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

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

 

 

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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Writer.

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

Do you share?

Do you share?
As an author, do you share with your readers? Do you let them into your world where they can find out about you? Do you have a platform where you let them know what’s going on with your writing life?

Writer.

If you are blogging– how much of yourself do you let your readers see of yourself? How often do you share: once or twice a week, daily, once a month? Do you freely share or are you just a matter-of-fact type of person only recording your writing progress, not letting your readers know about your personal side?
Whether you realize it or not, as a writer we share with our readers much more than we think. We can’t help it; as we write thousands of words on the pages, some of our personality has to seep through. Our core values refuse to be ignored, no matter how hard we try. Some of them will make their way into one of our characters, be it good or bad. It’s how you connect with your reader. Letting part of “you” onto the pages is what makes your book successful. It’s about finding something that the reader can connect with and imagine themselves in the same position.

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There are other ways we connect with our readers: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any of the other many social media outlets are avenues to let our readers get to know us.
Personally, I think it’s important to connect with my readers and let them know what’s going on my life. Make them feel connected to you as if you’re a friend about to sit down, share a soda and talk. I know when I read a blog post from another author, I can relate to what’s going on in their life. It does feel like I am chatting with an old friend.
The term author platform is used so much that it’s almost overused. To me, having a platform simply means I’m connecting with my readers. And how I do that has to be comfortable for me. I must be honest and sincere because I would never put out a fake persona. Sooner or later you’ll slip up and dissolution your reader.

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So how much do you share with your readers?

Not much? Well, maybe you should be.

Masked Character

Who are you and where did you come from?

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Has this ever happened to you, your writing along and all of a sudden you have a new character you never thought of, demanding to be part of the story?
She wasn’t in my story outline, and she certainly wasn’t in my character development sheets. But here she is, bold as can be, taking a huge chunk of my thought process.
She works. For some reason, she completes this section of the story I don’t know where she came from or how she popped onto my page. But in my mind, she’s fully developed, and she now has an interesting, intricate part of the story. At least the newest direction the story is suddenly going.
I used to laugh when I heard somebody say the characters wrote themselves or the story writes itself, thinking that it just doesn’t make sense. A figment of my imagination can’t take over and do the work for the writer. Yet now I know it’s true because it’s happened to me over and over again.

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My newest adventure is moving along splendidly when suddenly I’m developing a mermaid character. I’m not sure why, yet it’s all working out and seems right. As any writer knows; when something seems right, you go forward with it full force. Flush out the thought process and see what happens. At the end, if it doesn’t work, save it for another story. But don’t let the thought run away and utilize it. The character or plot twist came to you for a reason.
Sometimes I believe we can get bogged down with the formula of writing and it becomes easy to forget the fun parts the creative parts to letting your imagination run part.
There are some great programs out there to help you develop characters; from the color their hair to their favorite food to their least favorite color. You can create more details about your characters than you ever dreamed possible. However, if you become so intent on developing the character, you could risk losing some spontaneity which makes the story uniquely yours.
The first time this happened to me, I almost threw it out. Being rigid and new to writing, I didn’t want to veer from my outline. But instead of throwing it out I pushed aside for a couple of days to work on something else. Yet, this character remained in the back of my mind nagging at me wanting to come out and make her presence known. So, I let her, and I must say, she became one of my favorite characters in that particular book. I’ve even reintroduced her into a few other books here and there just because I feel she is such an interesting character. And to think I almost threw her away!

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Let the voices talk to you, let them tell you what they want to do and then, from there, be the writer.

Take that nagging thought and create something wonderful.

Play Time

In a world as fast-paced as ours, I wonder if anybody spends time in the old-fashioned entertainment that we grew up with. I’m talking about board games.
When my son was little we played them a lot, but as he grew older he turned to more electronic entertainment. Sadly, the board games were put away into the closet. Occasionally we might take them out, but for the most part they sat there and collect dust.
There’s some great board games out there that are specific to wordplay. If you’re having a party, they can add  much hilarity and eye-opening antics, will be sure to make your party a success. A couple that come to mind are Cards Against Humanity, What, and The Storymatic.

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As a writer I created a whole new reason to have those word games on the shelf in my office, not in the closet. It’s called ideas.
You’ve heard the term writers block? Maybe you’re not at the stage of suffering from writer’s block, but instead you need fresh ideas. My suggestion is to try one or more of these games. I’ve done this several times and had things turn around in my story, going down avenues I never would’ve dreamed possible.

Grab one of those board games and start using it for your writing; take those cards, shuffle, pull one out randomly and sees what it says
Here are a few examples: (from Storymatic) “A person answering a personal ad” paired with “discovery of a new species” Wow are there possibilities there! (from What) “A co-worker has gone on vacation. His wife calls the office and asks how his business trip is going.

There are other programs and books that will give you writing prompts that work well, too. I find this is a fun way to do to get ideas and dialog. Let’s face it, many of us have board games sitting in the closet, collecting dust. Why not give them the new purpose? Use them not only for entertainment, but also to stimulate the brain– get those ideas flowing. Anything help to get your words on the paper is often welcome.

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I have a bookshelf full of “how-to” books on writing, blogging and publishing, but stacked on top shelf where I can easily reach them are my word games. No longer is dust collecting on them. Instead they are getting used. Even if it’s to stimulate my mind or give me a good laugh. Often when your character does or says something totally unexpected, it not only moves the story forward, but will renew the interest of your reader.

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So, multipurpose those games and cards and start thinking differently. Don’t limit yourself to only adult games. There are times when you can get some of the sweetest, most innocent ideas from a child’s game which will give a whole new tone to your work in progress.

Let’s play and add some fun to our writing!