Tag Archives: character building

Writers’ groups are really made for writers

“Marketing is a long and arduous process that I wish I would have known more about in the beginning…” opens today’s Publisher’s Weekly article about the professional benefits of joining a writers’ group. The quote came from Deeann Callis Graham, whose book, “Head On,” addresses the issue of areata, an autoimmune disease that causes baldness in men and women. Indeed, many writers embark on their craft in with the idea that a knight in shining armor attached to a publishing house will do the marketing, when in reality, it is largely you, the author, hustling for publicity, and putting your name and face and work out there for all the world to critique. Perhaps if many did know about the marketing process there would be even fewer writers.

But I digress. The PW piece likens writers’ groups to a kind of group therapy, where members strive to raise each writer’s spirit and technique, while offering constructive advice in a safe place. According to Graham, “Our group of seven are personally invested in our individual and shared successes, and we inspire each other to reach our writing and marketing goals.”

In addition, having a strong writers’ network, though it may not comprise Stephen King or Toni Morrison, nevertheless makes writers – especially first-timers – feel less alone while navigating the wild, wild world of publishing. Members learn from others’ successes and mistakes, and grow their network beyond a notoriously solitary writer’s world.

Graham self-published “Head On,” which a PW review called “heartwarming” and “a powerful compilation of profiles with a sincere and encouraging message.” Graham believes she would not have gotten this far without her group of creative cheerleaders. So if you need a kick in the rear to get going, or you’ve already in the middle of a manuscript you think has potential, consider sharing it with a group of your peers first, not only to learn about writing, but about the industry. Groups can be found at Meetups, indie bookstores (yes, they still exist), or, if push comes to shove, perhaps by starting your own.

By Heather Quinlan

Source: slushpile.netslushpile.net

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

Personalizing Your Character’s Emotional Wound

Emotional wounds are tricky to write about.

Abuse, betrayal, victimization, and the death of a loved one may exist in our characters’ pasts and so must be explored.

But these are also real life events that cause damage to real people.

So as I talk today about personalizing wounds for our characters, please know that I’m aware of the pain they cause in our world, and I applaud the courageous individuals who fight to come to grips with them every day.

Why Wounding Events Matter in Fiction

Wounding events greatly affect a character’s development, so they’re important to identify.

These painful experiences are deeply impactful, giving birth to life-altering fears, new habits and behaviors, even flaws meant to protect her from facing that pain again.

Wounding events are aptly named because they change who the character is; until they’re faced and addressed, she will never be whole.

But pinpointing what that event might be for a character is just the first step.

Traumas affect people differently; something that would destroy one character may have no lasting impact on another.

The wounding experience should be one that stops the protagonist in her tracks, making it impossible for her to achieve that story goal that will result in personal fulfillment.

However, you can maximize the impact of a traumatic event on a character by making it more personal.

You can accomplish this by knowing the following factors that can impact a wound and incorporating them into your story:

Personality

Some people are simply better equipped to deal with difficulty than others. An anxious or embittered person may find it harder to deal with a traumatic event than someone with an optimistic outlook or an adaptable nature.

So build the necessary traits into her personality before tragedy strikes.

Support

A strong support system is hugely helpful in facilitating healing for a victim. Loyal loved ones, a steady faith, or a supportive community can make it easier for someone to spring back, whereas a victim suffering alone may have a harder time.

Physical Proximity

The closer the danger, the more traumatic it can be.

A violent bank robbery may impact the employees, the customers, a security guard, etc. But the teller with the gun stuck in her face may take longer to recover than anyone else.

Emotional Proximity

It’s harrowing to be conned by a stranger, but someone you know causes even more damage, breeding self-doubt and making it difficult to trust others in the future.

Responsibility

It’s commonplace to replay a horrific event, picking it apart to figure out how it could have been avoided. This often results in the victim blaming herself, even when she was in no way at fault.

So if you need to intensify an already difficult circumstance, add an element of self-blame.

Justice

Seeing the perpetrator pay for what he’s done often provides closure that can set the victim on the path to healing.

On the other hand, knowing the criminal is still out there and free to strike again can cause a wound to fester.

Compounding Events

A trauma is horrible enough, but it often sets other events in motion that the wounded character is ill equipped to deal with.

Someone who has lost a child may also face divorce, be unjustly blamed, or lose a job due to depression.

Compounding events are the equivalent of someone kicking the victim when she’s down.

Just as you can use these factors to make a rough circumstance more difficult for your protagonist, you can also tweak them to soften their impact on other characters.

So as you dig into the backstory to unearth your characters’ pain, consider how deeply you want them affected.

Despite having experienced wounding events of our own, applying them to our characters can be daunting.

I’ll be lurking around the comments section to answer any questions.

Thank you, Jerry, for hosting me today!

By: Becca Puglisi
Source: jerryjenkins.com

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Five Things Your Characters Need

Many writers and readers will agree that the most important element of any story is its characters. There are certainly exceptions: some plot-driven stories are quite compelling and successful. However, readers form their deepest connections to stories through the characters by developing relationships with them and caring about what happens to them.

Naturally, we want our characters to be realistic. We want them to resonate, to come alive in readers’ imaginations. We work to give them distinct voices and personalities, extensive backstories, and vivid descriptions. We do all of this so readers will develop an emotional bond with our characters.

All of these aspects of characters make them seem more like real people. But there are five essential things that often get overlooked, and these are the critical ingredients of the characters’ function within a story.

1. Goals

What is the point of any story if the protagonist isn’t working toward a goal? It can be a simple goal, like getting into the best college or falling in love. It can be a meaningful goal, like making a deep and lasting personal transformation toward becoming a better person. It could be a momentous goal, like saving the planet.

Almost every story involves a goal at the heart of the plot. The main characters on the protagonist’s side are working toward this common goal, but things get interesting when they each have their own personal goals too.

Let’s imagine a story about a team of mercenaries on a mission to take down an enemy combatant. That’s the central plot, the common goal shared by the main characters. But what if the enemy once saved the life of one of these mercenaries back when they were serving together in the military? What if that mercenary feels an obligation to return the favor? Things get infinitely more interesting.

When characters have a combination of common goals and personal goals, there are more opportunities for conflict and challenges, and a story becomes more dynamic.

2. External Conflict

It’s only interesting to watch characters work toward a goal if achieving it is a struggle. The external conflict might be the cause of the goal (aliens are invading, so we must save the planet). But external conflict can also interfere with the goal (the protagonist wants a promotion, and her best friend wants the same promotion). External conflict can also change the goal (a high school graduate was about to study engineering at college, but now he must fight in the front lines of a war, and he wants to survive).

An external conflict is often the driving force of a plot. But characters can experience external conflicts independent of the plot. Consider a mystery story in which the plot’s external conflict is a serial killer on the loose in a big city. Meanwhile, the lead detective on the case is dealing with his own external conflict…his teenaged daughter is being stalked by a creepy kid at school, which is distracting the detective from the serial-killer case.

External conflicts make it difficult for the characters to achieve their goals, including the central goal of a story’s plot and the characters’ individual, personal goals.

3. Internal Struggle

An internal struggle pits personal values, goals, conflicts, or challenges against each other. A scientist developing a cure for a devastating disease stumbles upon a formula for a virus that would cause a pandemic. The company she works for is actively working to produce biological weapons. Her goal is to cure this disease, but her moral compass urges her to keep the formula secret, lest it be used as a biological weapon.

Internal struggles force characters to make difficult choices. They often must choose from bad or worse options, and the right choice almost always involves a meaningful sacrifice. Often the right or best option is unclear: there is no correct choice, only a personal choice. What if the scientist’s best friend is suffering from the disease she’s trying to cure? What if she has learned that as soon as the right biological weapon is available, her company will engage in biological warfare? Now the internal struggle intensifies — the character is forced to choose between her best friend’s health and the possible decimation of large swaths of the population.

Most protagonists engage in internal struggles, but other characters can struggle internally as well. Our story gets even more interesting if one of the scientist’s coworkers discovers that she’s hiding a formula from the company. This coworker is close friends with our scientist but is also loyal to the company. He struggles internally with with whether he should protect her secret or rat her out.

4. Strengths, Skills, and Assets

In order to survive the challenges that a story throws at its characters, they must possess strengths, skills, and assets. These can be personal strengths like fortitude or loyalty, or they can be skills and abilities, like hand-to-hand combat or hacking. Material assets, such as personal wealth, are also useful in many situations.

Characters must draw upon their strengths, skills, and assets to work toward their goals and overcome the external conflicts and internal struggles that they face.

Most authors are good at giving their characters strengths, skills, and assets, but sometimes they aren’t spread around enough. The protagonist will be an almost perfect human specimen while their teammates will contribute little to achieving the central goal. Characters’ strengths, skills, and assets shouldn’t make them superhuman, and each character should make a positive contribution to the cast’s efforts.

5. Flaws and Weaknesses

A character can’t truly be human (or human-like) without flaws and weaknesses. As the saying goes, nobody’s perfect. Characters must reflect this truth. But more importantly, characters’ flaws and weaknesses often provide essential story fodder in the form of setbacks. In a political thriller, a senatorial candidate’s weakness might be a secret from his past, which, if exposed, would destroy his career. In a romance, if the protagonist’s flaw is that she’s indecisive, she might let the love of her life get away because she can’t make up her mind.

Flaws and weaknesses interfere with the characters’ progress toward their goals and provide much-needed setbacks for the plot and subplots. We want to see our favorite characters succeed, but success is sweeter if it comes after a few failures, and failures are often caused by the characters’ own flaws and weaknesses.

Some authors struggle to give their characters flaws and weaknesses (especially the protagonists). It’s understandable. We can be protective of our characters, almost as if they were our children. We want them to be strong and successful. But weaknesses and flaws make characters relatable and give readers something to cheer for — we want to see the characters overcome these setbacks.

Connecting Characters with Story

Ideally, all these things (goals, internal struggles, external struggles, strengths, and weakness) will tie in with the central plot and be woven through the story’s subplots and themes.

Do all characters in every story need these five things? No. The protagonist certainly needs them. One of the other main characters might get a goal and a weakness but no internal struggle. Another might get an internal struggle and a goal but no notable external conflict. Every character is different, but wherever possible, providing characters with these elements will intensify and strengthen a story.

By Melissa Donovan
Source: writingforward.com

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Daria Rose and The Day She Chose by Award Winning #Author Yvonne Capitelli Available in #eBook #FED_ebooks

 

Daria Rose and The Day She Chose by Yvonne Capitelli now available in eBook.

First Edition Design Publishing

Daria Rose and The Day She Chose by Yvonne Capitelli now available worldwide in eBook

Daria Rose And The Day She Chose teaches children invaluable life tools in a child friendly way. It is imperative to start building confidence and good values in children while they are still young. This fun story about a young girl teaches self-empowerment and fosters: making good choices, positive behaviors, good self-esteem, confidence, kindness, courage, strength, determination, friendship, good values, and the importance of being thoughtful and thankful. This beautifully illustrated picture book is a fun and engaging way to teach young minds about the power they have within to create a life of happiness through the choices they make.  It is a timely and valuable resource.  Award winning author Yvonne Capitelli uses the book in conjunction with her character building program in schools.

Readers join Daria Rose on a seven day adventure as she encounters difficult social and personal situations regarding bullies, school work, self-image, peer-pressure, losing faith in herself and being overwhelmed. Daria Rose learns that life is all about choices and it is up to her to make the right ones. Children will learn that no matter how young you are, you can be in control of your own happiness. A child will benefit from the invaluable information expressed in this colorful and entertaining story. You and your child will enjoy reading this story over and over, using it as a tool to open dialog and help them realize how they act and react to different situations can give them the outcome they are looking for. Whether your child is 4 or 14 they will be inspired to take control of their own life and realize the power they have within.

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Yvonne Capitelli, Author

As a young girl author Yvonne Capitelli envisioned writing children’s books in the future. She achieved her dream after growing up on Long Island, NY and became an authoritative children’s author and children’s motivational speaker. Yvonne Capitelli has five awards to her credit for her debut children’s book Daria Rose and The Day She Chose. They include:  2012 Nominated Best Author of Long Island, 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Gold Award and KART Kids Book List, 2010 National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist, and 2009 Moonbeam Children’s Book Bronze Award Mind-BodySpirit/Self Esteem and Preferred Choice Award Creative Child Magazine.

Ms. Capitelli has always had a love of children and a love of books.  She was inspired by her daughter to start writing positive character building books that motivate children to make good choices, be determined and take control of their own happiness. Her books are fun, educational, beautifully illustrated and all center around imparting important life lessons. Children and adults alike will enjoy and benefit from her fun and engaging stories that make you realize the amazing power we all have within.

The author’s children’s book, I Get It! I Get It! How John Figures it Out, released January 2012, is about one boy’s journey and triumph with Auditory Processing Disorder. Ms. Capitelli’s second book of her Daria Rose Making Good Choices Series is due for release later this year.

Daria Rose and the Day She Chose by Yvonne Capitelli, was published April 25, 2012 in eBook format (ISBN 9781937520953) by First Edition Design Publishing.  It is available at Amazon’s Kindle store, Barnes & Noble and other on-line retailers. In addition to those outlets, Daria Rose and the Day She Chose was distributed worldwide in eBook format by First Edition Design Publishing to over 100,000 locations in more than 100 countries.

First Edition Design Publishing www.firsteditiondesignpublishing.com, based in Sarasota, Florida, USA leads the industry in eBook distribution. They convert, format and submit eBooks to Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Google, Kobo, Diesel, 3M, Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Nielsen, EBSCO, scores of additional on-line retailers and libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The company also has a POD (Print On Demand) division that creates softcover and hardcover printed books and makes them available worldwide through their distribution network.

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