Do Your Characters Have Character?

fiction-writing-rule-3-create-dimensional-charactersI’ve just completed the God knows what number revision of my novel(I lost count a long time ago). While I have to admit it is one-hundred times better than the first draft, it is still not where it needs to be.

I hope this isn’t coming across too negative. To be honest, while I’m not where I want to be, I’m a lot closer than I use to be, and from my way of thinking, I have a cake that needs to be iced. My icing is a mixture of character development and imagery.

I made a comment not too long ago that my characters were just too good. Nobody’s that perfect. So I did some research on character development to find out what I needed to do to rough them up and give them some dimension.

There are actually three dimensions of  character development. I’ve used them all at times, but never made a concerted effort to  put them all together in one particular character until now. Yeah, I seem to do everything the hard way. Comes from inexperience.

So what are the three dimensions I’m working on?

The first dimension is surface traits, quirks and habits.

This one is easy. We all know we’re suppose to describe our characters and help the reader picture them in their mind.  Is their hair blonde, red or brown.  Do they have blue eyes, green eyes or brown eyes. What about that annoying mole on the chin that makes you think of a witch.

Maybe they have an annoying laugh, or have a nervous habit of tapping their left foot up and down. I play with paper clips when I’m the lead in a group meeting. It calms my nerves.

These are all things you can see, when you look at the person.

The second dimension is backstory and inner demons.

Backstory allows us to see where they came from, and why they act the way they do. We see the scars, the memories, and the dashed dreams that leave them with resentment, fear, and weakness.

We understand where they came from so we can empathize with them and form an emotional attachment.

The third dimension is action, behavior, and world view.

This dimension looks at moral substance or lack thereof. It’s defined not by backstory or inner demons, but by actions and behaviors.

A hero takes a stand, takes risks, and makes decisions.

A villain rationalizes behavior and is insensitive. He refuses to take responsibility.

As a story teller, it is your job to integrate all three realms of character development convincingly and compellingly. Nobody wants to read a story with one dimensional or shallow characters.

What’s your thoughts? Any suggestions or tips that might help me flesh out my characters during this revision?

-Jan R

Do Your Characters Have Character?

How Do You Do It?

1b9274d0012bdfeccde1fef6c6e083deSo how do you do it? It’s so easy to write blogs on finding time to write, or finding motivation to write. All of the tips and recommendations sound great, until you’re in the same boat as those people you are trying to help.

I’m sitting here in my apartment of one week, following a move that seemed to take a month, and I just want to quit. Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but a break would be nice.

In the past month, I have sold two homes, bought a really nice piece of property and parked in an apartment until our new home can be built.

If that’s not enough, my granddaughter is scheduled to be born (C-section), and I will be bringing her 3 year old energizer bunny brother back to our tiny apartment for the week. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I do love baby brother by the way. I’m just finding it harder to keep up with him 🙂

With all of this craziness, the one thing I know for sure, is I have to plan. When am I going to be able to write without distractions?

It’s Sunday afternoon and pretty quiet for the moment. The calm before the storm. With that in mind, I decided to take advantage of my free time and write my blogs for this coming week. Goodness knows I want have time when little man visits. I can put them in queue and post them on my scheduled days during the week.

Would love to hear from you. How do you do it?

-Jan R

How Do You Do It?

Literary Agents: Look Before You Leap!

Get-The-Inside-Scoop-On-A-Literary-Agent-FEATUREDI’ve spent the last few days finalizing the list of agents I have chosen to submit my work to. If you are looking for an agent, I would recommend checking out the Association of Author’s Representatives(AAR). It’s a free database on line that provides a list of literary agents, the genres they represent, and if they are open for submission.

Once you’ve identified agents you would like to pursue, the work begins. I had a list of 12 agents that met my criteria. Well I didn’t want to send my work out to all 12 at one time, so I began the process of elimination.

Remember you are interviewing the agents and determining if they are a fit for your work, just as they are reviewing you work to determine if you are a fit for them. Don’t waste your time, or the agents, by sending them work in a genre they don’t represent.

I pulled up the literary agencies for the agents I selected and read their biographies. I wanted to know how long they had been in the business, who their clients were, and the books they had recently sold to publishers.

I was able to eliminate a few following the aforementioned reviews and continued to the blogs or web pages of the remaining.

This not only allowed me to get a feel for the agent as a person, but it provided valuable information. One of the agents I decided to  submit to, talked about what she liked to see in a query letter.

Well I had just reviewed query letters to refresh my memory, and noted that what she liked in her queries and what the official query letter format recommends, don’t match up.

As a matter of fact, she said when she opened a query that used her preferred format, she knew the person submitting the proposal had done their homework.

Do your homework!

-Jan R

 

Literary Agents: Look Before You Leap!

You Have To Make Time!

untitledI love reading Jerry Jenkins blogs. I always take something away from what he has to say. I don’t know that he offers anything different or new, it’s just the way he says it. I read what he’s written, and a light bulb goes off.

He offered some profound information in the last email I received, and I wanted to share it with you. First, he said we all make time to do what we really want to do. Then he followed that up with a comparison of make and find. You won’t ever find the time to write. We all have the same 168 hours per week. The only way to add hours to your calendar is to sacrifice hours from it.

In order to make the time, you must carve something else out of your schedule. It all starts with your priorities. How desperately do you want to write, finish a book, become a novelist?

Only you can determine your priorities. What are you willing to give up to pursue your dream?

TV?

Movies?

Parties?

Concerts?

Sports?

Hobbies?

Social Media?

Jerry Jenkins worked full time and helped his wife raise their three young sons. He wasn’t about to sacrifice his family for writing time, so he scheduled his writing from 9:00pm-12:00am.

What did he sacrifice? TV time, social gatherings with friends, and a couple hours of sleep.

What are you willing to sacrifice?

-Jan R

You Have To Make Time!

Grammatical Errors Are The Unforgiveable Sin!

imagesWPQO2IDQI was reading How to Write Best-Selling Fiction a little while back, when a chapter jumped out at me, and I couldn’t help but smile. It was totally me. I’m ashamed to admit my naivety, but it was like I was reading my story.

Dean Koontz, the author, tells a story about an unpublished author. He had agreed to look at the man’s manuscript and got a little more than he bargained for. For the purpose of his story, he decided to call the man Bubba.

Bubba was very excited about his work, and said writing was the easiest thing he had ever done. All he had to do was sit down and type. The story just flowed off the top of his head. He wondered why everyone wasn’t doing it.

Well Bubba did give him a manuscript, but it was nowhere near publishable. In fact, according to Koontz, “In the first chapter of that novel, Bubba commits virtually every grammatical error known to English-speaking people.”

Like Bubba, I finished my first novel and was eager to put it out there. It was a great story. I knew I had a best seller. I sent it out to literary agents and waited for my offer. I of course, got a number of rejections. One very gracious agent took the time to review at least a portion of my work, and provided me with a list of reasons why my novel wasn’t ready.

Grammatical and Structural errors were at the top of the list. Dean Koontz calls these the unforgivable sins. New writers may need pointers on pacing, transitions, POV, backstory… but if you’re calling yourself a writer, you should know and follow the basic rules of grammar.

There you go. I’m a sinner, but I have worked hard to redeem myself 🙂

One of the myths that I fell into, was that it didn’t matter if my grammar was perfect or even approaching perfect. The publishers had editors that would go through and correct all of my mistakes. Right? Wrong!!!

 

-Jan R

Grammatical Errors Are The Unforgiveable Sin!

Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

imagesEX1UP1B8I’m preparing to send my manuscript out to literary agents again. This is the second time it is going out, the first time resulted in rejections, so I have to admit I’m a little apprehensive.

I saw a blog I had written almost a year ago and decided to republish it. It is exactly where I am right now and serves as a reminder to control my inner critic. You know, the one that tells you your work isn’t good enough or ready to be sent out. Most of us writers have one.

No one wants to be humiliated or rejected. Your inner critic will paralyze you by telling you just how bad your work really is (even if it’s not) .  Don’t listen!!! If you’ve gotten this far, you have hopefully addressed all areas that could be in question, and the novel should be pretty doggone close to perfect. If you haven’t done you due diligence and know your work has flaws, fix them before sending it out-common sense right.

I remember doing a Bible study on the battlefield of the mind. Though it’s primary purpose was dealing with spiritual warfare, it also related to many of the issues that we deal with in our everyday lives. Our mind is a battlefield. In writing for example, all of us worry about looking dumb and never getting published. Fiction writers make a business out of being scared, and not just looking dumb.

It took me six months from the time I started writing my novel, to tell my husband what I was doing. When I finally told him, I was a mess. I knew he would be excited for me and encourage me in my endeavor, and I didn’t want to let him down.

For the longest time I treated my novel as a hobby. That’s not a mindset that will get you published. When I finished and sent it out to literary agents, I was more than a little anxious, but the first few rejections confirmed my beliefs. I just wasn’t good enough.

Note that I said, “I wasn’t good enough.” Well that’s not exactly true. The truth is the novel wasn’t good enough. The fact is, it was filled with grammatical and structural errors, there was some serious head hopping going on, and my on-the-nose writing was all but bringing the story to a complete halt.

I don’t know that the inner critic will ever go away. So how do you combat it? You keep moving forward and growing in your craft. Don’t stop writing. I still question my novel, but I know, that I know ,that I know, that it’s a lot better than it was after the unofficial first draft. I’ve learned the hard way and hope you avoid some of my pit falls.

-Jan R

Don’t Believe Everything You Think!