Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Building better characters with Mr. Potato Head

Lisa Mangum gave a great, hands on, presentation at Book Academy using a childhood toy.

How do you build a better character?

What does your character see?
  • How does he perceive the world? With paranoia or rose-colored glasses?
  • What does he need to survive?
  • Look outside the character to how the setting affects him.
  • Is it an urban setting? Rural? Alone? 
  • Think how the boy who lived under the stairs saw Hogwarts. When a character moves to a different environment, he will naturally compare it to what he has seen before.
  • Look inside.
  • Use introspection. Does the character have to plan everything? 
  • Are they confidant in themselves?
  • What are their flaws? Exploit them!

What do they hear?

  • Do they only hear complaints? Compliments?
  • What does the character say when they talk to themselves when they are alone?
  • What do they think about? Process?
  • Do they believe they are good? Bad?

What do they say?

  • Pet phrases
  • Slang
  • Do they lie?
  • Prefer silence?
  • Dialogue reveals something about the character like education level, beliefs, prejudice.
  • Words can hurt AND heal. For some, words are weapons.
  • Voice is one of the best ways to showcase a character
What dreams or goals do they have?
  • What are they reaching for?
  • What is their hearts' desire?
  • Evaluate 'nice to haves' and 'have to haves'.
  • Dreams drive us! Withholding the fulfillment of dreams will force the character into action, into growth
  • Be specific about dreams!

Where is the character going?

  • What actions will they take? 
  • Motivation is a powerful tool for revealing character

Where does your character stand?

  • What does he believe in? Fight for? Die for?
  • Where is their boundary? Push them over that line over and over again

Characters with well-defined values--even if you don't agree with them--make compelling, interesting and memorable characters.
Characters with conviction are characters who move the plot.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Do you have what it takes to be an author?

I went to Lisa Mangum's presentation at the UVU Book Academy. She talked about FOUR things you need to shine as a newbie author:


Not what you expected, right? I'll expand.

Vision-Publishing is a business. Research your genre and the marketplace. Where do you see your book going and how is it going to get there? Do you have ideas for marketing your book? What is your platform?

Passion- Write every day. It makes you a better writer. Read. It makes you a better writer. Learn to self-edit and make every page better. You are a storyteller. Tell your story.

Flexibility- Publishing is a team effort. Trust your editor. Maintain balance in your life. Can you work creatively and market your book? Are you willing to publish digitally as well as traditionally? Can you live with a title or cover you don't love?

Endurance- Is your writing a hobby or career? Both are good choices. What are your goals? Can you write more than one book a yer? Can you meet your deadlines? Editors LOVE when writers meet their deadlines!

Patience + Persistence=Publication

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Jessie tagged me on her blog. I don't usually do memes but this one sounded interesting.

What is the working title of your book?

Where did the idea come from?
I had writers block but wanted to keep writing every day. There was an online writing blog that encouraged daily writing. So I decided to try that until I could get back to work on my other project. I just wrote and wrote without thinking and this story came out. I didn't plan it at all.

What genre does your book fall under? 

Young Adult Psychological Thriller. I compare it to FORGOTTEN meets I’M NOT A SERIAL KILLER.


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?
My critique group thinks Summer Glau reminds them of my main character, Angelica Savage. 

The love interest reminds me of Prince Caspian:


What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? 
Seventeen year-old Angelica remembers nothing about the deaths of her nine best friends, even though she was there for each of them. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
I had an agent ask for the full manuscript, which I hope to turn in by the end of October.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 
Haha! Still writing the first draft while I'm editing. Yikes!

What else about your book would pique the reader's interest? 
Did Angelica kill her friends? What does she really remember? 

Thanks, Jessie! That was fun. Anyone else want to do this? Let me know in the comments if you post and I'll come visit!

A few of my favorite things I'm doing

I'm reading: Fiction: The Light After the War by Anita Abriel  It is 1946 when Vera Frankel and her best friend Edith Ban ...