Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Laramie Writer's Group Topic: Antagonist's Interview

Last night's Laramie's Writers Group was so much fun! As we've geared up for National Novel Writing Month, we've been discussing in-depth story, plot, and character development methods. Last night's topic was the best yet in my option, and I was so happy that it helped Margo not only with a character's motivation, but also his personality.

This Antagonist's Interview is courtesy of www.writermag.com's February 2011 Cover Story: A Pyramid Approach to Novel-Writing. Hopefully, it can help some of my fellow #NANO writers as they prepare for next month's 50K word venture.

"Antagonists are typically underwritten characters. Who wants to spend time with the bad guy? I do, because a well-written, believable and sympathetic antagonist spells the difference between a toss-away novel and a cinematic novel. Imagine you are your antagonist's biographer. Interview him or her, creating a character page from the answers.

  • What's your name? Nickname?
  • Anyone ever tell you that you look like someone famous?
  • Of all your qualities, which are you most proud of? Where do you think you acquired this talent?
  • What do people seem to like the least about you? How does it make you feel?
  • Which habit of yours would you most like to change?
  • If someone looked in your bathroom garbage right now, what would they find?
  • What scent do you enjoy the most and what does it remind you of?
  • If you could go back in time and change one day of your life, what day would it be and why?
  • What three goals do you want to accomplish int he next year? What challenges do you have to overcome to reach them?
  • Whom do you love most in this world and why?
  • What scares you?
If you can coax your antagonist into answering these questions, you'll be well on your way to creating a character readers can relate to who is nonetheless a damaged human being. This will create an incredibly interesting conflict when he or she crosses paths with your protagonist."

I'd love to see some bits of your antagonists in the comments below, so please share some if you like!

I may be a little absent (even more than usual) through November, as I too am participating in NANO, but be sure to keep an eye out for some editing advice posts in early December, as well as a few query helper giveaways just in time for the contests coming up in December, January, and February.

Stay warm and write on!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Will Dom and I be the #noQs twitter party poopers?

Once again, I've thrown Dom into a contest ring with the hope of getting him in front of just the right agent or editor. Of course, we've done some traditional querying and am awaiting to hear some Pitch Madness requesters' responses. But I adore Michelle Hauck and she's worked hard for years on contests, including "Nightmare on Query Street." Plus, I know she has a secret crush on Dom. (Which really only lessens my chances since she can't pick favorites).

Even though I'm excited to participate, I have a problem. There is a very good chance my main character and I will be the poopers of the twitter party all week while we await the coveted spots and agent round if we get that far. Here's the twitter party line up:

10.15.2014 (Submission Day!): Title of your book and the time you emailed it.

10.16.2014: If I knocked on your MC's front door on Halloween, would I get a trick or a treat?

10.17.2014: What is your MC going to be for Halloween?

10.18.2014: Your MC goes on a haunted hayride. What would make him/her scream the loudest?

10.19.2014: If your MC could pull one prank on Halloween and not get caught, what would it be?

10.20.2014: What would your antagonist do for Halloween? 

10.21.2014: What scary setting will your MC be in on Halloween? Will they be hiding under a bed or prancing around a graveyard?

 10.22.2014: What is your MC's favorite scary movie or would they watch a scary movie?

But you see, both Dom and I, and our families, don't celebrate Halloween.

In Dom's case, it's a religious thing. His parents don't want him or his brother participating in something that they feel is detrimental to his spiritual well-being. He's already naughty and a trickster. There's no point in encouraging him.

As for me and my house, it's a mix of things that leads us not into participation. We made the decision as a family a few years ago. Yes, its implications can run against the grain of our belief in God and against the devil (a whole book can be written about how it is or is not, and its been done over and over and over again). But for us, the big push came when we realized how much it was feeding our children's attitudes of selfishness and entitlement. Nope, not going to let that happen. So we just stay home together and enjoy each other's company. Also, I am a wimp. I can't even turn on the T.V. this time of year. The commercials for the movies that will play soon give me nightmares.

So I guess I will just have to answer the above questions as best I can and hope it's not a repeat of "He doesn't participate."

Regardless, I still love this contest and will be favoriting all the answers!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Welcome Guest Blogger Jenny and her main character!

Hi everyone! First off, thanks for letting me play here Emily. I now request that your readers proceed to yell at me on twitter @jennyleeSD about getting me to get my own blog. I probably won’t listen, but you know, you can always tell yourself you tried. J

And even though I’m blogless, Michelle Beahm wanted me to reveal a little about my main character in my newest novel, an as of yet unnamed NA Magical Realism project code name “Discovery,” via the All About My Main Character Blog Hop. So here I go:

1)     What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

And here’s where I complicate things: you get to meet two characters today! My latest WIP features dual-POV and I can’t pick between college juniors Greer Russo and Carey Nelson because they’re both the best or the worst depending on who you ask. Both fictional, but Greer has the luck (she’d call it misfortune) of becoming infamous. That’s sort of historical.

2)     When is the story set?

Present day, on a small liberal arts campus, somewhere in the mid-West. If you know me, you can guess at what real life college campus (and town) I’ve borrowed as a map for this novel.

3)     What should we know about him/her?

At twenty-four, Carey is older than most juniors. But that’s because when he was five, he had a hemispherectomy and while the brain is an awesome thing and for children bounces back, the recovery took a couple years of his life. Now he’s caught up with his peers, mostly. He’s pre-med, but because of his weakened right side, he knows he’ll never be a surgeon. General practice or research is where it’s at.

Greer’s putting her life back together again. That is, she’s dead. Some creep ran her down in a blue pick up truck on the first Thursday of the semester and now she’s trying to figure out how she provoked him. The only problem is she can’t remember her life before that night. And when she starts finding pieces of the puzzle, even Greer is willing to admit that the chick she used to be was kinda messed up.

4)     What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Death messes up Greer’s life. Greer messes up Carey’s life.

Since Carey’s the only person who can see Greer—heck, he can feel her—he’s sort of obligated to help her out, right? Oh and back when Carey was in the hospital brain surgery recovery ward, he made friends with another patient, a girl who like Greer, shouldn’t have still been corporeal. As Carey and Greer dig around their small college town, they start uncovering more and more of Greer’s former life and the nasty stuff she was involved in.

5)     What is the personal goal of the character?

Greer: figure out who the heck she was, and if that has anything to do with who she’s becoming.

Carey: dig himself out of the mini-depression he’s been submersed in lately. You know, do everything that needs to get done, go to class, do homework, score that internship, eat right, sleep eight hours a night… that kind of stuff.

6)     Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

I’m usually super tight lipped about my WIP. I have no idea why I agreed to do this. Normally saying, “I’m blogfree” gets me out of talking about my process. But this time Michelle and Emily teamed up to best me!

I’m calling it Project Code Name: Discovery because: 1) I’m a discovery writer and will discover the title eventually, and 2) it’s sort of about discovering things about yourself. It’s way on the nose, but it fits. For now.

7)     When can we expect the book to be published?

Let me ask my Magic Eight Ball. Hmm, reply hazy, try again. Ha! I’m funny!

Fun fact: You won’t ever see this novel published under my legal name. This is pseudonym stuff, so you, lucky readers might be the only people in the world who can put two and two together and come up with my name. Crap, I just say this on the internet. Another brilliant plan foiled!

For realsies though, I’m 44,531 words into what I expect is a 70,000 word manuscript. I draft quickly; I revise at a decent pace too when grad school life allows. So I expect that I will be ready to query this beast in February 2015 (I just made that date up 100%). After that… well, if the Magic Eight ball couldn’t help us out, Game of Thrones certainly can: Jon Snow knows nothing.

And here we go—I’m out! Now, I’m nominating Jodie Andrefski to wow us with her wit.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Welcome guest blogger Michelle Beahm and her main character!

Hello, lovely readers of Emily’s blog, I’m Michelle. Emily was nice enough to tag me for the All About My Main Character Blog Hop, only, silly me, I don’t have a blog yet. (I should think about changing that.) For the sake of this exercise, Emily has been nice enough to lend her blog to me.)
This exercise is a way to get to know the main character in my most recent novel. Since my current work in progress is in the very early stages, so the main character and I are still getting to know each other, but I’m happy to share him with anyone else interested.
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person? 
Zakar (Zak) Turani, an entirely fictional character. He’s mostly human, but he may or may not have a bit of mage or dragon in his family tree somewhere.
2) When is the story set?
A fantasy novel, the story is set in its own world and its own calendar, but I’ve based it mainly off of the Achaemenid Empire, also known as the First Persian Empire, around 550-330 B.C. With a few significant differences, of course.
3) What should we know about him/her? 
Zak, by virtue of befriending one of the few mages in one of the city’s Hordes (gangs, basically, although super organized), joined a Horde at a young age, and went through training for quite a few different areas before settling as a thief. Now he runs that part of the organization, and is very loyal to his people, who are, in turn, very loyal to him. His mage friend, Arach, is an honorary member as well. This, of course, causes some conflict with the leader of the Horde Ludek, who hasn’t liked Zak since Zak abandoned his training as an assassin. His life, for a few years now, has been in constant conflict with Ludek, and only because his leaving would cost the Horde a mage has kept him alive and a member of the only family he’s ever had. And he knows it, and walks that fine line carefully.
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? 
In Zak’s world, the main conflict is dragons, who are, in this world, humanoid creatures as deadly and dangerous as the dragons of our mythology. They’re systematically taking over the conflict, and are getting closer and closer to Zak’s home. When the rich and the refugees from other countries start abandoning the prosperous city, he knows it’s only a matter of time before the dragons arrive. Unfortunately, his horde leader and many of the powerful members of the horde are secretly working with the dragons. Zak’s sense of honor means he can’t abandon the city and the people he cares about while so many people close to him are working to destroy his home.
The question is, what can he do about it?
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Growing up as an orphan, in a culture that has a strong emphasis on family, has left Zak with a deep-seeded need to belong. To a place, to people, anything. He wants a home and a family. With his band of thieves, he has that, to a certain extent, but the dragons definitely threaten it. His personal goal is to not lose the only family he’s ever had.
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?  
This novel is in the very early stages of it. A vast majority of the first draft hasn’t even been written yet, so I haven’t even started thinking about titles. I am, however, querying another novel, Matters of the Soul, about a powerful djinni living in modern-day Seattle, which is in the querying stages. More about it can be found on my twitter account, @michelle_beahm.
7) When can we expect the book to be published?
In a few years, I’m hoping. I want to get the first draft done by the end of February, at the latest, and then I plan on dedicating much time to revisions and edits, so that hopefully by this time next year, I will be ready to submit it to the agent I hope to have by then, or to query elsewhere if s/he isn’t interested.
Now, to pass this along, I tag JennyFerguson for this fun exercise.

All about my main character, because Nikki wanted to know!

Once again, my writerly friends have swept me up into another blog hop! I’ve been tagged by the fabulous Nikki Roberti for the “Writerly Meme” which is all about my main character from my latest novel. (Check out her Meme post here.) Though DOM is being thrown in editors' and agents' inboxes and entered in contests galore lately, I'm actually going to talk about one of my W.I.P novel's main characters (it's a multiple point-of-view manuscript).

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person? 
 Samana (pronounced Sa-mana) is a Flairian Wanderer, a homeless member of a superior race to man with talent/magic tattoos.
2) When is the story set?
Dyshiwi is a fictional land based loosely on the US Southwestern deserts and cliff dwellings.

3) What should we know about him/her? 
 She's rough around the edges, very untrusting of others, and confused about her place in society. Unlike other young flairians, she's had her mark since infancy and no power or talents to go along with it.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? 
 The leader of the land is collecting Wanderers to work alongside humans in mines and pits. When the only person Samana trusts is snatched up and then they come for her, she does the only thing she knows how: she runs.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Samana just wants to belong somewhere, and becoming an apprentice might get her there. That is, until a rebellion brews in Dyshiwi, and the Flairian she might care for is a part of it.
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?  
It's part of a two book series called The Flairian Tradition, and it's working title is SAMANA'S FLAIR. The second book, entitled A SOUL AND A SONG, will be my 2014 NANO project if I can complete the first one this month. I've posted bits and pieces on this blog over the last six months, but hardly any beta readers or even CPs have seen much of it yet. I've only written 11 chapters!

7) When can we expect the book to be published?
I'm hoping by 2016. I want to have rough drafts done by this December 1st, final edits done by May 1st 2015, and start querying next summer.

And now I shall pass on the fun to Heather Truett and Michelle Beahm!

Query Helper Giveaway: A pair, a pair, a pair of critiques!

Well, the five pitchslam contest teams have been chosen, and sadly, DOM and I didn't make the cut. I'll be cheering for a few of the people I know who made it to the agent round. But I'd also like to give back in some small way, as well as prepare a few more people for the next twitter-based writing contest: Nightmare on Query Street.

I'll also be entering this query, rather than pitch, based contest. But I'd love to help two people get their query in top shape. The first two people to answer this question in the comments below will get them:

What parts of your novel do you love most? (plot, a certain character, stakes, a particular scene that makes you laugh, etc...)

 Be sure to leave your email with the comment.

Have a great Monday everyone!