Kay: Creating Conflict in the Next Book

from moneycrashers.com

Now that I finished the book I’ve been working on (yay!), I’ve been casting around for my next project (eek!). I have a few ideas lined up—mostly centered in worlds I’ve already written—but I’ve been thinking about who my characters are and how I should develop their relationships.

I’m lousy at writing conflict, and conflict is crucial to any good story. Where should my hero and heroine converge? Where should they struggle? Over what, and how?

Continue reading

Michaeline: What’s BDE?

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert on a bus for It Happened One Night.

Clark Gable’s characters had it. Do yours? (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

BDE doesn’t always mean “Best Day Ever” – allow this old lady to rant just a little bit. I can’t believe we’ve come to a time and place where the phrase Big Dick Energy is not only allowed in public discourse, but actually celebrated.

But so it is, and here we are, and I have to admit, BDE has its uses.

Justine talked here recently about how alpha males are really not arrogant dickheads. The ones Franz van der Waal studied were also good at building community and consensus. Sometimes that meant pounding a few heads, but it also meant knowing when a thump wasn’t going to make a difference.

Many sources have noted that Big Dick Energy isn’t about having a dick; it’s about having an attitude, and can used to describe people who are rumored to have big dicks (like Pete Davidson and David Bowie), as well as people who have never had a dick, and probably never will, like Rihanna.

What characterizes Big Dick Energy? Continue reading

Justine: Making Your “Alpha Male” More Like Nature’s Alpha Males

We all know what sort of man an alpha male is…strong, usually buff, definitely tough, and the one who gives orders, not takes them. He typically gets what he wants when he wants it, and if he’s threatened, he’ll go up against that threat, even if it means getting physical.

The trope of the alpha male is alive and well in many romances these days. But is that what nature intended when she created alpha males? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Atlas of Emotions

A few weeks ago, in her post Your Empathy Quotient Jeanne talked about the role of empathy in crafting compelling, believable characters.  She also referenced Emotions Revealed, by Paul Ekhman, a book I talked about in a Discovering Faces post back when I used to watch the television show Lie to Me, which was based, in part, on Ekhman’s work.

Not only is reading other people’s faces/body language/tone of voice and knowing what those people are feeling is outside of my skill set in real life (as confirmed by the quiz on Jeanne’s post), but figuring out what words to use to show what a character is feeling in my writing, can often be equally daunting.

Cue the Atlas of Emotions. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Creating Diverse Characters

These past few Wednesdays we’ve been talking about diversity in romance writing/publishing.  In the Diversity Spotlight post I talked about the recent decrease in the number of books published by diverse writers (aka PoC).  In the Diversity Reading List post I suggested some diverse authors and books to consider when looking for that next book to read, and in the Diverse Reader’s Perspective I posted an interview showing what the current state of diversity in romance writing/publishing looks like from the perspective of a diverse reader.

To wrap things up, I wanted to talk about some things you might want to keep in mind when including diverse characters in your own writing. Continue reading

Nancy: Damn Fine Story Advice: Story Stakes

If you hang out with writers long enough, observe them in their natural habitat, and learn what keeps them up at night, at some point you’re bound to hear a discussion about what writers like/are able/can bring themselves to read when they’re deeply immersed in their own stories. Books inside their writing genre? Outside the genre? No books at all during certain stages o the process?

These days, I’m rarely ‘not writing’ (not to be confused with procrastinating – that I do aplenty!), so a writing-driven reading moratorium won’t work for me. But I tend to read like I write: a little bit of everything and more than story at a time. Lately, I’ve been drawn to non-fiction. Per usual, I’m geeking out on science-for-non-scientists books. But this weekend I put down Stephen Hawking and picked up some Chuck Wendig (with no segue, rhyme, or reason because my mind is a mysterious, scary, mess of a place).

If you’re not familiar with Wendig, you really must check out his blog, where he generously doles out  amazing advice, life observations, movie reviews, and the occasional recipe (although I am not going to try this one). For a more distilled collection of his story-specific guidance, I highly recommend Damn Fine StoryIt made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me…Okay, what it actually did was make me think, but don’t let that scare you away from it – it’s thinking in a fun way! As with all writing advice, he implores his readers to take what they need and leave the rest for another time, place, or writer. And this weekend, what I needed was a deep, thorough look at story stakes. Continue reading

Michille: Favorite Characters

Marrying WinterborneOne of the reasons that I like reading and writing romance is the character-driven nature of the stories. I like character arc. One of the reasons that I don’t usual watch TV series is the lack of character arc in most of them. If the focus of the show is on, say, solving crimes, like Law and Order or Criminal Minds, I don’t get annoyed with lack of character growth. I do get annoyed when it takes five or six seasons for two people who clearly have spark to get together. I understand why it takes that long, I just don’t like it so I don’t watch it.

I have favorite characters and there are usually the books that I go back and re-read, particularly when I’m struggling with my own character’s arc. What was the character like in the beginning? How was he/she changed at the end? How did the author show the change? I’ve posted some favorite characters before, but here are some new ones: Continue reading