Friday, June 24, 2011

MC Blogfest -I'm Asking My Main Character A Few Questions

I'm taking part in the MC Blogfest hosted by Elizabeth Mueller today. She asks three questions of our main characters and I'd love to ask my MC character what her answers are. To check it out for yourself, follow the link bellow. 

This is good timing too seeing as last week I posted on character depth as well. :) Ah, don't things seem to work just a little easier in blog world? Okay, let me go grab Allura and ask her these three questions. I'll be right back...

Wait, before I get her, I should let you in on a few idiosyncrasies of hers. First, she isn't human and although she appears to look just like one, she really hates them. In fact, she see's humans as the reason she's forced to live on land and only go for a "swim" under the cover of night. Being that she lives on land, it's important she and her sisters not stick out at their high school so she has even more anger toward humans because she has to pretend to be someone she's not. This is why if you were to see Allura or her sisters in the halls at school and you said "Hi", you would get the cold shoulder coupled with no response and then you'd think they were stuck-up snobs. But she's not.

And, if balancing the tightrope of pretending to be something she's not while proudly clinging to the thing she is isn't difficult enough, she just met David. She can't figure out why (against her better judgment) she's so incredibly drawn to him in an inhuman/human way. Because...her kind destroys men.

Okay, let me go get her.

Blog friends, meet Allura.

Question 1: What is your greatest fear? Ha. You'd think it would be to be found out, but really I'm more afraid of my Aunt's reaction to me being found out. Making them angry would be a mistake. I think I also worry that when it comes time to decide if I want to do the responsible thing and live on land to continue our kind or selfishly live in the sea and never return, I'll make the wrong decision. I know my sisters are counting on me -we're stronger and more protected in numbers- but I really hate being fake all the time. Oh, and there's the David thing, although I'm trying to just trust my instincts on that one. I still don't know if I like him because the urge to hunt and destroy men has blossomed a little earlier in me than my sisters or if, gulp, I actually am falling for a human guy. Ah, I hope it's the first reason.

Question 2: What is your biggest accomplishment? Probably surviving in a house where I don't really belong. Each of my sisters -we call each other sisters but really we aren't blood related- has a mother to look after them, to love them. Those are my aunts. But, since my mother died, I have nobody. I mean, my aunts take care of me in a providing-a-roof-over-my-head-and-clothes sort of way, but I don't get the advice and care my sisters get. I don't know though, lately, since my aunts noticed I may be emerging as the Provider of our group, they've been treating me a little different. Still not the same as having a mother.  

Question 3: What is your biggest regret? My Mom dying. David tells me it's not my fault, and my aunts wont talk about it much except to say it was caused by a human man so I need to keep away from humans, especially humans of the male persuasion. But, as much as I hear that it had nothing to do with me, I can't argue with the facts: she died shortly after I was born. So, I don't know my exact role in it, but I regret her dying. Are we done now? 

So, I have to ask my blog readers: Have you thought about these three question for your MC?

My WIP 30,426 words down

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lets Learn From Stephenie Meyer

So, today I got the opportunity to sit and glance over the newest book in the Twilight family, The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide by Stephenie Meyer. 

Now, I'm a Twilight fan through and through. But, even if you're not, there's something to say about this book. She has an in-depth look into every character in her four books! And I mean IN DEPTH! You know where each vampire was born, the year, when they were changed, why, by whom, who their friends are, what they look like, etc. And the main supporting characters even have their own back story. What life was like for them, how they saw the world, what their family dynamics were, what they did for a living. I mean, I could just go on and on. 
So, this got me to thinking. I haven't read the whole book, so I don't know if it talks about how much of this character back story she had planned before putting this book together, but if she did have it all planned, it makes sense as to why so many readers feel as though they are a part of the story, in how they attach themselves to the characters so well. So lets assume for a moment that all this character back story was something she had thought of while writing the Twilight series, to help make the characters more real.

Wow, just thinking about that, assuming it, causes my mind to form a "to do" list a few pages long. Yes, I have character sheets for my main characters, but nothing like this book outlines. NOTHING. And being that Stephenie Meyer has millions of satisfied readers, I should take notice of her strategy of building character depth. And not just on the main characters, but the supporting characters as well! 

I'm currently working on a YA novel that has it's own twist of the paranormal. And while I have each of the main and supporting characters' personalities, ways of thinking, and physical traits in my mind, I don't have an in depth look at why they think the way they do and what pieces of their pasts have made them who they are. And you know what? I can't wait to get started on the adventure of answering those questions! 

So, tell me: How much, and in which way, have you outlined your characters and added depth to them?   

Friday, June 10, 2011

Constructive Criticism: Judges Feedback

So a couple days ago I went to my email inbox and saw something from the Frasier contest. Cool. I opened it and was glad to see they'd sent me the judge's feedback. All in all I had the input of four judges and each had their own page, word document. Of course the first page I opened happened to be the harshest, because that's how life can be. But, no, it was like tearing the band-aid from a hairy arm and I'm glad the first was the worst.

I went on to read the three others' and the smile on my face continued to grow. One of the judges stated that it was gripping and rated it as ready for publication which gave me hope.

I loved the constructive criticism I received too; there was one piece of advice in particular that I found helpful and I wanted to share it with my blog friends. Now, know that this isn't the easiest thing for me to do. I'm sharing my manuscript weakness' for all to read and that in itself scares me a little. But the advice is so helpful that I can't not share it! So, with a deep gulp, here it is:  

"Phrases like I saw, I noticed, etc signifies telling. For example:
I noticed the older passengers helping the younger ones.
To make the sentence more active, just say Older passengers helped younger ones. Or you could be more specific and show one passenger help a younger passenger with a specific activity.
Showing and active sentences create a much stronger, powerful scene."

Now, I've heard it a thousand times, "show not tell!", and I've tried to do just that, but this judge actually gave me an example which brought it to a whole new level. I will definitely be hunting for those hints of telling rather than showing and eradicating them pronto!
As I re-read the feedback over and over again, I'll continue to post the advice I find particularly helpful. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on this judges show not tell advice?  


Saturday, June 4, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Pie!

Last week my sister and her hubby went to CA for business and ended up visiting family while they were there. Now, you all know that everyone living in CA owns a house about a block away from the beach, surfs, wears halter tops no matter their age (and support), and grows lemon trees in their backyards right?

Okay, maybe not all at the same time, but I'm sure everyone living in CA has at least one of those attributes. Sure of it...

So, my sister brought back a bag of big, beautiful lemons.When life gives you lemons, you make... lemon-aid. I love lemon-aid. But then my mom suggested Lemon Meringue pie. Okay. Admittedly it was a little more difficult than the original idea of lemon-aid seeing as I even had to make the pie crust from scratch, but hey, the results were delicious!

That got me to thinking...

How have you made Lemon Meringue pie from lemons recently? 

26,405 words

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Frasier Bronze Medal Award Winner!

Yesterday I received an email from the Frasier contest I'd entered back in March.

I heard about the Frasier contest online through a group I belong to. They judge your synopsis with the first 1500 words of your manuscript for all types of attributes that make up a good story. The winner would be announced at the ACFW conference in front of many agents and editors. Score. I figured if I won, I'd have my foot in the door, and if I lost I'd still receive helpful feedback on my submission.

I'd never entered a writing contest before so I figured I'd give it a shot. Which brings me back to the email in my inbox yesterday.

The email explained the process of judging. All of the contestants pieces were reviewed by two different judges. The top 10% were then sent on to the second round of judging. Those 10% were then whittled down to six contestants. Those six were the finalists and the winner will be announced at the conference in September.

They were happy to inform me that although I didn't final, I did make it to the second round of judging, so I am a Frasier Bronze Medal Award Winner. She said my writing showed solid writing craft.

Now, when I first read the news, I wondered if I should be excited or upset. After reading all about this contest and talking to other authors though, I'm excited! Not only will my name be mentioned at the conference awards ceremony, and on the conference pamphlet, but I'll be receiving feedback from the judges. I can't wait for the feedback! No, literally, I can't wait! I've already emailed asking when I get my feedback. :)

I want to be the best writer I can be, and I'd like to know what kept my work from being among the finals so I can fix it. I also realize that not being a finalist doesn't necessarily mean there was much wrong with it. It could just mean the judges didn't prefer first person narrative, etc. Either way, there's always room for improvement and I can't wait to do it!

So, I wanted to announce to everyone in blog land that I placed in my first ever writing contest! WOOHOO!