How much of you is in your characters? How many of them have things in common with people you know in real life?
My first published book just came out this month (which still doesn't seem real, by the way!) and people keep telling me they're reading it. I've been so thankful for the support! But what keeps making me laugh is the way people keep trying to find real life people in the story. I don't deny that a lot of me slipped into this main character, and yeah, now that people mention it, the hero does have one or two things in common with my hubby...
But seriously? They really are made-up people.
I think that's one of the things that scares me most about people actually reading what I've written. I'm worried they'll take everything my heroine thinks, every way she views the world, and think that I do too. And really? It's not true. We may have a lot in common, but we are different people.
(Side note: I even wrote a heroine once who didn't like coffee. Can you imagine the creative thinking that took for me??)
I do draw inspiration from friends and family members to keep characters authentic. But you can't go through my stories and draw direct parallels.
At least none that were intentional on my part. Haha.
What about you? Do you base people in your stories firmly on people you know in real life? Do you take inspiration?
And perhaps the one I'm most curious about--how much of you is in your heroines? (Tell me I'm not the only one who wonders that when I read a book?)
A reader requested one of us tackle the following topic:
How can I make a plot stronger, more enticing, make it stand out from all the rest? It seems my WIP is a bit lackluster and I'd like to make it shine a little brighter...
If there was a solitary answer to this, we'd all be best sellers and rollin' in the dough ;)
But I'll try to help!
First, congrats on even asking this question, because that's HUGE. :) It shows you have noticed your story isn't what you want it to be, isn't what you know you are capable of creating, and that's a big step. Knowing something is wrong is the first step to fixing it. Discontent leads to progress, and all that. So kudos on that! :)
I think next you need to dissect what is wrong. Saying you need a stronger plot is pretty vague. What exactly about your existing plot is unsatisfactory? Start there. Is it boring in general? Is it not believable, or feels contrived? Is there simply not enough happening externally?
I believe one way of making a plot stronger is to really tie the external happenings to the internal. For example, if your heroine has a phobia of heights, or water, or enclosed spaces...then by all means, stick her in 'em. Make the plot highlight the character's unique struggle (whether that's fear of falling in love, jadedness over a broken relationship, fears/phobias of external circumstances, fear of failure, mother issues, father issues, etc.)
It's been said before in craft classes to answer the following question - what is the WORST thing that could happen to your heroine? Then do it, and up it a notch. ;) Seems trite but seriously, there's power there.
As for making your plot enticing and stand out from the rest...that's going to be your unique voice and spin that you put on your story. The plot alone could be on the milder side, but your writing style make it sparkle. Or vice versa - you could have a real adrenaline-pumpin' plot, but if you're not writing with passion and from your heart and really invested in your story, it could come across dull or flat.
Bottom line, there's no simple or all encompassing answers here, but I hope I have helped a little. Feel free to ask more specific questions along these lines and I can try again! :)
Hey y'all! I'm back from the Florida Keys, rested and tan. =) I paid attention to everything around me when I was there (or at least I tried to!) so I could use the research for future stories. I still need to take the time to make notes and make sure I don't forget anything, but that's in my plan.
This trip was a little bit backwards as far as writing research goes. I'm not currently working on anything set in the Keys, but I love it as a setting so I decided I would just research (by having fun!) and let my imagination play around with whatever ideas came to it while I was relaxing and as a result I have not one, but two new story ideas starting to simmer in the back of my mind. Yay!!!!
Both of these stories started with a setting that inspired me, but the next thing after that for both of these was a character (the heroine) and her occupation. That's not always how inspiration strikes me, so it's interesting that that's how it worked this time.
So...what are y'all working on? Any fun "research" trips in anyone's future? How does a story start for you? Is it always the same?
Trust me. If you've been debating attending a conference, this one is THE conference to attend in regards to professional quality, networking opportunities, courses to enhance your craft, etc. Not to mention the FUN and the fellowship and the worship! It's an amazing time every year.
Registration opened last night, so if you sign up soon, you can get a great rate. It's cheaper for members of ACFW, but non members are of course encouraged to come. You can also become an ACFW member (small annual dues is all that's required) in order to get the better rate. Also, hotels are discounted because of the ACFW group, so this super super classy hotel is only like $150 a night. Score! And you divide that by a roommate or two, and voila - Cheap!
This is what the conference looks like, in no particular order:
Heartfelt worship time guaranteed to refresh you!
Delicious gourmet food
STARBUCKS in the hotel (what what!!)
A fancy gala awards night where you get to dress up (come on, who misses Prom just a little!)
Meeting new friends
Reconnecting with old friends
Learning new elements of the writing craft through an amazing line up of courses
Face to face networking with agents/editors in the industry - all the top agencies and houses, all the ones you're so eager to get a foot in the door with! They will be there!!
15 minute appointments with said agents/editors in which you get to pitch yourself and your work in progress. THIS IS CRUCIAL to breaking into the industry. It's not a guarantee and of course people get published without going to conferences and having these appts, but it is a HUGE help. Editors confirm this every year - putting that face and personality to a submission truly makes a big difference.
Late night giggles and fellowship with new and old friends at the bar/lounge/lobby
Inspiring and insightful keynote address
Super nice hotel and rooms for those few hours you actually sleep
DID I MENTION THE FOOD AND STARBUCKS??? ;)
The chance to get away from home and family and the everyday and get fired up with likeminded people (fellow crazy writers) who actually GET you ;)