Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Character Development

Last week we talked about what comes first, character or plot? There's no hard rule for this. Each author does what is best for him or her. But we all have to agree we need strong, interesting characters the reader will care about in some way. They need to be memorable. The reader needs to either root for them or want to see them DIE!! :)

What makes a strong character? And remember, they don't have to be likeable, just memorable. Here are a couple of examples:

Frodo Baggins (The Lord of the Rings) - why do we love Frodo? He has a terrible responsibility thrust on him, but he takes it on with grace and humility. No, he's not perfect and he needs help, but he gives himself to save his world.

Scarlett O'Hara (from Gone With The Wind) - she is a protagonist who is totally self-absorbed, selfish and snarky. But she's memorable. She's strong. She does what she has to to survive. We can admire this without liking her.

So, how do you go about developing your characters, especially main characters? How do you keep control over secondary characters so they don't take over?

Monday, May 17, 2010

What Comes First?

The characters or the plot?

It's been said the characters drive the plot. How your characters react to what's going on determines where the plot goes. That makes sense to me. Consider this scenario:

Kelly is walking through the woods. She hears footsteps behind her. How does she react?

If she breaks into a run, what happens?
If she turns around to face whoever is following her, what happens?
If she ducks behind a tree and leaps out onto who is following her, what happens?

Do you see how Kelly's reaction determines where the plot goes?

How about before you write a single word? What comes to you, the plot or the characters? Does it make a difference for the story? When I got the idea for Fairyeater, the villian (yes, the Fairyeater) came to me first. Then I had to figure out why she eats fairies and what happens when she eats them. How is the world affected?

After that, I had to come up with a hero who would stop her somehow. Then I had to answer the questions, why does she need to stop the Fairyeater? What would happen if she didn't? What is the ticking time bomb - meaning, if the Fairyeater isn't stopped by a certain time, what will happen?

So, let's talk about how the characters drive the plot this week. Next week, we'll look closer at character development.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Post Retreat Reentry Syndrom

Greetings, fantasy friends. Yes, I'm suffering a terrible case of post-retreat-reentry-syndrom after last week's amazing workshop. I'm still processing everything.

I have things for us to talk about and will post a new topic next week. Right now, I'm taking care of the house, kids, grandkids and my hubby, who just had knee surgery this morning. I did get some writing done in the waiting room. :)

I also took a host of fantasy pics, which I'll be sharing on fairiesfantasyandfaithpictures (see the link to the right.)

So, before we get back to discussing fantasy writing, does anyone have a workshop or conference experience they want to share?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More updates

Wow! And wow, wow! We took a tour of Highlights and Boyds Mills Press yesterday and met several editors. It was so interesting and exciting! I don't just write fantasy, but other children's books, as well, so I have a couple of things on my mind that I think I can send in to both when I get home.

My group critique went well. No *big* problems, just some things that need clarification. I read my new prologue and got tears and applause. :)

Today, I'll do some more revisions and then our last group critique and workshop. Tomorrow, we have an agent joining us to talk about the fantasy market. She's also meeting with us individually so we can ask questions, practice our pitch or read our first page. Then I'll meet with my mentor again and talk about how the revisions are going. Laura Ruby has been great. She's smart and creative and really listens. I drive home on Saturday. Can't believe this incredible week is almost done! How will I ever get back into my regular routine??

I'll try and update you tomorrow night.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Workshop Update!

hi all! I'm having an amazing time here in the Poconos at the Highlights workshop. I've already written a new prologue and am working on revisions. We have LOTS of time to write here. I have my own, little cabin and we have breakfast together and then the whole morning is ours to write. Then lunch and group critiques, a break, a workshop, dinner and more time to write. It's a writer's dream! I don't know how I'll ever come back to the real world. HA!

Our group workshops aren't really the kind where you can take lots of notes - but more of a conversation. I'm trying to capture as much as I can so I can share with you.

I have my group critique tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon.

There's a running stream at the bottom of the hill and I took a long walk on Sunday morning and got lots of great fantasy pictures. Will post them on my Fantasy Photo site when I get home.

I'll update you tomorrow!