Monday, March 29, 2010

Do You Really Know Your Characters?

Do You Really Know Your Characters?

By : Donna Lasko

March 23, 2010

I’ve gone to quite a few classes, conferences, read a lot of articles, and books about characterization. And they all say the same thing. Do you really know your characters? If you can answer yes to that question, then you know what your characters were like as children. You know what they like to eat and if they are in love. You know if they are straight or gay. You know what they like to wear. You know if they are Republican, Democrat or Independent. You also know how they treat their parents or even if their parents are still alive. Were they good students and do they have any brothers or sisters. Do they own or rent their home. What kind of car do they drive and do they bathe on a regular basis.

Your reader doesn’t need to know everything about your character, but you do. If you know your character, then you will know how your character will act in any situation. That is what will benefit the reader, your knowledge of the character. Your knowing your character will take him/her to that sought after three dimensional personality vs. a one dimensional personality.

Take for example James Patterson’s character Alex Cross (protagonist). I like Alex. He is a criminal psychiatrist and I like how he reacts to the situations he is put in. His best friend is an overweight, gay cop. Patterson makes him come alive and I do believe that Patterson knows how Cross would react in any situation.

Now take a look at the character Chyna Shephard (protagonist) in Dean Koontz’s Intensity. China is one dimensional. She is flat. I don’t care about her character, because it seemed to me that Mr. Koontz just made her up and started writing. He said that she struggled throughout her life...but then who doesn’t? She wasn’t believable in what she did and her reactions were not real to the situations she was in.

If you are creating a character (protagonist), then they need a dilemma that needs to be solved. If you make them one will care about him/her. Make them real. Give them a past, give them a habit or a mannerism. Make me cheer for them. Make me want them to be better or stronger or gain insight or be happy at the end of the book. Make me connect with them.

If you are creating a character (antagonist), then they need something in their life that puts a catch in their get-along. In other words....there has to be a little bit of darkness around them. Make me care what happens to him/her also. Make me want to see them caught, or learn a lesson, or lose something they will do anything to get. Redeem them or kill them, but make me care.

A Song And The View Of Forever

Posted By: Jeffery W. Turner

Does a song or a soundtrack ever make you think of something? Or make you feel a certain way? Sometimes that happens to me and it did the other day.
 I was driving up 287 to go down Bonds Ranch Road to take some pictures. Bonds Ranch Road is the inspiration for the notes “The View Of Forever” and “Another View Of Forever” which will be in my second book “Notes to Stephanie: Days Remembered”. These two notes describe the wide and seemingly endless view seen from there. On top of a hill on the road what you see really does seem to extend to the infinite. Thus the titles using the words “view of forever”.

While buzzing down the road to Bonds Ranch Road I was playing a song I  heard  one night on the local college radio station. The song really got my attention. It was an instrumental with synthesizers and such. The score was ethereal, started slow, flowed back and forth to a climax, and then faded away once more (the on-line sample on Amazon does not capture the best parts ).  It certainly made me feel something inside. It made me feel the same way when I was gazing at “The View Of Forever” on Bonds Ranch Road.  And thus that song became a soundtrack to that hill I write about and take pictures of.

When you look up at the high clouds overhead, as I do at the View Of Forever, they behave like that song. At one moment they can be shapeless and nondescript and the next second they look like something down here on earth. The forms these wispy strands take always mutate into something new. Each new shape is a fleeting moment of unique form miles above. And then they are gone over the horizon, blown away by the winds and the jet stream to be a sight for people we don’t know but maybe look up at the sky just the same.

So if you read the two notes I mention, or look at some of the pictures I have taken, there is a song you can play that tells part of this story too. Maybe you will feel the same thing I do, maybe you won’t. But I know the feeling I get when I hear those musical notes or look at forever with my own eyes. That feeling is a picture of something larger than what I see, or that any of us can view, on this little orb we call home.

The song: Tycho – Coastal Brake (Manual Remix):

The View Of Forever:

Another View Of Forever:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Rules of the Game for the Author-Agent Appointment

By Ruby Johnson
If you have an appointment with an agent, you may want to practice your  pitch ahead of time. This is truly one of  the most humerous videos on the agent-author appointment. It makes learning how to do the high concept pitch a real necessity. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Would Your Character Eat?

By Ruby Johnson
If your character lives on the coast, a seafood dinner or an oyster roast may be common, but maybe he/she hates or is allergic to seafood. If they live in a small town in the south, they might eat barbecue, corn on the cob, or fried chicken, but suppose your character is vegetarian. Ethnic groups eat different dishes, so you could tell something from this fact. Perhaps they have a "sweet tooth" and frequent donut shops or bakeries for other sweet treats. Many cozy mysteries are centered around a food business from donuts to ice cream.What your character eats can tell something about them or their area of the country and where they spent their childhood. The character in my WIP would like the following recipe for lunch. Can you guess where she is located?

Blue Plate Special-Chicken Salad

This is a great chicken salad and takes so little time to prepare. It's good with or without the curry.

2 c. chicken, cut in pieces- I use rotisserie chicken

1 c. finely cut celery

1 c. seedless grapes or

1 c. pineapple chunks or

1 c. mango cut into bite size pieces

1/2 c. pecans


3/4 c. mayonnaise (fat-free or regular)

1/3 c. sour cream (low fat or regular)

2 Tbs.lemon juice

2 Tbs. sugar or splenda

1 tsp. curry powder (optional, but very good)

salt to taste
pepper pinch

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Review of Chrysalis: Tribulations by Ruby Johnson

Review of Chrysalis: Tribulations ( Book 2: Chrysalis series)

The fae opponents are once again menacing half mortal, half magical Bree in M.L. Lacy’s latest mesmerizing adventure into an alternate world. This is the second book in the series and is certainly as impressive as the first. By adding layers of complexity to her characters and their world, Lacy has taken her gutzy heroine, Bree, through enormous challenges that show her evolution into a very different magical world .

As the newly declared “Chosen One” of a magical realm, Bree continues to build her magical powers and is tested with some of the expectations of her vampire protectors. At every turn, she is forced to protect herself and those close to her from Esmeralda, her opponent who wants control of the clan. In addition, many of her own clan are filled with animosity towards her. She can trust no one, so must rely on her developing magical powers of mind reading, visions and support of her soul mate Stephen. Will this be enough to save Bree and her clan, or will stakes this high force Bree to make choices that will change everything for her magical realm?

In Chrysalis: Tribulations, M.L. Lacy has created a rich complex fantasy world and a satisfying and enjoyable read. Bree’s voice is painfully honest and one finds they are emotionally invested in her growth and evolution as “The Chosen One” and her success with her clan. As she grows into the role, the tension in the story heightens. Plot twists, and action move the story along at a fast pace. This is highly recommended to those who enjoy fantasy novels.

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