Thursday, June 21, 2012

Shaping and Sharpening

A friend of mine pointed out that many of my characters in my WIP are 'fuzzy'. They lack distinct boundaries and characteristics. They blur together. There are inconsistencies. She said all of this gently of course. I think she felt like she could and should be honest and I'm so thankful she was. It has turned my WIP upside down and set me way back as far as my projected writing schedule. But it has opened doors that needed airing out. Tiny nooks and crannies have been discovered that are so character defining and key to my character arc.

It has done something else that is most unexpected.  It's made my writing easier. Every move and reaction and interaction flows smoother and more true to the character. There's no more guess work. The characters are dictating the pace, the moves, and the direction of the action, development and overall journey.

So how do we shape and sharpen our characters? Here are a few suggestions I've gleaned or learned for myself on tightening the loose ends of your characters.

1. Try finding a picture of your character(s). A critique partner of mine checks out modeling websites and any thing else she can find until she's pinpointed the perfect physical persona for her characters. Then she describes them ... the tilt of the chin, the shade of their eyes when they're upset, the tightening of their face when they're concerned, etc.  So much can be brought to the surface and carved out by doing this.

2. Ask a few questions. I borrowed these from Larry Brooks:
What is your core need? (And what happens when that need is not met?)
What is your greatest fear?
What is the incident that wounded you early in your life, that got you believing a lie? (and what is that lie?)

What suggestions do you have? What works for you?

- Sara

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


The North Star

The North Star to me is something of a wonder. Beautiful and constant. My life has been tethered to certain things my whole life and like the North Star, they've helped guide me, given me perspective and direction. And since this is post number one, I'm allowing myself a bit of sentimentality.

Writing is one of those North Stars. My love and passion for writing has shaped nearly every choice I've made. That's no small thing. I began writing when I was in sixth grade. My first piece of work was a short story I called, "Google". Not joking. Wish I could pull some strings and claim some rights on that word now.  Writing has been in the equation as long as I can remember; When I signed up for classes in high school, when I chose my major in college, when I moved to North Carolina, and especially now.

As long as I'm writing on a more personal note, I'll mention my Dad. He passed away almost two years ago. I miss him. He always encouraged my writing. He believed I could be a successful author if that's what I wanted. Some days I would come home from school or college and find a clipping from the newspaper about an upcoming writers contest or conference. My Dad was a man of few words but he always found ways to show his support. Even when I changed my major in College (four times) he always asked, 'Well, what about your writing?' He reminded me that writing was in my blood so to speak and worth giving an honest chance. He's right.

After his death I began thinking about writing and wondering if I could turn my long time dream of being a writer into a reality. I began by writing a children's book for him and that simple story has been the catalyst for this new venture in my life. The last year and a half has been a whirlwind of writing, reading, writing, attending conferences, writing, blogging, studying up on the millions of things I don't know - but should, writing, querying and writing. Somewhere between all that, my life with my sweet children hums along at a steady clip. I just hang on and am grateful for the ride!

I'm doing exactly what I love and more than that, I'm doing exactly what's right for me at this moment in life and there's a lot of peace in that. No matter what, my writing has enriched my life and once again, has influenced it's course.  Thanks so much to Family, and Mom and Dad, and God and my Kids for the direction, support and light they give me every day.  

I'll be posting every Thursday and aside from today's personal detour, the blog will be focused on the craft and development of writing.