You Write What?

When I tell people I write romance I get a look, you know that look that says, what kind of romance in a mischievous way. I do not write that kind of romance, I read it, but I leave the writing of it to the experts because there is no way I can write in so much detail, if you know what I mean *wink*.  I like a good love stories plain and simple, I know it’s been done a gazillion times, but there is always a new story with the same happily ever after ending. Why? Because we like the ever after, the fairy tale and the thought of the knight and shining armour who rescues the damsel in distress from wherever. I don’t write about mythical creatures falling in love with humans, at least not yet, I have an idea and I am dying to start writing it. However part of being a writer is learning to finish one thing before moving on to the next, the little something I am still trying to come to terms with… 
Romance however is what I love to read and enjoy writing, I like those stories that really touch your heart and make you shed a tear or two. It’s what I strive for, I want to make someone one day cry one day.  I know I am far from that point right now, but it’s that possibility that keeps me going on. 
So, what is romance? According to RWA, it’s the following.
“Romances have a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending. Beyond that, romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot.
What’s your Genre? If it’s romance, is it sweet or extremely hot?
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Character Sketch… Ever done one?

I am a pantser, so when my teacher asked us to do an assignment where we had to create a character sketch, I was like “a what?” I do not outline my stories let alone my characters because I like to believe I know them. Here is the breakdown.
A character sketch is a written analysis of a character, can be a real person, such as a historical figure or a fictional character. By providing descriptive words, a character sketch details physical characteristics and personality traits. The format for a character sketch is a four or five paragraph essay, which should include the following.
  • Introduction: This paragraph gives the name of the character, the title of the story and name of the author. It should contain one or two general statements about the character.
  • Physical Description: In this paragraph, you provide the description of what the character looks like, the ways he/she dresses. Things like age, height, weight, physical build and any unique marks (tattoos, scars, moles, etc.)
  • Actions & Abilities: These are traits that describe the things the character does or is capable of doing. They may be specific things; these are best illustrated from the text, which shows that specific trait.
  • Mood, Feelings & Attitudes: These are personal reactions to certain situations.
  • Conclusion: The last paragraph provides a basic summary of the character; it can contain comments about the character.
Creating a character sketch also helps to know your character in a more specific way, it’s great to be able to describe you MC and really know what you’re talking about. As a new writer, these are exercises that help to further understand the writing process. I may not always get it right, but being able to get feedback is  invaluable.
Tell me have you ever done a Character Sketch, either in paragraph or point form? What’s your process for creating one?

First Letter is ‘C’ For Conflict

Why conflict? Because chances are that when you start writing a story you already know the ‘BUT’ of your story. In order to create a great story there has to be conflict, both an important part of any novel and they are, external (man vs. man) and internal (man vs. self  ) this is only part of what helps move the story forward.
Internal conflict comes from the struggles of a character’s need and wants. It is perfectly natural  to want to avoid conflict in real life, but it’s your job as a writer to bring conflict into the characters life and force him/her to confront it. Easy right? maybe not, to create conflict there has to be a ‘WHY’ which brings us to motivation (I will discuss this on a later post), forcing your character to make decisions.
External conflict are the problems that are out of your characters control, things that keep him/her from reaching their ultimate goal, the ‘WHAT’ of your story, something that will hinder and make your character work to attain the goal. Keep in mind that without conflict there is no reason to keep readers turning the page. It always come back to that one book you couldn’t put down because there was that need to find out the end result.
  
 Definition of CONFLICT as per Merriam-Webster dictionary:
 “The opposition of persons or forces that gives rise to the dramatic action in a drama or fiction”
What are some of the conflicts your characters face? Have you struggled with the conflicts in your story?

The Sound Of Music

It doesn’t matter what I am writing or where, my office is in the kitchen, next to the coffee pot and far enough away from the television that I don’t get distracted by some fabulous design show on  HGTV. Though I have to admit, blogs, twitter and the Internet itself is poison to writers and major distraction, as well as the phone. I can be on the phone with my sister for a long time and I can assure you we talk of nothing important and the worst part of these hour long conversations, is that I can’t even remember them. I try really hard to stay focus and away from distractions, I am a stay at home mom my kids are at school all day and I take advantage of my alone time.
 Anyhow back to my point, which I forgot…
Oh OK got it! Music, I was going to talk about music and the relaxing and inspiring affect it has on me. When I decide I am going to sit and write, I open my iTunes and rather then listen to my playlist I decide to open the purchased items and listen to each and every song on it. We all know that music can have a relaxing effect, but for it to be a motivational tool is a bit of a surprise to me, right now I am addicted to Mozart. i swear one of his pieces will make into one of my MS. So as long as the music is playing I can write none stop, sometimes if I am writing a scene that’s a little tense a song coincidentally comes on that inspire the scene and I take in a totally different direction than I had planned and to my surprise it works, the words just seem to flow. Right now James Morrison’s “Undiscovered” is inspiring me, though all his songs have an affect on me, I love his voice.
So tell me:
What is your ritual when you write? Do you listen to music or prefer the silence?

The Dramatic Question

Simply making a point doesn’t necessarily keep a reader’s attention. As writers we are aware of this fact, therefore we strive to ensure we set up a story from the beginning in order to hold the reader’s interest until the story is over. No one likes to read a book and realize in the first three chapters what happens, we want to read a good story and ask ourselves, will the girl get the guy? Will the hero reach his goal? When these questions are answered, the story is over. Our goal as writers is to ensure that we ask “the dramatic question” and keep the reader glued to the book in order for he/she to get the answer. To do this we have to tell the story in a way that doesn’t make it obvious, how many times have you been to a movie and half way through your companion tells you exactly what is going to happen ruining the element of surprise. This has happened to me many times and I hated it, it’s the same with a book, if you know in the middle what the outcome will be, why will you bother finish reading it? “The dramatic question” is the biggest question implanted in a reader’s mind and it why the reader keeps on reading. Sometimes the answer is obvious, in the love story the lovers will get together right? Imagine reading a 500page novel and having those expectations, only to find in the end, the lovers don’t get together at all? My thought would be that there better be a sequel. As readers the last thing we want is to feel cheated, so our job is to tell them how they will get together and if the ending is different, well then let’s hope the writer sets up the story so we are not taken off guard.
When was the last time you read a book you couldn’t put down? Have you ever been disappointed with the outcome of a Story?

Going Back To School… Seriously!

Today is the first day of the rest of my life… Ok not really it’s just the first day of a writing course my husband gave me for Christmas. I am looking forward to learning the things that are still not so clear to me about writing. I have read whatever I was able to get my hands on about the subject and most of it helped me to gain the understanding I needed with regards to starting a book, the main one being to just sit and write. But now I need to tweak my knowledge of the important parts of a novel, developing characterization; establishing goal, motivation and conflict; understanding and using viewpoint; moving the story forward with dialogue and the much talked about concept of “show, don’t tell”.
So wish me luck, I will blog about me experience and progress. The thought of actually going back to school is a nerve racking one, I’ve been out of school for over twelve years. The one thing that I am trying not to obsess so much about, is the fact that each class member will have to read their work in front of the class and get feedback, first off I am not great with public speaking and reveal the parts of a WIP that no one else has read is quite scary.
How do you get over the fear of others reading your work? Does feedback discourage you or give the strength to move forward and make it better?

Putting Things In Order

I was going through my document folders and favorites list and realized what a mess it all is. What’s astonishing to me is the amount of information you can find on the web, and the amount of information I have collected in the last few months. Right now in my Favorites list I have stored links on every aspect of writing.
How to write Paranormal
How to write romance
How to write YA
How to write a pitch letter
How to write a Query
How to find an Agent, etc.
To me the Internet is like going into a book store, way too much to choose from. It’s great that most of the information we are looking for is out there, it is of course a matter of knowing where to look and what particular topic we want to learn about. Things like voice, character development, and  plot, there tons of websites that talk about plotting. Most are helpful and some do give you the answer you are looking for, but how many of them should we actually keep as a favorite? Like writing itself , searching for info can be just as overwhelming. I am relatively new at the whole writing thing and I am trying to gather as much information as possible to learn about the business, but how much info is too much? I still have lots of questions and next week I will be starting a writing course —a Christmas present from my husband. I will write about my experience and hopefully have some of my questions answered.
So tell me, what are some of the resources you use? Any website you find better than other?