Tag Archive 'CRAFT'

Creating Unforgettable Characters

Flickr Creative Commons: Grace Commons

I’m fascinated by personality tests, you know, the kind you run across all the time online or in magazines. I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test twice (I’m an INFJ), the Keirsey Temperament Test (also an INFJ) and studied the Enneagram (I’m a 2). And while all of this is fodder for good cocktail party conversation and self-analysis, one of the biggest benefits of thinking about personality types is the way it’s helped me create characters in […]

What Media Do You Study for Storytelling?

photo by Francois de Halleux

Every year or so, I re-read Stephen King’s The Stand and Bag of Bones. King may not be master wordsmith or inspiration by your reckoning, but he is by mine. I love those books.

I don’t read these novels for enjoyment anymore, however; I read them to study King’s storytelling. King’s earthy writing style, memorable characters and pacing deeply resonate with me. Whenever I revisit those books, I’m reminded of why I love them […]

Plotting the Non-Plot-Driven Novel

Have you ever grown impatient with a novel?  Have you ever restlessly flipped ahead wishing that something would happen?  Of course.  It’s a common feeling.  Put politely, you feel frustrated.  Put plainly, you’re bored.

Perhaps your own current manuscript has also had you feeling, at times, impatient.  Have you struggled to find a way to make things happen?  Do you sense that the inner state of your main character is significant, but that it isn’t turning into events dramatic enough?  Do […]

Outlining: Why I Made the Switch and Tips for Trying It

By Flickr’s Thiophene_Guy

Our guest today is Elizabeth S. Craig who writes the Southern Quilting mysteries for Penguin/NAL, the Memphis Barbeque mysteries for Penguin/Berkley, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently. She shares writing-related links on Twitter and curates links for the free Writer’s Knowledge Base. Her most recent book is Death Pays a Visit. From ForeWord on Myrtle Clover: “The treat here is Myrtle’s eccentricity, brought to life with rich humor and executed…with breezy skill.”

If there are […]

The Point of Writing

Flickr Creative Commons: Jason Eppink

There’s a lot of talk these days about getting yourself a presence on social media, upping your profile, selling yourself, marketing your work, using every angle and every connection in order to “get out there,” hustle your product, hit the bestseller lists, make a splash.

This post is just to remind you that none of this is what writing is about.

Writing is about finding out who you are, what you have to say that is not […]

Everything I Need to Know About Character, I Learned From Buffy

Which is more important, plot or character?  It’s one of life’s great dichotomies, like the question of nature vs. nurture or Coke vs. Pepsi.  And like most great dichotomies, the answer is:  all of the above.

So it didn’t surprise me when last month’s column on Joss Whedon’s gifts with plot triggered a discussion that quickly strayed over into his gifts with character.  I thought the question deserved its own column.

To recap for those of you unfamiliar with the Buffyverse, Buffy […]

The Meaning of Everything

Photo by Donald Maass

It was my son’s seventh birthday.  We asked what he wanted.  He told us.  And so…

…we got a puppy.

A boy and his dog.  Growing up  together.  How sweet.  How classic.  Our son is adopted.  He comes from a hard place.  He has struggled to attach, a long process of pendulum swings from safety to fear and back again.  What a perfect gift for this boy we love so much: a puppy all his own to love […]

Happy Halloween! Love, Salem

Since many of you will be joining us for the WU Un-conference in Salem this next week, and because I’ll be co-teaching a seminar called “Place as Character” with Liz Michalski, I thought I’d share the character chart for Salem that I created for my upcoming novel.

Salem, where I’m fortunate enough to live, has been a major character in all three of my novels, but the city’s character chart has changed from book to book. The first chart bears […]

Story Mapmakers (No GPS Required)

My husband can testify I am a horrible road trip wing woman. Put a contemporary map in my hand, and I’ll turn it topsy-turvy before I can decipher anything of travel assistance. The road names, byways, mile markers, and intersections all blend into a flurry of ‘huh?’ God forbid he ask me where the nearest gas station or fast-food joint might be. My traditional response: “Get off the interstate and we’ll look around.” We had a tent revival halleluiah when […]

Everything I Need to Know About Plot, I Learned From Buffy

photo by Jaina

A couple of weeks ago, a client told me one of his beta readers had said his book read like a comic book.  I asked why that was a bad thing.

Granted, you don’t want your characters to be shallow caricatures or your plot to be mechanical or contrived, which is what many people mean by “reads like a comic book.”  But all of this client’s characters were fully rounded and plausibly human.  Even the psychopath who hunted […]

History and Magic

Lion statue, Tarquinia

Recently I attended the Historical Novelists Association annual conference, this year held in London. It was a great weekend with plenty of lively and informative sessions, though slightly more aimed at the aspiring writer than I’d expected. Highlights for me were a workshop on Battle Tactics and a panel entitled Confronting Historical Fact with the Unexplained: from myths & the occult to fairytales & the Gothic, chaired by Kate Forsyth.

Initially I felt a little out of place at […]

Pin Connections and the Two Journeys

Flickr Creative Commons: Craig Sefton

I spend a lot of time in airports.  Wait around as much as I do and you begin to admire airport design.  Think the TWA Terminal at JFK, Terminal B at SJC, the International Terminal at SFO, the passenger arrival canopy at PDX, or the mountain range roof of DEN.

Gorgeous.  High.  Open.  Airy.  Look up and you’re already in flight.

Look a bit closer, though, and you may also feel afraid.  The structural components that support […]