Writing Mr. Right… Part One!

What it is about fictional men that causes our hearts to go all a pitter-patter and leaves us twitter-pated, with loopy grins on our faces and a perpetual squeal lodged in our throats for days after we’ve finished a book? Why do they capture our hearts and minds so easily and so thoroughly that we can’t stop thinking about them and fantasizing about how we would handle such a guy? Sigh…I don’t know, but I love them (not in the over-the-top fan-girl way, but they definitely steal a piece of my heart)! When I’m reading a book with a well-written male love interest, I’m completely one hundred percent captivated for the length of time it takes to complete that book. And if I’m being honest, there’s little chance of me getting through a book that doesn’t at least have a romantic sub-plot for crying out loud. There are a few I’ve gotten through and actually enjoyed – and I mean a miniscule amount – but romance is a crucial element in my reading happiness. With that being said, the leading men are therefore vital to holding my attention; I want a swoon-worthy man – that’s why I’m buying the book (be it fantasy, sci-fi, modern, or whatever, I’m not just talking about ‘romance’ novels here)! But how does one write a swoon-worthy man? Hmm…let’s ponder a bit on this most delicious of subjects why don’t we…

*Loopy grin emerging*

Ladies and gentleman don your protective goggles and camouflage face paint: it’s time for a little recon!

Image From Google. I'm so ready for this!

Image From Google.
I’m so ready for this!

To write a good man, you have to be familiar with good men. That means do your research, head to the classics or your own favorite novels for inspiration and begin the analysis. Why do you like the men in these books, what aspects of their personalities appeal to you? How does the author get that personality across? Does this character remind you of the character you’re working with in your head? Study study study. The more familiar you are with the type of man you want to write, the easier it will be to write him. That does NOT mean copy that author’s work/character; that is a no-no of the highest degree. These books and characters are not there for you to copy, they’re there to inspire you. Think of these novels as your textbooks, break them down, analyze them and try putting some of the pieces together yourself (most of us do this unconsciously anyway when we read, or most writers that I know anyway).

You also need to know the genre you will be writing in, and who you’re target audience is. Men are presented different ways in different genres and readers know it and have blatant expectations when they pick up a novel in their favorite section of the bookstore. This goes without saying, but if you’re writing for mature women then you need a mature man, if you’re writing for teens then keep that in mind because a teenage boy and a mature man are completely different (at least in the realm of books, we’re going to forget reality here for the moment). You need to know how to present your guy to the readers, make sure he fits into the parameters of the ‘type’ of writing you’re doing. Most genres already have archetypal men: gentlemen, rogues, leaders, warriors, bad boys, wounded souls etc. and they all come with prerequisite, but slightly malleable, well-known rules. Gentleman tend to be cordial and understanding, rogues are deliciously impossible, bad boys have that sense of dangerous uncertainty, leaders contain a sense of hope and overpowering duty, while the wounded…well they’re wounded aren’t they. There’s no saying that you can’t bend these rules slightly to suit your own character, but you need to at least be aware of them. Readers reading a historical romance are not going to want an emo-esque whiny leading man, and fantasy lovers don’t usually break their hearts over a sharp dressed businessman. Know who you are dealing with because readers are just as picky and vicious as writers are.

But perhaps most important in the recon portion of writing a great Mr. Right, is knowing your character inside and out; this goes with any character in any story. Writers need to know the people they are writing, all the shallow edges and dark chasms, the good the bad and the ugly…everything, because if the writer doesn’t know and understand the character, how can the readers? Take the time to discover the ins and outs of this human being, the whys and how come’s, the things he doesn’t want anyone to know and habits and mannerisms that makes him who he is. What is his back story, what has led him to this moment in his life with this woman and how will his past dictate his present, and how will he handle being placed in this situation and why? Who is he? Go beyond his looks and get to know the man you want people to fall in love with, because if he doesn’t seem real to you in your head then he won’t be real for anyone else either.

So here we are, back to the beginning of our stories, a little tired and grumpy but perhaps a bit inspired. All in all troops, I believe the recon portion of writing Mr. Right has been successful, I hope you all enjoyed the ride and part two of our journey into writing the men of our dreams (the actual writing part) will be posted tomorrow!

Originally published in October 2012

The Next Big Thing…

The lovely ladies over at Mystic Cooking tagged me in The Next Big Thing yesterday (thank you ladies!) and after I finished squealing with delight and smiling like a crazy person, I realized that it meant I would have to describe my novel…and then I was a bit torn lol. I am by nature a secretive writer, no one sees anything I’ve written until I say so and I’ve had to chase away my brother a time or two when I caught him reading over my shoulder while I was typing. I don’t know why…it’s just who I am; call it mistrustful, insecure, or whatever but I guard my laptop like a fiend. That being said, I think it’s about time the world gets a little peek into a world that I love with all of my heart. I hope you enjoy…

What is the working title of your book?

The title of my novel is Believe.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I actually don’t remember! I’ve had the idea and the characters in my head since I was thirteen and I think I dreamed about them or something first but it was so long ago that I don’t actually remember what made me think of this story, lol.

What genre does your book fall under?

Fantasy

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Calahada (Hada for short):

Image From Google

I have the hardest time casting Hada, there isn’t anyone I know of that looks enough like her, and I know that sounds so pretentious and stuck-up but I don’t mean it that way, honestly. I’ve just had this picture in my head for eight years and there is no one who really jumps out at me and screams: I am Calahada! But, for the sake of this post I will do my best and select someone so you can get a general idea. After hours of deliberating (and some help) I think Gemma Arterton is the best choice. She resembles her a bit and I think she is capable of portraying the different emotional and physical changes that Hada endures over the course of the story. The character of Calahada changes drastically over the course of Believe, starting out a relatively happy, stable young woman who later succumbs to an overwhelming grief that whittles her away to practically nothing emotionally and physically before finally coming back to life wielding a sword and ready to defend her right to love the man that she does. There’s such a mixture of strength and fragility within her that truly inspires me.

Mytheous (Myth):

This isn’t the actual picture I used but it’s close!
Image From Google

This one was much easier to cast, thankfully! When I was writing Believe, I made background posters on my computer for inspiration and one of the pictures I used was Garrett Hedlund in Eragon, he had the right coloring (sort of) and I loved the leather vest he was wearing. It wasn’t until later when my mother (who was my first reader) and I were discussing who would be a good fit for Myth that she pointed out that the guy on my computer screen was almost perfect. I didn’t agree with her at first (I had only used the picture for the clothes and the feel, not the actual guy), but after thinking about it for a few days, I had to agree that there was no one better that I could think of. Mytheous (to me) is such a sweetheart; he’s kind, loving, hot-tempered, and absolutely determined to love Hada no matter what anyone says.

Elithium (El):

Image From Google

El was another hard one to cast, but that’s purely because his features (hair/eye color) are hard to pin down. Elithium is Hada’s best friend and he truly knows her better than anyone; he’s a bit of a mother-hen but that just adds to his lovability.  When Hada is all but lost in her despair and grief (and then the anger that follows), he is the only one (who knows the truth) who can reach her. He is willing to risk his life to protect his best friend and it’s his devotion and love that make him who he is. After watching Lost In Austen, I think Tom Mison could pull off El’s sweet-nature, though he might have to drop Bingley’s “blond”-moments (as I call them) as Elithium is sharp and watchful and slightly less head-in-the-clouds-ish as Mr. Bingley.

Eelisha:

Image From Google

Ah Eelisha, tricky…so very tricky. Eelisha is supposed to be devastatingly gorgeous, vain, highly possessive, and very, very jealous. She has that look, that haughty you’re-so-far-beneath-me-I- can’t-be-bothered-to-notice-you-other-than-to-make-my-revulsion-for you-known-because-I-want-you-to-know-it’s-me-who’s-making-your-life-miserable look. You know, that look. When I think of Emmy Rossum, I immediately think of the Phantom of the Opera and how sweet/clueless Christine is but I think she has the potential to be a very effective villainess, just check out the trailer for Beautiful Creatures if you don’t believe me!

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Sigh…I hate synopsis’s, I’m no good at them. This will probably come out sounding contrived and cliché. I apologize.

Death awaits Mytheous and Calahada after they fall in love in a realm where love is bound and constrained by rules dictated by an ancient prejudice; the two are determined to prove that love is more powerful than any law, though the cost may be more than they realized as they discover their fear of death pales in the face of agonizing pain.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I would prefer it be represented by an agency and I’m currently looking into finding an agent who will love Believe as much as I do!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

That’s a hard question. Like I said, I’ve had this story in my head since I was thirteen and I did start writing it back then but the disk I was writing it on got lost during a move and I didn’t pick the story up again until I was (late) sixteen I think. My writing teacher was making us do NaNoWriMo, so I figured it was the perfect time to try the story a second time. I wrote a lot that year (my senior year of high school) and I continued to write when I was in college though I only worked on the manuscript on holiday and summer breaks. The summers of my sophomore and junior college years are when I wrote the most I think and I finished Believe the summer before senior year. So you can say it took me eight years, five years (if you go by my starting over in high school), or something less than that considering I only wrote for four months out of the year for three years. I don’t really know how to answer this one 😀

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I have no idea! 😀  The people I’ve had read the manuscript says it reminds them of Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwater’s series and Catherine Asaro’s Lost Continent Series. That’s a mighty big compliment (for me at least), and I’d be happy to think my book is anything like theirs!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The characters are my inspiration. They had a story to tell and I wanted to badly to tell it. My mother also kept me going because she was so excited to read the novel once it was done, I knew I had to keep writing no matter what!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

 Hmm, well I guess if you haven’t already figured out by the genre and the odd names, this book is set in the past and there are quite a few surprises to be found lurking within the pages that I hope you will enjoy (I can’t tell you anymore or I’ll give things away!). Also, this book is the first in what’s looking like a very long series, so there are many more adventures to be had and new characters to meet! I also make a playlist for every novel and if anyone is interested in getting a feel for the story before you read it, let me know in the comments and I’ll list a few of the most influential songs 😀

 And in the interest of keeping this going…

I always enjoy reading these blogs, so I’m tagging:

The Spidereen Frigate

and

Through Two Blue Eyes

Writing Mr. Right: Pt. One…Recon

What it is about fictional men that causes our hearts to go all a pitter-patter and leaves us twitter-pated, with loopy grins on our faces and a perpetual squeal lodged in our throats for days after we’ve finished a book? Why do they capture our hearts and minds so easily and so thoroughly that we can’t stop thinking about them and fantasizing about how we would handle such a guy? Sigh…I don’t know, but I love them (not in the over-the-top fan-girl way, but they definitely steal a piece of my heart)! When I’m reading a book with a well-written male love interest, I’m completely one hundred percent captivated for the length of time it takes to complete that book. And if I’m being honest, there’s little chance of me getting through a book that doesn’t at least have a romantic sub-plot for crying out loud. There are a few I’ve gotten through and actually enjoyed – and I mean a miniscule amount – but romance is a crucial element in my reading happiness. With that being said, the leading men are therefore vital to holding my attention; I want a swoon-worthy man – that’s why I’m buying the book (be it fantasy, sci-fi, modern, or whatever, I’m not just talking about ‘romance’ novels here)! But how does one write a swoon-worthy man? Hmm…let’s ponder a bit on this most delicious of subjects why don’t we… *loopy grin emerging*

Ladies and gentleman don your protective goggles and camouflage face paint; it’s time for a little recon!

To write a good man, you have to be familiar with good men. That means do your research, head to the classics or your own favorite novels for inspiration and being the analysis. Why do you like the men in these books, what aspects of their personalities appeal to you? How does the author get that personality across? Does this character remind you of the character you’re working with in your head? Study study study. The more familiar you are with the type of man you want to write, the easier it will be to write him. That does NOT mean copy that author’s work/character; that is a no-no of the highest degree. These books and characters are not there for you to copy, they’re there to inspire you. Think of these novels as your textbooks, break them down, analyze them and try putting some of the pieces together yourself (most of us do this unconsciously anyway when we read, or most writers that I know anyway).

You also need to know the genre you will be writing in, and who you’re target audience is. Men are presented different ways in different genres and readers know it and have blatant expectations when they pick up a novel in their favorite section of the bookstore. This goes without saying, but if you’re writing for mature women then you need a mature man, if your writing for teens then keep that in mind because a teenage boy and a mature man are completely different (at least in the realm of books, we’re going to forget reality here for the moment). You need to know how to present your guy to the readers, make sure he fits into the parameters of the ‘type’ of writing you’re doing. Most genres already have archetypal men: gentlemen, rogues, leaders, warriors, bad boys, wounded souls etc. and they all come with prerequisite but slightly malleable, well-known rules. Gentleman tend to be cordial and understanding, rogues are deliciously impossible, bad boys have that sense of dangerous uncertainty, leaders contain a sense of hope and overpowering duty, while the wounded…well they’re wounded aren’t they. There’s no saying that you can’t bend these rules slightly to suit your own character, but you need to at least be aware of them. Readers reading a historical romance are not going to want an emo-esque whiny leading man, and fantasy lovers don’t usually break their hearts over a sharp dressed businessman. Know who you are dealing with because readers are just as picky as vicious as writers are.

But perhaps most important in the recon portion of writing a great Mr. Right, is knowing your character inside and out; this goes with any character in any story. Writers need to know the people they are writing, all the shallow edges and dark chasms, the good the bad and the ugly…everything, because if the writer doesn’t know and understand the character, how can the readers? Take the time to discover the ins and outs of this human being, the whys and how come’s, the things he doesn’t want anyone to know and habits and mannerisms that makes him who he is. What is his back story, what has led him to this moment in his life with this woman and how will his past dictate his present, and how will he handle being placed in this situation and why? Who is he? Go beyond his looks and get to know the man you want people to fall in love with, because if he doesn’t seem real to you in your head then he won’t be real for anyone else either.

So here we are, back to the beginning of our stories, a little tired and grumpy but perhaps a bit inspired. All in all troops, I believe the recon portion of writing Mr. Right has been successful, I hope you all enjoyed the ride and part two of our journey into writing the men of our dreams (the actual writing part) will be posted by the end of the week!

Discussing Dialogue –or– No, People Don’t Actually Talk Like That!

Let me set the scene for you here: it’s blissfully quiet, you’re curled up in your favorite reading chair/couch/whatever with a new book that’s full of promise and you’re just so excited to begin this new journey because, let’s be honest…the cover looks amazing! You’ve thought ahead and brought provisions: a glass of cold, sweet iced tea and some beef jerky (weird combination I know, but these are my ideal provisions I’m dreaming about here! Bring some of your own because I’m not sharing!) And you’re slowly falling in love with the story, the characters, the setting, and the new world; it’s so beautiful and realistic that you forget where you are and what you’re doing…then BAM! Suddenly you’re thrust unhappily back in your own world and you find yourself hunched over in your chair, gnawing on a piece of beef jerky and thinking: “They said what? Who talks like that?!”

Nothing kills the mood and jolts you right out of the pages of a book like poorly written dialogue. It takes pages to draw in a reader and make them care and engage with your characters, but it only takes a sentence to ruin all that hard work. It’s sad…but very true. Poor dialogue destroys whatever beauty or genius was written before it as well as the trust the reader has invested in the author and leaves behind such a bad taste in the reader’s mouth that even beef jerky and a well-timed “What the…?!” cannot fix the damage done. And unfortunately, whatever words/descriptions /plot twists that follow the dialogue are then tainted by the reader’s annoyance and disbelief. This may not make the reader immediately throw the book aside, never look twice at it again forevermore and banish it to some forgotten corner where it cannot annoy anyone ever again, but it does aggravate them and honestly, it negates the overall beauty and impact of the writer’s hard work. So…

Think before you type.

Really…think about what you are having your character say. Ask yourself: “Does that sound natural, have I heard someone say something similar?” or perhaps more importantly: “Would I be embarrassed to say something like that?”  Your answer to these questions should tell you whether or not you are on the right track. If you wouldn’t say something because it sounds forced or unrealistic then why would you have your character say it? If you’re having doubts about your dialogue or aren’t sure if it’s working then read the conversations out loud so you can hear them, it helps! Listen to the flow of worlds, the stops and pauses, the word choice; your character is trying to tell you what needs to be said, but are you listening to them? Dialogue is not hard to write, it is one of the easiest if you just take the time to think about it, but still I encounter characters who say the oddest things in the weirdest ways and I can’t help but clench my teeth and roll my eyes in exasperation…with the AUTHOR. The character may be the one speaking, but if the words come across as forced or silly, I blame the writer for not taking the time to listen to their character and try to understand what should be said. Occasionally awkward dialogue is going to happen, that’s fine, there are times when something just needs to be said for the reader to follow along, but don’t make it a common thing.

If you’re writing historical fiction or speculative fiction in a semi historic setting, writing dialogue is going to be twice as hard, but it is doable!  The required speech patterns differ from our own, as will the word choice but the principles are still the same. Make sure the speech is flowing, natural, and coherent. Would someone actually say that?  If not, then improve it! Watch movies set in the time period you are working in or read books in the same genre as yours; teach yourself how to use the language until it comes natural to you! Put the effort in because it will pay off! Good dialogue may be overlooked by someone who is not looking for it, but bad dialogue stands out to everyone!

Dialogue also leads to problem of the use of the word “said”, which annoys both writer and reader to no end. When you have more than one person speaking, it is important to make sure that the reader knows who the speaker is at any given point and that leads to a lot of “he said” “she said” aggravation. As much as it drives readers nuts to read the word “said” over and over again, it bothers the writer even more (if they are paying attention). This leads to a lot of alternate words used like holler, hoot, snarled, barked, growled, laughed etc. and that’s wonderful…as long as they are used in moderation! There does not need to be one of these alternate words used in place of “said” every single time, I mean really, do you holler or growl all that much? Hopefully not. Sometimes the right word choice is the simplest one: said. In the end it all comes down to what the character is saying and what needs to come across to the reader. Play with the words, use them, enjoy them but always be aware of what is actually going on in the story and between the characters. Use your own judgment and find a happy balance that works for you and doesn’t leave you wanting to claw your own eyes out in frustration! Writing is supposed to be fun…ha-ha.

Write smart and write often, don’t be afraid that you’re going to mess up, just enjoy the process! Mistakes are going to happen, they’re part of the fun of writing and sometimes mistakes lead to awesome new ways of saying something that you never would have thought of before! If you love to write, then write! Perfect your craft and never stop trying to improve it but never forget that the process should be fulfilling, enjoyable, cathartic, and whatever YOU want it to be (despite all the he said/she growled/they hooted drama)!