Thursday, October 18, 2018

Characterization: Digging Deep By Personalization

I'm not great at characterization. Years ago, I had an editor tell me my manuscript was lacking in character development. Good plot, but cardboard characters. So I picked up a book, Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins and began taking notes. I thought I would share with you what I've learned.

When you develop a character, the first place you start is by Personalizing. Most of you already do this by interviewing your character or filling out a questionnaire about them. Great! That is a good start! But now you need to dig a little deeper.

Basics:  General information, such as gender, age, work, social standing, etc...

Specifics: This is where you begin to ask questions. Say your character is wealthy. Has she been wealthy a long time or has she just come into wealth?  Knowing the answer to this will tell you her attitude toward her wealth.

Dig Deeper: Keep going with your questions until you can't ask anymore. Let's find out more about the wealthy character in Step 2. Let's say she had just come into wealth. How had she come into her wealth? Did she win the lottery or did she receive insurance money from the death of both her parents? Is she excited about the money, or does she resent the money because it represents the loneliness of being without family? Let's say she won the lottery and is excited about her money. Is she going to go crazy and spend it, or is she going to hoard it, fearful it might run out? If she goes crazy and spends it, what might she spend it on and why? She might purchase cars if she has had to drive old, beat-up jalopies. Or she might buy nice jewelry and clothes if she had been forced to wear hand-me-downs or shop at thrift stores.

But don't stop there...dig deeper. Why does she feel the need to buy nice things? Maybe she felt like people looked down on her for wearing old, worn-out clothes. Maybe she was teased or made fun of. Her self-worth is tied up in how she looks, so now she dresses nice and gets her hair and nails done to feel good about herself. She is worthy now that she has money. That is her inner value.

Traits and Mannerisms: What kind of traits or mannerisms will your character have resulting from their inner value? Our wealthy lady may continually push her hair behind her ears to show off her large diamond earrings. She may click her long, manicured fingernails together subconsciously. You don't need to give your characters an overabundance of traits, but you need some to reinforce their inner value and make them believable.

This is not a one time process. There will be times when your character will want to do something that is "out of character". Start the process over until you know your character's motivation and inner value. You can also do this process in reverse. Start with a quirky mannerism and work your way back to the specifics. Get to know your character inside and out.

This post is just a little taste of all the good information Brandilyn Collins shared in her book, Getting Into Character, Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors. Check it out!

What is your process for characterization? How do you build a character and make them real?

Repost from 2/14/2014

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Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, Lord of Her Heart, will release May 2019.

You can connect with her through:

Personal blog: sherrinda.com
Twitter: @sherrinda
Instagram: @sherrinda

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tipful Tuesday: Got Nothing?

Got guilt? Not squeezing in time to write "each day", as many writing gurus demand for success? Not feeling completely inspired to write that next great scene? Not aware of what that next scene might even be? Don't fret! There are a couple of things I've discovered by jumping over that guilt, and sticking my tongue out to the should-be writing time that just isn't-going-to be:

1. I don't think it's reasonable to expect every day to have writing time in it (especially if you are living in a busy season of life). I always strive for some daily time, but I can't beat myself up for not doing it. It's exhausting to try and be so stringent. It sucks away my creativity and love of story. So, maybe I'm wrong, but, I'd say, don't be guilted into a black and white theory on the timeline of a writer.

2. Just because I'm not writing, doesn't mean my story's not moving forward. In times that I feel stuck, or I just don't have the desire to pour my heart on the page, I'll jot down some outlines, or notes, or even a segment of dialogue that will appear at some point in my story. Even if my word count isn't showing it, my story IS moving forward on non-writing days.

3. Write bad. Yep. If you have the time, and need to just write something to feel confident in your process, just do it. I swear it helps to just write whatever comes out, even if it's going to be slashed in edits. It gets that story-telling muscle moving. My crit partner Ashley Young Clark​ and I always cheer each other on before we delve into brain dump writing, knowing it's not gonna be great, but it's gonna be--and sometimes that's enough to get your story going! Actually, the brain dump writing can become the time when you give up control of the story, and let God direct it in a whole new way.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

#TipfulTuesday: Taking The Next Step



A few months ago I went to Basil, Switzerland and had my eyes opened to a topic that I believe is appropriate for all of us. Please note, this was my observation in Basil and how that observation could apply to our writing. 

Today's Tipful Tuesday topic is Take the Next Step.

In Basil, I saw elderly men and women, young children, and all ages in between move about the very hilly city, going to whatever place they needed to be. A job, school, etc. I saw people walking, riding a bus, on a motorcycle taking the next step to get where they needed to be. 

I was surprised not to see strollers. Instead, small children rode scooters and kept up. Younger ones clung to their parent on a bicycle or other form of transportation. I was surprised not to see wheelchairs. Those in need had one or two canes. There were so few cars, I truly can't recall seeing many. There was a very efficient bus system that also connected to a railway for day trips to Paris and other locations.

I sensed a prevalent mentality, take the next step no matter your situation. Be mobile.

Some writing days can handicap us. Restrict us to our writing bed. We struggle to think of ideas, creative words, we miss obvious correction, we are unsure how to find an agent, etc. The uncertainties pile so high we sometimes walk away from a wonderful calling.

But God...
Called you to write the story in your head and no one can write that story like you.
Will supply words according to his riches in glory.
Will provide resources to help if we will only use them.
Has readers who need to read this message in your story.

In Basil, I saw people who stepped out of their homes and took the next step to do the task they were supposed to do that day. 

Caveat, the intent of this post is not to convey we should not rest, seek and use aids, etc. This is solely an observation of the people in Basil and the application to our writing spirits.

So. How are you doing today?

I have a friend who has been suffering from a lingering cold. She has pressed through with her writing, talking with her writing sisters for encouragement, taking medicines, and not allowing the spirit of discouragement to hamper her. To hear her talk about her story is inspirational.

No matter how you feel. No matter what seems to block your way. Take the next step. It will be like a medicine, bringing you joy.

Blessings on you my writing sisters and brothers. May your words flow.

~Mary Vee

#amwriting #TakeTheNextStep #GodIsCallingYou #TheWritersAlley 

Photos by Mary Vee 
Basil, Switzerland


Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.



Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter



Mary's new release, Daring to Live, is a new release on Amazon.



Thursday, September 27, 2018

Author Spotlight: Toni Shiloh + GIVEAWAY



I'm going to assume that if you love inspirational romance, you know and love Toni Shiloh and her soulfully romantic stories. But if you haven't, you're in for a treat. We at The Writer's Alley are huge fans of her, her important work, and--of course--her books!

Meet Toni

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian contemporary romance author. Once she understood the powerful saving grace, thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

A member of the ACFW and president of the Virginia Chapter, Toni seeks to help readers find authors. She loves connecting with readers and authors alike via social media, predominately Facebook. When she’s not spending time in imagination land, you’ll either find her with a book or an Xbox One controller to avoid the housework that never seems to end.

Toni Shiloh has made a commitment to do her part in bringing diversity into fiction. Her stories include a diverse group of characters with African Americans taking the spotlight. She is the founder of the blog, Diversity Between the Pages. When she’s not writing her own diverse stories, she assists authors giving critiques, feedback, or participating as a sensitivity reader.

Her Latest Book : Finally Accepted

There’s only one thing Chloe Smith has ever wanted: family. Yet the DNA results she’s received have thrown her life into a tailspin. Her utmost desire has ended up being the catalyst for shaking her faith. She doesn’t even know who she is anymore, and she’s certainly too messed up for her longtime crush to give her more than a second glance.
Darryl Jones is struggling between his past and the grace God so freely offers. His sins feel too big for him to handle, let alone expect the woman of his dreams to accept. Chloe is the only woman he’s ever wanted and the one he doesn’t deserve.
As they form a tentative relationship and examine their faith, Chloe and Darryl ache to know they are finally accepted and fully loved.
Get your copy here: AmazonB&NGooglePlayiBooksKobo

Connect with Toni

Website: https://tonishiloh.wordpress.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authortonishiloh
Twitter: www.twitter.com/tonishilohwrite

GIVEAWAY! 

Leave a comment on this post for the chance to win a Kindle copy of Toni's latest, Finally Accepted!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Post Conference Calming Tips


#TipfulTuesday Lordy, Lordy, the conference is over! The laundry basket is piled to the ceiling and the home to-do list drips onto the thirtieth page. There isn't time to even begin thinking about what was learned, what was requested, or all the new friends that need connecting. 

We here at the Alley TOTALLY understand. We've been there. Done that. And...oddly enough have no desire to burn the tee shirt! No, we're not weird. We're writers!

Here are a few calming tips to hopefully de-stress your day. 

1. Instead of running the television/online programming in the background while going through your day, choose a session you attended and reflect on the teachings. I adapted a memory game for myself that has kept any teaching alive in my brain. I started using this for the Sunday sermon. On Monday, I quiz myself: what was the topic. I keep my questions basic. If in the hype of the day I can recall the Sunday sermon, I am ecstatic. 

So, right now. Think back to the last conference you attended. Now choose a class. It doesn't have to be your favorite, just the first one that pops into your mind. What was the topic? Picture the instructor and recall their name. Imagine the setting, oddly enough this will help you recall the instructions. Now, name as many points taught as you can. Take no more than about ten minutes at one time for this. It can be done while driving, loading the washer, vacuuming, preparing dinner.

The idea is to silence the extraneous sounds (not the kids of course) and focus, deeply focus on the setting of your class to help you recall what you learned.

On Tuesday, take the recall a step farther. List not only what you remembered Monday but new points. This is essential to moving forward as a writer. The more we recall and plant in our heads, the more these concepts will seep into our writing. Seriously. In the middle of a sentence, one of the conference principles will flash into my mind. I instantly apply the idea and POOF my writing is like--wow! I wrote that??? Is it okay to say I smile at those moments? That I feel supercharged to keep writing? That ideas flow? 

2. Connecting with your new friends, sorry to say, is not a number one priority. It is important but not this week. Trust me, all those great new friends are in the same boat as you. Yes, you need to friend them on FB and connect in hundreds of other ways, but your family needs you. God needs your attention. Your writing needs you. You need to remember what you learned. I find that the massive friend requests leap into my box one to two weeks later. No need to overextend this week.

3. If you received a request for material, a query, proposal, chapter, or full manuscript, congratulations!Does the agent or editor expect to receive these items today? NO! These individuals are wading through number one above like you. Also, they expect your absolute best. Take the time to edit, review, and ensure what you plan to send is the absolute best you can do. It is wise to work on this for about a week. Two weeks or more is not bad either. The agents and editors would much rather you gave them your best than to receive the material right away.

If you did not receive a request for material, no sweat. There are so many of us who have rowed in that boat. Deep down we knew it wasn't ready.

4. Breathe. God designed twenty-four hours for a reason. Cramming thirty-six hours into a twenty-four hour day--I am so guilty of this--is not quality anything. Hug your babies. Kiss your hubby. Call your mom. Sip a cup of tea. Enjoy and be productive. This is the day that the Lord Has Made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.


You can do this!!
~Mary Vee


Photo by Mary Vee 
A Garden in Colmar, Germany





Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.



Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter




Mary's new release, Daring to Live, is a new release on Amazon.