How to Make EVERY Page of Your Story Interesting

Another fantastically written article about how to make every page of your story interesting. There’s so much to learn! Thank you, Kristen!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Golden Goose

Image by DonkeyHotey/Flickr CC

Today I have another post from that kick@$$ writing teacher I’ve taken hostage *slides food through the slit in wall*.  Actually, Alex Limberg is a friend of mine and total rockstar and seriously, check out his free ebook about “44 Key Questions” to test your story; it will help you make your scenes tight and compelling and detect any story problem you might have. Today, Alex is showing us a very interesting recipe to keep every single part of your story interesting. Frees me up to continue working out my plan for global domination.

Take it away, Alex!

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Uh-oh! It’s showdown time.

In your heart-stopping thriller piece, Tinky the milkman has just found out who poisoned Lady Chatterbee’s canary. Now he is driving to the ash grove for the faceoff in the old mill.

Your scene before and your scene after are sweat-inducing, ear-wringing…

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Making Money in a World Addicted to FREE—What Do Writers DO?

I think this is an excellent blog post, written by Kristen Lamb. She is such a gain for writers who are beginners – and probably many more as well. I admire her deeply!

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Might I suggest one of these... I think we need to renegotiate the terms…

One of the reasons I did such a detailed post about the pop culture and how it’s impacting artists (A Culture Addicted to FREE) is that for us to make any solid plan, we need to gain a good understanding of how things are being run and also grasp current consumer habits.

To fix any problem, we must be aware of what are called operational constraints.

Operational constraints are any real or potential roadblocks in the way of our goals. If you ever do a S.W.O.T. Analysis, which I strongly recommend, it stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Any time we do business—which writing IS a business—we need an accurate picture of the terrain so we make wise business decisions and can plan ahead.

Image via Wikipedia Image via Wikipedia

The entire reason for me blogging about the impact streaming could…

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Flawless characters or not?

What is the basic for a good novel – or novella – or short story – or even a fairy tale? Yes, it is the characters.

How do we create a character? Will it be one main protagonist or eventually a group, male, female?

Within all my so far written short stories I created female protagonists. I am a woman and therefore might better understand a woman (or girl) in thinking, speaking and logic. (Yes… females are logical too.)

 

I therefore decided to try and create a female character right here within this post together with you.

 

We are considering that this story takes place in 2015 Los Angeles.

 

Question:

Who is this character? Yes, she is a woman. But what I’m asking myself at this moment is: Is she shy or outgoing? Is she controlled or whimsical? Is she thoughtful or spontaneous? When she talks, how does her voice sound?

 

Answer:

Our character is an outgoing but still controlled personality. She likes contact to other people and is quite social. Still she controls herself very much since she’s got secrets she does not want to reveal. That’s why she thinks nearly every action carefully through before doing something. Her voice is soft in volume but still strong and sometimes even velvety.

 

 

Question:

Where does she come from? Who are her parents? How did she grow up? How was her childhood? Does she have siblings or another person besides her family? How old is she?

 

Answer:

Our woman is in her early/mid-thirties (33), comes from an old rich family and grew up quite spoiled. She had everything she could dream of and so did her brother. Her parents were amazing, even though she had her Dad working most of the time and her mother being nearly obsessed with her beauty, the girl wasn’t missing a thing. She also grew up with her uncle, her mother’s brother, who was a quite unlucky person and living in the guesthouse on the family property. Our girl considered him her best friend.

 

 

Question:

How does our character look like?

 

Answer:

She is tall for a woman, about 5’11”. Her eyes are a warm chocolate brown, her hair is waist long and wavy, the color of ebony. Her skin is a soft honey color. She is slim from nature with small hips and endless legs but her entire body is a little more muscular than a regular female body and her breasts are barely cup size B.

In the middle of her right eyebrow a fine, white, about half an inch long scar cuts her brow bow.

 

 

Question:

What kind of relationships does she have?

 

Answer:

Her parents are dead. She lost them when she was barely 20 years old. Her older brother has his own family and is not very fond of her and wants to keep her away as far as possible. He lives in Tennessee with his family. Her uncle is in prison. She has three best friends, one of them male.

 

 

Question:

What is she doing in our story? What is her ambition? What are her goals, what does she want to accomplish?

 

Answer:

She is a children’s psychologist trying to support misused children. She as well has founded an encounter group and anonymous help line for abused children or young adults.

In many ways she is a very soft hearted and supportive personality. Her need, towards the outside, is to help. But her internal need, unfortunately, is to punish…

 

 

Question:

Is her a character flawless? If no, where is the hidden flaw? Is she going on someone’s nerves with that? Can it be repaired or hidden?

 

Answer:

Yes, she is hiding what was within her childhood. She is hiding that she is not just out of the blue supporting these abused children – she has been going through this herself. She hides murderous rage and this is a secret she may never reveal. Can it be repaired? No, it might be too late for her.

 

 

Question:

Does she know she has a problem she is hiding or that she needs to work on what’s bothering her since her childhood? Is she aware she needs help? Does she show on the outside that she is torn between compassion and rage?

 

Answer:

She knows the secrets she’s hiding, but she has buried them so deeply she is not aware that these problems need to be worked on. She believes strongly the more she supports others with their problems will help her too.

 

 

Question:

Is our character relatable, and if yes, how? Do we recognize a realistic woman who could have faced what she was going through? Can we imagine meeting a woman like her within our friends or even family? Can we identify with her and feel with what she’s going through?

 

Answer:

Yes, she is someone we can imagine interacting with. She is someone we admire for what she’s doing, her work, her compassionate heart, her ability to reach out to the victims. We have no idea who in our real life has hidden secrets, so she wouldn’t be an exception.

 

 

Question:

Is there something that keeps her away from being some sort of super-woman? She is selfless, helpful, supportive, brave… but what with her rage? What is it that is dangerous to her?

 

Answer:

She is an amazing person. One we’d love to be in touch with: an ideal woman in many ways. But there is this one thing that might break her – even destroy her: fear. Her rage is born within the darkness of her being scared to go through abuse again. She’s trembling to meet her worst nightmare again. her abuser.

 

 

Question:

What is her name?

 

Answer:

Her first name is “Danica”, the Slavic word for “morning star”. (I found this fits since she is like the first morning light to many she supports)

Her last name is Baldwin. Derived from the Germanic elements „bald“ (bold, brave) and win (friend).

(Names and meanings taken from: http://www.behindthename.com/)

 

Hello, Danica Baldwin:

 

Picture courtesy of: http://www.worldsbest.in/2014/01/100-hd-wallpapers-for-desktop.html
Picture courtesy of: http://www.worldsbest.in/2014/01/100-hd-wallpapers-for-desktop.html

 

I do create most of my characters this way. Since most of my short stories are paranormal romance or fantasy I am free to extend the one or other character strength or flaw a little bit and do the same with the look of my protagonists.

 

You might ask: Do you have a list? And I will reply: Of course I do. There are uncountable lists of how to develop characters. One that works for me and which I used for this blog post is to find here:

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/the-9-ingredients-of-character-development

 

I hope you do like Danica Baldwin and let me tell you: it was so much fun creating her together with you. Thanks so much.

 

AJ Alexander

 


 

This post was published first time as a guest post on Val Rainey’s blog June 15, 2015. Thank you so much Val!!

 

I am so proud to announce that I was invited to write a guest post for the blog of Val Rainey. I decided to write about how I create a character – and that’s exactly what I do within my blog post, together with the readers.

Tech Tip for Writers #106: Auto-add a Period, Caps Lock, and More on an IPad

This is a great idea – and definitely worth following I think. Tech tips for writers. I thought there might be more writers out there being grateful for useful technical hints and tricks. Thank you so much, Jacqui Murray!

WordDreams...

Tech Tips for Writers is an (almost) weekly post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment about a question you have. I’ll cover it in a future Tip.

Q: Typing on the iPad keyboard is slow. You have to access two different screens to type most messages. How do I speed that up without buying (and installing) a separate QWERTY keyboard?

A: Here’s one time-saving tip: IPads and most Smartphones will add a period (which inconveniently is on the second screen) if you double-space.

Cool.

Double-tapping seems to be a secret shortkey for many tools. For example, if you double-click the shift key, it turns the CAPS LOCK on.

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Fear of the Big Bad Wolf

Picture courtesy of: http://www.my-hd-wallpapers.com/ipad-wallpapers/1379582120_wolf-in-forest.html
Picture courtesy of: http://www.my-hd-wallpapers.com/ipad-wallpapers/1379582120_wolf-in-forest.html

 

 

Thinking about my childhood means to remember Fairy Tales. My Mom loved reading us the Tales of Brothers Grimm, like so many other parents did to their children; without realizing how cruel those myths were.

The ones I heard when I was a child. How many Fairy Tales of Brothers Grimm were written where a big bad wolf is eating the Grandmother as well as seven baby goats? We are talking about Red Riding hood and the wolf and the fox. There are several others as well. One thing I remember was that my sister was in never ending terrible fear of the bad wolf. I played the tough one, but I can now admit I wasn’t always happy to walk over to my bedroom all by myself as a kid.

Brothers Grimm History

History and research teach us that the Brothers Grimm studied law at the University in Marburg. After their University time they focused on their secret obsession of exploring the historical development of German literature (legends, documents and poetry). Within their studies they defined the scientific basics of this work field. They did not limit their studies to German documents but included English, Scottish and Irish sources. But Brothers Grimm as well extended their work area to Scandinavia, Finland, The Netherlands, Spain and Serbia.

Mainly it was Wilhelm Grimm who we have to thank for collecting the mutual delivered stories, sagas, legends and myths. He was the one setting the basics for the so called ‘Fairy Tale literature’. He wrote them down, polished the edges and removed or re-described the lore hinting to erotic contents.

Many of the Fairy Tales weren’t for the fainthearted and created for adults to read.

Between 1815 and 1819 Brothers Grimm published a “cleaned up” version of the German Fairy Tales for children. In 1823 they published an English version of ‘Fairy Tales for children’.

At this place I don’t want to continue with the life of Brothers Grimm, except to clear up one historical misbelief. Brothers Grimm never traveled through the world collecting their Fairy Tales. Wealthy and well-traveled people within their circle of acquaintances carried the greatest part of their myths and Tales to the Brothers.

Getting rid of the wolf trauma:

As an adult I did research on the ‘bad wolf’ to lose my fear. I was surprised to find out that my Native American Totem symbol is supposed to be the wolf.

Wolves have a high sense of loyalty and are social creatures. They are known to be incredible communicators by using touch, body movement, eye contact and many vocal expressions. People with the wolf as their Totem animal are often natural talents in speech as well as creative writing.

The meanings of the wolf as a Totem symbol means: loyalty, cunning, generosity, intelligence, friendliness, compassion and communication. The Totem wolf symbols are amongst the ones who understand that the wolf is a representative of deep faith, deep emotion and high intellect.

(Thank you very much W. J. Barnett who told me what my Native American Totem is, and I never thought it is a wolf. And thank you, Jackie Barnett-Wilder for explaining me what the symbol means. You both are amazing)

 

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________________________________________________________________________

This post was published first time July 21, 2015 on Val Rainey’s blog.

I was invited to guest post over at Val Rainey’s blog, where I wrote about the fear of wolves children may develop while hearing the old fairy tales of Brothers Grimm.

I hope you will like White-wolf-A-Jthe post and I’d be honored if you will leave a comment.

 

Thank you very much Val Rainey for the chance to guest post!

AJ Alexander

 

Book Quote Challenge – Day Three

This last day of the challenge, day three, I chose three quotes from Umberto Eco’s “Name of the Rose”.

 

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I prepared this post February 19, 2016 in the morning, without knowing that the writer of these quotes and this fantastic book would pass away Friday Night in Milan.

R. I. P. Umberto Eco! You will be missed by many authors whose inspiring example you were!

Umberto Eco

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Each of this quotes came from the lips of one of the main characters, Franciscan Friar, William of Baskerville. A monk, a teacher, a former inquisitor, an investigator – and foremost, a book lover.

How much I admire him and his wisdom. But read for yourself:

 

*****

“Show not what has been done, but what can be. How beautiful the world would be if there were a procedure for moving through labyrinths.”  

**

“Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another’s fear.”  

**

“How peaceful life would be without Love, Adson. How Safe. How Tranquil. And how Dull.”  

*****

 

I was told I will have to continue the challenge by nominating three writers/bloggers who will be willing to post their own quotes.

My three nominees are:

Jen Owenby: https://jenowenby.wordpress.com/

Bette A. Stevens: http://4writersandreaders.com/

Jennifer Hinsman: https://hinsmanj.wordpress.com/

I’m sure we’re going to get the most amazing book quotes from you!! I can’t wait to read them. Good Luck and have fun!

 


 

Picture courtesy of: http://revistamagna.com.ar/el-libro-perdido-la-risa-perdida/

 

 

Book Quote Challenge – Day Two

Today, on Day Two I picked three quotes from one of the best books ever written: James Clavell’s Shogun.

 

I personally think these quotes are so impressive, true and powerful, it isn’t really important which character said them.

In every single case, their truth and significance within their purity touched me.

 

*****

“How beautiful life is and how sad! How fleeting, with no past and no future, only a limitless now.”  

 

**

“Patience means holding back your inclination to the seven emotions: hate, adoration, joy, anxiety, anger, grief, fear. If you don’t give way to the seven, you’re patient, then you’ll soon understand all manner of things and be in harmony with Eternity.’ ”  

**

“We have a saying that time has no single measure, that time can be like frost or lightning or a tear or siege or storm or sunset, or even like a rock.”  

*****

 


 

Picture courtesy of: http://www.kreis-archiv.de/filme/shogun.html
Picture courtesy of: http://www.kreis-archiv.de/filme/shogun.html

Book Quote Challenge – Day one

Many thanks to Patricia Ann Schaack Garcia for inviting me to participate in the Book Quote Challenge.

 

It is a great honor for me to follow in her foot steps. And that won’t be an easy task. But I’ll do my best.

 

I have to present three quotes per day by an author  of my choice for three consecutive days.  My quotes for today have been picked from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”.

**

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”  

**

“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”  

**

“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”  

**

I’m sure, I don’t need to explain why they impressed me so much or who said what… These quotes are legendary – and they’re kind of burned into my memory.

 

Thank you Jane Austen for this wonderful story!


Picture courtesy of: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/9821363/Pride-and-Prejudice-universally-acknowledged-guide-to-the-human-heart.html
Picture courtesy of: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/9821363/Pride-and-Prejudice-universally-acknowledged-guide-to-the-human-heart.html

 

 

Black creature – a riddle

Picture courtesy of: http://questionmark.guide/
Picture courtesy of: http://questionmark.guide/

 

*****

For the longest time in history

this creature was a mystery.

An animal, evil in its eyes

it was called death in disguise.

**

Considered a witches confidant,

it was the bad women’s best friend.

Mystical and black as coal

it was considered carrier of a human soul.

**

It was called dirty, and ‘devil’s slave’

often found on a newly dug grave.

It was attacked with slingshots and stones

caught and tortured to the bones.

**

So many of them had to die

thinking about it makes me cry.

Still nowadays do people sneer

while they actually feel fear.

**

In truth who would have thought

they all have a quite bright spot.

Intelligent and family bound

protective and smart they stand their ground.

**

Proud and clever one can see

them in wolves’ and predators’ company.

 They always warn who’s ever there

of danger, darkness from in the air.

**

They love to collect some sparkling things

having lairs with silver, gems and golden rings.

They’ve got commanders, lieutenants and even spies,

they comfort each other if one cries.

**

For centuries they were called bad

it took a while until humans had

accepted that they are quite rife

and too insight into their life.

**

Meanwhile it’s clear he’s bright and black

but doesn’t bring departed back.

He’s social, smart and never craven

Our big, dark, shiny, handsome raven.

*****

(Copyright, February 16, 2016, Aurora Jean Alexander)

 

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Picture courtesy of: By Alan Vernon - Flickr: Common Raven (Corvus corax), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18301135
Picture courtesy of: By Alan Vernon – Flickr: Common Raven (Corvus corax), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18301135