Author- know your Characters!

How well do you know your characters?

Are they close, like a best friend, or are they a vague notion on a piece of paper?

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The characters will determine the intimacy of how much you get to know them. Minor characters are like ships passing in the night, and there may not be a reason to go in depth about what makes them tick. But, for your protagonist and the sidekick it’s essential. Even for the antagonist is essential – almost as much as the protagonist.
Although you can’t put everything  about your characters down on paper, you should know them. Be familiar with them as you are with your family-even better. After all, they are your creation and you need to understand how and why your character reacts to something you are plotting.
Now granted, just like human beings, your characters will change in time as you go from book 1 to book 10. They must, or they will become flat and boring. A perfect example of this is Harry Potter. If the young wizard had stayed the same frighten boy living under the stairs, you would have never read the rest of the series to learn of all the wonderful adventures (and dangers) that he faced while fighting the evil Lord Voldemort.
Expect that your characters will grow, just as you grow as a writer. Knowing your characters inside and out isn’t just knowing they have blond hair and blue eyes, or they have a southern accent.

Knowing your character involves understanding how they react to situations we, the writer, put them into. How will your hero react to criticism or complement? How will your heroine react when faced with danger or romance?
As a writer, I think we have to know ourselves in order to answer these questions about our characters. Be honest; isn’t a part of us in each one of our characters?

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There are always different character profiles and different ways to come up with them.   Some great computer programs are available to  help you  keep track of all the details. Or perhaps a good old-fashioned piece of paper in a notebook. There you can jot down the traits of your character, both physical and physiological.
I’ve found character casting is a lot of fun. This is where you find pictures of people you think would be like your character, not only in looks but in actions. I love to use pictures of actors from old shows I loved. I remember what the actor’s charter was like, and that’s the picture I borrow for my casting.

I’ve seen or used all of these methods. I feel the ones which work best ask questions about your characters, causing you think beyond the obvious. These methods don’t simply have you filling in the blanks about how tall is your character or their eye color. Instead, they asked the questions about what is your characters favorite childhood memory, what is your character afraid of.
See the difference between the two types of questions? Even if you don’t write everything down, I think a good writer needs this information back of her head.   Putting it down on paper just keeps a clear.
So, let me be noisy and ask you this; is your relationship with your character like a first date, where you’re just trying to find out things about them to decide if there will be a second date? Or does it feel as if you’re in a 50-year-old marriage and you can finish each other’s sentences?

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If you’re still in the dating stage, I suggest you ask more questions. You need to know your characters; you might need to reign them in one day when they take your story in a different direction. If you don’t know how they will react, your story will get away from you. When it gets out of your control, then how will you be able to keep the reader interested?
How do you get to know your character? Share your methods with us.

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Hear that Whistle Blow…

The warning gates are going down and cars are stopped. I see the man in front of me throw his arms up in dismay; the train is coming. And the whistle blows as the engineer sounds a warning blast.

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There’s something about the sound of a train whistle reaches deep into my soul and grabs hold. I don’t know if it’s the tone of loneliness or the promise of unexpected journeys the train may hold for its passenger, but there’s something that connects with me.
Perhaps because I come from a family that has a long history with the railroad. My father, my grandfather, even a few of my uncles, worked as railroad men, spending many years jumping from the rails to a car. They worked both on the rails and in the rail yard, day in and day out. Railroading is a hard industry and dangerous, but I didn’t realize that when I was a child. I just understood my dad was a rail-man.

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My grandfather would sometimes come and get me and take me to play on the train and I’d climb up into the caboose or riding around in the rail-yard. It might have only been for ten or fifteen minutes, but to this little girl it was an exciting adventure.
As I became an adult, the railroad seem to follow me. Every home I lived in with my husband- from our tiniest first apartment to the home we live in now -we have been within hearing distance of that whistle. Reassuring me, perhaps it gives me a sense home.
I’ve never considered the sound of a train to be irritating or a nuisance. I can remember the Realtor apologizing for showing us a house close to the sound of the tracks. Little did she know it was a selling point for me.

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There is a sense of Americana when you think of the railroad. Hobos, with their belongings tied up in a red handkerchief, tied to a stick springs to mind first. But there is more to the railroad than that. The expansion of rail stations and endless miles of track are part of what opened the western United States to settlement. Goods and supplies work their way from one coast to the other, connecting our country. Great men worked to expand the railroad, even to the south, like Henry Flagler. Much of our countries history results from the railroads.

Today that whistle sounds for safety reasons, but it means more, too. It’s like a cry to the wanderer in your soul. Do you answer it? Maybe. One goal I would love to achieve is to drive out West to take one of those long train trips through the Rocky Mountains. Nothing could be more romantic or exciting.

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I’ve even used railroads in my writing. If you’ve ever read my Sisters Station Series, you’ll know it centers on an old railroad station in a small northern town. The two sisters are revitalizing the station, giving it a new purpose for today’s world. It’s not a mystery, but rather a sweet story about two sisters with a goal, getting to know their new home and community. And as I’m sure you realize, things can happen in a small town which might take you by surprise.
Well, the crossings gates are going up, the train has passed by, and it’s time to continue on my way. Going in the opposite direction of the train on my way to work while the train it goes on its way to new adventures.

What direction will your next bit of writing take you?

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Hello!

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Yes, it’s still me, Victoria LK Williams. And you’re at the right place-my blog. 

It was time for an up-grade and a new look. I’ve even changed the blog title (just a bit).

There is still lots of tweaking and more to add; a work in progress!

But I didn’t want to wait until it’s perfect (because it really never is-things are constantly changing, aren’t they?) because I wanted to announce that the news book in the storm Voices Series is now available for purchase!

You can also purchase it from many other outlets through here:

https://www.books2read.com/StormVoices-2

Please let me know if you enjoy the book, and don’t forget to leave a review (author’s love reviews!)

You can find out what my next project is by visiting my website.

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Until next time, happy reading!

 

Goodbye?

Yes!  

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Well, I’ve reached my word count for the April 2018 Camp NaNo challenge. As a matter fact, I went over my word count. And that’s a great feeling of satisfaction.
But, along with that satisfaction comes the knowledge I haven’t completely finished the book. There’s still more work to do; I have to come up with my ending.
 For me, the ending is the hardest part. I know what I want my characters to do; I know how the mystery has to end. Often, I might have more than one ending in mind, and I only need to choose which one best fits the directions my characters took me in.
And even though I have this knowledge, I still find the endings are hard. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to say goodbye to my characters. They’ve become such a part of me, as I’ve written these stories. The thought of shutting the doors on their adventures is a little sad.

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But wait — that’s why I write in a series!
 I don’t have to say goodbye to my characters; they can keep having adventures– as long as I can come up with ideas. As a matter-of-fact, some of my ideas are calling for spin-off series with minor characters from the main story. Now they are branching off on their, own seeking their adventures. Isn’t that great? I’m giving myself endless possibilities for new stories. Believe me, I will never in my lifetime be able to write all the outlines I’ve come up with. Mainly because I keep coming up with new ones. But I will have fun trying.

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There’s always the next story sitting on my desk waiting for me. Sometimes I sneak into it to add a line or two of outline, or I might even write the first chapter. Sometimes an idea just grabs hold of you and have to get  it on paper. I may rewrite it later, but the ideas needs to get out of my head, and onto paper. This will free my mind to continue with the work in progress.

Meanwhile, on my desk is my current WIP, waiting for my attention.
Speaking of which, now I need to make a decision. Do I kill somebody in the story ending? Or perhaps a more gentle ending is called for, maybe a romance can work better?
See what I mean?

This is why endings are so hard for me. Because there are so many directions to take them. So, I guess I’m like my reader, I’ll have to wait until I decide which way to finish the story.

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17692947 – beagle dog wearing glasses reading book

 
 Or rather, my characters will tell me which way they want to go to find out their ending. 

 

VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Stolen Moments

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I think everybody has a “to do” list.
Some are short, some are long. A few might even be considered part of a bucket list rather than a to do list, but everybody’s got one. You’ve written it down are in the back of your head. We’re all busy; kids, school, work, writing. And there’s only so many hours in a day to get everything accomplished. Often things on today’s list get pushed to tomorrow, because there just wasn’t enough time.
But every occasionally, you find a stolen moment. A moment with nothing on your agenda, a moment when no one is clamoring for your attention and you can breathe.
So, what do you do with that stolen moment? Do you pull out your list and work on something else?
I think that’s what most people do. But here’s a novel concept; take that stolen moment for yourself.

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Grab a cup of coffee and go out and sit in the garden with a book you’ve been longing to read or a blank piece of paper to doodle on. Perhaps you can simply sit back, close your eyes, and do some deep breathing exercises. Not every minute, not every second has to be productive. Sometimes it’s healthier to be inactive.
Once I get over the guilt of having a stolen moment and taking it for myself, I find my mind wanders. I come up with some of the best ideas this way. Things that were in the back of my mind finally work their way forward; getting the attention they need, and yes, deserve
There used to be a time in our society when quiet moments were expected. After a long day’s you work came home, ate dinner, and had a quiet time. It might have been in the company of your family, or maybe sitting by yourself out of the back porch letting your thoughts wander. Personally, I think our minds were more stimulated because of this. We were forced to use our imagination in the days before there was a TV in every room and a phone in every hand. Everything wasn’t programmed for us on the TV or in a game.

Recently I had the opportunity for some stolen moments for myself. My husband was out of town, leaving me on my own with no obligations. It was amazing! The first thing I did? Turn the TV off. It felt weird, the house was too quiet, so I turned onto my old music to listen to. The stress and tension when out the windows.
At first, I just unwound. But then, the quiet moments led to productive thinking moments. A lot of “what-ifs” were tossing around my head about possible story lines. But rather than hurrying up and writing down an outline, I let them develop and nurture inside, without forcing them. By the second day I was ready for an outline. Because I had given the chance for the stories to form  on their own, my outline flowed from my fingers to the keyboard.

 

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Now I’m not saying you should get rid of your husband (because I really did miss him), or family, or leave your job for a week in order to be productive in your writing skills. But, if you let some stolen moments work their magic, you would be surprised at the results.
And here is an original thought: why wait for a stolen moment?
Why not set aside five or ten minutes every day for quiet time? We used to make the kids do it, at least to my house we did. Quiet time was for either book reading, or quiet play. No electronics, no TV. Set aside ten minutes for yourself every day. Develop this habit, and before you begin writing for the day, let your mind wander; almost like you’re exercising your fingers before you sit down to play the piano.

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Not being productive might be the key better production.

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

 

Travels

Have you ever wanted to get behind the wheel of your car and just drive?

No destination, no agenda, just drive. Would you head north or southeast or west? Would you stay in your own country or would you crossover one of the borders surrounding us? Do you head north to Canada or south to Mexico? Would you stick the city roads or are you the type to try to back roads of our great country?

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Some people pass through places, not making connections. Perhaps you’ll take your time; stopping at a small diner and getting to know the people. Asking questions about their lives and finding out what their hopes are for their futures can give you not only insight about them, but ideas for stories.

Maybe you drive straight through, stopping only for necessities, to reach your destination Your answers will tell you a lot about your personality: perhaps you’re a driven person, with a goal and agenda. Or are you someone comfortable meandering through life? Neither one of them is wrong. It’s simply who you are.

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For me if I were given an opportunity I would visit the small towns and explore the countryside. It would be a perfect way to find the sights most people won’t find on the cover of a fancy travel magazine. There’s something about driving by a field of cotton or corn feeling in tune with nature, wondering when the crops will be harvested. If I found a park, I’d stop to walk the pathways, find little creeks for skipping stones when the mood takes me, and picking wildflowers as they bloom.

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This sounds idealistic, I know, but wouldn’t this be a wonderful way of life? To sit back and enjoy what God’s given us. No timetables, no time clocks, only the ability to enjoy life and help a person or two along the way.

Of course, it’s only a dream. There are too many responsibilities in our lives; bills to pay, children to raise and preparing for the future. We are sometimes too busy putting away for the future that we forget to enjoy the present, and we never really appreciate the past.

So what if we can only wander the back roads of the country on weekends? We can still enjoy our own immediate environment. I would bet right in your own hometown there are small parks you’ve never visited, views you’ve never pulled off to enjoy. If you drive a little way out of town, I’m sure there are places to find that you’ve never even imagined.

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My challenge to you? Learn to enjoy what you have around you. Get in the car and take a ride, see what’s around your own town. Or better yet; get on your bike or walk, and find what’s in your own neighborhood.

Think of the possible stories you can create from all these new experiences and locations!

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

 

Hi-ho, hi-ho, its off to camp we go!

My bags are packed and I’m running away for the month of April!

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Of course this is only in a virtual world. April is the first of the Camp NaNo months and I’m exciting to take part.

The camps are a bit more laid back than NaNoWriMo, with less emphasis on 50,000 words and more on your cabin and new writing friends. This is the time to finish up goals which may not have been completed (guilty!) in November and re-connect with other writers.

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I think this is what I love about the camps-the connection! No one understands your misery more than someone also going through the same process. This is the 4th year I’ve opened a cabin up, and I’m thrilled to see old friends return. This year there are  new writers joining us and I’m looking forward to getting to know them as well.

There is a special bond that forms here, one that will never fade. Encouragement is freely given, helpful ideas are tossed around and constructive criticism is offered if asked for and venting is allowed at any hour of the day or night.

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So, we authors set our goals and aim for our targeted number of words as we juggle or daily tasks, jobs and family. To those around us; have patience it’s only for a month.

At least until July rolls around!

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Truth or Fiction?

How much truth is in your fiction?

Writers get their ideas from somewhere, but how many of your ideas come from things that have actually happened in real life?

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Or, perhaps, the headlines from the newspaper provide you with your ideas? Was it the interaction between two friends who are close to you, or the activities of a coworker that you notice, sparking a new idea? You’re staring at the area around you, mingling with the people that are part of your day without them being aware of the fact you are plotting away..

Do any of your characters resemble real people reflecting their actions and habits? Or perhaps you’ve taken a vacation that was special and are now using it as a center for your work in progress. With little embellishments and slight tweaking, you create a new world for your story from the memories of your past. Most writers create a combination of what they have experienced and what they want their characters to experience. Places, faces, times, memories; a writer can use all or one to tell their story.

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For instance, in my Citrus Beach Mysteries, the lead animals are derived from our own family pets. Many of the crazy things that Barney does in the books were things that our Zippy did in real life. In this same series, the town of Citrus Beach is fictional. But because there are so many well-known tourist attractions in the state of Florida is easy to draw reference from those places. I have been able to correlate the fictional location using references to these real places.

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The tricky part for any writer is when you try to base your characters on someone you know. You must be very careful not to paint a complete picture of a live person when developing your characters. Instead, more of a fuzzy image is acceptable. From there, you can add your own twists and quirks to the character, making them more unique than the real-life person.

Using real-life occurrences such as kidnapping or bank robbery, or murder is not uncommon for fiction writers. This is often because it’s not the action or the crime that is so important to the writer. Actually, the solving of the case or the building of the sequence of interactions that lead to the final act seem more important to the writer.

 

The next time, when you read the statement so often found in books about characters and places in this book are fiction, not intended to resemble any live person or place:

You might need to wonder how fictional they truly are.


 

 

 

What’s in a name?

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Names & Titles.

Everyone and everything has one. It’s how society identifies individual products persons and things.
Some titles might be different for the same object or person. For instance Nana, Grandma, Grandmother/ Papa, Pops. Grandpa Grandfather.
When it comes to our individual names, our parents took great care to select one that they felt would best represent their hopes and dreams for you. Some might be family names, others might be sentimental and others might have a meeting that’s known only to your family.

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This goes for companies as well the name of the company might reflect the owner’s personal name it might reflect the type of business they provide. Or it might make you guess, which could possibly hinder your business.

As a writer you need to step back and look at your writing is a business. And the first major task is to come up with a good title. Because the title is going to be what catches your reader’s attention. It will play an important factor in the graphics of your cover and also in the search-ability in the bookstore and on the websites.
Of course we’re assuming you’ve written a good book, with interesting characters. The names of your characters should be easy to relate with or at least have a good meaning that you can explain to the reader.

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For some authors coming up with a good title is one of the hardest parts of the book. They spend hours agonizing over a few words that mean so much. Your title can be something obvious, something catchy that’s going with the current trends of popular books. You might relate the title to an activity that happens in the book or even a spoken line between the characters of your story. But just like every other aspect of your work you need to give your title careful consideration.
There have been some really wacky titles out there. Wacky enough that they have caught on and held the attention of the reader’s. This has been a great tool in helping push those books up in the rankings. They make the reader wonder before they’ve even opened the first page what your book is going to be about. Remember, catching a reader’s attention and interest is crucial.

No I’m not saying you need to title your book wacky or anything outrageous, but I do believe we need to keep the title short, pronounceable and, if possible, memorable. I think if you’re going to go wacky you need to go way out there and titles that are wacky can get away with being long and preposterous.
Personally, my books tend to relate to the action within the book or specifically spoken line. Often I know the title of the book before I’ve even written it, thanks to a very thorough outline. But each writer is different in their process of picking a title. And unlike our children who we name for life; if we find our title doesn’t suit the direction of our book, we can easily change it down the line.
Go wacky, go sentimental, go scientific, but give it careful consideration.

And have some fun picking out your title!

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com