Tag Archives: getting published

How to make Your Reader Care About Your Character #5

I am skimming over notes I took from a class about creating characters that your reader will care about.

Disclaimer:  I honestly don’t remember where this handout came from. I’m going to paraphrase the topic and think up my own ideas, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing without giving credit.

It should be a given to an author that they need to create characters that their readers will care about. They do not necessarily have to like the character. Some really great characters are very unlikable. But we need to CARE about them, or we won’t keep reading. Right?

So how do we do this?

1.       Relationships.  (See previous post)

2.       Give them a goal (See previous post)

3.       Caring about others (See previous post)

4.       A special gift or talent. (See previous post)

5.       A handicap

Oooooo.  That’s a good one.

Here’s a good one. Even though you might not be handicapped, you can imagine what it would be like, right?  You feel for someone with a disability.

This came up recently in a comment on my blog, when someone mentioned that the horrid character on the TV show House was softened because he had a handicap.

How about a phobia?

A phobia is a good one two… something they need to overcome in order to fulfill their purpose of hero in the story.

Or something even more simple and relatable

Maybe it is something simple, like they need to run for their lives and the only car available to flee in has a stick shift, but the character does not know how to drive a stick.

Anything wrong with your character is an easy way to make them relatable. No one wants to read about someone who is perfect, right?

Unless you are Mary Poppins.  (But she was only practically perfect, right?)

That’s it!

Five ways to create the ever-important care-factor.  Give your readers characters that they can care about, and they will scream for more!

Think about the main character in your favorite novel. Pinpoint exactly what it was that made you engage with them. What was it? Come on, share the ideas!

_JenniFer____EatoN

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How to make Your Reader Care About Your Character #4

I am skimming over notes I took from a class about creating characters that your reader will care about.

Disclaimer:  I honestly don’t remember where this handout came from. I’m going to paraphrase the topic and think up my own ideas, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing without giving credit.

It should be a given to an author that they need to create characters that their readers will care about. They do not necessarily have to like the character. Some really great characters are very unlikable. But we need to CARE about them, or we won’t keep reading. Right?

So how do we do this?

1.       Relationships.  (See previous post)

2.       Give them a goal (See previous post)

3.       Caring about others (See previous post)

4.       A special gift or talent.

A special gift or talent can be tricky

This one can be tricky, but it can be used when the others fail. A special talent, I think, needs to be part of the plot to make it work.  Like a person loves to draw, so we want to see them become a successful artist.  If they don’t, then why did they have the talent mentioned in the story to begin with?

Make sure it has meaning

This needs to be all about fulfillment. They need to use the talent to make something happen in the story.

Yes, this could be a great device, but be careful to make sure it fits inside your plot and story arc.

What recent special talent have you read that really drew you in to a novel?

_JenniFer____EatoN

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How to make Your Reader Care About Your Character #3

I am skimming over notes I took from a class about creating characters that your reader will care about.

Disclaimer:  I honestly don’t remember where this handout came from. I’m going to paraphrase the topic and think up my own ideas, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing without giving credit.

It should be a given to an author that they need to create characters that their readers will care about. They do not necessarily have to like the character. Some really great characters are very unlikable. But we need to CARE about them, or we won’t keep reading. Right?

So how do we do this?

1.       Relationships.  (See previous post)

2.       Give them a goal (See previous post)

3.       Caring about others

Even the most horrible person on the planet has to care about someone, right?

Well, maybe not the most horrible person on the planet. I suppose you could create a noteworthy character who does not care about others, but the more I think of it, even the greatest villains of all time cared about something.

A villain can be a big softie

The guy in Psycho was pretty twisted, but that was okay, because he really loved his grandma. The Dude in Despicable Me wanted to be the greatest villain of all time, but these kids that he cared about kept getting in the way.
I think the idea is that in most cases everyone cares about someone. It may be trivial, or it may be gruesome, like keeping your beloved dead grandma… but it is that “care factor” that a reader can relate to.

Taking the easy way out

The handout talks about easier versions of caring, like taking care of a baby or helping an old lady cross the street.  So, if your character is a nice person, just make sure we can see them doing something that shows that they care for others.  They will get brownie points from your readers for their trouble.

Think about a novel your recently read that you loved. What did the main character care about?

_JenniFer____EatoN

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How to make Your Reader Care About Your Character #2

I am skimming over notes I took from a class about creating characters that your reader will care about.

Disclaimer:  I honestly don’t remember where this handout came from. I’m going to paraphrase the topic and think up my own ideas, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing without giving credit.

It should be a given to an author that they need to create characters that their readers will care about. They do not necessarily have to like the character. Some really great characters are very unlikable. But we need to CARE about them, or we won’t keep reading. Right?

So how do we do this?

1.       Relationships.  (See previous post)

2.       Give them a goal

Ugh. Goals. We all have them, right? We all have something we need to do every day. Some goals we like, others we labor over.  The point is, we can all relate to having to do something.

If your character is wandering around in circles with no clear intent, the reader will not be able to engage.  Even before the inciting incident that is the real start to your story… your character has to have a reason for being… a goal of something that needs to be done (it can be simple, like making dinner)

But soon you should hit the “big goal” that will carry your reader along for the rest of the journey. We have to know what the goal is and have a vested interest in the character getting there.

By the way, the “big goal” needs to materialize in the first 25% of the book or earlier.  This may seem like a given to most of you, but I’ve read some works in progress lately where the author did not understand this. Think about your character’s goal, and make sure it is apparent to the reader.

Everyone wants something.

A reader can connect and care if they have the opportunity to root for your character to get what he/she wants.

So go ahead, give them a goal!

What was the character’s goal in your favorite novel? Do you think this is what made it your favorite?

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How to make Your Reader Care About Your Character #1

I was cleaning off my desk this weekend and I came across a handout from a seminar or class that I don’t even remember taking.  I read through the page and considered my current work in progress.  I’m pretty sure that by this time in my career I am doing what the handout recommends as an almost instinctual part of my writing process.

I almost tossed the paper, but thought there may be some people out there who could benefit from these notes.  And, of course, I tend to learn stuff myself when I write out and analyze notes for posts, so let’s see what happens.

To keep things  short, I will break this topic into 5 separate posts.  One thought to chew on at a time.

Disclaimer:  I honestly don’t remember where this handout came from. I’m going to paraphrase the topic and think up my own ideas, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m stealing without giving credit.

All right:  Creating a character people care about:

It should be a given to an author that they need to create characters that their readers will care about. They do not necessarily have to like the character. Some really great characters are very unlikable. But we need to CARE about them, or we won’t keep reading. Right?

So how do we do this?

1.       Relationships.  Everyone in the world has relationships. They can be good, bad, or just tolerable, but you know what a relationship is, and so does your reader. Seeing a character in a relationship is an easy way to help a reader connect.

Let’s think over some memorable relationships.  I’ll grab a character most people know.

Harry Potter.

Harry lives with his aunt and uncle. Wow, they do not treat him well, do they? Have you ever been treated unfairly? Have you every had to put up with it because you had no choice? Have you ever wished a magic letter would show up and scoot you away? (Well, I’m sure the answer is “yes” to most of what I said, anyway.)

Giving Harry this horrible home life helps us to INSTANTLY connect with him. We feel sorry for him and want him to live up to his potential.  If Harry can overcome the odds, maybe we can, too.

Do you see how quickly and easily the connection is made? In the first few scenes we totally care and we are engaged.

Relationships. Use them.

And if your character is stranded on a deserted island, have him draw a face on a ball so he has someone to talk to. Yes, that has been done, but that helped you to connect as well, right?
Relationships are one of the easiest ways to help your readers care about your characters.

How have you used relationships to develop your characters?

_JenniFer____EatoN

How do I always end up in messes like this?

Okay, I know half of you want to just spit on me, and I have no right to be tense, stressed, or frustrated.  My problems are good problems to have … but how the heck did this just happen to me a SECOND time?

If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, you’ll remember that “Make Believe” and “For the Love of Christmas” released a day apart last year, and I had to do all of the editing simultaneously with two different publishers.

Well, this time around, I hoped I’d get a break.  But it was not meant to be.

The first round edits for “The First Day of the New Tomorrow” came in first (which surprised me) So, as I am readying to sit down with them… in come the edits for “Paper Wishes”.

Yes, this is the chance we take when we sign with two different publishers about a month apart.

“Okay,” I thought.  “No problem.”  Paper Wishes was already published, right?  All I needed to do initially is take out the words Astraea considered curses, which I did, so I should be good to go, right?

Ummm… no.

Yikes!

I have a little work to do to bring it more in line with what they want for a Christian novel.  Some things I expected (like taming down the make-out scene) but a few of the other things surprised me.  I’m going to need to think these changes over to keep the realistic tone of the story, but keep it within their strict, but understandable parameters.

In other words, YES, I have some work cut out for me.

The First Day of the New Tomorrow edits were topped with a nice note from the editor “Thank you for such a clean manuscript.”

Yay1!

But, as always, there are a few things in there that made me cringe.

One was a reference to “Ken Doll” which the editor changed to something else that made me think of blow up dolls.  Nope, can’t do that.  I quickly hopped over to Mattel’s web site and asked for formal permission to use “Ken Doll” (Which was a decent amount of paper work, but not impossible if you ever find that need.) Now I just have to wait for their approval.

So, yeah, busy week ahead of me here.  I’m a little stressed, but it’s a happy kind of stress.

It’s all good.

JenniFer_EatonF

Writing Madly to a Deadline, and then NOT submitting

I recently jumped into the running for another anthology, which means writing to a tight deadline.  I tripped up my schedule for a few weeks, finalizing my novel for the Amazon Break Through Novel Contest, and was two-weeks behind schedule. I DID finish in time (barely), but now I sit here the day before the deadline, with a completed manuscript in my hands, second guessing myself.

Do I think it’s not good enough?  No.  The opposite.  It’s tight. It’s precise….

And if you could have seen the look on my son’s face after reading it— Dang.  I haven’t seen him this excited about something since finishing the Hunger Games (Not that mine is even remotely like the Hunger Games)

So what’s the problem?  Submit the dern thing!

Here’s my problem… It’s too long.  I did not make the word count.  I contacted the publisher, and they said they would consider it at the higher word count, but it definitely would have to be cut down by 1500 words for publication in the anthology (If it were chosen)

I searched for those 1500 words, and found a possible 500 to cut, but editing out those 500 would have affected the “mood” of the story.  And if another 1000 words were cut after that, the whole story would seem rushed.

If my son had said “Meh, it’s okay.  I’ve read better.” (Which he has done to me in the past) I would have sliced and diced the 1500 words out of the story and sent it in.

But he didn’t say that.  He asked for more.  My kid the voracious reader said:  “It was really great.  I’ve never read anything like that before.  When will you write another one?”

I thought about what those forced changes would do, and decided to take the creative high road.  I am passing on the anthology, and am now embarking on a search for a publisher of Young Adult Paranormal Short/Novellas.

Ugh!  I hate passing up an opportunity, but I think this particular story needs to find a more suitable home than the confines of an anthology.

I am all for editing… all stories need to be edited, but I don’t want to “cut” just for the sake of “cutting”.  I’d rather have words cut because they don’t belong there… not because there is a stipulation on word count.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this?

If not, do you think you’d submit anyway, or search for a new home?

_JenniFer____EatoN

Write a Story With Me #32 – Janelle’s Choice with Shannon Christensen

Last week the baby finally arrived, but it looks like Mommy is in big trouble!  Will she be okay?  Let’s find out!

Take it away Shannon!

32- Shannon Christensen

Janelle hesitated.

If she followed Morana’s instructions to get help, Natalia might live and the boy might grow up healthy, wealthy, and destructive. This baby could destroy them all – fairies and humans, regardless of Janelle’s help.

She considered this. The boy could turn out to be like Marci, and could be helpful to Janelle’s people. Then again, maybe not. If he were more like Bethany, then all the risks and sacrifices made by Marci, by Sian, by Janosc, by herself and so many others would be futile.

She did not have to help. She should not have helped earlier by bringing Morana. Certainly, the humans would not have helped a fairy mother. She could simply leave Natalia and the boy in Morana’s care and let luck or fate have her way.

Natalia moaned again and Morana pleaded.

Janelle watched.
As a mother, Janelle sympathized with the compulsion to care for an infant. As Marci’s friend, Janelle sympathized with the potential loss of a family member. As the new queen of the fairies, however, she understood that her own feelings were nothing compared to her peoples’ needs. She had accepted this when she ate the leaf. She had not expected to have to act so quickly on this new prioritization.

Janelle sighed. She would do what was best for the many, and not only the few.

“No.”

“But, you must!”

“No. I must not.” Janelle turned and flew away from the house for the last time.

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Part One – Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Two – J. Keller Ford

Part Three – Susan Roebuck

Part Four – Elin Gregory

Part Five – Eileen Snyder

Part Six – Mikaela Wire

Part Seven — Vanessa Chapman

Part Eight — Ravena Guron

Part Nine – Vikki Thompson

Part Ten — Susan Rocan mywithershins

Part Eleven — Kate Johnston  AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twelve — Julie Catherine

Part Thirteen — Kai Damian

Part Fourteen — Richard Leonard

Part Fifteen — Sharon Manship

Part Sixteen – Shannon Blue Christensen

Part Seventeen — Bryn Jones

Part Eighteen — Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Nineteen — Shannon Burton

Part Twenty — J.Keller Ford

Part Twenty-One — Susan Roebuck

Part Twenty-Two — Elin Gregory

Part Twenty-Three — Aparnauteur

Part Twenty-Four — Vanessa Chapman

Part Twenty-Five — Ravena Guron

Part Twenty Six — Susan Rocan

Part Twenty Seven — Kate Johnson AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twenty Eight – Julie Catherine

Part Twenty Nine — Kai Damian

Part Thirty — Richard Leonard

Part Thirty-One — Sharon Manship

Part Thirty-Two — Shannon Christensen

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Danielle Ackley McPhail — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story with Me Part 30 – To Janelle’s Horror “What?” – With Richard Leonard

Surprise!  I’m changing the day for “Write a Story with Me” from Tuesdays to Mondays.  Why?  Well, ’cause I can!  Here we go!

It’s been nearly a month since we saw Marci’s poor mom go into labor all alone!  Richard Leonard throws it back to  the birth string this week.  Will Janelle get help in time?  Take it away, Richard!

30 – Richard Leonard

Janelle was already out the bedroom door before realising the old woman was still fumbling for her walking stick. She watched helplessly as Morana shuffled unsteadily across the short distance from the bed to the other side of the night-stand where her walking stick rested, using the night-stand for support. Janelle’s mood fell as she realised how frail the old lady now was. Her magic could only do so much.

“I’m sorry, Morana. I wasn’t aware you cannot -”

“I can do this, Young Fairy. I must do this”, Morana said.

Janelle, said nothing, guilt building within her. To drag this weak old dear out into the cold night to help a woman giving birth seemed to be a cruel irony. Patience, Janelle, patience. At the same time she needed to hurry. The longer Natalia was without proper assistance the more dangerous the situation becomes.

Morana finally had the support of her stick and began a steady rhythm of shuffling towards the door and out of the house. Janelle, to ease her impatience and peace of mind,  would fly up and down the street and patrol the area while Morana hobbled slowly towards Natalia’s residence. At the end of every run she would check on Natalia through the window, carefully ensuring she was still in a stable condition, sometimes offering reassurance that help was on its way.

On the way back she would arrive with relief to find that Morana had made significant progress walking up the street. This continued for several shortening laps until, to Janelle’s horror,

Oh!  The mid sentance stop!  What a way to leave it.  Someone’s quaking in their booth figuring out what Janelle saw!

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Part One – Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Two – J. Keller Ford

Part Three – Susan Roebuck

Part Four – Elin Gregory

Part Five – Eileen Snyder

Part Six – Mikaela Wire

Part Seven — Vanessa Chapman

Part Eight — Ravena Guron

Part Nine – Vikki Thompson

Part Ten — Susan Rocan mywithershins

Part Eleven — Kate Johnston  AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twelve — Julie Catherine

Part Thirteen — Kai Damian

Part Fourteen — Richard Leonard

Part Fifteen — Sharon Manship

Part Sixteen – Shannon Blue Christensen

Part Seventeen — Bryn Jones

Part Eighteen — Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Nineteen — Shannon Burton

Part Twenty — J.Keller Ford

Part Twenty-One — Susan Roebuck

Part Twenty-Two — Elin Gregory

Part Twenty-Three — Aparnauteur

Part Twenty-Four — Vanessa Chapman

Part Twenty-Five — Ravena Guron

Part Twenty Six — Susan Rocan

Part Twenty Seven — Kate Johnson AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twenty Eight – Julie Catherine

Part Twenty Nine — Kai Damian

Part Thirty — Richard Leonard

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

 Sharon Manship — TAG!  You are “It”

Give that Publisher What They Want, Dernit! Finale

I am uber stoker to be able to dig into the wild and crazy brain of someone who is out there doing this crazy publishing stuff professionally. When you read this, you’re gonna want to slap yourself silly, because this is hearing it right from someone who does this for a living. For the next few weeks, we will be delving into the slush pile with professional editor and author Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Here we go…

The Writer’s Toolbox: Give ’Em What They Want! Why Formatting Is Important By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

(Originally published in Allegory Magazine ©2011)

—————————————————————–

Here is a listing of all the Posts from Danielle on this topic.  Good Stuff if you missed any of them!

Post one Don’t get all creative now!

Post two Duh – Contact Info

Post three Basics 2 – Identifiers

Post four Formatting #1

Post five Formatting #2 Advanced

Post six Ellipses, Emdash, Quotes

Post seven Keep It Simple

Summing Up

You might think this article was about the technical aspects of formatting, but you would only be partially correct. What this article is truly about is respect. If you want to succeed at this dedicated hobby you’ve chosen to pursue (believe me, you don’t want to think of it as a career…it only leads to masses of frustration) then you need to get your head in the correct mindset. You are not alone in your desire. There are countless individuals who want to be authors. There are a considerably less individuals who are in a position to make that possible. Editors have to look through hundreds, even thousands of manuscripts every year. I don’t think I have to tell you that they can’t accept them all. You know what that means? It is your job to make their job as easy for them as possible. You can do that in two ways:

  • Ignore what I’ve shared with you here and start deciding which room you are going to wallpaper with rejections first, or
  • Do everything you can to make your manuscript clean and formatted to the publisher’s preference so that technical issues don’t distract the editor from the creative aspects of your work.

Now I’m not saying if you follow all the submission guidelines your work is guaranteed to be accepted, but I am saying you stand a heck of a better chance of at least getting noticed.

Special Thanks to Danielle Ackley McPhail for this wonderful insider info!

Thanks Danielle!

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over seventeen years. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include four urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of a single-author collection of science fiction stories called A Legacy of Stars, the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections, including Rum and Runestones, Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, So It Begins, By Other Means, No Man’s Land, Space Pirates, Space Horrors, Barbarians at the Jumpgate, and Mermaid 13.

She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, badassfaeries, darkquestbooks, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DAckley-McPhail). To learn more about her work, visit http://www.sidhenadaire.com, http://www.literaryhandyman.com, or www.badassfaeries.com.

Website and/or blog www.sidhenadaire.com, http://lit_handyman.livejournal.com, http://damcphail.livejournal.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/DMcPhail

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/danielle.ackleymcphail

Amazon author page   http://www.amazon.com/Danielle-Ackley-McPhail/e/B002GZVZPQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1331314265&sr=8-1

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/989939.Danielle_Ackley_McPhail

http://www.badassfaeries.com/

http://www.sidhenadaire.com/

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