Category Archives: Personalities

Writing for Comfort

By Debbie Delvaux

Writing for comfort.

When I was a young girl, I never had the opportunity to really be one of the gang as I was always feeling left behind. Being the second of two daughters and very shy at times.

I would try to keep up with my sister and her friends. You know like the story goes of the second left behind or the tag along. Sigh!!

Well anyway, when I would be finding myself alone and no one to play with, I would either swing and drift to another world or walk the neighborhood and imagine myself as a member of their family.

The older daughter or just a secret agent disguised as one of their own members.
So many lives to pretend to be and yet so little time to be them when you would hear your mother call to supper and then to bed.

But as a day would go on, I would still try to live that life and be off somewhere when the television got too boring or the weekend too long with nothing to do.

To this day I can see myself in one of those many secret lives and that has given me the chance to now sit at my laptop, make that life come true and with no interruptions except when the telephone rings or one of the cats grabs my leg for attention.

Many of the lives spent elsewhere have given me comfort when I had hard times, bad times, or even silly times to say I will try that in a story someday.

So in retrospect, I have been given a gift of imaginary lives and way to live my own life the way I wanted it to be.

Writing Perspective – Day 27 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 27 – Dramatic Through Lines

Today’s tip comes from the book, Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D.

Selecting a Dramatic Through Line. A dramatic through line is the main direction of your characters whether you have a plot-driven or character-driven book, the through line is what makes your characters achieve their goals—in most cases staying alive to the end, especially when you’ve got a lot of dinosaurs chasing you as in Jurassic Park. Or aliens coming to take over your world as in Independence Day.

It might not be staying alive that drives your character. It might be finding love as in romances, finding the reason why as in mysteries.

Your through line is what keeps your readers reading, and the more dramatic you make it, the more they will keep turning those pages.

There are five types of dramatic through line:

1. The main character succeeds

2. The main character is defeated

3. The main character abandons his goal

4. The main character’s goal is undefined

5. The reader creates the goal

No matter what kind of story you’re writing, there wouldn’t be a dramatic through line without characters. What are your favorite types of books based on those five types of dramatic through lines?

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Conflict

Writing Perspective – Day 26 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 26 – Beginnings

The Hook—good beginnings.

Every writer wants his or her work accepted. How do you make a good beginning that will keep the publisher reading your work, and see your story published? It doesn’t matter whether it’s a short story, poem, or novel. If you don’t grab the publisher in the first few paragraphs it won’t see the light of day.

To help with that, several years ago, I bought a book called Hooked by Les Edgerton. There are a lot of good ideas to not only keep the publisher reading but your reader as well.

The beginning of your book sets up the problem, the scene and you meet the characters. It gives just enough backstory to keep the publisher interested, but not too much that it ends up in the slush pile. You want to avoid the slush pile at all costs.

I’ve heard authors will spend more time on the beginning paragraphs and the first chapter of the book than the rest of the book.

If you don’t know what hooked you with your favorite book, take it off the shelf and read the first paragraph. Not only were you hooked, but more importantly the publisher of that book was too.

I admit I’ve struggled with the opening. I want to get it right. I want to build tension. I want to set the scene. Before I presented Thread of Evidence to my publisher, I read it at Writer’s Guild to get feedback. I value their feedback. I had way too much boring information in the opening paragraphs, boring information best left for other parts of the book and filled in as backstory where it wouldn’t be boring, or taking it out altogether.

You want to give your reader/publisher the setting, what is going on in the opening paragraph. Your publisher/reader needs to know in that opening if they are reading a historical novel, science fiction, contemporary romance, mystery, or another genre.

Does this grab your attention? Why or why not?

————-

Ten-year-old Jo-Ann Carter stood in the drawing room, arms crossed, with a stubborn expression on her face. Her pale green eyes flashed angrily as she watched her mother tie a blue-gray bonnet beneath her chin, matching her long flowing fitted-waist satin and taffeta dress. She stomped her black-shoed foot on the floor, a pout on her face. “I want to go too!”

—————–

That is the opening paragraph of Scarred. Do you want to know what comes next? Wanting to know is the reason behind every book on bookstore shelves and on your bookshelves. You wanted to know what’s next. Keeping your publisher interested will keep your reader interested. Keeping your reader interested will result in books sold and money in your pocket. And that is what every author wants, money in their pocket. It won’t happen without a good beginning. So, get the hook right and you will be on your way.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Dramatic Through Lines

Writing Perspective – Day 20 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 20 – Magic

I hope some of you look forward to these tips and I’m glad I can help. I’m not an expert. This is what I’ve gleaned in my time as a writer and now author.

I’m still going through the world-building points. There are six of them. This one is the fifth—magic.

Magic is a broad field. It can come from any direction. Through science, through the supernatural, through technology.

Consider what you know today and where you are technologically. Now place this same knowledge in a different by-gone era and people would accuse you of witchcraft. We know the supernatural exists. All religions have some basis in the supernatural. It isn’t a far stretch of the imagination to tap into the supernatural.

You also don’t need to use the supernatural or magic in science fiction alone. Consider the best-selling book of all time, the Bible. God presents His people with signs and wonders throughout the Old Testament with the plagues of Egypt, and Elijah calling down fire from heaven and going to heaven in the whirlwind. In the New Testament, you have Jesus’ resurrection, and signs and wonders done by the apostles. These are factual representations of a mighty God.

As a Christian author, I showed God’s mighty power with the supernatural in two of my published books, Manifest Destiny and Freedom’s Cry. Magic can be presented in different ways. Consider JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Not everyone had magic and not all magic was good, some were bad.

How you present magic will bring your reader into your world or leave him or her standing at the door. It must be done in such a way that it’s natural to the story.

Is magic something your characters dabble in and learn, fearful that anything will happen and what happens when something does? Is magic a way of life for the people of your world and everyone has magic, some more than others? Is magic a magicians’ conjuring trick? Admit it, you enjoy a good magician’s trick. You’ve even tried it yourself.

When considering magic as the main topic of your story, you need to present it at the beginning. Even if your main character is unaware of his or her ability with magic, it must be shown at the onset of your story. Then your audience will be waiting for it to manifest in your character or will wonder how he or she will use their magic.

You can also use magic as a surprise element for your character. Again, it must be a natural outcome for the character, even if it is a surprising one. Once presented, your audience will wonder what’s going to happen next. Don’t disappoint them.

There’s also magic in the world around you. Watch nature and see how it fits together. It’s an amazing world we live in. Use it in your writing to help develop your characters. You never know where you’ll find a bit of magic.

Have you tried using magic in your writing?

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Culture

Writing Perspective – Day 19 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 19 – Religions

Thank you for your interest in writing tips for novels, short stories, and blogs. It doesn’t matter what you write, it helps to know how to write. I hope I have helped you.

I am still discussing science fiction and world-building. Today I will focus on religion. Every culture has a religion of some type.

When creating your world, you need to know what fuels the hearts and minds of the people in your story. What do they believe? Do they believe in one god or many? Do they believe in the true God or no god? How do people interact with their gods? Do they have religious leaders to tell them what their gods want from them? What kinds of gods are they? Are they benevolent, malevolent, or manipulative? Do they make demands of the people or do they take care of the people?

Religion plays as much a part of your story as any other part. Your reader will want to know, even if they don’t realize it, what the people believe in the story you create. They want to know how it all fits together. It’s your story. Tell it in such a way that your reader will want to be part of the world you create.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Magic

Writing Perspective – Day 17 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 17 – Inhabitants

Today in world-building, I will discuss the inhabitants of your world. Are your inhabitants a completely different alien race? Are they human or non-human? Are they mythological or magical? Are they monsters? Are they on earth or another planet?

There is a lot you can do with your story. You can base your mythological, magical, and monster stories on earth or create another planet for your story or don’t name the planet or place of origin as was done with Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. All you have is a map of Middle Earth, you don’t know where it’s located.

In the Star Wars universe, George Lucas introduced you to a myriad of creatures, supposedly human in nature, some looking half animal and half human. In the wizarding world of Harry Potter, you know you’re on earth, particularly the UK in an unseen magical world only seen by wizards. Any human, muggle, who came in contact with wizards either have their memories wiped of all knowledge or are sworn to secrecy about wizards, as Harry Potter’s muggle family was.

Where do you start with your story? First, determine where it is. Are you on earth or in another galaxy? Next, determine your inhabitants. Are they humanoid, or extraterrestrial? Then you need to determine how they are the same as or different from humans. Do you have a combination of humans and extraterrestrial species? What are their life spans?

Once you determine your characters, you need to consider where they live and how they live? What are the main biomes of the planet? Are the plants and animals friendly or dangerous? Will they kill you or can you live side by side with them? Even on earth, we have deadly plants and animals. We have deserts and rain forests, and every ecological system living together to make the earth a living breathing planet. You need to determine the amount of land to water. Do your inhabitants dwell on land or in the water? What makes your inhabitants unique to what we’ve already seen from other authors? What makes your inhabitants stand out? Remember, if you thought of it, someone else has too, so how different can you make them to what we’ve already seen in books and movies?

Tomorrow’s Perspective: World History

Writing Perspective – Day 15 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 15: Secondary Characters

Yesterday I wrote on character development. I’m going to continue with that thread as there is a lot more to write about than I focused on yesterday.

Another part of character development deals with the number of characters in your story. Too many and you overwhelm the reader, too few and your story could lack interest. Though I have heard of a two-person story.

Your secondary characters help your main character by supporting them in various ways. In Scarred, Jo-Ann has a moment of doubt and despair, despite her strong faith. Too much has gone against them, when Emalei reminds her that God is everywhere and encourages her. It’s not the only time she finds encouragement.

In order to have good character development in your secondary characters, you need to know them as well as you know your main characters. Don’t shortchange them. Balance your secondary characters with your main characters and you will have a strong story.

When it comes to the characters in your book, it isn’t good to give several characters names starting with the same letter. It can bring about much confusion when it comes to who’s speaking. You don’t want to confuse your reader. I hope these tips are helping you as a writer. Thanks for reading.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Environments

Writing Perspective – Day 14 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 14: Character Development

One of the essential elements of writing your story is character development. You can’t just put any name on a page and expect it to fit in your story.

Think about all the characters you know from your favorite books or classics. Would A Christmas Carol be the same if Ebenezer Scrooge had a different name? Maybe, but doubtful. And what about Atticus Finch? Would To Kill a Mockingbird be the same with a different name?

Speak those names or many others and you immediately have an idea about the character, who he or she is and what kind of personality they have.

Names are important. You need to consider what kind of book you’re writing. Is it contemporary, western, mystery, science fiction, romance?

Once you have your character, you need to dress him or her. Who are they? What is their catchphrase? If I said, fiddle-dee-dee, do you know who said it? An idea of war, scoundrels, and cads might come to mind. Love, family, regrets, determination, might also come to mind. Put that fiddle-dee-dee alongside “As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again,” and you know exactly which character it belongs to.

What kind of person will fill the hero and heroine roles in your stories? To find out what kind of person he or she is, you need to communicate with them.

One method of communication is to have your character write you a letter about what they want to do or not do. Let them tell you what they fear the most and what they love the most and have your character be angry at you for stifling who they want to become. Get to know your character.

Once you know your character, you will know how he or she will act in any given situation. You know if she will flee the hospital when the doctor asks her help to amputate a soldier, and you will know if she has the guts to kill a man whose intent was to steal whatever he could.

Getting to know your character takes time. You won’t know everything about your character when you finish your first draft. You’ll have an idea about him or her. As you edit and revise your story, you give your characters the personality you started to develop in the rough draft.

It’s time to find out exactly who they are and if your audience will like them or hate them. You need to give them a purpose. Survival is a common purpose. Turning people from hating a person because of the color of their skin to fighting for them, is common. Fighting for what you believe in is also a common purpose.

How you develop your characters to bring about the outcome you want will show how well you develop the characters in your stories. Who are your favorite characters? Tell me why they’re your favorite.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Secondary Characters

Writing Perspective – Day 11 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 11: Pantser

Welcome to today’s writing tips. Yesterday I talked about plotting your novel or work. Today, I will focus on pantser’s. A Pantser is a person who plants themselves in the chair and writes. Whether they write with paper and pen or computer, doesn’t matter, the important thing is to write.

Pantser’s need to write. They have an idea that must be written down as soon as possible. There’s no time to outline, summarize, or decide on characters. From personal experience as a Pantser, characters are there as soon as I need them. I don’t need to do heavy thinking about character names or locations. As soon as I put my fingers on the keyboard, their story comes about.

Pantser’s characters talk to writers, constantly, obsessively at times. It can be obnoxious, especially when the writer needs to sleep, but the character has no regard for a writer’s health or well-being. Sleep and food are taken between scenes, or when the character becomes quiet.

As a Pantser, I tend to work on multiple books at a time. It’s not uncommon for me to have five books I alternate between as the story develops between each. I’m certain other Pantser’s have their way of writing. No two writers or Pantser’s are alike.

I’m certain some would say I have a classic case of OCD. I would tell you I have a case of character intrusion which needs to be taken care of as soon as possible so I can have peace and quiet.

How long it takes to get the story written depends on the complexity of the story, but in most cases three to six months is common. That said, every story goes through quiet times. Writer’s tend to think of these times as writer’s block. Maybe it is, but it also gives me a chance to work on another book in progress.

When one story becomes quiet, another story becomes noisy. I need to take advantage of those times to advance the story. Eventually, I come to the end of a story. It feels like I’ve won a race, come to the end of the trail, or accomplished something monumental. It’s also a time when I feel like I don’t have anything to do and wonder what’s next. Why I wonder what’s next is beyond me when I have several other books waiting to find the final word in the story.

On the whiteboard behind me, I have a list of nine books in progress. Nine books I intend to work on this year. Of those nine, one is in the publishing process and will be published in the fall. Five being edited, two are ready to finish, and one begun this year and I need to write. I have plenty to keep me busy.

So, you see, a Pantser is always in writing mode. A Pantser needs to write. A Pantser is always thinking. With a Pantser, the story comes first. Everything else comes after I finish the story.

I’ve been writing to publish for 39 years. In that time, I’ve learned to do research during the writing, instead of after. That way I don’t need to worry about the facts when I finish the story.

Things to research while I write the story—time period if it’s a historical novel. Customs, culture, clothing are big areas of research. Location is another big one and for historical novels, I rely on old maps. Pantser’s must think about everything as they develop a story.

With the story finished, the time comes for revision and character development. Putting flesh and blood on the story to make it come alive to the reader.

Early in my writing career, someone read a little bit of Joanne, now called Scarred, and told me she couldn’t see the characters or the action. All she read was dialogue. I was grateful to her and brought life to my characters and the scenes in my story so that when the next time a person read my story, they told me my story read like a movie, they could see the characters and the action.

Writing is work. Bringing a story to life takes time and development. Writing is a joy and finishing a story brings fulfillment. Yes, it takes three to six months to write a story, but it can take years to develop the story and bring it to life so that when someone reads what I write and tells me they enjoyed it I feel a sense of accomplishment.

If you’re a writer, are you a Pantser? How long does it take you to write and develop your story? Do you work on several at once?

I haven’t done a recent count, but the last time I counted the number of stories in progress and finished, I had over fifty titled works. I have plenty to keep me busy for years to come.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Typos

Infusing Personality Into Your Characters

By Terry C. Misfeldt

Your characters should be described with more personality than what clothes they wear or what they look like. Infusing personality into your characters requires an understanding of the four basic types of people.

For this we’ll share a marketing-oriented version of the four personalities that we’ve found makes it easy to understand people quickly. It facilitates communication without having to change who you are, so it’s a natural method for describing your characters.

The four types are Control (some people refer to them as Type A), Perfect, Fun, and Peace.

Allow a brief interpretation of each, starting with Control. Most business owners (lumping here) are Control freaks (using the term loosely) because their mantra is “Get it Done!” A few of the traits that describe them and which can be used to infuse personality into your characters: Bold, self-sufficient, independent, and strong-willed.

Switching to Perfect people brings accountants to mind; people who are detail oriented and precise. These are characters who are thoughtful, sensitive, and idealistic, such as creative people with musical or artistic talent. They have to get things right.

Control and Perfect people are more task-oriented than people-oriented.

The more people-oriented personalities are the Fun and Peace types. Fun people–like the song lyrics–just want to have fun. You can tell they’re smiling when you talk to them on the phone. They’re generally the life of the party, enthusiastic, cheerful, and good on stage. They’ll have no qualms about singing at a karaoke bar. They’re warm and thrive on encouragement.

Peace people just want to get along, do their work, go home and be left alone because they like the easy way of doing things. They’re calm, patient, consistent and extremely competent. You could set your clock on their routine, especially if their second nature is Perfect.

Sound like any of your characters?