Monday, April 2, 2012

3D Characters

What is a character in a fiction piece? To me, it's an anchor, the thing/being/person that connects a reader to a book. Without a heavy anchor (character), a reader can easily float away to another book that is sturdier, more interesting, better. So, how does an author make a 3D character?


Creating a 3D character is an easy enough premise, but many authors find it very hard to do. I have found that the easiest way to make a 3D character is to give it a backstory. This story can be revealed to the reader up front, can be told throughout a scene, chapter or the entire book. It can also be seen only through their actions and reactions. However, it’s very important to give a character a reason they act the way they act. 

For example, if I have a book about carnies in a freak show and the main character is Esmeralda, her back story may be: She was born with the gift of being able to see into the future and often had times where she blacked out because of her visions or became extremely depressed. Her parents, devout Christian's, tried to hide their child's gift, calling it an affliction. They sent her to Catholic schools were she was constantly persecuted and called a witch or demon until she ran away when she was sixteen. She drifted from place to place until she finally settled in Las Vegas. The title, "Where sinners are winners," enticed her because she believed she was a sinner who was tired of being a failure and a disappointment to the people she loved. She wanted to be a winner. Her lack of self-esteem led her to become a part of a freak show, which leads up to her present situation. 


After giving a character a backstory, decide how they should act. Give personality. How would your character act in different situations? If they were yelled at, what would they do? If they were locked in a closet would they yell? Scream? Take a flashlight out of their pocket and draw? If they saw a butterfly would they try to catch it and count the spots or cower away? Remember that all of these reactions and actions should stem from their backstory. 

Based on Esmeralda’s back story, she believes that she isn't worth much, has low self-esteem and is very naive. All of her action and reactions are going to be based on this. If there was a scene in my book where the carnies lit a fire and danced around naked, it would be out of character for Esmeralda to dance with them. It would be very in character of her to sit and watch others from the shadows. 


For the main character, make sure that readers know what they think and feel towards subjects that are present in the scene. At any given time, people are constantly internally commenting on everything we see. We do it so often; we barely realize that we do it. Characters should do the same. While writing, make sure to give them opinions, thoughts, feelings and reactions to things. This will help readers to connect to characters and will also make them more likeable. 

For Esmeralda, if she is watching the carnie’s dance, then, as the author, I would write how she reacts to the dancing. Perhaps she wants to get up and dance too, but is afraid that they wouldn’t like her body or the fact she couldn’t keep a beat. Maybe she thought they weren’t good people because they were naked and it was everything against what she was taught in Catholic school. Whatever her internal monologue is, it should reflect the personality that she acquired from her backstory. 

So, now we know what a 3D character is, how to write one? I advise the SEE-I method. It's a great method mentioned in Gerald Nosich's book, Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum. This is a great tool to keep in mind when describing characters, introducing them into a scene or simply describing a conflict. It’s a great way to stay organized and to remain clear about the purpose.

SEE-I means
State- state the character/conflict/scene/problem
Elaborate-clarify what the character/conflict is. This is where you state the character's purpose for being in the scene
Exemplify-write examples on the character or their role in the scene
Illustrate-remember to use imagery.

For Example:

Mom[character is stated] was clanging around in the kitchen dressed in her nurse’s scrubs as she put raw chicken breast in our countertop grill and allowed it to sizzle[her purpose of being in the scene is elaborated]. She was a short thin woman, with long, thick, dirty-blonde hair she always kept tied in a low ponytail at the base of her neck [Here is an example of Mom]. As she cooked, it swished from side-to-side. She always said she hated her hair—it was too long, it was too blonde, but she never changed it [here is her illustration].

Post some character descriptions using the SEE-I method and let me know how it works out for you!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Importance of Critiques

Well, I must say that the great critics at absolute write, absolutely tore me a new one. I think they were harsher than my agent! It was quite humbling to have someone tear through my work, but helpful. After I laid down my ego and pride, I realized that these are the people that are going to read my work. They are going to be buying my books so this is great feedback! Needless to say, the intros I put on absolute write have not sent to my agent, but it definitely gives me insight on how to change things before I submit to my agent.

Any budding author needs a circle where people aren't going to just say "great job" or "perfect IMO". An author needs someone that's going to be brutally honest because that's where change comes from. I really appreciate the feedback. I probably won't be back for a while; however, I have a lot of work to do!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Writing Sci-fi/ Fantasy

I have a YA fantasy idea in my head that I absolutely love, but find myself very afraid to write it. I think it's because I'm afraid that it won't stand up to the standards of what fantasy readers expect. I do not want to insult anyone by having a concept that is not up to par to fantasy readers. In my mind, the idea is wonderful, but I'm not a die-hard fantasy fan. I'm more of a contemporary romance girl. I don't mind a paranormal/ sci-fi twinge, but I like things on Earth, in a time that I know about or can relate to. I love stories set in the south or the 1830s to 1950s. I love a story that has the feeling of 1890 but is somewhat modernized so I could envision myself there. So my question is should a writer stick to what they know or venture out to other genres with the hope that it doesn't flop?
Many of the greatest writers haven't. Stephen King doesn't write epic romance and Nicholas Sparks doesn't write horror. Jerry Spinelli was known for his YA or MG works that were about social acceptance and even Stephenie Meyers stays in her lane in paranormal romance. But is it possible for an author to transcend genres successfully.

According to, JK Rowling is currently working on an adult novel. If she succeeds, she has bridged the gap of authors known for one style of writing completely changing what their skill set is. Are there others that have done this? Is it possible?

Sample Intro- Hellion

“Kill, Kill, Kill,” the instructions snaked through the darkness, beyond a tawny sheet of hair that was carelessly strewn over a long pillow and into the ears of a sleeping girl. The hissed directions were barely above a whisper, but loud enough for her to snap her head up and reveal crystal grey eyes that frantically searched through the darkness of her bedroom. She knew the words belonged to The Dark One, her master—the one that directed her to possess, to frighten, to mutilate, and in this situation, to kill.

Her skin turned alabaster as the moonlight from the window settled on it. The words came clear into her mind again and in a poof, she disappeared into a cloud of glistening black dust. She floated through the walls of her bedroom, over the green of her front yard and towards an undisclosed location.
She was met by another form—a glittering black cloud just like her. They didn’t speak to each other, but knew each other’s presence because they were of the same origin. They traveled together in the dark of night until they reached a small house that was on a lonesome cul-de-sac. The disheveled house stood by itself, mounted on the curve like a dot on an ‘I’. The house was dilapidated and uncared for. The vinyl siding of the house was covered in dirt causing the house to look dark brown instead of white it was supposed to be. The dark shutters were askew; some of them were only hanging on by a lone screw. Panels from the windows were ripped down and the screen door was shredded.
The two clouds floated through the front door of the house and revealed themselves on the other side. They floated past a couch that was completely covered in newspapers and debris, a coffee table that was piled high with red plastic cups and into a bedroom that was located down a long, dark hall. Lying on top of a small bed, a hairy man dressed in a white undershirt and blue boxers noisily slept with his legs stretched over the sides. His arms were limply lying off the edge of the bed and his fingertips grazed an empty whiskey bottle. A bottle of pills had capsized and sprayed small white tablets across the floor near the bottle.
With unsaid understanding, the two clouds disappeared into the man’s body. From the outside, the man seemed to sleeping soundly until his baby blue eyes sprang open and he began to convulse. He flipped onto his back and arched it, spastically deforming his face as he grasped for breaths. His fingers scratched at his throat as he rolled around the bed searching for air. He threw his body onto the floor and continued to convulse, slightly shrieking and bumping around the nightstand that was near his bed. The man’s eyes were blazing red as the blood vessels in them popped and exploded over the whites of his eyes. His cheeks turned red and then purple until finally everything in the house was still.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I've been fairly busy these past few weeks. I completed two books—which I am now in the process of editing—and am also working on a new manuscript which I'm very excited about. I recently decided to content edit on more than a freelance basis. I have been editing college papers, but have decided to take my love for critiquing work to my real passion: creative writing.

I am content editing FICTION pieces FOR FREE. It can be any part of the story, any genre, as long as the submitted piece is under 2,000 words. Due to time constraints, I can't read and edit more than 2,000 words. Again, it's completely free—no strings. I'm not doing it for book ideas; I already have multiple books I'm working on with my agent. I'm not doing it for fun. I genuinely love editing, reading and being a part of the writing process.

Anyone interested, venture to the left side of the screen and click on the page titled FREE CONTENT EDITING FOR FICTION for more details.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Inspiration...How Important is It?

I like to think that I am a writer that is led by inspiration. I can't just pick up a pen and start writing. If I wrote without inspiration, it would make absolutely no sense and the story won't flow. I prefer to have some sort of inspiration for the piece and then inspiration that keeps the story flowing.

For example, I wrote a YA romance piece. My initial inspiration for the piece was a bible verse and I expounded and fictionalized the verse to the point you wouldn't even know the piece was from a verse from the Bible. To keep me on track with the romance element of the piece, I listened to A LOT of Taylor Swift (Back to December, Our Song, Story of Us), The Cinematic Orchestra (Arrival of the Birds, Transformation), Yiruma (A River Flows In You), among other songs that my brain registered as romantic. For some reason, I desperately needed the songs because they put me in the mood to feel what my characters were feeling at the moment in the story.

Even now, I am listening to Switchfoot Dare You to Move over and over while writing a military piece. The beat makes me think of a soldier climbing through sand dunes to do his job so he can get back to his family. The song puts me in the mood to write about my main character.

I wonder how important inspiration is to truly connect to a story. Is it important at all or purely optional? Does the setting of the author help the setting of the characters in the story?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Slim Pickings in YA Fiction

I went on a hiatus from reading young adult fiction. I haven't had the time to invest in reading after having my daughter and finally decided to pick back up the passion. When I finally did visit my local Barnes and Nobles or the virtual store on my phone, I became so sad because I was so sad at the slim pickings. I feel like little Twilight babies are everywhere because of the amount of paranormal/ fantasy books that line the shelves! The amount of books is overwhelming, however, I'd love a book that wasn't about a magical school or human-vampire-werewolf love triangle. I was determined that I wasn't going to read another book that anything to do with magic, vampires, and werewolves, hence the reason I said there are slim pickings in the young adult world.

Vampires and Werewolves were cool when Stephanie Meyers wrote about them, but after four books, four movies, (and one more on the way) posters of a pasty white guy and Jacob <3 everywhere, I am all vampire'd out. I'm sure there were vampire love stories before her's but hers was the one that caught on and she beat the idea to death. Let it die.

I can always count on Jenny Han and Jennifer Echols, but I am looking for more contemporary teen literature that isn't doused in drama and lit on fire with angst. For once, I want the perfect teen romance/ coming-of-age story that isn't overly paranormal/ suicidal/ dark/ or otherwordly.

Book Review: Sh*t My Dad Says

Somewhere near the 1 a.m. mark, I was bored and was desperately fiegning for something to read. Of course, like any tech savvy person would do, I pulled out my phone and began scanning through the android market for something to read. After searching, I found SH*T MY DAD SAYS. Of course, the title drew me in and the mixed reviews made me even more intrigued, especially when they all had the words 'hilarious' or 'funny' in them, even if the review was bad. I paid the $9.99 for the book and began reading and genuinely laughed while reading.

SH*T MY DAD SAYS is a book explaining the main character's, Justin, relationship with his father. His father, though very education, often uses curse words to express his feelings, but Justin reveals this is because of his poor upbringing in Kentucky, his struggle into education and his stressful job as a scientist. Through the muck, Justin's father gives many life lessons that make Justin stronger and in the end, realizes that his father loves him and his brothers more than anything in the world.

It's a crude book filled with more f-bombs than a bar at night. Some of the language would even make a drunken sailor say, "Hey man, watch the language," but all-in-all, the book was great. There were many reviews claiming that the book was too crude, too rauncy, too this, too that.

Rather it makes sense to everyone doesn't matter because it was Justin's relationship with his father. It perplexed me a little bit that Justin's father was a cancer researcher in nuclear medicine but he spoke like he never completed seventh grade, but that's what makes the book so genuinely beautiful: it's ironic. You'd never think a man that curses so much and is so crude could love his family as much as he does--which is what the book is trying to express.

If you get past the lack of transitions, descriptive words and eloquence then throw in a lot of curses and funny statements, you have a book that is genuinely charming and funny. I loved it.