Thursday, October 31, 2013

When Things go South...

Have you ever realized how rare it is for a character in a book to go to the bathroom?

Once in a great while, I stop during a particularly long scene that covers a large period of uninterrupted time and think, "Man, that character must REALLY have to pee!"

If you think it's weird that I notice these things, please realize it isn't often, and that I'm a mother of 4 children, 3 of them potty trained. It's my JOB to notice bathroom habits!

Then what is the reason we don't see characters go to the bathroom (besides the obvious gross factor?)



Unless your scene needs to have a portion take place IN the bathroom (which I actually have read before) there is no need to go there.

Now, this blog post isn't just about not taking your character to the bathroom. Because that would be kinda weird.

It's about the fine line between showing enough of our characters life to immerse the reader and make it realistic without boring them to tears.

It is realistic for our character to go to the bathroom.
It is realistic for our character to burp.
It is realistic for our character to far.... er, pass air through their digestive system.
It may be realistic for our character to file their nails, do their makeup, take a shower, get dressed, do laundry, clean the house, bake cookies, mow the lawn, surf the Internet, watch TV, get a pedicure, pick a piece of food out of their teeth, blow their nose and accidentally get a booger on their shirt.

There are a TON of realistic things our characters do, day in and day out.

But we can't show them all. Otherwise our story will be...

BORING! And gross.

Although we need to show SOME of them, otherwise our story will be...


The key is to show these realistic things in the course of a scene where it ADDS TO OUR STORY. Where it enhances instead of distracts.

If you're in the middle of a discussion between hero and heroine and the heroine suddenly stops and says, "Hold on, I have to go to the bathroom, be right back." Yeah, totally ruins the moment. Although when a girls gotta go, a girls gotta go!

But a scene where a villainous antagonist who is trying to seduce the hero away from the heroine escapes into the restaurant bathroom to collect herself and primps to make sure her dress is showing all the right curves and shoves past someone else coming into the restroom.... it potentially shows her intention, character, and motive through "action" verses telling dialogue.

Or a single heroine who drags out the lawnmower on a Saturday morning only to be accosted by her elderly neighbor who forces her to take custody of the woman's huge fat cat even when heroine HATES animals, then the cat becomes a constant figure throughout the book and shows the woman's loneliness when she resorts to telling her woes to the mammoth feline.

Discussion: What "realistic" scenes do you have in your novel, or have you read in a novel recently?

(Note: this is a repost from a few years ago. And considering I'm reposting because I've been dealing with a daughter who has C Diff... a spore that infests your digestive system and causes some not so pleasant, uh, symptoms... it seemed appropriate!)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The True and Honest Confession of an SOTP Writer

After wrapping up my last manuscript I dipped my toes into the first scene of my next idea.

I'd tossed around ideas for the main characters, theme, and basic ideas for months. Time to crank out the words, right?

Yes, I am an SOTP (seat of the pants) writer and have enjoyed every minute. Sort of. 

Recently, I sat at my computer tapping out the first few chapters stopping only when interruptions or lack of the next words stopped me. Three thousand words into the manuscript I closed my laptop. 

I was stuck. I went to my bookshelf and pulled out some fantastic resources for organizing a manuscript and since I can be distracted by shiny things, I bounced from one resource to another. 

Organizing a manuscript is like going on a diet. It is something you have to want to do to be successful. My attitude read the how-to pages and rebelled against organizing, preplanning, outlining, story world research. (You missed the two-year-old stomping of the feet. And the inner voice shouting "No! I won't do it!")

I set the books aside and looked at the clock, wondering what useful writing task I could do to fill the remaining minutes of my writing block. I ventured over to You Tube and found an interesting vlog chock full of tricks and shortcuts for a program I use. I didn't know the presenter would use her method of outlining, characterization, setting, and organization of a novel to demonstrate the shortcuts. 

Before I knew it, I was hooked.

So intrigued with viewing new ways to use the computer program I enjoyed, I actually learned a method for outlining my book--and horror of horrors--I liked it!

I did the assignments suitable to my shiny way of thinking: watched travel logs of similar places to create my story world. I swept through various sites to find names suitable for my characters, mapped out the story world city on power point, and figured out which character worked at the diner, postoffice, auto repair shop, etc. The families interacted in my mind and their faces appeared. They shared with me their issues and joys, lies, victories, hardships, etc.

I broke the story down into a three act play. (It became a Lays potato chip moment.) Each act had three chapters addressing specific issues. Each chapter had scenes with assigned POVs to best communicate the events and gradual infusion of new characters.  Subplots ideas appeared. I tucked them into scenes where they'd enhance the story. I wrote one to two paragraphs for each scene. It was like watching a garden grow.

Yes, I'd learned how to map out my book from other wonderful resources. But now, for some crazy reason, I wanted to follow through.

I set a goal for each day, allowing three weeks for the set up/research process. 

The first day of the fourth week I opened a scene and saw my summary para. I read it through and wrote the scene without any writer's block. The same thing happened the next day when I sat down to write another scene. I couldn't contain my excitement at how easy the words flew together. I wrote a third scene the same day. 

Having the scenes pre planned with summaries enabled me to choose any scene from the new book idea that popped into my mind. Of course the scene begging the loudest to be word painted on the page that day won. It didn't matter. I was prepared.

I could switch to my natural tendencies as an SOTP and write the chapter tweaking my mind because the book was now organized. (I can't believe I'm saying this.)

Can you hear the thrill in my words? I feel like the kid who finally learned to ride a bike. Or tie their shoes. The teen who has their driver's license or the college student who left home. Freedom!

The date I set to have finished all research and start writing a scene in my manuscript was 10/15/13.

Did I make it?


I had so much fun writing reports about the locations, the top six characters, everything I learned about the people and places, lies and victories, and etc. I did much more than planned for each day. I ended up writing my first scene one week early. 

Seriously!  I know--shocker. 

Successful writing can be done as an SOTP, plotter, or as a mix. That's me. I'm now a mutt writer and very happy. I hopped over the fence, jumped out of the box, and colored outside my own lines. 

Here I've rambled on for a whole post, sharing my confession like a kid at Christmas. 

How does this help you?  

Are you in a rut, ready to try something new?

Here at the Writers Alley, ten women share fabulous ideas from different perspectives, brimming with ideas for our readers. 

Yes, there are many ideas available on the Internet, conferences, classes, and books. What you have to do is to find the one that you are willing to apply to your need.

1. Pray. Ask God to lead you to the answer.
2. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
3. Don't be afraid of the Internet. (but always use caution)
4. Chose you this day to work towards conquering the writing problem you have.
5. AND when you do....CONFESS so you can encourage others. :)

This is an opportunity--a chance to to ask for a topic, a method, an idea, help, a resource, whatever. We are here for you.

How can we help you? We are also willing to write posts devoted to writing issues.

What have you tried that trampolined you into a new, wonderful way of writing?

(And no, I won't tell you which program worked for me...because this is not a commercial for the program.) Yeah, I know....wicked.

photo by

This blog post is by Mary Vee

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes contemporary and romance Christian fiction and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Methods To Plot Your Novel

Photo by audFriday13
Many people are gearing up to begin NaNoWriMo next month and so I thought I would share some awesome blog posts on plotting that I found. These are great tools for those who need a little punch in their plotting craft.

Kaye Dacus: Look What @Sherrinda Made Me Do
A look into Kaye's storyboarding/plotting while she is furiously trying to meet a deadline.

Erica Vetsch: Plotting and Pages
A look into Erica's plotting techniques.

Julia Reffner: Storyboarding for "Plodders" & "Mist Flyers", Storyboarding Part I
Great look into the benefits of storyboarding.

Cindy Wilson: Writing With A Formula (even if you are not a plotter)
A great tool for figuring out your story's main plot.

I would also recommend My Book Therapy's book, From the Inside, create, & publish the novel in you. It is a great tool and very simplistic, and has worksheets to help you think through your story in the development stages. I love this book!

How do YOU plot out your story?

***Links are from my personal blog October 22, 2010.**

This post is brought to you by
 Sherrinda Ketchersid

Sherrinda is a minister's wife and mother to three giant sons and one gorgeous daughter. A born and bred Texan, she writes historical romance filled with fun, faith, and forever love.

Monday, October 28, 2013

9 Qualities of a Memorable Character with Edward Rochester

I've chatted about how to write Memorable Characters for the past few weeks, so today I want to take the 9 main qualities of a memorable character and apply them to one of my favorite characters. Edward Rochester.

In case you do not know, Edward Rochester in the hero in Charlotte Bronte’s classic, Jane Eyre. Some call him an anti-hero, and we’ll not get into that debate today J However, he is a compelling character who has stood the test of time to fall into the realm of ‘classic’ characters. His transformation in the novel is more like him finding his 'true self' - the man he was before he was betrayed and wounded.

Let’s use the 9 qualities of a memorable character to evaluate him.

C – Complex – Rochester is an incredibly complex character with a past as twisted as a pretzel. Tricked by his father into marrying a stranger for her money, Rochester doesn’t find out until after the wedding that his new wife is mad…(as in insane). After seeing the horrible state of asylums, Rochester decides to bring his wife home to England and hide her in his attic unaware to everyone except her caregiver, Grace Poole, and the wife’s brother, Mason. In the meantime, Rochester lives a life as a bachelor – traveling the world to escape the ‘prison’ his home has become and engaging in all sorts of pleasure which can never feed the passion in his soul for something good and right. Complex? Oh yeah!

H – Heroic/Hopeful/Courageous – Despite appearances, Rochester is all three of these characteristics. He could have ‘disposed’ of his crazy wife, and yet he takes care of her in the best way he knows how. Is he always good? No way! In fact, he tries to deceive poor Jane into marrying him while still being married to Mrs. Crazy (this shows his ‘craving/yearning), but it also shows he’s hopeful that something good can still come into his life even after all of the bad. He shows heroism by taking an abandoned baby into his care, even though he is not fond of children at all. He shows courage (and nobility below) by risking his life to save his crazy wife in the end of the novel.

A – Able/Adept/Resourceful – What can I say? He’s rich! But being resourceful doesn't just mean having resources ;-) (as we’ll learn from Lizzie Bennett) – It means using what you do have very well. Rochester is a smart man and he uses his cunning to expose Mrs. Ingram’s true cold-hearted 
personality as well as using her presence to work Jane into enough frenzy to agree to marry him.

R – Raw Wound – the answer is pretty obvious from the first ‘C” – betrayed by his father and forced to live with the betrayal. (another betrayal by another woman happens later in his ) Now he’s cynical, bitter, and guarded against all women. This ‘raw wound’ spurns the story for him – to find healing. Jane helps provide this healing.

A – Affective/Passionate/Purpose – Wowzers! This guy is full of passion and relate-ability. Hurt by his past, he tries to place Band-Aids on his wounds by living a life of ‘pleasure’ and atoning for his sins by taking in his ward. His entire personality breathes of unresolved passions, fueling his changefulness. It’s a powerful thing to read about as well as watch on the screen.

C – Craving/Yearning – Peace. He craves true love and heart-peace. True love is usually the craving that rules romance stories throughout the ages. Peace doesn’t have a single genre.

T- True/Noble/Honorable – Examples were given before regarding this one. Risks his life to save his wife. Takes Adelle, the discarded baby, to raise as his ward. Is a ‘good’ master to his servants. Genuinely cares for Jane’s welfare (though at times quite selfishly)

E- Erratic within some predictability/Unexpected/Variable – Jane refers to him as ‘changeful’. Characters who are always predictable are also forgettable. It’s when these characters occasionally do things we ‘don’t’ expect that makes them more memorable.

R – Redeemable – Here is one of the hallmarks of writing from a Christian worldview. We want to bring the positive change of redemption into the lives of our characters.  Rochester goes from being the one in “control” of others to becoming a broken man in need of the love and compassion of his beloved Jane. He’s humbled by his sin in becoming the deceiver and accepts his ‘punishment’ in his wounds after his wife dies. He’s overwhelmed by Jane’s love for him, even though he is wounded and blind. It’s a beautiful ending to a remarkable story.

Place some of your favorite characters (or the ones you are writing) through this list and see if they possess these 9 qualities?

Even compelling bad guys can have most of these characteristics.

Who is one of your favorite characters and how does he/she meet the qualities for being memorable?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

What's Up the Street for Next Week?

Colorado Springs definitely impressed me!

From The Melting Pot to Garden of the Gods to Glen Eyrie to The Broadmoor. It was filled with yellows and greens and reds and golds that blew me away against the amazing backdrop of Pike's Peak.

What's up the street for next week?

Pepper will be chatting on nine traits of a memorable character. Chock full of great information, so be sure and stop by on Monday.

Come by on Tuesday where Sherrinda will be posting as your hostess.

Wednesday is all about the True and Honest Confessions of a Seat of the Pants Writer brought to you by Mary.

Have you heard of the New Adult genre? It's brand new out there and generating a lot of discussion. Publishers are picking up on you know about it yet? Krista will be chatting about this new genre on Thursday.

Mindy Obenhaus is guest posting on Friday...have you read her debut novel? A super sweet story!

See you on Monday!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Story in the Detour

Has life ever thrown you a curve ball? Ever felt like you were thrust off course?

The detours God puts in our path don’t usually take us on a road that is wide and paved and easy. Most often those detours not only intrude on our plans, very often they derail us down to the core and challenge who we really are. What we believe. Where our strength really comes from.

Often times when I am writing a story there comes a point (okay, sometimes more than once) when I feel like the characters or the plot starts to veer in a dangerous direction. Someplace uncertain. Scary. Not what I had planned at all. How will I find my way out of that mess? How will the characters navigate the challenges without completely falling apart.

Whether in real life or in fiction, this is where we test our metal and see what we’re made of. THIS is where the story really lies.

I’ve shared recently about an unexpected twist in our family plan. Life plan. Survival plan. Now, it’s hard to see a baby as anything but a blessing. Especially when the circumstances are so miraculous (God is quite the storyteller, is He not?) But what could be seen as a life-threatening detour, is really an incredible adventure. An amazing story of God’s work in my life. A challenge that is testing me in so many ways and proving that my story isn’t yet over. That God’s plans, however different from my own, are ALWAYS for my good, even when the road is rocky and uncertain.

I'd love your perspective: What adventures in your own life have been birthed from an unexpected detour? Or when you write, whether you're a plotter or a pantster, do you venture into those unknown fissures of uncertainty, or do you stick to the roadmap you’ve meticulously planned? And in which instance did you find the beating heart of your story?

Amy Leigh Simpson writes Romantic Suspense that is heavy on the romance, unapologetically honest, laced with sass and humor, and full of the unfathomable Grace of God. She is the completely sleep deprived mama to two little tow-headed mischief makers and wife to her very own swoon-worthy hero. Represented by the oh-so-wise and dashing Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Inc.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Are You A Shepherd?

Are you a shepherd?

Photo by Tom Curtis at

At this year’s ACFW Conference, Robin Jones Gunn spoke about writing in a way that really challenged me. She told the story of Peter, and how Jesus asks him to do something very interesting. When Jesus first calls Peter, He asks Peter to be a fisher of men. Peter probably thought, "Hey, I could be pretty good at that." Fishing was something He did well. Something he understood. But then, Jesus asks something very different. He asks Peter to be a shepherd.

This is what happens:

“Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." – John 21:16

As Robin said, Peter must have wondered why Jesus would ask him to be a shepherd. Didn’t Jesus know Peter was in the fish business?

And yet, how often do we do this very same thing?

We stick with what we’re comfortable doing. What we’re good at. When all the while, God is calling us to go after that one lost sheep who’s still wandering around. To care for it. To care for them all.

When Robin related Peter’s story to writing, it resonated with me deeply because her own books have shepherded me on my spiritual journey. I knew immediately what she meant, because I as a reader had been given this gift before. Have you ever read a book that made you blink with the sudden realization you share one of the same struggles as the characters? Isn’t amazing how story can penetrate our hearts so deeply?

Writing is a calling, and a gift, and a ministry. I know a lot of amazing writers. Some are poets, some are novelists, and some are critical thinkers in the academic community. But so very few are shepherds. It takes discipline to be a shepherd, and it takes love for your flock. You must believe in them even before you see them. For as we learn in the parable of the talents, God desires that we would invest the gifts He has given us that we might reap bountifully. He who has been faithful with little will be faithful with more (Lk.16:10).

Photo by Talba on Flickr

So how do we become shepherds with our writing?

  • Be honest and willing to be vulnerable. 
While at ACFW, I attended Jim Rubart and Allen Arnold's class Live Free Write Free. The whole premise is that what is in your heart will come out in your story. This concept runs counter to the postmodern ideas many of us have adopted, that creativity can be completely divorced from the state of the heart. Sure, you can write a story that isn't written out of your heart. But what kind of story will it be? To be a story that touches the heart of your reader, a book must first come from the heart of the writer. To really challenge your readers--and yourself-- with your story, take a good look at what God has been teaching you lately. How can those lessons spill over to your characters? God often uses story as a way of drawing us closer to Himself-- the cool thing is, as well learn about ourselves through writing and we're willing to be vulnerable, other people can also be touched by our honesty. That doesn't mean you can only write a story about a woman your age in your occupation, of course, but it does mean that the preoccupations of your heart-- whether they be for children, self-perception, mercy, forgiveness, equality, value, love, etc.-- ought to come out in a strong way in every story you write.
  • Catch vision.
Ask God to give you a larger vision for your story and for your story. Don't settle for a plot and characters who are "okay" or even publishable. Seek God's heart and vision for the story. Only He knows how He can use it in your life and in the lives of others.
  • Develop empathy. 
What does Jesus tell Peter about his flock? To care for them. We are to care for our flocks in the same way. Your readers should come away feeling valued by God, challenged, and affirmed in their purpose. You do that by becoming sensitive to your readership. Let me be clear-- I'm not talking about people-pleasing. Take Redeeming Love as an example. Can you imagine Francine Rivers pitching her almost-500-page book about a prostitute who marries and keeps leaving her husband. And yet, Francine caught a hold of God's vision. She wasn't afraid to tackle a very gritty topic, but she did so in such a way, that readers come away feeling so very sorry for Angel and all this character endures. To achieve reader empathy, Francine Rivers must have first developed her own empathy for Angel as a (fictional) child of God, who is valued and pursued by Christ. 
  • Expect sacrifice.
Let's face it. Rejection stings. When I first started writing fiction, I was finishing grad school for English and was quite familiar with critique. You don't get through an English degree without developing a thick skin or hearing the phrase, "This isn't ready. Try again." So when the first round of rejections came for me as a brand new fiction writer, I handled them well. Just another chance to grow in my writing skills, I figured. But I've learned that, while I still take critique fairly painlessly, rejection has begun to sting. The reason? I've learned to write more and more from my heart. When you write because it's your calling, you must learn to seek validation from God alone; otherwise, you will feel kicked, knocked over, and stomped on. Writing is like any other ministry--it requires sacrifice. The creation of beauty in a broken world is a work filled with struggle, tears, and pain. But oh, what a worthwhile investment!
  • Be disciplined.
We all have areas of our lives where we struggle to be disciplined. I, for example, would prefer to stay up until 2 each night and begin my mornings around 10. When I have to get up early, I literally set my phone alarm to the exact minute I need to wake up. I hate being late. And yet! It is so difficult for me to wake up early. So few people have really developed self-discipline in all areas of their lives. But in order to shepherd the flock, we must first be able to shepherd ourselves. Maybe that means committing to a regular Bible study, time in worship, or a few minutes each day of peace and quiet. It looks different for each person, but the point here is, it's of vital importance that we give God the avenues to speak to us.
  • Rejoice in small victories
Photo by Steve Slater (wildlife encounters) on Flickr
Do not despite small beginnings (Zeph. 4:10). So often, we set our minds on earthly achievement. There's nothing wrong with setting goals, or feeling good about affirmation from an editor or critique partner. But at the end of the day, value your sheep. Value each one of them. Rejoice in each victory. They may seem small, but they matter. Seek opportunities to be thankful. Did an agent request your work? Did an editor like your hook? Did you have a chance to encourage another writer? Rejoice in these small victories.

Have you ever read a book that shepherded you in your spiritual journey? What about the story challenged you? How can you be a shepherd to your future readers?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Favorite writing quotes

Today I thought I'd bring you some inspiration in the form of some favorite writing quotes. 

Some of these make me nod in agreement, with that deep soul-connected feeling of "Yes! someone gets me!" Others bring a wry smile to my lips; still others make me think, and reflect on my own work.

I hope they do the same for you.

Image by Simon Howden,

Good writing is like a windowpane. ~ George Orwell 

 There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. 
W. Somerset Maugham

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it. ~ Anais Nin  

 When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. ~ Ernest Hemingway 

Easy reading is hard writing. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne  

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make.
~ Truman Capote  

The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary. ~ J. K. Rowling  

 Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers. ~ Isaac Asimov 

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.
~ Gloria Steinem  

Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no 
Image by -Marcus-,
concept of humanity. ~ Hermann Hesse  

Habits in writing as in life are only useful if they are broken as soon as they cease to be advantageous.
~ W. Somerset Maugham  

However great a man's natural talent may be, the act of writing cannot be learned all at once.
~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau  

Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people. ~ Roald Dahl

I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.
~ Ernest Hemingway 

Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself. ~ Truman Capote  

For me, writing has always come out of living a fairly to-the-bone kind of life, just really being present to a lot of life. The writing has been really a byproduct of that. ~ Alice Walker  

For me, writing a novel is like having a dream. Writing a novel lets me intentionally dream while I'm still awake. I can continue yesterday's dream today, something you can't normally do in everyday life.
~ Haruki Murakami 

The desire to write grows with writing. ~ Desiderius Erasmus 

Which of these resonates with you most? Any you disagree with? Do you have a favourite quote you'd like to share?

Karen Schravemade lives in Australia. When she's not chasing after three small children, she spends her spare minutes daydreaming about the intricate lives of characters who don't actually exist. Find her on her website and Twitter.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Enthusiasts, Leaders, and Peacemakers: Using Enneagram Types to Deepen Your Characters Part III

These past few weeks, I've been discussing personality types in literature and how psychoanalyzing your character using the 9 types (check out the RETI test).

Is your character the same prototype as Javert from Les Mis or Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady?  I also share links to other personality tests and analysis pages here.

Are you writing a Cyrano or a Hamlet?

Previously we've discussed:
Type 1: Reformer (think Javert from Les Miserables)
Type 2: Helper (Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady)
Type 3: Motivator  (Tom Riddle/Voldemort from the Harry Potter series)
Type 4: Romantic (Cyrano from Cyrano de Bergerac)
Type 5: The Thinker (John Forbes Nash from A Beautiful Mind)
Type 6: The Skeptic (Hamlet)

Here are the last three types:

Type 7: Enthusiast (click here to see the character motivator loop for a 7).

Type sevens have no greater desire than to be happy. Related their greatest fear is of being deprived. They desperately want to have a good time and to be thought of as fascinating. Never be bored is their motto. Their lives are busy and full with all their creative energy. Ideas motivate them.

Character traits:

cheering up others
stirring up others ideas
bringing a new energy to a task
starting new projects
diffusing conflict

being inferior to others
being deprived

Fictional Type 7: Okay, I'm cheating just a bit here because he's a movie character and not a literary character...but Jack Sparrow.

Why I think he's a great embodiment of a type 7: Super spontaneous, Jack Sparrow is always up for a good time, which is also his comeuppance. He is a spur of the moment decision maker and creative at finding ways to get into and out of trouble. Sense of humor, most definitely. Young at heart and witty, he is more likely to connive his way out of trouble than to confront.

Why a 7 would be a great addition to your novel: Often side characters, sevens are great comic relief. They keep the reader in stitches and can provide a bit of release from the high-tension moments. Their spontaneity can add some surprising decisions which keep the reader guessing.

Possible goals for 7/motivators:
Type 7's greatest need is to be happy so it follows that their greatest goal is working towards their own happiness. These characters are goal driven. From a spiritual perspective their goal can be challenged as they grow in their Christian life and find out its not all about "them" and learn to live for others.

Possible motivation for 7s:
Type 7s are motivated by a need to explore their own world and to appreciate the world around them. This can be a positive force in their lives helping them to achieve a greater outward focus.

Possible conflict for 7s:
The same desire to push themselves forward towards any goal (especially one that involves furthering their own happiness) can also be their strongest interior conflict. An unhealthy pattern is that 7s will tend to seek sensation at all costs. Ultimately from a spiritual perspective, selfishness holds them back from their goals and opposition from the outside controls them in spite of their wish to fulfill their own goals. Gluttony and lack of self-control can be some of the greatest struggles of #7s.

Type 8: Leader: click here to see loop for 8s

Leaders are dominating, The BIG Boss. The Provider and the The Rock, they are unchanging and protect those they love at all costs. They take care of others. Powerful is another moniker for type 8s. Often physically strong, they don't back down from a challenge.

Character traits: 
strong (physically or emotionally)

Taking on challenges
Encouraging others to take on challenges
Persuading others

Possible Fears:
being harmed by others
being controlled by others

Fictional type 8:    Sarumon from Lord of the Rings

Why I think Sarumon is a great embodiment of type 8/leader:
Sarumon is very self-confident, physically and emotionally strong. He is resourceful, definitely knows how to motivate those orcs often by physical pain. Highly charismatic, at first the reader is unsure of his true motives.

Why an 8 would be a great addition to your novel:
Cult leaders, CEOs, many powerful and famous people fall into the 8 category. As such, most of us are fascinated with what makes them tick. They can be great at providing conflict particularly for more people pleasing characters.

Possible goals for 8s/leaders:
Becoming self-reliant is a goal for a #8, as is seeking fame, fortune, notoriety. As a character grows in his/her Christian life 8s are challenged to learn humility and looking to others first. This comes into conflict with their quest for power.

Possible motivations for 8s/leaders:
Fear of being controlled by others is often a motivator behind the actions of 8s. As they grow in faith, they will come to the knowledge of God's sovereignty in their life and seek to understand that true freedom is found in allowing God to control your life, not self-control.

Possible conflicts for 8s/leaders:
Eights don't mind butting heads with others, but their biggest internal conflict on a spiritual level may be seeking to put their lives completely under God's control, giving up their own control.

Type 9: Peacemaker (Click here for the loop for type 9)

Type 9s generally dislike conflict and they dislike getting upset. Often they will go to all costs to avoid disagreements. Nines often blend in with the crowd and avoid getting too much attention. They tend to minimize their own upsets to others and often even to themselves.

Character traits: 
resistant to change

embracing others
bringing diverse groups of people together
healing conflicts

Possible fears:
loss and separation
loss of loved ones
loss of the love of others
loneliness and isolation

Fictional type 9: Frodo from Lord of the Rings

Why I think Frodo is a good embodiment of type 9/peacemaker:
Frodo is ultimately accepting and trusting of others even in the case of Gollom where it is unwarranted. He is a peacekeeper who is able to bring together a diverse group of people to work together towards his goals.

Why a 9 would be a great addition to your novel:
Nines have the great ability to bring others together for a cause. If you need your characters to work closely together for a common goal, add a 9 into the mix. He or she will help bring understanding and peace to the situation.

Possible goals for 9s/peacemakers:
To gain inner stability and peace of mind is a common goal for #9s. On a spiritual level, nines must realize that they can't base their peace and stability on their own life but must look to Christ for the peace and happiness they naturally crave. Along the way, 9s may learn that sometimes conflict is healthy and necessary to the Christian life. Holding in their emotions can be a destroyer of #9s relationships.

Possible motivations for 9s/peacemakers: 
Nines desire to create harmony in their environment, avoiding all conflict and tension. Of course this is not possible and in their Christian journey they must learn that true harmony comes from following God and not others' opinions. Also, they desire to keep things as they are. Change in itself can be a major issue and learning to cope with it can provide character growth. Nines will avoid disturbances, yet these same disruptions can lead to character growth.

Possible conflict for 9s/peacemakers:
On a spiritual level, a major conflict is between the desire for stability and the love of others, versus accepting the love of Christ and knowing that the basis for their life is what Christ did for them. Along the way they may learn how to serve others instead of being dependent on others to meet their every need.

Do you fit into any of these prototypes? Or does your character? Do you have a favorite type in fiction?

Julia enjoys writing women's fiction whenever she can find a chair free of smushed peanut butter sandwiches and lego blocks. She is a wife and homeschooling mama of two littles. She writes and reviews for Library Journal, a well-known trade publication available in over 60,000 libraries.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Writer's Harvest

photo by Carlos Porto on
The cooling weather and crisp leaves floating all around, announce that it is certainly FALL. And after a long, long summer of heat, my soul praises God for ushering in His design of the harvest season. This year, not only does my family have the pleasure of driving by combines filling grain bins full, but we also have the simple delight of an over-abundant apple tree in our yard. With our bellies happy with the produce, I can't help but think on the fruits of the Spirit...and as a writer in need of inspiration, I chose this post to elaborate on the blessing of each fruit I am given as a wordsmith!
Some of my favorite people,
cheering me on in my craziness!

is the fellowship in this writing community. My friends and Alleycats always have open arms! They remind me of the JOY which writing brings to my heart, as well as give me a glimpse at the Creator's joy in bestowing such precious gifts upon me. Because of the love and joy He brings in writing and friends, I can cling to His Peace in the disappointment and doubt, knowing that I am well-loved and ordained for this journey, no matter what heartache it brings.

Often, I feel as though God's main purpose for this writing journey, is to refine a golden Patience in my naturally impatient heart. With many years of waiting, rejection, and wondering, the old is cast off, and patience has become a fragile blessing, budding ever so slow...but catching the dew of a new morning in the refining process.

As I continue on, Kindness meets me in the encouragement of a crit partner, a contest judge, and a fabulous agent. It is this fruit that gives me hope, and reminds me of the Goodness in the craft, in my purpose, in my God. Writing is only worth it if His goodness shines through on every page, at every turn.

As well as kindness, I find Gentleness in a correcting critique and a judge's suggestion. God uses each and every word to gently nudge me toward maturity in this craft. Gentleness is a comfort to my heart in the most challenging times, because it keeps my defenses low and my mind open to a more enriching journey.

It is only through God's Faithfulness in providing these abundant fruits along the way, that I am assured my path is the right one for me. His faithfulness meets me at every stumble, every victory, and every fork in the road. He never fails me. His faithfulness keeps my word count rising and my doubt falling away.

Of all these fruits, I taste the sweetness of God's journey for me, but the last fruit is one that I so often push aside in my flesh. Self-control is not as ripe as it should be when I begin to allow my thoughts to spiral downward, to take me to places of defeat, doubt, and jealousy. To take my thoughts captive is the ultimate harvest of Self-control on my journey. My basket often runs low on this fruit!

Thank goodness I have the love and joy of friends and writing! And I continue to grow the patience to wait on God to work in His kind, gentle way to show me that He will faithfully provide the promised self-control if I keep my heart open to His abundant harvest!
Had to include my daughter's journey
through the pumpkin patch!
Which fruit do you struggle with most on this journey as a writer? In life in general?

Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous, mothering days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across historical cultures and social boundaries. Angie is an ACFW member and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What's Up the Street for Next Week?

This week on the Alley included all kinds of super star guests! Did you catch Deb Raney and Gabrielle Meyer's blog posts? There is still time to check them out and be sure and enter to win The Red Siren from Gabrielle's post yesterday.

While you're reading this post I'm high in the air on my way from Boise, Idaho to Denver Colorado to spend the week with a dear friend and honorary Alley Cat, Beth Vogt! Look for the weekend edition next week to include all kinds of pictures of our travels around Colorado Springs. I've heard it just might be the prettiest place on earth. ;-)

And if you live in the CO Springs area, I want to meet you!! Or at least tell me that you live there, we might bump into each other in the grocery story. Ya never know. ;-)

In between the travels and the adventures, the Alley has got a week of blog posts for you.

Angie will be posting on writing and the fruits of the spirit on Monday.

Tuesday, Julia will be posting. Did you know she works for Library Journal? Be looking for her reviews and articles! She'll be finishing her series on character and personalities.

Our resident aussie Karen will be posting on Wednesday. 

Ashley will be sharing her usual wealth of advice here on the blog on Thursday.

She's kills characters in her novels, but her smile and sweetness pretty much takes all the fear out of the relationship. ;-) Amy is your hostess on Friday.

See you next week! On the OTHER side of the Rocky Mountains. :-))

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Embarking on a Perilous Journey by Gabrielle Meyer (and a giveaway!)

Casey here: I hope you've had the chance to meet Gabrielle Meyer at least once. And if you haven't be sure and it put her on your "people to meet list" the next time you attend ACFW (or whichever conference you both might be attending). I think she's awesome. Gorgeous. Talented. Smart. Gifted. She is represented by Mary Keeley of Books and Such Literary Agency after all. ;-) Anyway, I'm excited to share her post with you today. Be sure and leave a comment below to enter to win MaryLu Tyndall's The Red Siren. :-)

I’m about to embark on a perilous journey. It will be the third time I’ve gone on this trip, and each time I set out I feel the same mixture of apprehension and excitement.

I have a map, and I know what my final destination is, but I have no idea what adventures will meet me along the way. I’m sure I’ll encounter memorable characters, I’ll be swept away by a great romance, and I’ll feel a plethora of emotions—but this journey will undoubtedly be unlike any of the others I’ve taken.

Photo Credit
The last time I traveled this way I learned a great many things. I learned there were some shortcuts, but often the best course wasn’t the easiest one. There were bumps, a few road blocks, some detours, and of course, I had to stop often to ask for directions, but I eventually made it to the end.

This will be my third quest to write a brilliant novel, a story that will brim with tension, romance, and redemption. A tale that will make my agent gasp in unbelief, cause an editor to jump up from his desk and run to his pub board, and grip my readers well into the wee hours of the morn.

It’s a dangerous calling, but someone must do it.


Sometimes I shake my head when I think about this daunting journey. As a historical romance writer, I used to think the journey should be perfectly magical. My first novel was written after ten years of contemplation, plotting, and research. I worked on it occasionally while having babies. But when I finally became serious, and planned to take it to ACFW, it took me about eight weeks to write.

The story poured off my fingertips and onto the screen *almost* effortlessly. It was well received at ACFW and it landed me my lovely agent.

Magical, right?After finishing that first journey, I thought writing each new novel would be just the same.

Um, no.

When I embarked on writing book two, it was not the same journey. I had the final destination in mind, but the road I took was much—much—different.

For weeks I stared at the computer and agonized over the story. Why wasn’t it “pouring” forth like my last one? Why did the road twist and turn without mercy? And where did these steep hills come from?
This journey was much harder than the last.

My husband had to point out the obvious. I had contemplated my first story for ten years before I actually wrote it. But my second story had only been in my head for three weeks before I started pounding away on the keys. I was discovering my story as I went along.

In the dawning light of understanding, I came to realize every book writing experience is going to be different. I will never take the same path twice. I might learn more skills, develop my voice, and deepen my characters, but I won’t ever stop learning how to write a good story.

Every journey will be filled with its own peril—and its own magic. I should never compare one to the other, because each experience will stretch me and challenge me in ways I couldn’t comprehend when I begin—but that’s what makes the journey worth taking.

As I set out on writing book three, I’m just as apprehensive and excited as usual, but I’m thankful I have more experience. It has made me, and my writing, much stronger as I face the journey ahead.

What about you? Has each book taken you on a different journey? What was one of the hardest lessons you learned along the way? What was one of the best lessons you learned?

Gabrielle Meyer lives in Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four young children, including three year old twin boys. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society for ten years, and the Morrison County Historical Society for two years, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by actual events. In her “free” time she enjoys volunteering for her church and community and is a big fan of MOPS and AWANA. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter or her blog.