Saturday, November 28, 2009
Judith Marshall is a author of Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever, winner of the Jack London Prize awarded by the California Writers Club. She is currently working on her second novel, Staying Afloat, the story of a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother who morphs into a sex-starved adulteress.
SOME DO'S AND DON'T ABOUT CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT:
Do pay attention to your characters. Remember story is as much (if not more) about character as about plot.
Do make your characters original. The beauty of this approach is that your plot will often grow out of a unique character, instead of vice versa.
Do use a less expected way of describing your character; instead of saying her eyes was were “blue,” you could say, “Her eyes were the color of the lake behind her.”
Don’t use stock, cliché, or outrageous names. You will either look lazy or like your trying too hard.
Don’t introduce too many characters at once. Figure out a way of staggering them or focus on one and ignore the others. You can switch the focus later.
Don’t describe just the usual characteristics, such as eyes, hair, and face. Go farther. “The sun reflected off his bald head.” “The skin on her face was drawn tight across her cheekbones, eyelids stretched smooth, forehead shiny and line-free -- all the signs of recent cosmetic surgery.”
Remember readers don’t want the ordinary, the everyday; they want to be captivated. Ask yourself: Are my characters interesting? If not, there’s more work to be done.
MARKETING IN THE DIGITAL AGE
I attended the subject webinar recently, sponsored by Digital Book World. Since I'm knee-deep in promoting my new novel, "Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever," I was quite interested in the topic. The panel included Jane Friedman, Publisher & Editorial Director, Writer's Digest, Diana Vilibert, Web Editor, Marie Claire, Dan Blank, Director of Content, Reed Business Information, and Patrick Boegal, Director of Media Integration, Media Logic. The highlights follow:
1) If you blog, be sure to use your personality. Posts should be either entertaining or useful (i.e. for non-fiction).
2) Bloggers should post two times a week and be consistent.
3) Book store owners check out blogs.
4) Use analytics (even the free ones from Google) to determine your ROI for blogging.
5) Facebook offers an "incredible opportunity with fan pages."
6) Twitter is becoming more powerful every day. Writer's Digest requires each editor to participate on Twitter. Authors should be use it, along with Facebook to build an audience.
As much as we authors hate to take time away from our writing, being involved in social media is a must. Deal with it! BTW, I hope this post was useful, if not entertaining.
WRITER'S BLOCK can strike at any time in the process – when you can’t finish a book or when you can’t send it out into the world. According to Dr. Jane Anne Staw, author of “Unstuck,” anxiety is at the root of writer’s block.
To remove some of the obstacles to writing, Dr. Staw suggests:
1) Ask your inner critics to leave
2) Don’t think to big (i.e. thinking about the whole novel or casting the movie)
3) Write on a regular basis, so you don’t have to keep starting over
4) Think small – pick a moment and write about it for 15-20 minutes. The best writing is small – the details are essential
5) Remember, writing is about revision: 1st stage – get it down, 2nd stage – flesh it out, 3rd stage – check the flow, 4th stage – polish and fine tune (word choice and syntax), 5th stage – punctuation and line editing, 6th stage – self-dialog.