alike.

When you pick your actor, consider what part of the country or country of origin your character is from.  Make sure their voices reflect that. You don’t want an actor from DOWNTON ABBEY to play a cop from Philly.

Writing dialogue as what it sounds like rather than the proper spelling is frowned upon these day unless used very sparingly so don’t go overboard with phonetic spelling ("Yo' ole father doan' know yit what he's a-gwyne to do. Sometimes he spec he'll go 'way, en den agin he spec he'll stay.”--from HUCKLEBERRY FINN) or apostrophes to show words that are slurred together. (“If’n you think, I’s stupid.  You be wrong!”)

If you aren’t that familiar with a region’s speech, be very careful how you write it because it’s easy to stereotype or get it wrong.  For example, most of us in the Southern US don’t use “y’all” that often, and when we do in very informal speech, it’s plural meaning more than one “you.”   (Jennifer turned to her cousins and smiled sweetly, “Y’all come home with me and have some supper.”  Her voice turned frosty as she glared at her brother.  “You don’t come, period.”)

You should also consider social class and education.  Someone with a college education and an upper middle class background won’t sound the same as someone who never finished high school whose parents never finished high school.

Read your dialogue aloud or in your head to see if you’ve got different voices, or ask a few friends or family to read your dialogue like a play to see how it sounds.  

Another good test is one line of dialogue that isn’t attributed to who is saying it.  If a reader can tell who is saying it by how and what is said, then you’ve succeeded at your task.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Links of Interest

WHY YOUR AWESOME MAIN CHARACTER IS BORING PEOPLE:


TIPS FOR WRITING MULTIPLE POVS:


THE PROS AND CONS OF SELF-PUBLISHING:


CLARIFYING YOUR THEME:


WHAT’S HOT IN ROMANCE ( BIG PUBLISHING):


PROTECTING YOUR COPYRIGHT:


DEEPEN THE SETTING AND WORLDBUILDING:


DESTROY THOSE INFO DUMPS:


HOW TO UPDATE AN AMAZON WIDGET:


FORMATTING SELF-PUB MANUSCRIPTS:


FINDING YOUR IDEAL READER:


TRADITIONAL OR SELF-PUB?  HOW TO DECIDE:


SHOULD YOU BLOG?


GIVING YOUR NOVEL A KILLER CONCEPT:


AGENTS DISCUSS THE DEFINITION OF VARIOUS POPULAR GENRES:


MUTIPLE VIEWPOINTS?


WHAT THE READER KNOWS THROUGH VIEWPOINT AND WHAT HE SHOULD KNOW:


BECOMING MORE READER FRIENDLY:


SEVEN KEYS TO BUILDING A RELATABLE CHARACTER:


AVOIDING WEAK CONSTRUCTION IN DIALOGUE:



Monday, March 16, 2015

Making a Character Likable

Sometimes, you can start out your story with a main character who has unpleasant elements to their personality, but a character must be likable or, at the very least, relatable for the reader. Here are ways to show more than the prickly outer elements of her personality.

If you give the main character a worthy goal in the first pages of the novel, then you give yourself time to make a seemingly unlikable character grow on the reader.

By worthy, I mean something the reader will want that character to succeed at–- rescuing children, helping a nice person find happiness, etc. Even if the character starts out doing it for a base reason like money, the reader will still want him to succeed.

Simple things can help make a character start to grow on the reader. Pets are always a good option. Either he has one, or he can't resist the heroine's kitten, or something like that. Having him interact positively with a child is also a good likability quickie. 

Recently, I read a short story in which the heroine breaks into the apartment of a possible villain-- a hard-ass security agent. A teddy bear is sitting on his couch, and he later admits it belongs to his nephew. With that simple stroke, the author made a seemingly unlikable bad guy a much nicer person.

Giving a character a vulnerability that the reader can relate to is also a good likability quickie. It can be as simple as a chick lit heroine having a bad hair day and the boss from heck, or the bad ass hero getting into a small plane and freaking out because he finds a snake. 

Eventually, more likable elements of that character's personality will have to be shown, though, so the bad parts of her personality don't overwhelm the reader.

In some genre fiction like thrillers, the immediate likability quotient doesn't have to be high at the beginning, particularly if the character is strong and effective in what he needs to do.

But in a romance, the hero or heroine should be likable from the very beginning. The other main character can become likable as the book progresses, but he should not start as totally horrible. Some character traits like cruelty can't be forgiven or changed because, in real life, they never are.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Links of Interest

FIGURING OUT YOUR CHARACTER’S GOALS AND MOTIVES:


WAYS NOT TO BEGIN YOUR BOOK:


CREATING A GREAT BAD GUY:


PROMO, COMPARING DIFFERENT PLACES FOR BOOK GIVEAWAYS:


CREATING TENSION:


CLARIFYING THE STAKES OF THE STORY:


CREATING MEANINGFUL SETTINGS IN YOUR NOVEL:


GOVERNMENT SPYING AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES, WHO DOES WHAT:


CREATING A HIGH CONCEPT FOR YOUR NOVEL:


TIGHTENING CHARACTER DESCRIPTION:


CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT:


RESOURCES FOR MEDICAL INFO, ETC., FOR YOUR WRITING:


HOW TO AVOID TOO-DUMB-TO-LIVE CHARACTER CHOICES:


MAKING THE CHIT-CHAT WORK:


BRUSH UP YOUR GRAMMAR, ITALIZATION:


BALANCE THE BACKSTORY:


GETTING THE PLOT AND THE SEX SCENES TO SYNC: 


KEEPING A SECRET AND BACKSTORY:


DO AGENTS VISIT MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSION WEBSITES?


STRAIGHTENING UP YOUR VIEWPOINT:


SPOTTING VAGUE WORDAGE AND MAKING YOUR TEXT STRONGER:



Monday, March 9, 2015

Making the Victim Matter

Mystery, romantic suspense, and urban fantasy novels often start with a dead body, and the main character’s goal is to find out the who, what, when, where, and why of his death so she can solve the crime.  

The first hook for the reader is curiosity about the victim and the crime as well as the main detective/character’s personality, etc.  

Most readers will allow the writer time to set up the situation and to gather the first clues, but a certain point, the reader’s patience and interest will wear thin unless the writer gives the reader a reason to care about the victim.  Simply getting justice for the victim isn’t enough to keep most readers reading the whole novel.  

The simplest way to make the reader care is to make the victim someone the reader would care about instantly -- a child, an innocent, a good person, or a person with a job that matters like being a school teacher, doctor, social worker, or an honest cop.  

Even someone who was a jerk or bad person will matter if he died doing something decent, or he had survivors who care.  A weeping mother or wife who begs for justice is a strong motivator for the detective and the reader because they create an emotional stake in the person’s death.  If the detective must prove it was murder, not suicide, so the young widow with little kids will get death benefits, the solution will matter.

If nothing about the victim will give the detective or the reader any reason to care that he was murdered, then the detective must have another reason to solve the crime.  Perhaps, he will lose his job because his failure rate at solving crimes is so high, or he’s caught in a political situation where only solving this crime will save his career.  The victim could be one of a string of serial killings, but the killer has made several sloppy mistakes in this killing which could be his downfall so the detective is trying to stop other murders as well as solving this one.  

A method used in TV shows like CSI or BONES is to make the good guys and their scientific methods as important as the crime’s solution.  We care about them more than the rotting corpse of the abusive pimp at the crime scene, and their lives are the soap opera that drives the emotional plot while the science drives the mystery plot.  

Having the killer go after the detective or people he cares about is also a tried and true method to make the solution matter.  


Whatever method you use, just remember that the main character’s goal in solving the crime must be a strong and worthy one, and the emotional reasons for the solution must matter to both the reader and the detective.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Links of Interest

COULD YOU BENEFIT FROM A WEBSITE DESIGN?


WRITING DESCRIPTIVELY:



WRITING BELIEVABLE CRIME AND MURDER SCENES:


FIGURING OUT THE CHARACTER ARC:


DON’T REFER TO YOUR CHARACTER BY TITLE:


BRAINSTORMING YOUR IDEAS TO CREATE A STORY:


DIALECT IN DIALOGUE:


MAKING A GOOD BOOK TRAILER:


ANALYZE YOUR STORY STRUCTURE:


A SCAM AGAINST SELF-PUBS USING THE DCMA NOTICE:


THE THREE TYPES OF BIOS EVERY PROFESSIONAL WRITER NEEDS:


HOW TO TELL WHEN YOU ARE TELLING, NOT SHOWING:


THE SEVEN KEY ELEMENTS TO PACING YOUR NOVEL:


GET  YOUR VIEWPOINT CHARACTER TALKING INTERNALLY:


AVOIDING WEAK SENTENCE STRUCTURE:


READING IS THE TRAINING GROUND FOR WRITERS, (AMEN TO THAT!):