GUEST POST: Two Approaches to Portraying Characters Three-Dimensionally by Pamela Nicole


Posted by Ryder Islington, Author of Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery,and coming soon: Ultimate Game, A Trey Fontaine Mystery
I hope all of you enjoy this article as much as I did. She may only be eighteen but Pamela Nicole has a a working knowledge of how to build a character. Read on as she shares her knowledge.

 

2 Approaches to Portraying Characters Three-Dimensionally

 

It’s not uncommon for readers to blame it on the characters when they haven’t enjoyed a book. In fact, poor characterization, Mary-Sues, and flat characters, are the reasons why some books just don’t work, in spite of having a great plot. And that’s where writers begin climbing the walls and request the deity of literature to please make readers just see what perfect characters they have.

 

So, maybe your beta readers have told you the characters aren’t really there for them, your critique partners aren’t convinced either, or perhaps you, yourself can’t get over the feeling that they’re lacking something.

 

That’s okay. In order for this post to be useful, you’ve got to accept you may be doing something wrong, or need to do more.

 

Readers know their thing. If they say characters are your weak point, it’s worth checking it out.

 

Let’s get to it, then.

 

Approach #1: The Dialogue and Action

 

By now, it’s understood you have your characters. Let’s say they are Jane and Joe, BFFs. We’re going to focus on how to use dialogue to portray Jane and Joe in a way that seems believable, and not forced. If you have been reading about shy Jane for now 156 pages and then Jane gets all ‘Let’s Party!’, you might want an explanation. But if this explanation never comes, or it’s just not enough, you have a characterization problem there.

 

Dialogue plays a important role in characterization, because, while we enjoy reading thoughts and conclusions, it’s what characters say and do what really stick with us.

 

I’m sure you must be at least okay at writing dialogue. No biggie. Your dialogues are not bad. Maybe there really isn’t anything wrong with them. But I assure you, you can make it even better and make good use of it for the benefit of the characters.

 

Here are some ideas:

 

  • Read some of your dialogue aloud. Do you feel like you want to laugh? Gag? It needs revising.
  • Tweak it so everytime there’s a conversation, the speakers show a trait. (It’s a good idea to keep a list of personality traits for major characters in order for this to be easier)

 

And for Actions

 

  • Try to always keep your characters in motion, or you’ll bore readers.
  • Every thing they do must have consequences. I repeat: Don’t forget the consequences.
  • Pay close attention. Jane and Joe do what Jane and Joe typically do, unless they have a reason to not to. Ex. Joe is afraid of the dark, but he enters a dark cave, albeit sweaty and shaking, to rescue his best friend, Jane.Note here that Joe isn’t happy about confronting this fear.

 

Approach #2: Opposite/Similar Character Traits

 

This is something I always strive to do. Do you sometimes feel your characters are hard to tell apart from each other? This is the solution. And it’s two-fold. Apart from being the answer to your characterization prayers, it also offers a much needed element in your story: Conflict.

 

Consider Jane:

  • Shy
  • Studious
  • Likes Gardening
  • Bossy

 

And Joe:

  • Friendly
  • Movie geek
  • Likes Videogames
  • Bossy

 

Now, these situations:

  • Jane going with Joe to a party. Jane is unconfortable and this can lead to several embarrasing moments.
  • Joe stuck in a study appointment with Jane and preferring to clean rather than study.

 

And then this one,

  • Jane and Joe are working with other classmates in a group project. Both have different but good ideas.

 

See what I mean? If you dig a little deeper, you can easily build a network of interactions between your characters that brings out the best/worst in them, gives them a distinct voice, and also offers situations you can use for the benefit of the plot.

 

Happy writing to all!

 

Fit In or Fit Out

Book Blurb:

Every person is the main character of their own story, and no one is less important thant anyone, right? Then, why do we have such a hard time understanding this simple concept? Why do we push people away and keep the wrong one close? In this work of non-fiction, written by a teenager herself, the subject is analyzed to some hard-to-admit depths, using famous quotes and relatable examples, the truth about high schools and human nature in general is revealed.

 

 

 

 

Pamela NicoleBio:

Pamela Nicole is an Ecuadorian 18-year old writer and blogger. After several attempts at productive hobbies, she discovered she could finish a YA book in three hours and forget about the real world in that time. So, after reading more, and more, she started writing short stories online and a novel draft. She published a short essay based on her own highschool experience. Pamela is currently working on her second novel.

 

 

 

 

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REBLOG: How To Write A Fight Scene


In my desire to write fight scenes that were believable, I went searching on the net for an authority. I found one. This is a great article on writing fight scenes that I thought might help other writers. Form WRITEWORLD, here is How To Write A Fight Scene:

 

Admin Note: This post is a rebloggable copy of our page on fight scenes. The page is being phased out, so from now on all updates will be made on this post and not on the page.

Among the typically difficult scenes writers face in their stories, the fight scene definitely ranks high on the list. Below you will find several resources with tips for writing a good fight scene.

Action with a Side of Zombies: One of our articles focused specifically on writing action scenes. Bonus: the examples all include zombies.
ArchetypesAndAllusions: An article on the three main types of fighters and their various approaches to kickin’ ass (or not).
TheCreativePenn.com: Alan Baxter, speculative fiction author, gives some great advice on characterization, setting, martial style, and cliches.
StoryHack.com: A PDF that takes you through writing a fight scene step by step by Randy Ingermanson, compiled by Bryce Beattie.
MarilynnByerly.com: An extremely good guide to writing fight scenes. This guide includes tips on character viewpoint, mapping the fight, and tricks for writing each type of fight.
Shelfari.com: This site is an interview with famed fantasy author R.A. Salvatore on how to write great fight scenes.
TheBusinessOfWriting: C. Patrick Schulze gives some good, solid advice on identifying and writing your fight scene.
EzineArticles.com: Marq McAlister explains how to make a fight scene pack some serious punch. This article is good for fine-tuning.
Martin Turner: Focusing specifically on sword-fighting scenes, Martin Turner writes in great detail on every conceivable detail of this type of time-honored fight scene.
SeriousPixie.com: Susan tells you about the three types of fight scene writers and explains how to fix the problems that arise for each type.
David Alan Lucus: This multi-part guide gives advice in exhaustive detail on how to write an awesome fight scene.
NightFoot: This Tumblr post offers some great tips for writing fight scenes.
Film Crit Hulk: A shoe-in for screenwriters, the Hulk and special guest Tom Townend talk shop on how to write a great movie action scene.
Harry Edmundson-Cornell: Harry writes a series on the fight scene geared toward writers of Superhero comics.
How To Fight Write: The knowledgeable and thorough admins of this exceptional Tumblr blog will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about fight scenes and weaponry—even if they have to beat it into you.
Scholagladiatoria: A YouTuber with lots of weapons teaches you how they were/are properly used to their greatest advantage.
These links provide advice specifically for writing battle scenes:

Gerri Blanc: eHow’s article on battle scenes is a basic step-by-step list for you. It’s a good introduction to writing battle scenes.
StormTheCastle.com: This article takes you through an in-depth guide on how to write battle scenes for fantasy stories.
Rhonda Leigh Jones: Jones lists some dos and don’ts of writing battle scenes.
Other resources:

List of Martial Arts: Looking for a fighting style? Find it here!
List of Weapons: Every type of weapon you can think of is listed here.
List of Military Tactics: From troop movements to siege warfare, this list has got you covered.
Asylum.com: A few examples of awesome battle tactics from history.
BadassOfTheWeek.com: Get some inspiration for awesome fight scenes and fighting characters from this compendium of badassitude.
Thearmedgentleman: Austin has offered to share his knowledge on weaponry with any writers who have questions. Thanks, Austin!
Don’t see what you’re looking for here? You can find every post we’ve ever made or reblogged about fight scenes in our “fight” tag. You might also find our “action scene” tag useful.

We hope this helps! If you have another link or a tip for how to write fight/battle scenes, hit up our ask box and let us know!

REBLOG – 1 YEAR AGO WITH 11,934 NOTES
#FIGHT #FIGHT SCENE #RESOURCES #WRITING TIPS #WRITING #THEARMEDGENTLEMAN

You can find other great articles about writing at WriteWorld.tumblr.com

GUEST POST: The 7 Ways to Become a Better Writer by Valerie Thomas


I met a charming up-and-comer last week and wanted to allow her the floor for a guest post. Enjoy the thoughts of Valerie Thomas.

The 7 Ways to Become a Better Writer

Please note, the ordering of this list is not random. There is a definite progression from the activities I find help me most with my writing, to the ones that help the least. With that in mind—and the caveat that this is only the opinion of one starving author (okay, well maybe not starving)—please enjoy.

  1. This is the most obvious one, so don’t neglect it. There isn’t any wax-on, wax-off for writing; you just do it (kudos if you recognize the reference).
  2. Read books in your genre. This is almost as important as writing. As Orson Scott Card argues in his book How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, the only way to gain familiarity with the clichés and nuances of your genre is to read as many related novels as you can get your hands on.
  3. Get critiques, whenever and wherever you can. Critiques from peers, not friends or family, are key. It’s easy to think a work is good when no one else has read it, or to think a piece is so perfect it wouldn’t bear any more editing—but trust me, critiquers will find problems and places to edit for you. Please note that you shouldn’t simply accept critiques as fact, however; consider the advice for yourself, decide whether it makes sense to you.
  4. Read nonfiction, and books outside your genre. My favorite nonfiction books are those on the topic of becoming a better writer, but at the very least a writer should be familiar with the names Strunk and White, and read a few books outside their comfort zone every year. The reason being, romance novels occasionally need an action scene, mysteries sometimes require romance, and science fiction often pulls from every other genre. Instead of emulating scenes written by authors whose skill lies elsewhere, the best answer is to go straight to the source.
  5. Go on an adventure.Writing becomes much easier if you base things, as much as you can, on your own life and experiences (this is why Ender’s Game is set in North Carolina and Pretty Little Liars is set in Pennsylvania). If you have some interesting memories to put down on paper, your novel ideas will be interesting as well. So go out and get some.
  6. Develop your empathy. Believable characters come from authors who understand people, and empathy is our way to reach an understanding. If you want somewhere to start, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the best books I’ve read.
  7. Work on your spatial awareness. There are some successful authors who can’t picture their own scenes, but to my knowledge they are very few. In order to recreate a scene in the reader’s head, an author must first be able to picture it themselves, which is why a developed spatial mind is important.

Please note that television and movie-watching are nowhere on this list. I suppose, if they were, I might place them at a very distant eight. I personally enjoy both forms of media, but have yet to notice any credible improvement in my writing from watching The Big Bang Theory.

Do you think this list is incomplete, or that I got the ordering wrong? Do you have a good book or relevant source to recommend? Please let me know in the comments below.

 

Valerie Thomas is a twenty year old college student in Colorado and author of The Clique. Her blog can be found at valeriethomasblog.wordpress.com” Something like that should be perfect.

Expected Doings in 2014


The storms of 2014 seem intent on making everyone, even those of us in the Deep South, miserable. It’s cold and dreary. But that hasn’t stopped me from going forward with my plans for further success this year. Book two of The Trey Fontaine Mysteries, ULTIMATE GAME, has gone to the editor and I’ll so be working on the first revision with her.

In the meantime, I’ve set my sights on the creation of one or two literary works, and have been daydreaming about plots and characters, and the wideness of the genre, or non-genre, as it were.

I’ve been plotting and planning my garden–I think you’ll find that all gardeners start dreaming of the next big harvest during the worst of winter weather. First I must inventory the jars of canned goods on the shelf, and determine what I shall attempt to grow this summer, and then comes the fun of seed catalogs, and plans for visiting the local nursery!

In the meantime, I’m on the search for a crit partner who loves literary novels and is willing to brainstorm and share his or her knowledge of promotion and publication. I know. This blog is disjointed and jumping from one subject to the next. But hey, that’s what the new year brings. An anxious knowledge that another year looms ahead, bright with promise and unknown joy.

I hope everyone takes these winter months to think on what the new year might bring. What new things might be experienced. And what you can do to bring a smile to others. I’ll be back with a list of books I plan to read, a couple of reviews of recent reads, some interviews and showcases of authors and their newest releases, a guest post or two, info on great classes and books for writers,  and updates on my hunt for a crit partner, my goal of creating a new pastermiece–I mean masterpiece, and a fun story here and there to make you smile.

A Recap of My Journey to Publication


I’m sure there are many writers out there who have similar stories. I wrote my first ‘book’ when I was ten years old. A sixty-nine page ‘novel’ about a girl and a wild horse who save each other. Of course, life took over and I kind of forgot about the dream. There was school, and kids, and jobs, and house payments, and…well, all those things that get in the way. I really didn’t think I had any talent, so if I wrote it would just be for myself, and who has time for that? I journaled. That would have to be enough.

But  school didn’t last forever.  And the children grew up and moved away–mostly. And so, fifteen years ago, I started writing. I wrote seven books. They were all mediocre. The first one was never ending, and the rest were weak plots filled with cardboard characters.

After years of writing and getting a lot of rejections, I met a wonderful group of women who call themselves the NOLA Stars, a part of RWA. I joined their group and soon after, found a critique group within.  These ladies were wonderful. They were generous and supportive.  I spent about eighteen months writing romance novels, if you could call them that, and having the pages critiqued every week. I remember that one Thursday I brought in the last pages of my most recent attempt at romance. Fortunately, there were five other women in the group with submissions, so it wasn’t too painful. When the next week rolled around, I had nothing to submit. I sat down hastily, chose a ‘what if’ and whipped out two or three pages right before heading for group.

Before they had finished the first page, their responses were stupendous. They praised and smiled and must have felt that finally, their words had trickled into my brain. “Why have you spent all this time trying to write romance? This is what you’re supposed to write!”

Those pages are the opening of the manuscript that became ULTIMATE JUSTICE, A Trey Fontaine Mystery. They were filled with gore and violence, and the ugly human condition. And the ladies loved it. They still give me unconditional support—those who are left, and I believe that I never would have written a saleable book had I not met them.

The other contributions to my success are: books on writing; helpful blogs by writers and supporters of writers. You can find a list of the books I depend on, and links to those blogs in the side column of this blog.

At the end of 2013, I sent the manuscript for book two, ULTIMATE GAME, A Trey Fontaine Mystery, which I hope will be out by June of this year. The publisher contacted me yesterday and said she would assign an editor in the next few weeks! Yaaay! Book Two!

The Dangers of Research


As an author, I’m always doing research. But research for my work in progress, ULTIMATE GAME, A Trey Fontaine Mystery, has made me take a second look at using my own computer for internet searches. I mean, really, how many people research how to make cocaine, and human trafficking, and cargo planes used by drug lords? I had to find answers like, how far is it from Jamaica to Columbia? How much land in Columbia is used to grow cocoa? How much does a kilo of pure cocaine cost? What is the best route for flying cocaine from Columbia to America? Through Canada?

Makes me wonder if I”m on a watch list or something. I mean, I’m just a normal person, but this book has pulled me into the nastier side of humanity. When I was finished researching the world of drug lords and following the creation of cocaine from the fields of South America to the American teen, I had to start on human trafficking, prostitution, etc. What would a madame pay for a string of young, beautiful American girls? Who else might they be sold to? An Arabian sheik? A Japanese businessman? What would they pay to have an American girl as a sex slave?

Well, at least I’ve finished the worst of the research. I’m now working on the names of streets in France, and how the maid of a drug lord in Colombia might answer the phone. And a few Spanish words. Much milder stuff. Stuff that shouldn’t draw so much attention to me.

Maybe I should change my name. Or do my deep research at a large library. Or find someone I really don’t like, make nice, and then use their computer! Hey, anyone out there want to do research for my next Trey Fontaine mystery? It’s about child molesters.

HOW NOT TO WRITE A NOVEL


I just read a post on Kristen Lamb’s blog ( http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/the-bookpocalypse-what-to-do-when-you-realize-your-story-might-be-dead/) entitled Bookpocalypse–What to Do When You Realize Your Story Might Be DEAD.

Kristen is so funny, and I love reading her articles. I always learn something from them. Can’t wait to get my  hands on her newest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World. I recommend her books to all authors, especially newbies.