Saturday, November 9, 2013

Motivate Your Characters and Plot by Rita Karnopp

As with each of us . . . characters in our books change as the story progresses.  The growth of a character is very important.  I think this aspect of writing is sometimes overlooked or even forgotten.  We focus so much on what is happening externally that we forget what is happening internally.

We need to learn what motivates our character as the story progresses.  They must have reasons why they do the things they do.  They must have reasons why they resist the right decision.  They also must have reasons why they react the way they do.  Each of these ‘reasons’ is what motivates our characters as well as drives the plot of the book.

Confused? Don't be; it's simpler than it may seem. Characters can be broken down into four groups:

1.     The never changing character – they refuse to change in personality and motivation.  You get what you see.
2.     The no-personality changer – they don’t change or grow during the story –but they want to. 
3.     The changing character – they change but their motivation does not.
4.     Finally we have the characters who changes throughout the story - as their motivation also progresses.

While plotting out the story we must decide, ‘what is the key motivation for each main character?’  This will add incredible depth to the story.  Always be aware that character and plot are entwined.

The never changing character – I’ve often heard that a character must change – even if in a small way.  Why?  Think about James Bond – he’s smart, debonair’, unstoppable, and he gets the girl.  His character has a single direct motivation the entire length of the story.  At the end, Bond is still smart, debonair’, unstoppable, and he gets the girl.

And when you think about it - his motivation doesn’t change either. He accepts a mission, and he doesn’t stop until it’s accomplished.  There are always the ‘mini’ motivation interruptions such as saving a woman from drowning or escaping a death trap.

We can apply this never changing character with a direct motivation to any genre’.  Our responsibility is to present the reader with a character and goal clearly and powerfully obvious from the start.  There will be no doubt who this character is and why he’s doing what he's doing.   This then gives us (the writer) ‘license’ to complicate the story plot.

Be aware – an unchanging character with a direct goal still can react or respond to more than one emotion at any given moment. Our Mr. Bond might feel attraction to a knock-out blonde and at the same time distrust her.  If your character feels two conflicting things toward another character, bring this to life in the scene in which it happens. Then—and this is the important part—return to the main goal in the next scene.
This tells us that his motivation is unchanged. Although Bond, for instance, has just made love with a woman, she hasn’t fundamentally changed him. He’s not changed in either his behavior or mission as a result of her attractions.

The no-personality changer – This type of story focuses on a character who doesn’t change in persona or attitude, but what he/she wants accepts as a result of story aftermaths.
These characters are often the heroes or villains. The heroes are admirable characters from the beginning. They don’t change because the writer has created a character that is supporting an ideal/situation that he/she clearly represents and embodies.  Say for instance saving an endangered species or leading a group to keep oil from being drilled in sacred Native ground.

The fact is your character starts-out heroic and you don’t want him to change.

The changing character – Then there are the stories where the major character changes notably. The character has a single cause/motivation due to his/her backstory.  Consider Pollyanna’s aunt.  She refused to show kindness and love – because as a young woman she’d been hurt by the man she loved.  A lot had to happen to her before she realized it was okay to reach out and love.  The point here – she had to change for the story/plot to have resolution.

Keep in mind when you write the changing character:

His/her character change must result in response to story consequences or results. Develop the story so your character changes the way you want.

Your character must have emotional responses to these events.

Make sure the character change is emphasized. The ‘change’ must be shown. This is called validation, and it’s crucial for all changing characters.

You must add validation at the end of the story so the reader knows this character’s change is not temporary. Usually this ending validation is on a larger scale than what has gone before.

Readers enjoy and are satisfied at the end of a book when there’s a changing character/single motivation.

Characters who changes throughout the story - as their motivation also progresses -  Of the four characters, this is the most complex fictional pattern. A character’s personality as well as their goals change throughout the story.

Simplify this character – change him/her from a self-centered model to a caring person – putting life in danger to save the child-type.  

With this type of character your hero/heroine’s changes must be dramatic and prove they are a result of the horrendous events, be supported by believably portrayed emotions, and be confirmed by ensuing actions on his/her part.

Books We Love just released Rita’s fifteenth book, Thunder

Mingan (Gray Wolf) is certain his twin brother wouldn’t commit suicide. Entering the world of professional wrestling and fulfilling Thunder’s obligations, Mingan begins by scrutinizing everything around Thunder’s life, starting with the beautiful and haunting Chloe. As hard as he tries to keep her at a distance, he’s pulled to her like adrenaline on a choke hold. If they find his niece, they’ll find his brother’s killer . . . or will they uncover something more sinister going on?


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Un-Anniversary by Ginger Simpson

Del walked into a haze-filled house. His wife, Annie, stood in the middle of the room, fanning the air with her apron while the smoke detector blared an earsplitting tune. He snatched the contraption from the ceiling and ripped out the batteries.

“Cooking again, are you,” Del asked, trying to hide a blossoming smile. He tossed his cell phone and car keys on the counter and hung up his jacket. This wasn’t the first time she burned his dinner. At the rate Annie set off the detector, they should own stock in that company with the nonstop bunny rabbit ad. Luckily, there was more than one route to his heart, and it certainly wasn’t through his stomach as the saying went.

Annie dipped her chin to her chest. “I so wanted this new recipe to work.”

He crossed the room, rested an arm around her shoulders and gave her squeeze. “It’s okay sweetheart. I’m sure whatever it was would have been delicious.”

Rather than be cheered by his words, she hid her face with her palms and sobbed.  "I'm a disaster in the kitchen.” Her muffled words came out between hiccups.

He pulled her closer. “Now, now, everyone has different talents. I wish I could sing like Pavarotti, but I sound more like Gomer Pyle. You just don’t happen to be Julia Childs.”

She peered up through eyes brimming with tears. “But I wanted to surprise you with a romantic dinner.”
"I know....I know." He pulled her into a one-armed cuddle.
A determined look spread across her face and, she turned back to the counter. “I’m going to try again, this time I’ll pay closer attention to the directions.”

His gaze wandered to the dining room and a table set with fine china, candles, and wine glasses. Dear God! His breath stopped short of a gasp. He’d forgotten an important date. There was only one thing to do to save face and stop her from poisoning them both.

He crossed the room and removed the knife from her hand. Cupping her chin, he gazed lovingly into her eyes. “You can test your recipe another time or you’ll spoil my surprise. Go get cleaned up. I’m taking you out for a special dinner and, if we’re lucky, a night of dancing.”

Annie’s eyes widened. “Really?” Her brows rose in an inquisitive arch, but straightened when she smiled. “Oh, sweetheart, you shouldn’t have gone to all that trouble.” She stood on tiptoes, gave him a peck on the cheek, then hurried upstairs.

Del waited until she was out of sight, then digging frantically through the desk, found the phonebook and scanned the yellow pages for restaurant phone numbers. On a week night, surely he could make a last minute reservation and still be his wife’s hero. What would one more little white lie hurt when he’d already told so many about her dismal cooking skills?

Success…he hung up the phone. Reservation made and even flowers ordered. He’d pulled his plan off without a hitch and felt pretty proud of himself…until the sound of someone clearing their throat caught his attention. He swallowed hard, turned, and saw Annie at the bottom of the stairs.

She stood with folded arms. “So, you planned to surprise me with dinner and dancing, huh?”

“Well, you see…I-I… Okay, okay, you caught me.” His shoulders slumped. “I forgot our anniversary.”

Annie’s somber look mellowed. She collapsed into laughter.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“It isn’t our anniversary, silly.” She walked closer. “I wondered what you meant earlier, but I decided to see where this was going. What gave you the idea this was the day we got married?”

“Well, you said it was a special night, a-and I just assumed…”

“Oh that.” She waved a limp wrist at him. “I didn’t mean special for you and me, silly. The special is on Lifetime Television…it’s all romance night again. I thought if I fixed a special recipe for an early dinner, we could cuddle up and watch some movies together. You know… before we go up to bed.” She lowered one eyelid in a sensuous wink.

He cracked his knuckles and flashed a sheepish smile. “Well, in that case, I think I’ll cancel dinner out and order in.”

Del had a plan, too. A little pizza, a romantic movie, and when they went upstairs, he’d end up getting a gift he hadn’t counted on…especially on a Wednesday night. Lifetime movies acted like an aphrodisiac on Annie, and, for sure, tomorrow he’d be sending the cable company a special thank-you note.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Video Trailers versus Excerpts – by Ginger Simpson

Some people love video trailers, others prefer to read excerpts. Personally, I love ‘watching’ an excerpt over reading it. With so many new authors coming on board and new promotion groups springing up every day, I feel like my words get lost in a sea of others. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve become frustrated over scrolling through a digest that is nothing but excerpt after excerpt with little or no explanation about the story—no scene setting, no dialogue. Why would I want to buy that book, I ask myself. The author clearly didn’t care enough to stick around and discuss her/his work. Probably off doing more ‘drive-by-posting.’

*Hanging head*. I’ve been guilty of it myself by trying to cover as many loops as possible on the days they offer open promotion. But, I now realize I was doing myself a disservice by using this tactic. I’m looking for a way to initiate discussions with readers about what they truly appreciate and/or hate in a book. The secret is finding a way to ‘delurk’ them. *smile*

In the meantime, I really enjoy the technology that allows me to bring my work to life in a one-two minute video. I’m a fan of short rather than longer because sometimes too much information becomes boring or overwhelming. I’ve done several trailers now, and I think I’ve finally hit upon giving just enough information to whet someone’s appetite and make them want more. At least, that’s my hope.

The cost of having a professional video done is prohibitive in most cases which is the main reason I learned to use the Windows Movie Maker program on my computer. It’s time consuming, but for me, fun because it gets my creative juices flowing. The hardest part is perusing royalty-free sites, looking for inexpensive pictures and music. You must be very careful about what you use, making sure you’ve purchased the appropriate license to display the photo or sound. People get really picky when you use their stuff without permission. As authors, we should all understand this. We don’t like anyone selling our books without permission.  I recently discovered and pay for a very small free and they do all the hard word...mixing, coordinating the transitions...things that continually made my Movie Maker freeze up.  I really, love Animoto. 

Not all my friends are computer literate or have the time to devote to making their own trailers, so I’ve had the privilege of creating one or more for them. My options are limited to the program I use and can’t compare with the big gun companies, but given what I have to work with, I’m proud of my accomplishments. Here’s a look at  one I did for a recent release,

You can find all my videos at and all my books on my Amazon author's page.

Please visit my blog at http://mizging.blogspot and say hello. Right now I’ve been on a political rampage, but I’m taking prozac and drinking vodka to cure it and not vent on Dishin' It Out. *big grin*

Brides of Banff Springs by Victoria Chatham

AVAILABLE HERE   VICTORIA CHATHAM is a young-at-heart senior who has written short stories, newspaper and magazine articles on a...