Anyway, I found all well at home – for which I am thankful. I miss the Idaho folks, especially tiny Sadie who will be very changed when I see her again in 2 months. And I worry about Grace who – in addition to recuperating from childbirth and caring for 2 babies – started back to school today. But I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to go and be there when Sadie joined our family.
So You Think You Want to Write a Book . . . (Part Six)
Characterization Continued – Setting and Plot are very important parts of a story (book) but it is my opinion that the best setting and/or plot in the world are wasted if the characters are not compelling. If I don’t care about the people – then why should I care what happens to them? So if you’ve written your biographies of your major characters – you should know them pretty well. The next challenge is to make sure that as you lead them through the intricacies of your plot that they stay true to the character you’ve assigned them. For instance, when I wrote Hearts in Hiding and created Miss Eugenia she had a definite 'voice'. An editor going through the manuscript added a dialogue tag saying that Miss Eugenia ‘giggled’. I knew my character and I knew that while she might laugh or snicker or smirk – she would not giggle. So that had to be changed. I love character details – especially repetitive details – that help the reader get to know them. Maybe your character sighs in exasperation often like Hunter Ezell does in Proceed with Caution (and the sequel Danger Ahead that is almost finished finally!!) Or maybe your character keeps a hankie tucked in the neckline of her floral print dress like Miss Polly (and uses it to dab perspiration). But if you choose a quirk or habit – stay true to it. The character doesn’t have to sigh continuously, but often enough to make it memorable. If you make your character scared of the dark – don’t send her outside in the middle of the night. That would be against her character. If your character is messy – don’t have her cleaning her house constantly. These things are very important – but can be checked and double-checked during your self-editing phase so don’t stress over them too much now. Pick a quirk or habit for a couple of your characters now – but later if you need your character who is scared of the dark to go outside in the middle of the night – just change that quirk (or remove it entirely).
Now, a little about plot. You have the basic idea for your story – so get it written down. I like to go with an expanded outline. That means I put down the major events in the order they will occur (or when I think they will occur). I don’t put any dialogue, very little description – this is just what is going to happen. The first draft of this outline is difficult for me. I have to control myself from rushing ahead or from over-developing a small part of the outline. This is bad for several reasons. One is that you may later decide to take this part of the story out and then you’ve wasted time. Worse, if you dedicate a lot of time to writing a description or dialogue for under-developed characters in a vague scene – you’re going to get frustrated. So just push ahead, writing the major plot points. Once you get to the end, go back to the beginning and start filling in a few details. I like to think of it as a clay statue with chicken wire for the base. First you have to bend the chicken wire into the basic shape you want (this is your outline). Then you put the first layer of clay onto the wire (this is the first layer of details). You have to have this clay on the wire to hold future layers of clay in place. So it is very important – but not the finished product. So don’t get frustrated with the lack of polish your manuscript suffers from at this stage. It’s just part of the process. Get the clay on that wire and then you have something to work with!!!
September Book Give-a-way –
Remember to comment on any blog post this month to be entered into the drawing for a free Halloween gift box (that includes a free book!!!)
Recipe of the Week - Butterfinger Pie
8 count package of mini Butterfinger bars
1 tub of Cool Whip
8 oz cream cheese (softened)
Graham cracker crust (premade)
Crush up the Butterfinger bars. Mix together cool whip & cream cheese. Stir in the most of the crushed butterfingers (reserving about ¼ cup for garnish). Pour mixture into graham cracker crust. Top with the other 2 crushed up butterfingers. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.