Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ABC ... EASY AS ... 123, THE LETTER 'C' with Guest Host, MELANIE FOUNTAIN, PUBLISHER

Hi everyone.

Today is 'C' day. The word of the day is 'Characters'.

char ac ter
noun
plural noun: characters

1. the mental moral qualities distinctive to an individual
    synonyms: personality, nature, disposition, temperament, temper, 
    mentality, makeup

2. a person in a novel, play, or movie
    synonyms: persona, role, part

Recently, my publisher, Melanie Fountain, of Fountain Blue Publishing, ran an article for her authors about the importance of characters to the story. I didn't believe I could present a post to you that would outdo her words. I asked Melanie to guest host today and share her article with all of you.

Welcome, Melanie.

Melanie Fountain:
Whether you are a plotter (spend hours refining the outline for your novel) or a pantser (sit down and write your novel by the seat of your pants), your characters believability and relatability make all the difference.

I use visualization for my character development. I imagine that I am at a gathering, party, lunch, etc., with one, some, or all of my characters. I pay attention to how each one behaves, talks, and interacts with the others. No two of my friends or family members use the same word choices or phrases. No two have the same beliefs or views. No two have the same body language, so why would my characters? Each person has their own ‘voice’.

There are many components that go into giving each character their individual voice and I would like give you a helpful list that you can use to help you define a characters voice.

Male or Female
Education level
Age
Outgoing or Shy
Snarky or Sweet
Naïve or Street Smart
Manipulative or Giving
Inflection (regional accent)
Idioms (one might say; “He passed away.” and another may say, “He kicked the bucket.”

Divulge your character to your reader in a natural way. Let your reader learn about your character’s quirks and personality in a similar way that you learn about people you meet. We learn about people in bits and pieces through dialog, interaction, and observation. If you spend three pages of your novel giving your reader every detail about your character, your reader will get board and the introduction will feel awkward and forced.

Your character needs to have a goal, a quest, a dilemma, a question that he or she must answer. The reader needs to be drawn into your character’s journey. The reader must feel for your character, either routing for them or hating them and wanting to witness their demise. Without creating an emotional attachment between your character and your reader, why would the reader read on?

Character development is not a simple process and is always subject to change as your book develops. Create characters who are believable and who your reader must know more about.

Below is an excerpt of an article written by C.S. Lakin. This article explains through examples how important character voice is in your novel.

**Narrative Must Be Shaped by Voice**
Think about writing a scene in the POV of a six-year-old girl who is a spoiled, rich only child. Let’s say the scene takes place at the dinner table, and while she is eating, her parents get in an argument about money, and the father says she will not be allowed to take ballet anymore, and then smacks her precious puppy when it tries to get a piece of meat from off the table.


That narrative must sound like a six-year-old rich spoiled girl’s voice. She is going to notice, react, and think her age. She isn’t going to comment on the details of her parents’ argument. She’s going to be confused and upset as to why she can’t take ballet, and she’s going to be mad and scared when her father hits her dog. She will not use an adult vocabulary or think obtusely, abstractly, or using metaphor. The reader should feel and wholly believe she is experiencing and reacting to all that happens in the scene (and there should be a good reason to use her as a POV character too).

All too often I find, in the novels I edit and critique, scenes in a character’s POV that does not have the appropriate voice. Children sound like adults. Old women sound like young men. So much goes into voice: education, background, past pain, fears, likes and dislikes, opinions, personality traits, ethnicity, and so on. Just like dialog. In fact, if you can think of voice as just an extension of dialog—as the POV character speaking through the entire narrative of the scene—it may help you to get a handle on voice.

**Getting into Character**
One thing that helps me with voice is to pretend I’m the character. I try to immerse myself so much into the role as I’m writing the scene that I am that character. This is what actors do—they get into character. Some actors say that when they’re shooting a movie, they stay in character all the time—even when they leave the set and go home for the night.

Which makes me think of a funny bit on one of the CDs for The Lord of the Rings, that showed director Peter Jackson’s amazement when he heard actor Brad Dourif (Wormtongue) speak in an American Southern drawl, thinking the actor was just joking around (he wasn’t; that was his “real” voice). In the films, Dourif’s character has a kind of rich British accent. Clearly, Dourif stayed “in character” while not filming, which no doubt helped him do such a terrific job in creating the voice of Wormtongue. And here, too, I’m not just talking about his accent. That voice went deep into character, shown through his inflection, mannerisms, facial expressions, and tone. All this relates to voice.

**Voice is all about characters—not about you!**
There, I said it. It’s so simple, really. Every character in your novel has his or her own voice, whether a child, a man or woman, a dog, or a robot. Every POV character in your novel has a unique voice—both internally, in the way they think, as well as in their audible speech.

**Voice Isn’t Just Speech**
In addition, any character that speaks out loud (not a POV character) has a voice as well. I don’t mean literally here—for of course they have a voice if they can speak (and if they use sign language, that’s speech too). But what we’re talking about pertains to the manner, style, and presentation of that speech. With these characters, their voice comes out only in the words they actually say and how they’re said—since the writer is not going into their heads.

With POV characters, voice embodies more than spoken words or direct thoughts in their heads. The narrative should as well. When you craft a scene in a character’s POV, every line in that scene has to feel as though it is being processed, chewed, and spit out by that character. Everything that happens in that scene is witnessed, experienced, felt, and reacted to by that character. And so, even the narrative must have “voice.”

**Voice Isn’t Just How Someone Sounds**
So as you richly develop all the characters in your novel—and we’ve looked at many ways in many posts on how to do this with both your protagonist and your secondary characters—be sure to spend a good amount of time on voice. Not just thinking about how the character sounds when she talks out loud but how who she is shapes and determines her mind-set—what and how she thinks about things.

In order to construct a strong novel, those character pillars must be made of unique, believable characters. By spending time giving those characters a rich past and a core need, greatest fear, a lie they believe, you will have characters that jump off the page. But . . . if you do not give them the appropriate voice, those pillars will crumble.

As I mentioned in the example above of the six-year-old girl—if you, the author, intrude in the scene by narrating or showing a character thinking in a style that does not fit who she is, the reader will notice. Yes, it’s a challenge to write every word in every scene in POV, but that’s required with either a first-, second-, or third-person POV. And this is one of the biggest flaws I see in novels.

**What about an Omniscient POV?**
If you are going to use an omniscient voice to tell the story, you can slip in and out of voices as you portray the different characters, and in addition, you have the narrator’s omniscient storytelling voice over all (which must be developed in the same way as any other character’s voice). Not many writers can pull off an omniscient voice well, and the downside and challenge to using such a voice is its tendency to distance the reader and tell the story rather than show it. And as most of us have been taught, readers these days don’t want to be told stories; they want to see them happening before their eyes, through the eyes of the POV characters.

So think of voice as each character’s voice: unique and specific for each one. The writing style of a scene will be influenced and shaped by that voice.

Visit C.S. Lakin at http://www.livewritethrive.com/

And visit me at www.fountainbluepublishing.com/

Keep writing and stay creative!

Melanie Fountain
Editor in Chief/Owner
Fountain Blue Publishing
info@fountainbluepulishing.com

Thank-you, Melanie for hosting today. I hope you all benefited as much as I have from this informative post.


Keep on keeping on writing!

Visit me on my Facebook Author Page HERE.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

BROWNWOOD BOOK CLUB END OF THE YEAR PARTY

Hello everyone. This post is to announce THE book party of the year ... the Brownwood Book Club End of the Year Party.

Lots of prizes, fun, and games.

This party is a three day event running from December 11th, starting at 10:00 pm to December 14th, ending at 9:00 p.m.

Everyone is invited from readers, to authors, street teamers, bloggers and anyone else who likes to hang out online and chat. Meet authors, make new online friends.

I'll be hosting on Friday, December 12th, from 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm PST, or that's 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm Central time.  I'll be giving away free e-book copies of Winter's Captive, Book 1 of the Georgia Series.

Come and meet the authors, other readers, and make new online friends.  See you there. Here's the link:


Here's the  LINK to my Facebook author page. Follow the post  to the party.  See you all there.




Saturday, November 22, 2014

ABC ... EASY AS ... 123, THE LETTER 'B'

Today, we look at the letter 'B'. The word of the day is BACK STORY.

Definition:

BACK STORY
Noun
* alternative spelling of backstory

1. background information provided, often in narrative form, to give help in understanding something, as the behaviour of a character

2. history to describe events leading up to the present

Back story is something I've always had trouble handling. It's something that requires finesse. And finesse comes with writing experience and in my case, from the advice of a good editor.

Story writing today is part of the fast-foods McDonalds era we live in. How often do we take the time to go into a restaurant and enjoy the dining experience? Most of us rush about in our busy lives and buy fast foods on the way home or take ten minutes to gulp down our food at fast-food restaurants before rushing to our next destination.

Readers today have a short attention span and want into the action quickly. If not, they get bored, skip pages, and maybe give up on the story all together. The problem with this is that they don't have time to get to know the characters, to relate to them and feel connected. So if the characters are plunged straight away into a suspenseful conflict, the reader may not care. The writer wants readers to get invested in the character's life and dilemma and really care about what happens to them. Disconnect is a bad thing for a writer.

In my opinion, this is an even larger problem when writing a series, which I am. If the reader has read earlier books in the series, they already know the main character. They have an invested interest in the character's life and care what's going to happen to them next, like an old friend. But someone who hasn't read previous books need some back story and it is the writer's job to make sure the book can stand alone for a new reader. The problem here lies wherein the writer has to add enough back story to interest the new reader but not be repetitive as to bore the established reader.

My third book, A Missing Thread, Book 3 of the Georgia Series jumps right into the action with Chapter 1. My problem here is that anyone who knows Georgia Charles-Dixon well, will jump into the action right along with her, but a new reader hasn't had time to care about her. I need to add back story. How do I do that?

I could start the narrative earlier before the crisis, to describe the character and get the reader invested in her. However, they may get bored, along with the old reader who already knows her story up to this point. So I'm not going there.


I could and have in the past, put flashbacks in the middle of the action to describe her history, The problem here is that the story can become choppy and it stops the action. I risk ruining the build-up to the crisis. (My editor, Ron Bagliere, taught me this tidbit)

Another method, is to put the back story into dialogue, not narrative. This is showing not telling. And if the dialogue is part of the current story line, it's not going back into the past and can serve its purpose of allowing the reader to connect to the character. It has to be subtle and fit into the conversation. Don't info-dump (which could possible be our 'I' word in future ABC blogs LOL).

A prologue can work, but it definitely takes finesse. I did some research myself by putting the question out to my readers what they thought of prologues. Most didn't like them. By the time they got into the body of the story, they had forgotten what the prologue was all about, especially if there was forgotten information they needed and they had to go back to the prologue and search it out. The most common complaint was prologues that were too long. With that in mind, I do believe prologues can have a place in certain story lines, but only if they are short and to the point. I would never write a prologue that was more than three pages. Let it serve its purpose, leave the reader intrigued and move onto the action in Chapter 1. Now that's just my opinion.


*

There you have it, four ways of working in the back story. Only you can decide which method is best for your story. And I do believe that every story is different. What I might do in one of the Georgia Series books may not work in another one. Herein lies the challenge. What will I do with the problem I'm facing with back story in A Missing Thread, Book 3 of the Georgia Series?

Let's look at each option. First, starting the narrative earlier is out. I like my first chapter which delves right into the action.

Option 2, using flashbacks is out to me as well. It will make the story choppy and ruin the build up to the crisis.

Option 3, putting the back story into dialogue is also out because my character is alone in a car with no one to talk to.

That leaves me Option 4, using a prologue. This appeals to me as the best solution for this particular dilemma and the direction I am heading in. However, it will be short, to the point, and hopefully intrigue the reader to move on to the action of Chapter 1.

For all you writers out there, good luck with your back story and keep on keeping on writing. 

Click HERE to visit me on my Facebook page.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

ABC ... EASY AS ...123 ... WRITING A TO Z AS EASY AS SINGING ABC

Recognize the lyrics? A 1970 Michael Jackson hit, song title, ABC.

A few years ago I was going to find words that pertained to the journey of writing, starting with the letter A through Z. I began this project but soon abandoned it. Reason? I didn't feel knowledgeable enough or creative enough to carry it off.

That was then, this is now.

I've decided to revise this project and today I'm starting once again with the letter A. I was prompted to restart this quest when staring at the name of my blog site, Aspirations of a Novelist.

Who knows how long it will take us to get to the end. These posts won't be consecutive unless I have nothing else to say LOL. I'm very excited to share with you what I've learned along the way, and am still learning. I hope you find this project helpful, inspiring, and entertaining.

First I want to say that I don't believe there is a set way to write a novel. This will come up later with one of our alphabet words. There are certain basics we should all follow, but in the end it is up to you to find your own style, routine, and method of pulling a novel together. What I hope to offer you is an understanding of some writing terms and how my journey evolved along the way. The trick is to find yours and perhaps my journey will help you with that.

Therefore, my A to Zs of Novel Writing will not include a set method or format to writing a novel, but will outline more the tools and steps necessary to actually sit down and write a book. Let's get started.

'A' is for Action


Definition:


ACTION [ak-shun]

noun

1. the process or state of acting or of being active.

2. something done or performed; act; deed.
3. an act that one consciously wills and that may be characterized by mental activity.
4. actions, habitual or usual acts; conduct.
5. energetic activity: a man of action.


WRITING A NOVEL TAKES ACTION

Thinking about it, wanting to do it, and dreaming about being a published author wont get it done. However, thinking about characters, plot, location, conflict and resolution is a definite start. Number 3 above is very important. Mental activity is just as important as the physical act of pounding your story into the computer or hand-writing the story. 

My husband has come to recognize my facial expressions when I'm sitting quiet and silent. "You're writing aren't you?" he'll ask. A lot of planning and detailing happens in my head long before I physically put it into my computer.

KINDS OF ACTION

Okay, so you're tired of working on storyline, developing protagonists and antagonists (hey, here's another 'A' word and a necessary one to the plot). You're muse has dried up and you need a break. There are lots of other things you can do which add to the process of creating a novel.

One is research. Some writer's hate this process. I love researching and embrace it enthusiastically.But for those who find research a tedious proposition, read another author's book that covers the subject. You can enjoy the read as well as cash in on their expertise. (But don't plagiarize LOL.) Interview someone who knows the subject, or works in the field you are describing. Interviews can be informative and fun, and you can make new acquaintances and acquire potential readers.

Another course of action is to read other writer's blogs, a great source of information with links to marketing and querying sites for writers. Once your book is complete, you will need to start pitching your book to agents and publishers if that's your chosen course of action. Or if you are self-publishing, that all-important task of marketing will begin. You might as well get started early. Believe me, it will make the process flow more smoothly.

That's it for 'A', see you at 'B'.

KEEP ON KEEPING ON WRITING!

VISIT ME AT MY FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE. CLICK HERE!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

GUEST POST ON LILAC REVIEWS

Good morning. I must say these words have special meaning for me today. I've been down for the past few days with a flu bug and today is the first day I feel relatively human. 

Recently, I was asked by Felita Daniels to write a blog post for Lilac Reviews. I was thrilled to do so and a little apprehensive as this is my first guest posting. It actually was a lot of fun to do and I enjoyed the process. My subject was 'Understanding and Choosing a Point of View'.

If you are unfamiliar with the site, it is well worth checking out for their guest blogs, book reviews, and so much more. I thank Felita for inviting me.

Here is the link to Lilac Reviews. 



 Link: Lilac Reviews.

Enjoy my post and if you are an author, I hope you find it helpful. Cheers.




Thursday, October 23, 2014

BE PREPARED FOR A 'THUNDERCLAP'

Hi all,

Happy Thursday.

Today, I created a Thunderclap for Winter's Captive. For those who have never heard of Thunderclap, it's a site where you set up a project for anything you would like to request support for. In my case, my newest released book, Winter's Captive.

My project is set for two weeks, beginning today, and ends on November 6th. I need 100 votes by November 6th. Every time someone votes for my book, more people are added to my social reach. If I get my 100 votes on time, Thunderclap will shoot my book, Winter's Captive, and it's description and links to possibly hundreds of thousands of people in social media. 

If you wish to support my campaign, please click on the link below. You can sign on to Thunderclap through your Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr sign-on to vote for me. You can also share the link on your platforms. 

I promise if you create a Thunderlcap project and notify me, I will return the favour.

I thank you all for your support, so far I have reached 16% of my goal, and this is only Day 1.

So let's get together and create a thunderstorm for Winter's Captive.


Keep on keeping on Thunderclapping. 

Click HERE

Thursday, October 16, 2014

WATERCOLOUR THOUGHTS

Good Morning everyone.

Today, I'm departing from talking about me and marketing my newly released, Winter's Captive (subtle? LOL) to present a different kind of project and a unique author/artist, Dennis Bourgo.

I'm excited to present his debut art book, Watercolour Thoughts, Musings in Word and Paint, Book 1.


Watercolour Thoughts presents a reflection of personal musings and a gallery of watercolours representing the distinct landscape of British Columbia and the artist's love of nature and the natural beauty of his home province.

This is the first book in an art series that showcases the artist's eclectic painting styles.


Visit the artists Facebook page HERE

Available on Amazon HERE

I'm sure some of you have noted the shared last name. Dennis Bourgo is my husband. A dedicated artist, who has been painting since the age of five, when the family doctor sent him to art school for six years, I'm very proud to see this book finally published, so that others can experience the depth and beauty of his talent.

To all the writers out there, keep on keeping on writing and to all the painters, keep on keeping on painting.