"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

11/1/12

Writing Craft Recap for October

Time to share some of what I learned last month about the writing craft! (learning the craft is my declared focus for 2012 - and it has been SO good for me!)

I had several sources of learning this month, including magazines, two different online writing classes, and a regional writing conference. Hope you learn something (and realize this is not ALL I have learned this month). This has probably been my best month yet as far as learning stuff I can use. So excuse the length of this post.

And here I go!
 
  • We need to let our characters find God in the difficult times of life.
  • Characters' pasts can and probably should create the problems and conflicts for them.
  • The best way to show a character is to get them very angry about something – especially from their past.
  • When in doubt about needing permission to quote something, ask for permission!
  • To find writing balance with the rest of your life, define your office, designate your hours, develop your style, determine your audience, and discover your vision.
From the November/December issue of Writer's Digest and the fall issue of ACFW Journal:
  • The problem causing writer's block used to be discipline – now, it's distraction. (If you can find it, read the article "Overcoming Writer's Block Without Willpower" from Writer's Digest. FASCINATING)
  • The creative and reactive parts of our brain are different – and many of us have reactive as the default setting
  • You're a writer if you write to the best of your abilities and enjoy it.
  • You must think up those plot events that will affect your characters enough for them to react with genuine change.
  • You need to engage the reader with the specifics of your novel: your protagonist, your situation, and your writing ability.
  • An antagonistic setting can challenge the protagonist to think and work harder to survive.
From Savvy Authors' class on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict (Jill Elizabeth Nelson, instructor):
  • When establishing GMC in your story, every character, with the possible exception of extremely minor ones, must have a goal and a motivation.
  • A character's goal must be specific and significant enough to generate action and mold the character’s thoughts and attitudes.
  • A compelling motivation should originate from the very core of the character and reveal something that provides emotional resonance for the reader.
  • Motivation is the hook that compels a character to action, so it must be positively gripping, utterly gripping, and absolutely inescapable, given the character's situation and personality.
  • The more clearly we can demonstrate for the reader why a character wishes to achieve a particular goal, the more readers will care whether or not the goal is achieved.
  • Conflict arises from obstacles in the character’s path that try to divert, discourage, or prevent the character from achieving the goal, thus leaving his goal frustrated and his motivation unfulfilled.
  • The more obstacles we can place between a character and his deeply-motivated goal, the more readers will feel the need to turn the pages and find out what happens next.
  • Motivation not only answers the question why a character wants to achieve a certain goal, it also contains either what the character stands to gain if they achieve the goal or what they stand to lose if they fail to achieve the goal.
  • Each sentence of our manuscript needs to maintain the logical sequence of events, and that comes down to writing the motivation and then the reaction from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph.
  • The villain's GMC needs to be in conflict with the hero or heroine's.
  • Within the GMC of your antagonist should be a sympathetic element-- something likeable and even something understandable and relatable to the reader.    
From the ACFW free course Creating Great Characters (Ginny Smith, instructor):
  •  In our novels, we want to draw our readers into a vivid and continuous dream so deeply that it becomes as real to them as the world that surrounds them.
  •  Characters are the vehicle through which a reader enters and lives in the fictional world of the novel. 
  • Only the characters who are absolutely essential to the story should be given a POV.
  • It's far more important to relay a character's personality than their physical attributes.
  • Physical details can also be used to convey a character's personality.
  • In order to understand what makes a character tick, especially a major character in your story, you have to know everything about him - but the reader doesn't.
  •  You should try to differentiate the dialogue of the different characters in your novel.
  •  Subtext makes a HUGE difference in dialogue/characterization.
  • Everything your character does, every action they perform, must support their personality. Their actions must be believable. 
  • It's important that your characters act rather than react. It makes them easier to relate to.   
Good stuff, eh?? So much excellent info to apply. Watch for my post NEXT month, when I'll share, among other things, what I learn from the free ACFW course on weaving the spiritual thread into your story.

Questions? Comments? Observations? What was most interesting/helpful to you?

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

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