Cardboard Characters


 

Cardboard Characters

Natalie Bright

One of the most difficult tasks for a writer is to create fictional characters that seem real and believable to the reader. I love books in which characters seem to jump off the page and ones that remain in my head long after the book is closed.

Much Like Cardboard

Are your characters more like cardboard; stiff, emotionless, without personality? They have names and faces, but they are just on the surface of your story and nothing more. The solution: dig deeper into your character’s motivation.

As an author, you must torture your characters. It is impossible to reveal deep character feelings and personalities without applying deep, intense pressure. The ways in which they react to that pressure reveals their temperament and psyche.

Using Character Profiles

Complete character profiles on both your protagonist and your antagonist. There are many great example forms available online.

Don’t stop at the name. Create a birthdate, a history of where they were born, family description, dominant characteristics, weaknesses, and physical limitations. Create historical events for your character that might have happened in their life such as school’s name, college, children’s names, etc.

Write A Letter

Many of my author friends write a letter in first person POV from their character. Don’t think; just free write. Let them reveal their secrets, desires, fears, self-image.

This trick worked great for me on the story I am working on now. My main characters are a young mule-skinner and a Comanche brave. I am alternating chapters between their points of view. I want to show the contrast between how very different their worlds are, yet they are both sixteen-year-old boys. They each wrote me a letter about their different worlds. One holds a great hatred for his father, and the other resents the physical limitations he has to live with. Now I have something to build upon and add the conflict. At this point, writing is more fun than work.

Keep moving forward and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

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THE WRITING LIFE QUOTES


“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
—Elmore Leonard

The Writing Life Quotes


The Writing Life Quotes

Natalie Bright

 

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
—Samuel Johnson

The Writing Life Quotes


The Writing Life Quotes

Natalie Bright

 

“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.”
—Stephen King (Writer’s Digest 
an interview with King in our May/June 2009 issue)

The Writing Life Quotes


 

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
—Enid Bagnold

Scenes Defined


Scenes Defined

Natalie Bright

Does your scene in your book play like a movie in your head while you write? It takes some concentration and the ability to block out the world around you, but I love it when this happens. I try to focus on every detail, no matter how minute, as I focus on the “moving picture”.

The scene is the unit of story, and in a book usually starts with a character arriving and ends when something has changed. A scene propels the story forward.

  1. Scenes in a book are anchored in a certain place and certain time.
  2. A narrative summary can describe the specifics of your scene.
  3. Scenes usually contain some type of visible action, not just internal thinking from the character.
  4. Do not use italics for internal dialogue, or what your character is “thinking”. Once the standard norm, the point of digging deep is writing inside your character’s head. This one is hard to break. We’ve discussed this several times in our critique meetings. Next time you read a recent release, notice that italics are a thing of the past.
  5. Keep the scene and action moving. No backstory in the first chapter (maybe two). Hook the reader and save the backstory for later.
  6. Skillfully weave your backstory into the story, these can be tension filled scenes into itself.
  7. End scenes (chapters) with a hook—a punchy, pithy statement.

 

It’s Called Networking


It’s Called Networking

by Natalie Bright

 

Throughout every industry, professionals network. From skilled surgeons, teachers, CEO’s, clothing designers, coffee shop owners, office managers–you name it. There are working lunches, golf games, and five o’clock happy hour meet- ups. At some point in every one’s career, there will be some type of meeting, workshop, or conference to learn and connect with others. When I worked in human resources, conferences were invaluable. It’s where I learned about the new labor laws and where I found a network of people who worked in the same industry as I did. People I could call on, if I needed information or resources. People who were saavy as to the latest trends or tools that I needed to know to do my job more effectively.

Being a writer is no different.

Writers are No Exception

Creating and publishing books is a business after all, and at some point in your career, you’ll need to leave the creative side and step into the business side of writing. You need to know about social marketing, query letters, proposals, characterization, plotting techniques, formatting, book cover designs, social media, and you need to network with people who understand the business.

Attention: Amarillo Area Writers

If you live in or around the Texas Panhandle or tri-state area, there is a networking group for you.

Texas High Plains Writers, based in Amarillo, is one of the oldest continuous groups in the U.S. Founded in 1920 as Panhandle Pen Women, the group has been supporting and educating writers for almost a century.

As a Board member this year, I can tell you that there are many exciting things on the horizon. 2018 is going to be an awesome year, and you should plan to be a part of it. Go to the website, http://texashighplainswriters.com/ and join for only $30 a year. Hurry, you have until February 1 and then dues are $36.00. We meet every other month on the third Saturday. For the price of a latte you can network with authors who write in every type of genre, and learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about this crazy industry.

As the Newsletter Editor, send me an article that might be of interest to the group and I’ll publish it in our eNews. You can sign up THE WINDOW on the far-right side of our Home Page.

Find us on Facebook too, where we already have several events posted for 2018.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1400256840281452/events/

So what have you done for yourself lately to advance your writing career? What have you put back into your business? As a professional writer, one of the best ways to make an investment in YOU is to become active in a writer’s organization.

Network, learn, and keep writing!

 

REVISING: THE CRIPPLING PART


REVISING: THE CRIPPILING PART

Natalie Bright

Writing is the hardest work you’ll ever do.

Many people start their great American novel with good intentions, and for many different reasons, and then it’s time to edit.

My kids have this notion that writing an assignment paper is going to be a breeze, so they wait until the last minute. My son talked about his research paper for several weeks before the due date. The theme was something he knew a lot about, and he verbally explained the outline of his paper very thoroughly. I was impressed (and surprised at how he seemed to be interested in an English assignment). The grade was barely passing, due to sloppy sentences, misspelled words, “the writing is not good” wrote his teacher. Why didn’t he read over his work? He had put a lot of thought into the research topic, but almost no effort into the writing itself.

Time after time, I talk to wanna-be authors who have given up and given in to the utter frustration of editing their draft. They are daunted and shocked at how much work they have yet to do, because the story seemed so alive in their head. More often than not, the story has been in their head for many years. The idea that was so clear and brilliant in their mind reads like crap on the page.

Do not be intimated. This is how the process works – seriously! You have to edit your work.

The real magic happens, I believe, during the editing process. This is when your story takes shape and rises above the others. This is when you find your writer’s voice, and realize the load of crap has possibilities. This is where you’ll leave the physical world of your daily existence and disappear into the world you’ve created.

Writing is harder than most people think. There is always a better word, description, sentence order, scene; it’s never really finished and it won’t emerge on the page perfect, but you have to stay with it. Please don’t give up that easy. If you have a story in your head, YOU and only you, can be the one to write it. If you’ve always wanted to be a published author, you can!

 

PLEASE STOP, MR. MUSE


PLEASE STOP, MR. MUSE

By Natalie Bright

 

Sparks on sticky notes, piles of articles, spirals full of handwritten chapters, lists of historical topics to research – all potential stories. I’ve got to get this mess organized.

My mind is in overload mode, because I love writing so much that I am now attuned to every idea that pops into my head, and ideas are coming from everywhere. I used to worry that I’d never have enough ideas to stay busy. I gave up television, scrapbooking, and cross-stitch for this?

I’m not sure when the voices inside my head got so loud, but it happened. I can’t shut them up, and I don’t want to. My problem now; no self-discipline. I like every minute of the process from first draft, research, to final edits, and then planning book events. It’s all fun. I even like co-writing, with four projects in the works. Two more rescue animal stories coming in November, plus two more new projects next year.

Wait a minute. Let’s take a more professional view of my process. Let’s take the heart out of the creativity. The truth is I would have fired me years ago.

My middle grade historical, HANGIN’ DAY, was six years in the making through the traditional route. It was agented but never sold. Six. Years. No other industry has that kind of turnaround time. I’m taking serious disciplinary action against myself, and the key to success is to Stay. On. Task.

Here’s My New Plan:

  1. New ideas get a page in the idea journal. Nothing more. Jot a few notes, but always return to the WIP.
  2. Working titles and self-imposed deadlines are posted on a whiteboard. Stick with the schedule.
  3. Which idea burns the brightest fire in my gut, and does it have potential? List those sparks on the whiteboard, with a designated start date and possible pub date.  What needs my attention NOW? And then, what’s next?
  4. Apply myself to learning more tools of the trade. Scrivener has really made a difference for me this past year. Next up: formatting.

How do you stay on task?

In the meantime, our group project is progressing. You’re going to really enjoy these Route 66 stories.

Finish your book! The world needs your story.