Creating Character Arcs

Once a month, my critique partner and I meet up to talk about our lives and all things writing. It’s a ton of fun to spend time with someone who “gets”me in a way that non-writers don’t. I’d planned on sharing with her a book that I discovered two months ago and have been referencing at least twice a day. As usual, we were chattering along and I forgot. She brought up this book about creating character arcs she’d ordered from Amazon that she’d heard good things about. I asked her if it was Creating Character Arcs:  The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development by K.M. Weiland? Turns out it was. Of course, then I had to gush about it.

Image result for creating character arcs by K.M Weiland

It’s an excellent book and here’s why I think that every writer needs it. Almost all writing advice about characters says a writer has to make them flawed to make them sympathetic. Then you have to have them overcome said flaw or make some improvement to it by the end of the book. Sounds easy, right? Not for me. I’ve tried this and floundered through too many manuscripts to count. This is where this insightful book comes to the rescue. It breaks down how to write a flawed character in a step-by-step process. It even provides the way to do it for a positive character arc, a flat character arc, and a negative character arc. In my opinion, K.M. Weiland is brilliant, but her help doesn’t stop there. She even helps you identify how to make the characters flawed, along with points during your story where your character should make choices or react or start to change. The book walks you through the three acts and pinpoints certain areas where the arc needs to do something. Like the title says it even helps guide the plot. Every writer should keep a copy close by to reference, whether a panster or a plotter.

Objective Correlatives

As usual, last week I went to visit my grandpa at the nursing home. They had a huge sign that warned the unit was sick with Gastroenteritis and to not visit unless absolutely necessary. I turned to go away, but one of the staff stopped me to ask me about something my grandpa received. Against my better judgement, I followed them onto the unit, solved the problem, and decided since I was already there to go ahead and visit my grandpa. Bad decision! I ended up sick for three days and passed it on to my six-year-old daughter, who was also ill for three days. Knock on wood, so far we’re the only two out of the family that came down with this horrible bug.

There are things you don’t want to share, like the nasty disease above and then there are things you do want to share. Cindy Baldwin’s blog is something I found that has been helpful while I’m plotting my next manuscript and that is something I want to share. She doesn’t write often, but she has several nuggets of helpful writing advice in between her personal stories. My favorite is the topic of objective correlatives. If you’re like me and clueless as to what that means, Cindy does an excellent job of explaining it in detail here. Basically, it’s a “grand-scale metaphor” that is throughout a story. The Phoenix in Harry Potter is an example–that I swiped from her post–and she explains it in detail if your curious about it. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.jpgSo, long story short, I’m trying to figure out how to get this into my next WIP.

Have you heard of this? If so, have you used it in your writing or have you read it in a novel?

*cover art original U.K. edition

 

 

 

 

Self-Publishing Teen

I read an article about a 16-year-old girl who self published her manuscript. I’m impressed for several reasons. First, it appears that she went about it in the right way–editing, a decent cover, and a knowledge of what she wanted to do with her writing career for now. It’s the last one that amazes me. There’s no way I would’ve had the self confidence to show another person what I’d written at that age, let alone self-publish it for the world to see. She says in the article that she didn’t want validation from someone else about its worth because she already knew that it was special. I think my mouth fell open when I read that because don’t most of us want validation about our work. This teenager seems to be special and I wonder what her parents did to help nourish that in her as I would love to replicate it in my own children.

Were you self-confident at the age of 16?

Gratitude

It’s that time of year where I take stock of all the things in my life that make me grateful. There are a few that don’t change–my friends, family, and good health. After that the list changes. This year, I’m grateful for the following:

  1. My education–even though I’m not actively using it in a job. I realized that it helped me learn to be more open minded and educated about topics I would’ve never read or learned about.
  2. The ability to vote, even if I don’t agree with who is in office.
  3. Michelle Obama for showing the world how to be and stay classy in the face of adversity. Need I say it; When they go low, we go high.
  4. Health care-enough said.
  5. Books-This year I decided to take the Goodreads challenge and I made a goal of a hundred books. I was worried I might not make it as last year I only read about 80, but I’m only 4 away from completing the challenge. This has reaffirmed that I can continue learning by reading or escape from the reality of the world.
  6.  Forgiveness-sometimes we need it and sometimes we need to give it.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and have your own lists of things you are grateful for this year.

Post-Election Blues

I’ve been at a lost since after the election and struggled to maintain a brave face for my children as they asked how Trump could win and if we were moving to Canada. The latter question was an easy no, while the first one still has no answers. So, I do what I always do when I don’t want to face reality, I read. It’s helped me keep it together and I thought I’d recommend some of the books, I’ve read lately. Listed below in no particular order:

I couldn’t find a copy of the book, so here’s the movie poster.

Diversity In Writing

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’m white or if you prefer Caucasian. My hubs looks white but is Creole, which is a mixture of African American, German, and Cuban. His family hails from Texas via Louisiana and my children are a mixture of us. None of us has dark skin. However, I love my husband’s family, which runs the spectrum from dark African American to light, Latina, and Asian. Because of this, I always write characters that reflect one of them as I feel they are so underrepresented in literature or stereotyped. Recently, an agent, Saba Sulaiman addressed the question if someone should “throw” diversity in their manuscript to make it more marketable. She provided the best answer I’ve seen. If you’re wondering the same thing, I recommend you check out her answer at Pub Hub.

Show Don’t Tell

I thought I did this well in my writing, but according to the feedback I received from an editor, I actually do the opposite. So, that sent me on a quest to find out exactly what I was doing wrong. Here’s the best advice on how to make sure you’re not doing what I did.

It’s a blog post by editor Kate Foster and she discusses how many blogs are out there dedicated to this topic. She’s right. There are a gazillion of them. However, she enlightens us with some excellent “code” words that show us exactly how we show or how we tell. In addition she explains how to show with examples and by doing the following; “…show…them [the reader] through facial expression, body language and inner thought…”

I’ve been using this advice to catch my “telling” errors and I hope it works for you too.