An Emotion Workshop and an Interview with the Both of Us

So it's Monday. Monday's are, by and large, the suck. But we've got good news for you, Musers. Today, Steena Holmes is hosting an Emotion Workshop at her blog!



She's enlisted victims volunteers from among her loyal followers to post their emotional scenes, and today and tomorrow, we'll be critiquing them, using The Emotion Thesaurus. We'd love for you to stop by.

Also for your eavesdropping pleasure, both Angela and I are being interviewed today at Literary Rambles. This is a treat for us, since we're normally dividing and conquering in the guest posting arena.

So if you've got the time, come and visit with us, and hopefully your Monday will be looking up :).

Character Trait: Serious

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet by C. E. Brock (1895)

Definition: having a thoughtful or subdued manner

Causes: being more inclined to internal thought than external expression; an underdeveloped sense of humor; a strong sense of duty to others; being forced to grow up too early and become responsible at an early age; the belief that any kind of fun is vanity; a compulsion to strictly adhere to the rules; the need to always be on one's guard

Characters in LiteratureMr. Darcy, Peter Hatcher (Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing), Michael Corleone (The Godfather), Katniss Everdeen

Positives: Serious characters are usually very dependable. You can count on them to do what they say they'll do, and you can ask them to take care of jobs others may be unwilling to do. Because serious characters are often highly introspective, they can be very intelligent or have incredible knowledge about specific subjects. This can be a very helpful resource for the hero.

Negatives: Because they don't joke around or take part in frivolous activities, serious characters can be pretty boring. Their lack of interest in popular culture can make them seem rather out-of-it, and their unusual social responses may make others feel awkward. Humor is highly valued in our society, so those who don't appreciate it can be misunderstood and mis-labeled as condescending, shy, stuck-up, or socially backward.

Common Portrayals: cyborgs, robots, and other non-humans; CEOs; mathematicians and scientists; religious characters

Cliches to Avoid the teenager/young adult forced to care for younger siblings and put his own life on hold; the cruel, hyper-religious person who condemns others for their frivolous choices; the serious character who's incapable of getting the simplest joke

Twists on the Traditional Serious Character:  

  • Serious characters are so often BORING. Give them additional traits to make them interesting or empathetic (see below)
  • The archetypal sidekick is almost always comedian to the main character's straight man. Switch it up and create a serious sidekick and see what humor can come from that situation.
  • Give your serious character a new reason for being that way. Maybe it's her way of rebelling against society or expressing individuality. Whatever the reason, make sure it makes sense and you lay the foundation so it's believable to the reader.

Conflicting Characteristics to Make your Serious Character Unique or More Interesting: adventurous, loving, charming, hyper, impulsive, wicked, talented

Swoonworthy Characters, Pre-Apocalyptic Reading, and More

We're in desperate straits, people. DESPERATE STRAITS.

Due to my aversion to being sued for using permission-restricted images, I tried REALLY HARD to find the perfect public domain pics for today's post. No dice. So I decided to make my own. Prepare yourselves, people. It's not pretty. If you have small children, you may want to cover their eyes.

AHEM.

I had so much fun visiting blogs and friends a few weeks ago that I decided to do it again. And, you know, a visit can mean a lot of different things. Because I want no confusion on this issue, these are NOT the kinds of visits I'm talking about:


No ghostly visitations of any kind


Just...No

Pathetic, right? It's for this reason that I've decided to download add a bunch of my own pics to the WANA Commons group at Flickr. We writers have to stick together, so if you're committed to doing the right thing when it comes to web images, check out these resources Angela shared on Monday, and consider sharing some of your pictures at Flickr. The more images we have to choose from, the less hand-drawn monstrosities we'll have to endure.

In the meantime, come visit some writerly friends with me and join us in talking about writerly subjects like...

Conflict vs. Tension, with Teralyn Rose Pilgrim at A Writer's Journey
Tension Building Tips, Rowling Style, with Kathleen Doyle at Writing, Reading, and Life
Top 5 Swoonworthy Male Characters in YA, with Gail Krause at The Storyteller's Scroll
Books I'd Read Before the Apocalypse, with Vicki Essex at Writing, Romance, Laughter, Life

Reluctant to Join Social Media?

Photo by 416style
Hi everyone! For some, the war cry of Join Twitter! Network! Engage & Share! Create a Facebook Page! Get Yourself Out There! can seem a bit much. I know a lot of writers who are confused and frustrated because they don't feel they are suited for the noisy mosh pit of online socializing, yet they are told repeatedly that they must do it to succeed.

I do believe that social networking is one of the best things you can do to create discoverability for yourself and your books, but completely understand how intimidating it can be for a person standing on the edge of it all. So if you have misgivings about these networking platforms or know someone who is struggling with how to connect with others, I am discussing this exact topic over at The Eagle's Aerial Perspective blog: What To Do...If You Feel Social Networking Isn't Right For You

After all, I think that's what we need sometimes--a view from high up where we can see the big picture and not be scared off by the misconstrued noise of social networking at ground level.

Also, some of you probably read Roni Loren's  Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics on Your Blog - My Story. I know most people put pictures with their blog posts and link them to the sites where they found them, thinking this is the right thing to do and will protect them from liability. IT WONT. Roni's story is a 'it could happen to you' situation, so I strongly encourage you to read about her experience if you haven't already.

Kristen Lamb has stepped up to help in this regard, however! If you need pictures for your blog that are free from copyright, you can join WANA Tribe and use her Flickr group built for this purpose. From WANA Commons:

"This is a photo reservoir for the WANAs. Many of us are bloggers, so we come here as one community to share our images for free use by other WANAs without fear of copyright infringement. If you post images in this group, you are claiming to be the owner of copyright and that you are granting us to use these images for free without fear of reprisal."

Here's another post on Where To Get Photos For Your Blog that might help. Becca and I will be changing how and what we post for pictures to make sure we're not infringing on anyone's copyright, and I strongly suggest you do as well.

Well, it's Monday and the world is your bag of Doritos. I hope everyone is having a great summer and writing up a storm! Have a happy and productive week! :)

Character Trait Entry: Determined

Definition: a firm resolve; unwavering; focused

Causes: Strong focus and ability to make decisions; having a set goal, objective or desire that is personal and important; being highly committed to an idea or belief

Characters in Literature: Doug (Okay For Now); Katniss (The Hunger Games); Perrin (The Wheel of Time)

Positives: The determined character has a state of mind that leads to perseverance, which will allow them to achieve their long term goals. They are able to set emotion aside, analyze a situation or action and weigh whether it brings them closer to their goal. Determined people can make decisions and create realistic goals and objectives, and work toward them step by step. They play to their strengths and will accept help if it is required. Determined individuals can set ego aside and work hard as required. They have strong focus, and can overcome doubt or insecurities which might sway their mindset.

Negatives:  Determined characters can have narrow focus and sometimes not see (or care) about how their actions affect others. People may feel shut out or excluded, and relationships can suffer, especially if other parties do not understand or appreciate the high level of dedication to a task. While a determined character is focused on a goal, they may miss other important events that can cause friction or conflict, and these events may eventually build up to a point where they sabotage efforts of obtaining that goal.

Common Portrayals: Athletes, Competitors, Law Enforcers & Military, Leaders; Serial Killers; Stalkers; Paparazzi

Cliches to Avoid:   The athlete or competitor who will win at all costs and leave behind a body count to do it; the ex cop with a vendetta; the military Rambo type who was wronged and is determined to bring his government down; the character who wants something outlandish and who is not suited for the task, yet manages to achieve it through an incredible amount of fortunate coincidences and luck.

Twists on the Traditional Determined: 
  •  The darker cousin of determination is obsession. It's easy to show obsession leading to a person's undoing, so instead, show us a hero who buries himself in it, but then realizes what is happening and pulls himself out in time. 
  • With villains, determination is intrinsic and so readers take it as a matter of course. This means some authors skim on defining WHY the villain is determined, so if you write this trait, don't skimp! The WHY is what creates empathy, so show us the cause, the need, that lies behind striving to obtain their goal.
  • Determination can never be enough. Challenge your character morally, and add conflict that makes them question their choice and mindset. Self-doubt can be a powerful way to define determination.
 Conflicting Characteristics to Make your Determined Unique or More Interesting: Witty, Impulsive, Sensitive, Clever, Worry-wart, Eccentric, Fearless

**HEADS UP!** The wonderful ladies at WOW (Women On Writing) have reviewed The Emotion Thesaurus & are offering a giveaway of the book (Print or Digital, winner's choice!). So, head on over and try you luck, and maybe score this resource for yourself or a friend!

Christmas in July?

Oh my gosh, people, LOOK what I found:



#ogle

If anyone wants to know what I'd like for Christmas...here you go. I'd be stocked for a good month. Maybe two.

But even if I never see my own caffeinated tree, Christmas still came early because Mart Ramirez has invited me over for a chat. So please do stop by and say hi. And if you happen to bring a little something when you come *wink wink*, well that's all the better :).

Guest post at PK Hrezo's

July 17th is a great day, everyone, and I'll tell you why. For one, on this day in history, Disneyland opened for the very first time.
DISNEYLAND


Does it get any better than that??? It's also an excellent day because I've got a jumbo Mountain Dew and, thanks to a twofer at Publix, a near limitless supply of dark chocolate M&Ms. And lastly, PK Hrezo has invited me over to her blog to share an excerpt from The Emotion Thesaurus. So if you haven't bought the book and you'd like a sneak peek, check it out and see what you think.

Whatever you have planned for today, I hope it turns out to be memorable. As they like to say at The Happiest Place on Earth:


*** Psst. Angela here. Don't tell Becca, but I am totally BLOG JACKING her post to let you know I'm hanging out with Leslie Rose today at Yes, This Will Be On The Test. Why? Because she has asked me THE BEST QUESTION EVER. Come over and visit after checking out Becca's awesome Emotion Thesaurus excerpt post!

Character Trait: Creative


Definitionmarked with the desire or skill to create

Causes: innate giftedness, coming from a creative family or environment, a desire for power or recognition, an unavoidable need to share what's inside with others, finding a void and wanting to fill it, seeing and appreciating beauty in untraditional forms

Characters in Literature: Olivia (the pig), Amy March (Little Women), Skeeter Phelan (The Help), Joe (The Sky is Everywhere)

Positives: Creative people usually see the world a little differently than most, and so they almost always have a fresh perspective to offer. The power of creation doesn't come easy, so those who seek to create are usually determined, hard-working, and driven. Creatives have a long-distance perspective that enables them to work through criticism, discouragement, and rejection.

Negatives: Because creative types tend to be focused on their gift, they may be somewhat out of touch with reality. This can lead to awkwardness or insecurity in social situations. Their focus on the muse can distract them from day-to-day practicalities, like house cleaning, paying the bills, and getting places on time. The need to create can become so all-consuming that it leads to the neglect of important relationships, creating isolation. The path to creation is also rife with naysayers, turning some creatives negative and jaded. 

Common Portrayals: artists, authors and poets, actors, dancers, musicians, chefs, interior designers, fashion designers, entrepreneurs, child prodigies

Cliches to Avoid: the tormented artist; the hermit author; the frustrated, alcoholic or drug-addicted creative; the brilliant but socially awkward creative; the penniless, desperate actor

Twists on the Traditional Creative:  
  • Creatives are almost always driven by the passion to create. What about the reluctant creator? Someone who doesn't necessarily want to do it for some reason, but they need to?
  • Personally, I think the artist/author/musician creative has been overdone. I'd like to see more stories about highly creative characters in other fields: architecture, automotive manufacturing, city planning
  • In the real world, successful CEOs are also creators, but their product is less tactile and "beautiful" than in the traditional creative arts. And all we hear about them is their financial prowess. Why not focus on their creative process instead?


Conflicting Characteristics to Make your Creative Unique or More Interesting: reluctant, practical, wicked, glamorous, charming, wealthy

Angela Wanders The Blogosphere

Hi everyone! Today, I am on a walkabout, visiting a bunch of great writers and talking about THINGS. Want to take the hike with me? Just click on the links below & discover some great blogs in the process!

The awesome Mindy Hardwick asks me to spill my Top 5 Pet Peeves in Books. Do you have the same ones? 
     The talented Elizabeth Arroyo is giving her love to a previous post on Flirting 101--how cool is that?
      The inquisitive Laura Stanfill asks me 7 GREAT Questions. What are they? Stop in and see!
        The angelic Danyelle Leafty challenges me to name my Top 5 Villains in Books. Are yours on my list?
        If you have some time today, I hope you'll stop in.  Happy writing!



          Character Trait: Glamorous

          Definition: having an aura of allure and fascination; a showy attractiveness

          Causes: a need for attention, a fear of what others will think, always wanting to look one's best out of respect for others, being raised in a glamorous environment (Hollywood, Broadway, etc.), having parents or siblings in the glamor industry, excessive wealth

          Characters in Literature and Pop Culture: Scarlett O'Hara (Gone with the Wind), Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby), Audrey Hepburn, Princess Grace

          Positives: Power and wealth are undeniably attractive, so most glamorous characters catch the attention of others. They are envied, admired, and copied by their peers. Glamorous characters have an air of self-confidence (whether real or fabricated) that is appealing. Whether the glamor is a true extension of a person's personality or a complete fabrication, the glamorous person is somewhat set apart from others. While this aloofness is scorned in a "normal person", it is often expected and overlooked in the glamorous character.

          Negatives: Glamorous characters are easily misunderstood. Because of their aloofness, people don't often get to know the real person and often draw incorrect conclusions about them. As a result, glamorous people may have trouble trusting others, never knowing if someone is reaching out to them out of a true desire to connect or a selfish motivation. While some glamorous people dress and act the way they do as a true extension of their personality, many use glamor as a shield, wanting to keep people at arms' length or portray themselves as being more important than they are. Glamor can mask insecurity, weakness, and great sadness.

          Common Portrayals: actors, models, royalty, the wealthy, rock stars, beauty queens

          Clichés to Avoid: the criminally bored young heir or heiress; the glamorous character who takes pity on a hopeless cause and makes her over into someone fabulous; the washed-up actress or model who clings to her glamor via plastic surgery and inappropriate clothing 

          Twists on the Traditional Glamorous Character: 

          • Glamorous characters are almost always wealthy. But what about a poor or working class character who achieves glamor through little means? (Pretty in Pink style) 
          • Or, to twist the cliché the other direction, create a wealthy character with absolutely no style or fashion whatsoever. 
          • People usually work so hard at being glamorous because of their need to live up to others' expectations, being driven to keep up with the Joneses, or a desire to appear more "together" than they really are. Try changing the motivation to put a twist on the glamorous character. 


          Conflicting Characteristics to Make your Glamorous Character Unique or More Interesting: distracted, humble, clumsy, rowdy, poor, awkward, strange

          *****


          Oh, and Angela has skipped over to J.C. Martin, Fighter Writer today to share her tips for Effective Book Marketing. And believe me, if there's anyone you want to spy on while they discuss marketing, it's Angela, so head on over and check it out!

          Want to Write a Best Seller? Change Your Mind

          Today, a treat! Dr. John Yeoman joins us from Writers' Village, a blog dedicated to helping writers succeed. Holding a PhD in Creative Writing, John is the author of eight humour books,  tutors at a UK University and judges for the Writers’ Village story competition. If you like, he offers a free 14-part course in writing fiction for profit on his website. If you've ever been interested in entering writing contests, this site might be a good starting point, especially for UK writers.

          Now I'll turn things over to him, so read on!

          ~ ~ ~

          Want to Write a Best Seller? Change Your Mind!

          Teenagers know better than we do, how to write great stories. Sounds absurd? We’re experienced authors, right? We know the craft tricks. We’ve pounded the keypad all our lives...

          Yet, it’s true. Because young people often have a freshness of experience that we can’t match. Simply, they don’t know enough as yet. And that’s their gift.

          Of course, they might not be great shakes at grammar or punctuation. That’s dog work. It’s quickly learned. What they have, most of them, is a freshness of perception. And we can’t match it.

          Perhaps we had it once. Then we lost it, around the time our teacher slapped us down for telling lies. Or we set our hearts on some literal-minded discipline like chemistry or bricklaying.

          But maybe it’s still there, whimpering at us like a child locked in a closet. If we’re creative writers, we can hear it...

          To see the world as it is, without labels, is the gift of genius. Maybe William Blake had it. For him, to describe a tree as an angel was not just a metaphor. He actually saw an angel.

          Hemingway had a similar gift. He didn’t see angels, of course. He saw the bedrock of experience, stripped of its metaphors. He found the words to describe what he saw. Then he stripped off a thousand superfluous words for every word he used.

          Can we find that freshness in our own writing?

          Sometimes. There’s a trick to it. I teach creative writing at a UK university. As an exercise, I ask my first-year students to wander around the campus for 20 minutes. Stop at random, I say. Just stop for five minutes and look at what’s in front of you. (Be discreet, I tell them...)

          Pretend you have never seen that thing before. Use all your five senses to perceive it. Then come back and write a few lines to describe what you perceived.

          I tell them: “You can’t just write: ‘I saw a mop propped in a bucket.’” That’s journalism. Bring out the essence of that mop.

          Some students ‘get’ it.

          “The mop gazed at me like an old man with a grey beard and rheumy eyes.” “The garbage bin was an Aztec god. Cigarette butts lay around it, ritual offerings.” “Parked cars steamed in the forecourt. Beetles with bright carapaces. Roaches stained with rust. Everywhere, the tangled antennae of bicycles.”

          Annie Proulx does this in The Shipping Forecast. Every line glows with epiphanies. Maybe she does it too much. The book screams: “Look at me. Don’t I write well?” David Lindsey gets it right in A Cold Mind. Among the routine squalor of a murder hunt, Lindsey hits us with a glittering insight. Again and again. We don’t just see what’s happening. We feel it, taste it, smell it.

          Balance is everything.

          A lot of authors never try for those effects. James Patterson is as prosaic as cold porridge yet his books top the best seller lists. Some readers just want plot, fast-paced events, a consumable ‘good read’. Fine. But a novel that also hits us with fresh language appeals to a broader market.

          The crime thrillers of the late Lawrence Sanders never stop selling. Sanders had the trick of fresh perception.

          Can that trick be learned? For literal-minded writers, it’s tough. Many of my students don’t want to learn it. They yearn to be reporters. Playing with words is for columnists, they say. (Never mind that columnists get paid more.)

          But if a writer is creative enough to embark on a novel, the trick can be acquired. It’s a sleight of meditation. Just look at an event, an object, a person. Pretend you’re a little child. You’ve never seen it before.

          I remember once walking into an art show. On the wall, some joker had hung an empty frame. Within the frame was the wall itself, plain bare bricks. I stopped. I frowned. I looked.

          Suddenly, those bricks became objects of numinous wonder. Their textures, colours, cracks glowed with meaning. Of course, I was sinking in all that ‘meaning’ myself. It’s the trick of modern art. Perhaps that’s what the joker had intended me to understand.

          (Or was he really a joker? I seem to remember the exhibit had a hefty price tag.)

          That’s the essence of the trick.

          Put a mental frame around an object, howsoever mundane. The frame has a distancing effect. It forces on us a new perspective. At once, a fireplace becomes a giant’s mouth; the glowing coals are a magic grotto. It flickers with mystery, fairy lights and invitation...

          Do you remember those days? Suddenly, we have regained the viewpoint of a child.

          If we could once do it before a smoky fireplace, we can do it again - in our stories.

          ~ ~ ~

          How about you? Have you tried framing objects or thinking in metaphor in order to get in touch with a fresh perspective on setting? What techniques do you employ when crafting rich sensory detail that will pull the reader into the scene?  

          ***And before I forget...

          Hop on over to  Jenny's The Dreamweaver's Cottage for an interview with BECCA. After all, this could be the post where she admits to having *whispers* extraterrestrial DNA. Or maybe she'll give out the co-ordinates to her Zombie Apocalypse shelter filled with Mountain Dew & chain saws. Perhaps she will answer the critical question: Why does Bacon taste SO GOOD?

          One never knows what secrets she might spill, so swing on by to find out!

          WRITING HERO: K.M. Weiland

          For a long time now, Becca and I have wanted a way to acknowledge the people who have helped us develop into stronger writers and who add to the writing community as a whole. So, once a month I'll be featuring a writer who really makes an impact...someone who is a true Writing Hero.

          Today I am excited to give a well deserved shout out to someone so many of us know: K.M. Weiland.

          Katie is one of those special people that every fledgling writer hopes to come across. She has one of the best craft blogs out there and knows writing inside and out. I was so grateful when I found her blogging at Author Culture years ago, which then led me to her personal blog Wordplay: Helping Writers become Authors. And that's just what she does--helps writers of all levels grow stronger and move closer to their goals.

          Katie herself is the author of several books, writing both Historical and Speculative fiction. She also has a wonderful writing book I really recommend to anyone who is looking to understand or sharpen their outlining skills: Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way To Success. I found it especially helpful as I try to make the move from pantsing into more structured outlining, without losing that critical creative element that is so important to a pantser's process. If you want to read more about her Reverse Outlining technique, there's an excerpt here.

          Katie also has a series of podcasts if you like to listen as you write, or enjoy the more interactive feel of a podcast. If you visit her blog, you'll find a huge list to choose from. Katie's craft posts are not to be missed as she always offers great insight and she also has a FREE Digital book on Crafting Unforgettable Characters, so head on over and snag a copy!

          In short, she's incredibly generous with her time and expertise, and just a positive, caring force in the writing community. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and if you like, add her books to your Goodreads lists. So thank you K. M. Weiland, for being one of my WRITING HEROES. You inspire me!

          To pay it forward, I will give a 1000-word critique to Katie. She can then choose to keep it for herself or offer it as a giveaway on her blog! As a resident writing hero, she will also have a permanent link in our header.

          So tell me Musers...do you know K.M. Weiland? Has she helped you or your writing in some way? Please tell us in the comments and help celebrate this amazing WRITING HERO! 

          **Also, if you have the chance, BECCA is visiting the awesome Carrie Butler at her blog So, You're a Writer dishing out the 3 Ingredients Needed for a Strong Scene. Please stop in! She's also running a GIVEAWAY of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression!

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