Monday, November 10, 2014
Deep characters are not deep merely because there’s something magical about them that sets them apart from other characters.
Deep characters are deep because the author chose to go deep with them. The author could have chosen to go shallow, and the result would have been shallow characters.
Any character can be a deep character. Any character can be a shallow character.
It’s not about who your characters are, it’s about what you choose to do with them.
I’m convinced that a very powerful way to go deep with your characters is to interview them.
Set up the interview in Q and A format. Ask your character a question. Then get inside the character’s skin and answer the question—in that character’s voice.
This works for several reasons:
It Alternates Between Analysis and Creation
Asking questions gives you a chance to put on your analyst’s hat. You get to ask the hard questions about motivation and values. You can probe as much as you want into your character’s mind.
Answering those hard questions gives you a chance to put on your creative hat. You get to become the character, exactly as you would if you were writing a scene from that character’s point of view.
But in an interview, you don’t have to worry about action and description. You can focus on speech patterns, mental patterns, emotional patterns.
And you don’t have to worry about being “interesting” to the reader, because nobody will ever read your character interview. The interview is just for you to get to know your character.
It Gives You Practice Being Each Character
This is essential, because as you write each scene, you need to become the point-of-view character for the duration of that scene. You need to slip inside that character’s skin. You need to convince your reader that she is that character.
This is not easy. It’s a little easier in first-person than in third-person. And when you’re interviewing your character, you’re always answering the questions in first person. You’re speaking as that character. So this is your chance to practice. But this is not mere practice time. This is practice time that also teaches you new things about your character.
One of the hardest things to do in fiction is to develop unique voices for each character. It’s way too easy to have all your characters sound alike. The interview is an opportunity to develop all the little verbal tics for each character. You’ll learn which words they overuse. What grammatical liberties they take. How they think and how they express themselves.
It’s Not Your Fault
When you interview your character, you can let him go off on tangents and take all the wrong turns that are bound to happen as you learn who your characters are. After all, your characters are human, so they’re bound to make mistakes.
But it’s them making the mistakes, not you. So if they go off into left field, you can rein them in, delete all the dumb things they said, and start over. And it’s all their fault, not yours.
Yes, this is a psychological game you’re playing with yourself. No, there’s nothing wrong with this. Any time you can make it safe to take chances in your story development, that’s a good thing.
Interviewing your character is incredibly fun. And incredibly powerful. If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out on something amazing.
You can do this at any point in your story development. It’s especially helpful if you’re still planning the story, or if you’ve painted your story into a corner, or if you’re worried that your character’s motivations don’t make sense.
Try it now. Pick any one of your characters. Open a document and start asking questions. Ask one, then answer it right away. Then ask another, and answer it right away. Keep doing that until you’re done. You’ll know when you’re done. Your instincts are smart about being done.
If you don’t enjoy the process, then don’t do it again.
But I bet you will. I bet if you try this once, you’ll be hooked for life.
This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 10,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visitwww.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
Posted by Anne Patrick at 9:41 AM
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Thursday, November 13, 2014, from 1-2 p.m. (Central time), Karen Wiesner will be interviewed for a webinar at SilverBox Seminars, LLC http://www.silverboxseminars.com/featured-event-hot.html
Award-winning author of over 150 books, Karen Wiesner http://www.karenwiesner.com talks about what it takes to be an active, successful writer. Wiesner has authored multiple novels and how-to books and created tutorials for Writer's Digest Books. This is a valuable event for writers of all skill levels. To join the event, you must be registered at https://attendee.gototraining.com/r/410063222922743297
Payment ($49.99) can be made at this link. Following the interview, all attendees will receive a PowerPoint “handbook” prepared by Karen Wiesner as well as 10% off discount code toward the purchase of her reissued writing reference, COHESIVE STORY BUILDING. For more information, contact email@example.com.
Posted by Anne Patrick at 8:36 AM
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Available at Desert Breeze Publishing
And other online bookstores.
Many people are curious as to why I've crossed over from sweet romances to paranormals. It's simply because I feel a spiritual connection to those I've lost in my life. I feel strongly that what we call paranormal is actually an aspect of spirituality.
Whether we call our spirits angels, ghosts, or even just souls, Christianity is based on an understanding that our mortal bodies are merely shells. I enjoy writing about spirits finished with this life and spirits, who I believe, have not or will not experience ever mortality. An experience such as feeling a loved one's presence is a paranormal event. These incidents do not have to necessarily be negative or evil experiences. We can be inspired by those around us not dwelling in this sphere.
My new release, Cheated, is based on the idea that some people are more tuned into the veil that separates heaven from earth. My heroine, Athena Gray, can sense and sometimes see spirits. She has a gift that enables her to talk to those who've passed over to help them feel peace and move on. This story was inspired by a visit I made to prehistoric Indian burial mounds in West Tennessee. It was a sacred, peaceful place that inspired me to think about people who can see and sense things most of the living cannot. Cheated is set in a fictional town based on that actual location.
Here's a taste of thrills and chills you'll find in Cheated.
When I turned around, the surprise of seeing a small, pale girl standing at the clearing's edge almost made me fall back onto the rock again.
"You," I said, like we were in some kind of detective novel.
She said nothing but continued staring with large, gray eyes. I watched the atmosphere around her blur in and out like a wormhole and realized this was the ghost from my cell phone picture. She was the same girl I'd noticed watching me from the woods at the season's first ball game. Except she wasn't really a ghost. Or was she?
"Who are you?" I asked. I really needed to know, and for the first time despite my Poppy's former warnings to not issue invitations to supernatural visitors, I wanted to know.
"Athena," she answered in a quiet whisper.
I didn't know if she was answering me or addressing me. "Who?"
Her mouth twitched slightly at the corners of her mouth, but her eyes remained dead and cold, sparking off and on with a flickering light.
"What do you want?"
Her expression flickered for a quick second before she caught herself. This ghost was playing it cool.
"I don't know who you are, and I don't care," I lied. "Go away and leave me alone."
She laughed, and it was in a creepy, low tone. To make things feel worse, she still hadn't smiled or stopped glaring at me with those dead eyes.
"You cheated," she said, after I decided not to say another word.
A wary tremor ran down my backbone. I'd heard this before. She shimmered like a desert mirage. The power of her glittering appearance waned.
I caught myself biting my lip again, hard. I fought to not feel afraid, fought not to speak.
"Cheated," she repeated in an angry whisper, and her blue life light flickered once more and then went out, like someone had blown across a candle's burning flame.
Thank you for letting me visit, Anne. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and experiences with the paranormal. It's an interesting conversation, and I love hearing special stories from other people who have had touching or even spooky experiences.
What was the last book you read that gave you the shivers?
Other Books by Danielle Thorne
By Heart and Compass
Southern Girl, Yankee Roots
Posted by Anne Patrick at 6:35 PM