Tag Archives: Writers

Character History: Research and Organizational Tips

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A writer discovers characters by inspiration or by accident. Their stories are so incredible or inspirational they must be shared. The blessing of imagination allows characters to share their personal histories with the writer who becomes the ghostwriter.

As a writer of historical fiction, my research requires discovering descriptions, timelines, and eye-witness accounts of real-life men, women, and children. Thankfully, names, ages, maps, photos, non-fiction books, and documents are a click away. Occasionally, I visit my local library.

However, most of this awesome information won’t be used in my character’s story. Some of the facts will give way to the fictional plot with history used as needed for believability. The fun is in blending the two, much like an abstract painting. I love adding flesh to the bones.

How do seasoned writers keep track of all the information gleaned?

Here are a few I’ve learned through the years. Share your methods in the comments below.

10 tips for researching, organizing, culling, and utilizing your character’s story

  1. Research begins by discovering who your characters are, what they will do, and where the story is set.
  2. Create a project folder on your computer. Add subfolders such as characters, settings, backstory, maps, calendars, resources used, and deleted scenes.
  3. Search online for needed technical, historical, or world building resources.
  4. Copy and paste needed information into a document with the website link and source credit for a later reference or to use in a blog post.
  5. Save documents in the appropriate subfolders in your project folder.
  6. Print documents if preferred but slide them into plastic sleeves. Keep them in large, white three-ring binders which have the clear plastic on the front and end that allows you to slide in a custom label. Add tabs between subjects as needed for quick reference.
  7. Use character development worksheets which include physical descriptions, personality types/disorders, fears, passions, greatest desire, and morals or lack of.
  8. Find or create worksheets to help brainstorm what is going to happen. What will force your characters out of their usual routines? Who or what is threatening to kill, steal, or destroy their greatest desire? What is at risk? Will they win?
  9. Write your story using only what you need from your research to create sensory and emotional scenes.
  10. Blend in bits and pieces of the main character’s past as needed but keep the story moving. Readers want to sympathize with your main character and experience thecurrent action of the story.

Review Options for Indy Authors

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review_starsThe excitement of having books published these days wanes as a certain entity no longer allows family and friends to post reviews. For authors who publish with small press or self-publish, family and friends are the first readers. They desire to post honest reviews.

Unfortunately, unethical authors have ruined this venue for everyone. I understand the actions taken by this company. However, without reviews, our books are not promoted. Without promotions, our books are not found by readers who are searching for books like ours.

Indy authors must pay for ads, give books away, and be constantly seeking benevolent readers to give honest reviews. Hiring marketers or a publicist isn’t an option for starving authors who would rather write.

What to Do?

  • Encourage family and friends to promote books on their social media outlets, and websites.
  • Read Indy author’s books and post honest reviews on all venues, social media, and websites. (see my Recommended Reads page)
  • Share, share, share.

The point is to get authors’ names and books into the search engines where readers discover them. These readers will purchase books from the seller and leave reviews on the site–as long as they don’t become “friends” on social media. 

Here is an honest review of Fleeing the Shadows by my Award-Winning Author friend, Patty Wiseman.

What options have I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments. 

There Really Are Reindeer

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We lived in Phoenix Arizona in 1968. This event really happen! I wanted to keep the proof in a baggie, in the freezer, but my momma said, “No!”  

There Really Are Reindeer

One Christmas morning, back in my youth—I remember it well
My brother told me a most wonderful tale. 

my_brother_me

It seems, Santa doesn’t always land his sleigh on the roof
If one of the reindeer has a sore on his hoof. 

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For outside in our yard—there in the grass, lay all the evidence.
I wouldn’t have believed it, but there were the hoof prints! 

And most amazing of all—I’m telling the truth, a pile of poop.
Seems Santa had forgotten his scoop.We rushed into the house to tell Mom–how excited we were
“There really are reindeer. Now, we know it for sure!”

me

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

Self-doubt: An Authors Worst Enemy

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IMG_2009Authors are plagued with self-doubt and worry over silly things.

Harper Lee, for one, threw her whole manuscript for To Kill a Mockingbird out her NYC window while editing. Fortunately, her publisher made her retrieve and finish the book. See, Fling Manuscript From the Window.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter, Rose, stated in a diary entry the she doubted her mother’s manuscript would “come to anything.” [Smith Hill, Pamela. Introduction. “Will it Come to Anything?”: The Story of Pioneer Girl] However, in an interesting twist, Rose later used her mother’s rejected Pioneer Girl to craft new novels for herself. By 1932 she and her mother had published novels base on Laura’s original adult manuscript. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name and books are still world-famous.

Authors want praise for hard work, readers to love their words. They want to make a difference in the world. But even after a book is published, garnered accolades, and the author praised, doubt returns. Why? Simple rejection by one person.

Even if multiple people have purchased, reviewed, or praised the authors work, it’s that one person who reads the back cover and walks away, or promises a review and doesn’t, who triggers an author’s fatalistic imagination.

My dear authors, hang on to your sanity! Stay focused on your goal and start a file of all the praise, awards, and encouragement you’ve received. Self-doubt is destructive liar.

How do you overcome these times?

C. S. Lakin: Professional Help

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writers_need_chocolateWhile in the process of writing my first novel, I followed an agent’s blog who warned those wishing to query her not to, unless the manuscript had been professionally edited. She offered a list of recommended copy editors. From this list, I chose C. S. Lakin.

From her website, Live, Write, Thrive, Lakin offers a number off valuable services for writers. Before paying for an edit, I opted for her professional critique. Read more

Lay/Laid and Lie/Lain

I made up this dialogue quip to keep them straight.

Lay the object down now.”
“I laid the object down yesterday.”
“I have laid the object down every day.”
“Don’t lie.”
“I’m going to lie down now.”
“I lay down last night.”
“I have lain many times.”

Even though fictional stories are most often written in the past tense, the story is usually current action, being seen or experienced by characters. For example: She lay her head on his shoulder. She laid her head on his shoulder yesterday as well.

 

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