Fight, Flight, or Freeze: What’s Your Character’s Go-To Response? – Written By Becca Puglisi

on Writers Helping Writers:

Fight or flight.

I think we’ve all heard the phrase. It refers to the way each person is hard-wired to react to real or perceived danger. Psychologists have recently added another option, giving us three ways we might respond to threats: we fight back, we flee, or we freeze up. This happens in life-or-death situations, but it also occurs on a smaller scale whenever we feel endangered:

At the mall, when you see someone who mistreated you in the past
At work, when the boss criticizes your work
At a party, when a friendly conversation takes an uncomfortable turn
At school, when you hear an ugly rumor someone has started about you

So whether the situation is potentially fatal or just a little threatening, you’re going to respond in one of those three ways. What does that look like? Here are few possibilities that cover a range of intensity:

Continue reading HERE

A Writer’s Guilt – Guest Post by A.J. Alexander – on TSRA’S Blog

Today my Guest Post on The Story Reading Ape’s blog got published. I’m very honored he accepted my article.

Thank you so much for your friendship and ongoing support, Chris!


I’m breaking out of the YA Fantasy genre with my new book, stepping into an unfamiliar field. My latest novel has some crime, flawed characters, and a protagonist who doesn’t always make the best choices… and smokes like a chimney.

Now, as compared to the YA’ The Council of Twelve‘ series, I don’t have to limit what my characters say or do. I can add intimacy, attraction, passion, crime, and one or other swear word if I want.

And, I can add cigarettes. But is that a good idea? In a time when the world around us shrinks ‘smoking zones’ to a woeful nothing, where entire cities declare their public places smoke-free environment, and where health warnings are printed on every cigarette pack, should my protagonist smoke?

CONTINUE READING HERE

What is an Unsympathetic Character? Must a Novel’s Protagonist be Likeable? – Written By Anne R. Allen

One of the things that will get you an automatic rejection from most agents—and a swift toss to the DNF pile from a lot of readers—is an unsympathetic character. Especially an unsympathetic protagonist. Personally, I have to admit if there’s nobody in a story I care about, I’m out of there after ten pages or so.

But what do we mean by a “sympathetic character?” What makes us care?

The truth is the protagonists of our most popular books, plays and films are often people we wouldn’t like to hang out with in real life. Some are pretty toxic.

From “wily” Odysseus to Don Quixote, to Heathcliff, Becky Sharpe, Scarlett O’Hara, Dexter Morgan, Walter White, Lisbeth Salander, and the “Girl on the Train,” we are fascinated by morally ambiguous characters who make bad choices.

But don’t these successful works negate the dictum that a protagonist must be sympathetic? Nobody wants these people as their BFF.

Continue reading HERE

Using a Character Bible – Is it worth it? – Written By Don Massenzio

Don Massenzio, the author of the Frank Rozzani-series, has published a fascinating post about using a character bible. I’m always enthusiastic when I can share an article that shows us an experienced author’s recommendation. Thank you for sharing yours, Don!


As I embark on my next writing venture after a 2020 hiatus, I realized something. The equation of my age plus the stress of 2020 and the length of time since I’ve written a Frank Rozzani book has added up to me forgetting the details of many of my familiar characters. I remember reading a while back about having a character bible, a book of character profiles. The article I read talked about how this is especially important if you write a multiple-book series with the same characters.

At the time, I said to myself, “I’ll never forget these characters. They’re part of me.” Well, as I get older, I’m pretty sure there are actual parts of me that I’ve forgotten.

As I try to write for my tried and true characters, I find myself searching my previous books for things like dates, names, hair and eye color and other things that would be great to have at my fingertips. As a result, I’m revisiting the idea of the character bible. I thought that one useful resource would be to go to the blogging community of authors, editors and readers and ask for your opinions and experience.

I thought I would begin, however, by telling you what I’ve learned about this tool for those of you that haven’t heard of it or have been using elements of it without realizing it had a name.

What is a Character Bible?

There is no single definition or series of components that make up a character bible. From the research I’ve done, it’s basically a collection of character profiles each of which tell you about the character’s:

  • Name – This might seem obvious, but a character’s name is important. Think of Alex Cross and the numerous James Patterson books bearing his surname in the title. To a much, much lesser degree, of course, there are my Frank Rozzani detective novels that all have ‘Frank’ in some form in the title Frankly Speaking, Let Me Be Frank, Frank Incensed (my personal favorite), Frankly My Dear and Frank Immersed.
  • Physical Appearance/Mannerisms – The characters height, body type, hair color, eye color, physical anomalies and disabilities and other information about how the character looks.
  • History – Information about the character’s backstory, cultural, educational and socio-economic situation and any other relevant information that is material to the plot.
  • Personality – What psychological quirks, conditions or flaws does the character have? What motivates him/her? What are his/her desires? What’s missing from his/her life?

Now, the worst thing you can do is dump all of this information about the character into your story in one fell swoop. You can dribble out the information as needed in small doses. The other thing to avoid, however, is your character developing some ability or piece of knowledge from his background out of convenience to get you past a snag in the story without foreshadowing it first.

CONTINUE READING HERE

5 Questions to Turn a Character from Flat to Fabulous – Written By Janice Hardy

Thank you very much, Janice Hardy, for your recommendations on our characters. We really appreciate it!


 

on Fiction University:

Sometimes we just need a little help to create a memorable character.
.
Some writers develop incredibly detailed characters before they ever start a story.
I am not one of those writers.

I do the bare minimum necessary to create a character, then I throw them into my story and see what they do. By the time I’ve written the first draft, I know who they are and can revise accordingly.

Although I’ve written this way for decades, I’m not sure I’d recommend it. It’s an interesting tactic, but it has left me with a lot of revising I wouldn’t have needed if I’d done a bit more character work before I started writing.

Lately, I’ve wondered if I should change my process, or at the very least, add another layer of character creation at the start. Because I’ve always said that characters drive the plot, and I’m a plot-driven writer, so my process is missing a critical aspect when I think about it from that perspective.

Continue reading HERE

My First Published Character Interview – Simin Arnatt

On December 4, 2015, I was introduced on ‘The Story Reading Ape’s blog to be accepted in his ‘Author’s Hall of Fame’. I’m very grateful he did that and accepted several guest posts since that day. TSRA’s post went viral before my first book in the series ‘Soul Taker’ was published. That day I interviewed one of my characters, Simin Arnatt. She is quite an important character in my series, strong, beautiful, a fighter.

Book Four in ‘The Council of Twelve’ series will be Simin’s story. I decided today to re-publish Simin’s interview here below for you to meet her (or meet her again).

Simin isn’t an easy character, independent, proud, unique, difficult to handle at times. Brace yourself for her arrival…


Interview with Simin Arnatt.

Hello, Simin.

I am honored to be permitted to ask you a few questions and that you agreed to let us know you a little better.

You’re welcome. It is nice to be here. Don’t forget to keep your curiosity under control and we’ll get along well.

I understand. Now let’s start with the beginning. You are beautiful, but unusual. Where were you born?

Thank you so much for the compliment. I am in fact born in England. My mother was English, my father, Persian. I got my parents’ looks, equally from both of them. Only that I look like their negative. (She laughs musically) I got my father’s light skin and my mother’s chocolate hair – and nature switched it and made me.

The contrast is unique, in particular with your dark eyes. You are gorgeous. You look like being in your late twenties the most. May I ask how old you are?

Again thank you for all compliments. As for my age: After I reached my biological limit at the age of 22, I haven’t noticed to age significantly. And that was a long, long time ago. My parents passed away, their bodies turned into dust in the meantime. I did not expect to live this long, but that’s how it is. And no, I won’t tell you my actual age. It will, as so many things about me, remain a secret.

What do you do for a living?

I am something like a “bounty hunter”. I search for individuals on order.

That sounds interesting, can you tell us more? For example: Why do you search for these individuals and who gives you the orders?

I’m sorry. It’s my work, and I do guarantee absolute discretion to my customers.

There is something unusual about you. And you mentioned you are much older than I guessed. Are you human?

Not entirely, no.

But you’re not a vampire?

(Laughs out loudly). No, not at all.

What are you if I may ask?

This will remain a secret

Were you born the way you are?

Yes.

Are you the only one of your kind?

I have never met another in my entire existence. But this doesn’t mean there is nobody else. We just might not have met.

What….

STOP IT!! Enough of that. If you don’t have any other questions.

Is there a man in your life?

N…no.

Your answer came out a little hesitating. Are you sure there is nobody?

Yes.

But you are in love?

(Blushes furiously) I don’t talk about that. This goes too far now. Do you have one more question to ask? Otherwise I…

Yes, please. Is there anything you would like to be able to do? A wish, a dream you have?

I sometimes wish I could fly into heaven, spread my wings, fly above the clouds, and end up where all is love and peace. Away from blood, cruelness, injustice and – Heaven… (her eyes are dreamy)

I’m sorry, but this is it. I consider this interview over. It was a pleasure to be here. All the Best and good luck with your book.

(Originally published December 4, 2015 on The Story Reading Ape’s blog)


Find and buy the first three books in the series here:

https://books2read.com/u/m2roOj

 

 

 

 

 

https://books2read.com/u/mgGGeX

 

 

 

 

 

https://books2read.com/u/3yEx6l

 

Asking the Right Questions with Character Interviews – Written By Becca Puglisi

Becca Puglisi published a blog post about asking the right questions with character interviews. How do we know the character, what’s important? Thanks so much for helping us out answering these questions, Becca.


on Writers Helping Writers:

Developing characters is one of the joys of writing and it’s a dream when we understand them and what they’re about. Inevitably, though, there comes a time when our characters do and say things that don’t make sense to us, we feel they’re one-dimensional, or we just don’t know how they should react to situations. This can stall our story.

Character interviews are a fabulous way to address these problems. Not only does interviewing your character help you learn more about them, you’ll be able to note the hesitations or uncertainties so you can drill deeper into those areas. It can also give you a better feel for their voice, which can sometimes be hard to nail down.

But there are so many interviews and questionnaires available on the internet, and we can lose a lot of time answering questions that may not be relevant to understanding our character. So how do we know which questions are the right questions? Which ones will help us dig deeper into our characters and, ultimately, strengthen our story?

Continue reading HERE

The Truth – And How I Use My Characters To Say It

Picture courtesy of http://www.thepowerofoneness.com/blog/tag/live-your-truth/


Don’t we all wish sometimes we could just tell the truth instead of juggling tactfully around saying what the other one would like to hear? Let me give you a few examples.

Imagine, a hair salon, somewhere in a big city… the walls are covered with breathtaking hairstyles on equally breathtaking people, the hairstylist expects his next appointment.

A customer enters and points to one of the pictures on the wall, telling the hairdresser: “I want exactly that hairstyle here.”

Now, what does the hairstylist want to say? “Well, I’m afraid, that is a misunderstanding. See, this is a professional model, a really beautiful human being. Whereas you are a caprice of nature… barely to look at.”

What does the stylist say eventually? “Aaawww. What an excellent choice. That cut will frame your face wonderfully. I’m convinced it will look splendidly on you.”

Or, let’s have a look at another example:

Parents are invited to a parent’s conference day, and they’re meeting their kids’ teacher.

Imagine what the teacher would like to say: “Ah, yes. Your son Willy. A complete idiot. About as intelligent as six feet of dirt track… I’m surprised how this child finds the door in the morning to leave the house. My advice to you: set him free; start from scratch.”

What does he say? “Your son. He is intelligent but does have a few difficulties to focus and concentrate. There are practices and exercises to improve that. But I’m convinced the older he gets, the easier it will be for him…”

Or, how do you tell parents that their child is not the cutest on earth? Ask them for a picture. Then you study it for a few minutes and say: “Aha… hmm… you know…. are you sure that this is indeed the face?”

Of course, our society does not accept the naked truth. We all know words can hurt, and we don’t want to hurt people, nor do we want to be hurt. That’s when our ability to successfully veil our replies in conversations, create our answers in a way to compliment the other person, and hide what we really think.

At this point, I admit, it is a relief at times, to use my characters to speak what ‘they’ think, and of course, use them to write what I think. I rarely refer to a particular person or situation. But I permit my characters at times, to be as outspoken, open, bold, and sometimes rude, as I would never dare to be in public.

At times I wonder, if crime authors use their books to ‘kill people’ they don’t like in real life.

What would you permit your character to do what you cannot do or say in your real life? Let me know in the comments, I’m curious.

 

Do Your Characters Take on a Life of Their Own? – Written By Jami Gold

Jamie Gold provides us with an interesting post about our characters taking on a life of their own. Thanks for your insight on this, Jamie.


Ever get one of those injuries where you wish you had a better story to go with it? *sigh*

When a bundle of bamboo sticks I was trying to separate slipped, one punctured the tip of my index finger, right by the curve of my nail. Three hours of pressure and paper-towel-wrapped ice cubes later, the bleeding stopped so I could apply a bandage, but typing is…not fun.

So let’s do a shorter, fun post today. *grin*

There’s no end to the variety of ways we can get to know our characters. That goes double when it comes to getting to know our characters well enough that they become three-dimensional and take on a life of their own.

Let’s explore…

Continue reading HERE

 

Looking For A Character Name

As the author of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I admit, I’m a bit proud of twelve quite impressive characters, if I may say so. Of course, even though, so far, only two books in the series have been published, there are many more to come. A series of books usually holds many more characters than a mere dozen.

During the progress of the series, things are changing, known characters stay, others leave, some have to go, and new ones are introducing themselves to us. And these characters not only need to look (which this one I’m writing about now, already does)… he also needs a name.

Usually, I don’t have problems finding names. I wrote in an earlier post, ‘Character Names – Worth A Research,’ how I usually pick names for my characters.

This time it’s different, I’m afraid. I picked many names – but only can have one… and I cannot decide. Would you please help me?

My character is a tall, muscular man with bronze-colored skin and long, straight black hair that reaches down to his waist, and dark eyes. He’s got a good, strong heart, is loyal, a little bit stubborn, and holds great dignity. He likes to smile, but he takes his calling seriously.

Name                 Meaning                                                             Origin

Admiel              Land of God, a  variant form of Adam           Hebrew

Asariel              God is my aid                                                    Hebrew

Ethanael           God has given me strength                    English/American

Sariel                 Prince of God                                                    Hebrew

Immanuel        God is with us                                                   Hebrew

Indraneel         Sapphire                                                             Arabic

Jaromiel          Strong, fierce, favor, grace                               Slavic

Jeremiel          God lifts me up                                                  Hebrew

Kadmiel           God is my East                                                  Hebrew

Nahuel              Jaguar                                                                Mapuche

 

I’d really appreciate it if you could let me know what do you think. Which name would match the character I described? What name would you pick if you had that character in your book? Or what name would you like to read in one of the following books in the series?

 

I’m curious about what name you will decide on, and I can barely wait to see the results. Thank you for your help.