Monday, August 30, 2010
After you got a juicy story idea, the next thing you need is characters. (I know some people get the characters first and then the story idea.) But today we want to talk a bit about characters.
One of the most important things is to make your characters likable. If they aren't likable people will not read your book. That's why making them real is so important. I like messy people. No, I'm not talking about slobs, though I love them too, I mean as far as characters go I like them to have problems, and misconceptions, and all those things that we have. Their situation has to be on the edge of change or there's no story.
But there is a reason why they are called the hero and heroine. We want to see someone who is flawed like us rise above the odds, their circumstances and the lies they believe about themselves and life in general. (And in a Christian novel, sometimes the lies they believe about God.)
How do you make a likable character? In must be in the opening pages. You have to make the reader care. The reader has to root for the characters. To do that they have to relate to them in some way. (Even the so-called villians. No evil just for the sake of being evil.) Sometimes it's their circumstances that we relate to and we see them respond in a way we want to.
Go ahead and imbue heroic qualities into your main characters. It's risky making the characters unlikable even for the sake of the story and some writers can pull it off. Look at Gone with the Wind. The heroine is never a perfectly likable character, she's selfish and full of her own ambitions rarely caring what happens to others. But we root for her anyway, don't we? Because in some form or fashion we relate to her.
In his book The Breakout Novel Workbook, Donald Maas says: More to the point, what is it that YOU find likable about htis character at this precise moment? Figure that out, and you will be most of the way toward making us, your readers, care as much about your protagonist as you do.
To find heroic qualities to give your characters, you may take a look at those people you find heroic. What quality is is that you find heroic? Give that quality to your protag and figure out a way to have her show something of that quality in the first scene. Then your readers will care about those characters if they like them.
That's not all there is to character creation. It's an ongoing and complex job, to create characters that are as real as you and I. There are their goals, motivations and conflicts.....but this is enough for now. I am learning right along with you.
If you'd like to, tell us about your character and how you've made them likable.
Happy writing...and reading.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2
As I sat in church this morning, our preacher mentioned God creating the vast universe and I got to thinking (I know, I should have been paying attention and believe me my mind didn't wander far before I got back to taking notes for the sermon.) about the absolute humongous, vastness of the job of creating the universe.
For someone with ADHD, cleaning house can be staggering, but can you imagine being responsible for the whole universe and everything in it working in perfect tandem?
There is a lot we can learn from how God did it. Most of it's common sense, but I think sometimes we try to make the Bible more convoluted and difficult than it needs to be.
First He broke the big job into smaller more manageable jobs. Now, I couldn't create a fly even on my best day, but let's say I have a basement that is full of assorted sized boxes and stuff from family members over the past 80 years, including my own junk. So to me, that is overwhelming because my mind sees only the big job. Not the little steps along the way.
That is the first thing God did. On the first day He only focused on the firmament and the light and darkness. He didn't dabble with cattle designs and colors for pebbles on this day, He focused on the one area and only it.
With cleaning out my closet recently I had to break it into sections. Shirts one week, pants and skirts the next, and then dresses.
After He finished His goal for the day, he quit. He didn't try to get a head start on the next day's work. He didn't try to make up for what He didn't get done the day before (not that God has that problem, only we do). One day at a time.
And once He finished, He didn't sit back and mock His efforts or moan about how He could have done better or apologize to anyone for how it turned out. He looked for the good and since He is God, it was all good and said it was good. Gave Himself permission to relax for the rest of the day.
So what can we learn from God and His Creation?
Break big jobs into small ones. Make goals and set up small steps to reach that goal, other wise that goal will be unrealized. God has called you for a purpose, it's your job to please Him and "Gettr done". So make a plan. If your brain doesn't break big jobs up easily, like mine, ask for help from a trusted friend.
Focus on one thing at a time. The more you try to multi-task, the more diluted your efforts become as you add more jobs. Then your attention isn't really on what you should be doing. If you set aside two hours for writing (as per your goals), then WRITE for those two hours, not pick the lint off your favorite black jacket you just found crammed under the couch cushion when you chased your pen down there.
When you finish that step, or check it off your to-do list, let it go and move on.
And look for the good in everything. It's always there. And a positive outlook will erase years from your face and mind and make you a more appealing person to be around. It will also be easier to tell others about Christ because people will want to be around you, to know the secret of your peace and happiness.
Hope you guys have a great week and as always, if you have a prayer request please post it in the comments and I will be happy to pray for you. If it is of a personal nature and you'd rather contact me privately, please send the request to joyinhim (at) gmail (dot) com.
Monday, August 23, 2010
When someone wants to write a book, novel, or a masterpiece...it all starts with an idea. A seed, a kernel that catches in your mind and hangs there like blackberry seeds under dentures (or so I've heard, I still have my real teeth :D).
One question we writers hear a lot is, "Where do you get your ideas? And to get the answer I asked a bunch of writers....the lovely writers in ACFW that exact question.
The answer is....everywhere.
Some come from local mysteries and interesting stories of travels.
The "what if" questions are pretty popular. One writer wondered what happened to the people left behind when someone goes missing. (Thank you Lisa!)
Darlene answered with her own question, "Where cant you find ideas?"
April find them in history books, her imagination, and brainstorming with a friend. (I find brainstorming helpful too, especially with my husband.)
Michelle and Jeannie get ideas from real life people.
Kym got an idea from being forced to go to a Laundromat!
Stephanie got an idea from a newspaper article (historical) she ran across while researching another book. After reading the article I would have had to write a story about it too!
Cheri gets her ideas from dreams and real stories in the media that can be applied to people everyday and she likes to bring attention to today's needs.
Patty (who just got a contract, woohoo!) finds inspiration for her stories in insignificant events in history for character development.
Sandy and her husband go on a lot of adventures so with that and her imagination, story plots abound.
My ideas come from all over. From news stories, to little things that happen in real life. I can watch a movie and wonder what happened with the other people. I see people interacting and wonder what their story is....so I make one up for them. One of my sons likes street racing (not actually doing it, just the stories) and thinks that drummer chicks are hot. So there are two ideas for my overactive imagination right there.
But just because the original idea was one nugget, doesn't mean it stays that. The current story I am working on has undergone major changes. But I do believe that every step was important and necessary to make my story what it needs to be.
The most important ingredient to ideas is to pray. God will lead you to the story you need to tell, you just have to listen.
Have a good week and get a few good ideas and brainstorm them.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Watch out brothers, so that there won't be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. Hebrews 3:12
Do you believe God? No, I'm not asking if you believe IN God, I am asking if you believe God. What He says, what He promises?
I'm always amazed at the amount of people that say they are Christians or they believe in God. They will even tell you they believe Him, but in actions, when put to the test, they show that they trust more in their own instincts than in God's plan for their lives.
God loves us to much He sent His only Son, His Beloved One. The One He cares most about. He sent Him to die on the cross for the remission of our sins. Why? Because He loves us that much. We mean that much to Him.
Still a little hard to wrap your brain around? Yeah, I can't imagine why He loves us so, even when we are so unlovable at times.
He has our names written in the palm of His hand! Not the names we give ourselves, but our real name. The one we will hear when we get to Heaven. I think that somewhere deep within our souls, we know that name.
And yet there are many promises God gives us that people just can't seem to believe.
One of my favorites is in my life verse. Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (NKJV)
To me, this says it all. ALL things work together for good. That means, He's got my back. His plan is perfect and His will has my best interest at heart. Some times, times of chastisement, times of pruning, times of trial...all these things may not be fun or comfortable, but I am never alone, it is for the best, and I am being trained for His purpose if I just lay my life at the foot of the cross for Him. That's what we promise as Christians. It is no longer us living, but Christ living in us. So every day should find us praising Him because He is with us, and is working on us.
Some people seem to think that their way of doing things is the only way. Some people are impatient with God's time. Some people want the ten-year plan laid out before them. I believe that God only gives us the knowledge we need. Only enough light for the step we are on. If we are trusting God and holding His hand, we don't need any more light than that.
So this week, let's look for the ways God has worked in our lives. How he's taken something bad and turned it to good.
We can look for the good because God loves us and wants the best for us. Focus on the good so that He can work more fully in us. Negativity is a tool for satan to use to torment us. Trusting God, believing Him is a way to fight this.
If you have any prayer requests, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I'll be happy to pray for you. If your request is of a more personal nature, feel free to email me at joyinhim (at) gmail (dot) com
Have a blessed week.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Hi! Been a while since I posted anything. Life got real busy and very interesting.
However, I am ready to get back in the saddle. :)
I plan to change this blog to make it more useful and helpful. I'm not sure of the exact schedule, but I do want to post at least three times a week, if not four. I'd like to do one article a week about the craft of writing, one review a week, a devotional, and one I'd like to call The James Factor which is funny stories about the unusual but typical things that happen to anyone in our bloodline or who marries in. (Just ask me, my sil, and my dil. :D)
So expect these changes coming next week.
If there is anything you'd like to see in particular, just comment and let me know.
Have a blessed day.