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? Continue reading

Justine: Fiction Fundamentals…Writing Great Characters

bunch of charactersWelcome to Part 3 of Fiction Fundamentals. When I approached the topic of writing great characters, I didn’t realize how much information you, New Writer, should know about what really makes them sizzle until I went back and looked at the pages of notes I’d collected and the long list of bookmarks in my browser. I’ve been absorbing this for over three years, between classes at McDaniel, blog posts I’ve read, conference lectures I’ve attended, and web classes I’ve taken.

Rather than write a 10K word blog post (because really, I could, there’s so much great info about writing good characters), I’m going to Continue reading

Elizabeth: What I Learned About Character from Buffy

Buffy_and_SpikeHere we are in the midst of February with hearts and flowers and love stories springing up left and right.

Naturally it has caused my thoughts to turn to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After all, what says love better than a good old Vampire vs. Slayer story?

Wait, what?

It had been a while since I first watched the Buffy series, but this past holiday season Grown Son and I spent some time relaxing and watching musical episodes from some of our favorite shows. Naturally, the Once More with Feeling episode from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of those episodes.

One thing led to another Continue reading

Nancy: Carbon + Pressure = Diamonds

Rough_diamondI have to admit it: I’m jealous. It looks like you ladies had a lot of fun on Writing Sprints Friday. Micki had a fabulous week of writing, with over 4,000 new words. And Jilly has come up not only with a new story, but a whole new world and possible trilogy.

Meanwhile, over here, I’ve been subsumed by the non-writing world and have only managed to peck around the edges of my Victorian romance series. And I’ve driven into some well-worn ditches while I’ve been at it.

For instance, I realized that once again I’m coddling my heroine. I can’t help it. I love my characters. I brought them into this world, and I feel responsible for them. I don’t want life to be hard for them. Which makes for hella boring fiction.

Character growth is fundamental to most fiction stories. And how do you make characters grow? Put them under pressure and watch how they react and adapt. And change. And grow into beautiful diamonds. As Chuck Wendig has written in The Kick-Ass Writer, “You as storyteller are a malevolent presence blocking the character’s bliss.”

But what if you’re not feeling the malevolence? What’s an overprotective writer to do? Continue reading

Elizabeth: What would your characters give for Christmas?

XmasCatAfter the big push in November, my writing productivity has slowed down tremendously. There most definitely will not be a second consecutive month with a 50,000 word count.

I’m okay with that.

Life has been busy enough this month with business trips, vacation, work deadlines, and a stomach virus, along with shopping, baking, wrapping, and whatnot.

Though writing has moved down on the priority list for a few weeks, I’m still trying to keep up last month’s practice of touching some part of the story every day. So, while the draft manuscript is off sitting in a drawer “resting”, I’ve been resting myself, filling the creative well, and brainstorming particular pieces of the story that are not completely nailed down just yet.

One thing I’ve been trying to get a better feel for Continue reading

Justine: Let’s Talk About Sex

writing sex, writing foreplay, eight ladies writing, justine covingtonOr, about writing sex. I started reading a book last week called “Be a Sex-Writing Strumpet” by Stacia Kane. Now who can resist a title like that?

Apparently not me.

In truth, I’ve been working on my sex scenes in my WIP and felt like I was missing something. So I picked up the book at the suggestion of my amazing critique partner, Jennifer Windrow. She writes snarky, sexy paranormals and does a great job (IMHO) writing sex, foreplay, and all that stuff. Continue reading

Michaeline: Groundhog Day Always Loops Back to Love

Celtic Heart Knot, intricate with many crossings over and under.

If it were a straight line, it wouldn’t be beautiful, and it wouldn’t be a heart. There’s a certain satisfaction in working through the loops, and arriving back where we started. (Via Wikimedia Commons)

Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies, and I’m trying to establish it as a personal February tradition. Obnoxiously cocky weatherman Phil Connors gets stuck in a time loop that repeats Feb. 2 over and over — perhaps for thousands of years, alternative time. He eventually becomes a good person, wins the love of his producer, Rita, and breaks out of the holding pattern.

This year, I wanted to think about the role love plays in this movie.

My first, standard thought was, “This movie is about Phil’s journey to learning to love, and be lovable.” Sounds good, right? But then, inspired by Elizabeth’s post, I decided to meditate in some hot water. The question came to me, “What did Phil do to make himself lovable?”

“Maybe it’s all about self-esteem?” The thought floated through my head like a bubble on the surface of the bath. “Bingo! Of course it is!” Just like Whitney Houston sings, learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all, right?

Note to self: deep thoughts that can be condensed into pop lyrics are a little suspicious. Continue reading

Kay: Step into This

Christian Louboutin. "Printz," Spring/Summer 2013. Courtesy of Christian Louboutin. Photograph: Jay Zukerkorn and displayed as part of the Brooklyn Museum "Killer Heels" exhibit.

Christian Louboutin. “Printz,” Spring/Summer 2013. Courtesy of Christian Louboutin. Photograph: Jay Zukerkorn. Displayed as part of the Brooklyn Museum “Killer Heels” exhibit.

Our characters move through an arc, changing as they resolve the conflicts, solve the problems, and overcome the challenges that they encounter. One way we can show character change is to show behavioral changes. When our heroine was thwarted in the beginning of the book, she ate a pint of chocolate-chocolate chip Häagen-Dazs. Halfway through the book, though, she’s grown, she’s matured. Now when she’s thwarted, she stomps out of the house. Progress!

Recently I realized that one way I show how characters change is that I change their clothing choices. In an earlier manuscript, I had a young woman ditch her overalls and steel-toed work boots for flowing palazzo pants and high heels when she’d fulfilled her arc. In my current WIP, my heroine goes from suits and high heels to a poodle skirt and saddle shoes, and then to the skinny jeans and ballet flats that outfit her new life. Continue reading

Nancy: Character Redux

Casting Call for Your Novel

Last week, I discussed character appearance/description and the lack thereof in my WIP. Of course, as with any other aspect of reading, the amount of description a reader wants to see is based on personal preference, and even among the Ladies here, we have a wide range of opinions. But we weren’t the only ones thinking about writing characters this past week.

Over at ArghInk, as part of her Questionable series, Jenny Crusie answered a question from friend of 8LW, Deb Blake, about building in-depth characters. (I love this series. Basically, if Jenny is talking about craft, I’m listening!) Jenny talked about creating characters with length (character arc) and depth (the way the details of her life reflect that arc). Continue reading

Elizabeth: Back to Basics – How hardwood floors improved my story

Going-back-to-the-basics-strengthens-your-foundation.-8x10I’ve spent part of most weekends for the last several months refurbishing my parents’ old house in preparation for putting it up for sale. It could have gone on the market “as-is”, but spending some time to make it more appealing to potential buyers seemed like a reasonable choice. Besides, I knew there was original oak flooring hidden behind that unattractive wall-to-wall carpeting and I was determined to see it revealed and restored.

Before I could get to the floors, however, there were 60+ years of possessions to get out of the way. My siblings and I grew up in the house, and my parents lived in it their whole married life, so there was a lot to go through. A whole lot. An appalling amount, actually. As anyone who has had to clear out another person’s house can tell you, it’s not the easiest of jobs and involves a fair amount of “I can’t believe they saved this” and” what on earth is this” kind of comments. Continue reading