Monday, June 27, 2016

Blogging Break

Time for me to take a  much needed break. I'll return to blogging in a few weeks. In the meantime, I plan to concentrate on my work in progress, spend time with my family and breathe. 

Summer awaits...

Monday, June 20, 2016

Make Your Character Do These Four Things

There are ways to ensure, as a writer, you are doing your part to create an unforgettable main character. More than tricks or steps, I view the following as food for thought when you’re in the process of implementing character-building traits. Bonus is that if done well, these considerations have the ability to serve both the character you’ve created and the reader.

Four Ways to Establish a Connection between The Reader & Your Main Character 

Make Him Sacrifice Something
Few things reveal a person’s inner goals and passions more than when they have to give them up for someone or something else. When a character is required to make a noble or respect worthy sacrifice, they often have to dig deep. They are perceived as more selfless. And instantly they become more likable to the reader. And when a character is more likable to the reader, the reader roots for that person. And when the reader roots for that person, they want to keep reading. Therein is the ultimate goal of a writer, to incite the reader to want more.

Make Her Wrestle with Something
When your main character wars with an internal battle she is instantly more relatable. Because who hasn’t wrestled with something big in life—an emotional decision, a time of letting go, a great fear? The reader feels privileged to be invited on this intimate or vulnerable journey. Being privy to an internal battle helps the reader feel like they have been trusted with the inside scoop. When the struggle is conveyed in a non-whiny, though life-changing manner, the reader will likely crave to know whether the MC works through the struggle or not.

Make Him Lose Something or Someone They Love
Cruel, right? Truth is, Mr. MC will reveal a lot about himself as he reacts to the loss. Encountering someone during a time of loss invokes empathy from even the most stoic of folk. We all know what it feels like to endure a heartrending loss. As humans we share an innate curiosity. We like to surmise what causes some to be resilient and others not so much. We also like to know whether a loss will push someone to eventually bounce back or sink at a time like this. The right answer or way to play this isn’t always to have him bounce back immediately by the way. Which leads me to . . .

Make Her Persevere
This one has brought me to tears during writing sessions. As writers we have dichotomous souls when it comes to breaking our characters down. It must be done. It’ll bring the deepest, rawest, most human aspects of them to the surface. And when this happens the reader becomes engaged. The reader cringes whenever tragedy after tragedy befalls their beloved character. However, the victory resulting in stalwart perseverance is that much sweeter because the reader knows all that the main character has had to suffer through. They’ve cheered her on, identified with her agony, and when the conflicts have touched on universal feelings of defeat or discouragement, the reader connects with the book—the character in a way that few other things can accomplish. Lead your character to persevere through pain and you create the potential for a beautiful and memorable bond to form between your MC and the reader.

Can you think of a character who will stay with you forever? Did the author who created them force him or her to endure any of the above? 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Closer to Home

I remember the first time I saw my mom crying. She was bawling, actually. I was in fifth grade. I
took my time walking down our long lane and wondered if my mom had heard the news. When I met my mom in the kitchen, I instantly registered her red-rimmed eyes. She clutched me to her chest and held me in a tight hug. And then she sobbed. The Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded. Word had traveled fast for the mid-80s. In school we’d begun to cheer on the first teacher launching into space, then quickly shifted to figuring out how to mourn the loss and the loss of the crew in such an abrupt transition of time.

A great tragedy.

Growing up, a few other news stories brought my mom to tears. But that’s the event that stands out to me. Because it seemed so far away. Like something that could never happen to me or my loved ones.
I find myself reflecting on the first time I witnessed my mom’s intense reaction to this news story because I’m a mom now. And too many incidents have caused me to cry since I’ve become a mother. Too many tears.

I bring this up in the aftermath of Christina Grimmie’s death this weekend, then yesterday, only a day later, a mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub. Both significant losses occurred in the same city. My girls and I were rooting for Christina when she sang on The Voice. She mesmerized me when she sang “All of the Stars” with Ed Sheeran. She had so much more life to live—so many more songs to sing.

I feel a sweeping darkness.

One could argue it’s because we’re more informed now, news being shoved in our face every second. I believe it’s more than that. And that conversations need to continue. Not opinion-heavy lambasts. Dialogue with active listening, self-control, a will to want to change this current state we’re in. Because I can hear the loud voices in my head already. Gun control. Mental illness. Terrorists. Politics. Let’s be honest, I’m not only hearing it in my head, it’s all over social media. People have opinions and they feel entitled to share. Okay, all well and good (or not) but I’m calling for productive conversation that carries the potential to lead to change. Not just venting because we’re all feelings this—this foreboding lack of control.

How do we prevail against darkness? By exuding light. And we can only do that if we remain civilized, respectful, open-minded and introspective.

My kids are growing up with these news stories. They aren’t as unusual or as devastating as they once were. We cannot become numb to this—cannot accept a world where it’s alright to destroy one another.

Columbine. 9/11. Sandy Hook. It’s gotten much closer to home. Tragedy no longer feels far away or like something that could never happen to me or my loved ones.

Something’s got to give.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Putting Fear in Its Place

In our culture, where it seems everything is not as it seems, it helps to see things for what they really are. This quote caught my attention. Maybe it’s because fear is such a universal feeling, so pervasive and potentially destructive. Or debilitating. Or it could be because of the poignant visual it conjures.

Fear, at first creeping up the spine, then shaking to the ground. Until eventually you’re able to stare hard at the shiny splinters of what attempted to pierce—prevent.

Whenever I’m gripped by a certain fear it helps to reflect upon what I can control. And what I can’t. It helps to seize perspective.

What helps you when fear starts up your back?

Taking Time

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