May 28, 2013

Writing About: A House Or Garden

Writing about a house or garden may not be as thrilling as writing about a car accident or love scene, but I bet all my pens that you will have to write about a house or garden sooner or later while you’re writing your book. Why? Because unless your characters are cavemen, they should live in a house or apartment as you and I do. If your characters are royalty then they probably live in castle. In that case, you will have to take these tips and magnify them by ten.

When I have to describe a house or garden I always think about the house or garden of my dreams. You may think that once you write about one house, you won’t be able to write about another, but that’s not true. I have a few different ideas of a place I would like to live down to the furnishings and if you think hard enough you might find that you do too.

Think about your dream home and jot down everything that comes to mind from the chili pepper lights you want hung up in the kitchen to the paint colors on the walls. Use those notes to construct a well detailed vision of the house of one of your characters.

Also use this same strategy with a garden, but instead of paint colors you’ll be picturing your favorite flowers and trees. Is it a small, homely garden or a large, lavish one? Is there a granite bird bath, statues, a fountain?

Need help? Don’t worry! You can always scrounge through magazines for inspiration. You can even use Google to become more knowledgeable about flowers you want to bloom in your character’s garden, and items you want in your character’s home such as Tiffany lamps, Ming vases, and Persian rugs.

Reminiscing on a home from your childhood (your grandparent’s home, your best friend’s house) or a garden you once saw can also aide you in describing a home or garden. Just use your memories and what you remember about those places. And what is better than being able to immortalize your grandparent’s home in your writing?

TIP: While you’re writing about a house/garden keep in mind not to go overboard. You don’t want to bore your readers with too much description. Give enough details to paint an image in your reader’s mind.

SHARE: Your tips for writing about a house/garden.

May 21, 2013

On My Shelf: After The Night by Linda Howard

When I read “After the Night” by Linda Howard I was instantly captivated when she introduced the female protagonist, Faith, as a young girl. I identified with her to the core. This little girl felt like me, she felt like every girl in the world. Even when this little girl became an adult, I still related to her as a woman and being able to feel that as a reader is magical; it is what every writer strives (or should strive) toward.

The first five chapters where the protagonist is younger are written so well. They tell the background information that you need to know about the characters and their families, and reveals the beginning of the story. These chapters will suck you in and what happens in chapter five will leave you speechless, but in a very good way. You’ll want to plow forward to read what happens next and what happens next is juicy, even more shocking, and addicting!

I don’t want to give away the plot but there are some of the steamiest sexual encounters that I have ever read in a book. Okay, so I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey, but the man in this story and the culprit of these scenes is named Gray. Need I say anymore? And if you like dirty little secrets, this is the book for you because this story is all about dirty little secrets.

The only pitfall I experienced while reading this book was at the end, after the climax. Due to circumstances that I will not reveal, Faith found herself in need of replenishing everything she ever owned (food, clothes, makeup, etc.) and Linda Howard thought it was necessary to tell us everything that Faith had to do to get these items, including shopping. For the first time while reading this book, I skipped paragraphs with a roll of my eyes.

TIP: You can easily tell a reader that your character went shopping for everything he/she lost in their household after a flood, tornado, fire, or break-in in just a sentence or two, but to write pages on this is far from necessary. If you do, your readers will do exactly what I did and that is roll their eyes and skip ahead.

Don’t write parts that a reader will find pointless! Unnecessary Writing

With that little hitch in my reading stride, “After the Night” is one of my favorite books now and just talking about it makes me want to read it all over again. I definitely recommend it to anyone (mostly women) who wants more passion and suspense in their life.

Cheers to a good book!

QUESTION: Have you read this book? What did you think?

May 14, 2013

Writing About: Children

Recently I told you how to write about babies. Well, now I am going to tell you how to write about children. Out of all the characters that you could create, children are the most fun to write about. 

First, you have to develop them just as you would any other character. Choose their gender, age, hair and eye color, but don’t stop there! Do they have freckles? Are they missing their two front teeth? If the child is a boy, does he have scabs on his knees and dirt on his clothes? If the child is a girl, does she have her hair in pigtails and is she wearing a princess dress?

Fictional children also need personalities. Children actually have the best personalities among us. Is the child in your book goofy, wild, a bookworm, artistic, or a daredevil? Pick one or two of these characteristics and you will quickly have a realistic child. 

Children are also very animated in real life and they should be in books too. We all know that kids can make the funniest faces, so describe their facial expressions whenever possible. And they really can say the dardest things too! The next time you are around children, whether they are your own or are your nieces and nephews, listen to everything they have to say. My nephews have said some pretty hilarious things that I have written down to use in the future.

This is a picture of me when I was little,
wearing my dad's military gloves.

If you need help developing a child for your book that seems realistic, you can use yourself as inspiration. Simply think about what you were like as a child. Or use children that are in your life for inspiration. Just look around, they are everywhere!

Once you know everything about your child character (Does he/she like peas? Have a puppy? Does he/she have a favorite toy?), you can then decide on their role in your book. Is the child going to be the son or daughter of one of your main characters? Then he/she should probably have a big part and come into the story more often (making at least one appearance in every chapter).

Or the child character can be used to diffuse the tension and bring a touch of happiness into a story that is normally suspenseful and action-packed. This method can especially work if the child has a smaller role, as your protagonists’ neighbor per say, that way they can make their appearance when they need to then skip away until they are needed again. I am using this method for a little man in my fourth book and it is often a relief when he shows his cute face.

Characters Make A Book

May 07, 2013

More On Character Development

Aspiring writers always want to know how to create characters. Really, you can’t know enough about character development. I have already posted three blogs on the subject:

Bring Characters To Life

Characters Make A Book
Protagonist Vs. Antagonist

Ever wonder where a character comes from?

Sometimes you do create a character from head-to-toe and other times a character suddenly pops into your head already created. Is there a mad scientist in your head making characters out of spare thoughts? Not likely.

But where do they come from?

Well, they are already in your head, waiting for the right time for you to tell their story or for the right story idea to be a part of. When that time comes, they leap forward but they don’t say, “Choose me!” Instead, they announce, “Here I am!” And you pretty much have no other choice but to use them.

On some occasions you may create a character totally from scratch and then the unthinkable happens, as you are writing, that character changes without you even realizing it. When this happens, don’t try to control them. That character is trying to tell you that they have more potential than you realize.

I have a character whom I thought I knew. I made her up, but then she decided she wanted to be different. I continued to write about her, unaware of what was happening until much later. I was surprised when I found out that her personality went from being inspired by a side of my best friend to also being inspired by a part of my own personality.

Another character in my series originally took after my best friend’s sassy and outspoken side, but this character is such a free spirit that she made herself into her own woman. Now I have no idea whom she takes after, and that’s what I love about her! She also started out as a minor character, but then in the second book she pushed her way forward, demanding more attention and I gave her all the attention she wanted. Now in the fourth book she is one of the main characters, and I don’t dare try to stop her!

The fact is, characters change as you write, and that’s exactly what is supposed to happen. 
“And if minor characters show an inclination to become major characters as they’re apt to do, you at least give them a shot at it, because in the world of fiction it may take many pages before you find out who the major characters really are...” -Frederick Buechrer

Characters also inspire plot. Whenever you get an idea for a story, there is always a character there because they are the story. You may not know everything about them yet, but that’s when you have to ask, “Who is this person?” Then when you are writing, they may change the course of the story. After all, the story is as much theirs as it is yours.

If a character seems to be doing something different than what you originally planned, do not restrain them! Let them stray away from what you thought would happen, to what they are saying should happen. It will probably turn out better!

The protagonist in my series definitely has a mind of her own and has occasionally stepped from the path I have paved. I have added in things that she was telling me she needed to do before this could happen. So I let her have her way, which turns out to be my way in the end. 

Your characters are THE thing in your writing. They are slightly more important than the plot. Without characters, you won’t have a story. And if you don’t have good characters, not even an excellent plot can revive your story.

Now sit down, grad a pen and paper, and get to know your characters. In return, they will get to know you.

May 05, 2013

The Next Big Thing - Chrys Fey

What is a blog hop? It’s a virtual event that helps readers discover new authors they would never have known otherwise. For the “Next Big Thing”, you answer ten questions about your published book or WIP and tag about five other writers who in turn tag five more and so on...

This is the first time that I have ever revealed this much about my book, so I hope you enjoy learning about the inspiration behind my story.

Before I begin, I have to thank TD Hassett for introducing me to this wonderful experience. Her first novel, “Isabel’s Awakening” premiered on 4/22/13 with the follow up expected in the fall. Please visit her blog to read about her “Next Big Thing”. Also check out the links below the questions for other writers you might be interest in.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

1. What is the title of your work-in-progress?

Heaven Born

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea was actually conceived from a very strange and seemingly insignificant event that turned out to be far from insignificant.
"One day, when I was twelve years old, I sat down on a small grassy hill next to my childhood home after a lone game of basketball. I was playing with the sharp blades of grass when my fingers brushed something that was stuck deep in the roots. I thought it could’ve been a lucky penny or a key to a secret place. 
"Curious, I dug it out and looked at my find. Unfortunately, it was not a penny or a key but a screw. The tip was crooked and it was crusted with orange rust. For the strangest reason, while holding that pathetic screw, a story came to me about an extraordinary girl in an alternate world. 
"I rushed inside my house, grabbed an old notebook and a black pen, and then ran back to that little mound of grass to write the beginning of that story. I wrote fiercely, trying to catch all the words stumbling around in my head, and I've written every day since."
Actually, I wrote for four years nonstop then after writing three books, I stopped. At first, I thought it was because I was forced to leave high school, but the real reason was that my books didn't reflect my adult mind. Therefore, I started the long and grueling task of rewriting the entire series. For months, I got and rejected many ideas. I started several new beginnings only to toss them out. Finally, one fabulous day, an idea came to me that I loved and that was “Heaven is Ticking”.

This is the stack of notebooks from the original series.

3. What genre does your book fall under?


4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Mila Jovovich would be perfect for my powerful female protagonist, Avrianna, which tells you about the level of action in my book.
• A red-headed Scarlett Johansson would be Avrianna’s gun-wielding, man-eating “sister”.
Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock would be the assassin.
Vin Diesel would be the drug lord.
• And Chris Pine would be the leading man's cousin. (I can't think of an existing person to play the leading man. Sorry.)

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Avrianna is Heaven’s only hope of survival, but unless she uncovers the secrets about her existence Heaven will continue to tick until times up.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I hope that my book will be represented by an agency, but which one is still unknown.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I spent four years writing the original series where “Heaven is Ticking” originated from, but from the moment I got the new idea to the second I typed “THE END” was a year and a half.

The manuscript for "Heaven is Ticking"

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

This question is always tricky for me and I am not saying that to be a snooty writer who believes their book is above all the rest. “Heaven Born” has many different layers to it that expands across many genres, so trying to find a book that compares is difficult. However, the characters could be compared to those in J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series if they had supernatural powers.

Now, if I had to compare it to movies I would say UltraViolet and S.W.A.T. mixed with the TV show Supernatural.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Well, I have to give the screw its credit because without it I never would have started this writing journey.

I also have to cite 30 Seconds to Mars because when I was writing "Heaven Born" I ran into a writer’s block half-way through that threatened to squander my rewriting attempt, but then I stumbled across their album "A Beautiful Lie" and while listening to their music on repeat, I was able to finish writing my book in just two weeks.

And finally, my brother, because I wrote the prologue for him, hoping that if he liked it other members of the male species would too, despite the fact that the protagonist is a woman.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

“Heaven Born” is for readers who want to dip one toe in the world that we know and the other toe in an unknown world. You’ll meet dangerous criminals as well as ghosts, angels, and even Guardians. You will also find yourself tangled in a forbidden love.

Oh, and “Heaven Born” is the first in a four-book series

Now check out these writers, too:

Iulian Ionescu was born and raised in Bucharest, Romania. He has been writing all his life, mostly in his native language. He runs a blog on fiction writing where he will be posting about his “Next Big Thing” Friday. Bookmark his blog and check back May 10th!

JeanNicole Rivers is the author of “The Secret Keepers” and has a wonderful blog about writing that includes her own special thoughts about being an author.