YA Highway #14 - Favorite Book Covers!

This morning I'm going to explore Subplots.

Let's define it. Subplots are narrative lines experienced by other characters. If you're looking for side plots for you're main antagonist, here is my section on plot layers. A frequent worry for writers is that their subplots steal the show. Do they? Of course. We've already discussed how it's important for your reader to connect. Can you imagine if they can connect to the side characters as well as the main? You can do this by giving them their own story. My favorite story of all time is a subplot to Jennifer Fallon's Hythrun Chronicles. I go through the series one a year or more simply because of a side character, Her Most Serene Highness Adrina.

So, the point? Add more to your story. See how you can connect what is happening to your main character to what is happening between those around him. How do you do that?

Write down your important secondary characters. What is the main problem, conflict, and goal faced by each of these characters? Now tell their story. What happens when they lead up to it? What happens when they overcome their struggle?
Avoiding the tell-tale
How to avoid tell-tell-tell. Or in other words, how to avoid telling the story instead of showing the story.

I've been spending some of my off time reviewing chapters on AWWC. There's one thing that I believe all authors (not just new) struggle with and I am damned if I don't see it just about everywhere.

For example, I was reading a sentence that a wonderful writer had written. He wanted to change it because it sounded too tell-tell.

A sharp spike of pain stabbed him between the eyes. Numbing calmness filled his brain. One more spike knocked him away; he fell backward and landed on his rear end. He sat on the floor, bewildered.

A spike did something. Then numbness came. Another spike did something. Character fell. Then he landed on his ass. Then he sat on the floor.

So how are writers supposed to be extraordinarily cautious of this? If you have a paragraph that feels as if there is something missing or if it's plain boring, look at what your character is doing. This particular character in five sentences (including the conjoined) did a whopping "fell" and "sat". The character couldn't control either of those. So what did the character really do? Nothing. In five sentences the character has just been a dart board with shit happening to him. How. Lame.

Now don't get me wrong. Shit happens all the time to your character. That can't be helped. BUT have you ever heard of the law of something that says, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction?" Guess what you literature freaks, it's even true in writing. Everything that happens to your character, should have a reaction from that character. It seems less tell-tell. The example of the sentence above and how to have your character's reactions to what is happening (assume this character's name is Bob):

As a sharp spike of pain stabbed between his eyes, Bob clenched his jaw silently pleading for the sensation to go away. His dizzy eyes opened as he felt a numbing calmness fill his brain. Suddenly, another spike knocked him away; his hands scraped the ground as he tried to prevent himself from falling backwards. As his rough palms gave away, he found himself on the floor -- bewildered.

Is it the most beautiful sentence in the world? No. But it captures your attention. You are put in the moment, second by second, as Bob tries to figure out what is going on. It doesn't feel like you're saying This happened then this happened then this happened and you'd never believe that this happened next.

No question of the day! Going to try and find some of my work on the business computer to do Teaser Tuesday! Left the laptop at home today.

But that's my storyline!
So this morning I'm going to focus on more of a personal conflict that I think most authors go through: Finding out there's a story out there very similar to yours. The other day while sitting around with a group of friends, someone said, "We should go see the Legion!"

"What's that?"

"Oh, this movie about a fallen angel saving mankind."

This is when the initial inner screams began WHAT DO YOU MEAN?! And so after a sleepless night I decided to dig into the story a bit more.
1. It's a horror, mine's urban fantasy.
2. God loses faith in man kind. I don't see that ever happening, simply because people won't allow their God to lose faith in them.
3. God's legion is zombies. >.>
4. The entire time the hero is trying to save this prego chick that supposedly has the messiah (and God didn't know this how?)

Those are pretty strong differences, and no matter how much it upset me to hear there was something remotely similar to my story, I think I'll live. In fact, I'll do better than just live. I'm going to make a story so compelling that I'll never have to worry about having a similar story.
Plot Layers and weaving:
Good Morning Bloggers!

Today we'll be talking about Plot Layers. Plot layers are plots given to the same character, not secondary characters. Contemporary breakout fiction makes extensive use of plot layers, which reflect the multi-tiered complexity that most people feel is the condition of life today.

Have you ever noticed how everything seems to happen at once? Good things come in threes. When it rains it pours. Layers give novels the rich texture of real life. Building them into your story is extra work, but the reward is a rich resonance and complexity.

While looking over your outline or WIP, ask yourself one simple question: What additional problems can she face?(Make sure they are not problems with the main plot).

Weaving a Story:

Having added layers to your novel, the next step is to get them working together; that is, to connect them. Without links you might as well be writing separate novels. Finding reasons for your layers to coexist is what I call weaving them together.

The particular devices you use to make the connections happen are called nodes of conjunction. A setting in your story may recur, serving double duty in different layers. A character who faces his own problems in a subplot may bring relief, or introduce a complication, to your protagonist, who is facing his own conflict. Secondary characters can get dragged into story lines they did not expect to grapple with. These are the ways in which story lines cross.

Mr. Maass has two steps that can help you weave plot layers and subplots together:

1. One a single sheet of paper, make three columns. In the first column list your novel's major and secondary characters. In the middle column, list the principle narrative lines: main problem, extra plot layers, subplots, minor narrative threads, questions to be answered in the course of the story, etc. In the right-hand column, list the novel's principle places (major settings).

2. With circles and lines, connect a character, a narrative line, and a place. Keep drawing lines and circles at random, making connections. See what develops. When a random connection suddenly makes sense, make notes.

How do you reveal your plot surprises?

I laughed when I saw this question. You'd be surprised, I barely plan the surprises. They happen. The few I have planned have ended up just coming out. I don't build it up too much, because I want the readers to be surprised. Building it up just forces it to become predictable. I want the kids to get in trouble for screaming, "OH SHIT!"

Have you ever watched a good movie and then suddenly became disappointed because you predicted every second? Not because it was cliche, but because it had too much build up? Yeah -- I want to avoid that at all costs.

So my method? Leave the reader's in the dark, then blind them with the light.
Today's study is on Complications! So you character has a goal. And, let's be honest, it's not much of a goal if it's easy to overcome. There have to be complications, problems. I'm not just talking about something happening and your character overcoming it, I'm talking about internal/external/private/public problems every second of the journey. Seems easy, right?

Here's the tricky thing about obstacles. They have to be believable. For example, we're watching the ancient Godzilla. What if all of the sudden they released King Kong and King Kong turns on them. That would be ridiculous. No one would release a wild beast unless they have a way of controlling him. Or let's say your character is scared of heights. No one knows this until your character is 100 feet in the air 57,000 words into your WIP. You can't just pop that out of no where.

It doesn't matter who complicates your protagonist's life, so long as someone does it -- and does it actively, deliberately, and for solid reasons. Whether you villian has tried to stop the hero or something as simple as a friend telling your MC that time is running out.

To complicate your complications, make sure you have more than just one character involved.

How do you get more than one character involved?

In one part of the story, Bryce wakes up in a room after being drugged. The first thing he hears are the screams of his best friend, Sapphy. When he finally makes it to her, the following happens:
1. Drugs bog him down. His vision is blurred and not to mention that killer headache he keeps trying to ignore.
2. There are two villains that work side by side. When they realize he woke up early, one goes to attack him while the other runs off with Sapphy.
3. Even though he's going through complications already, I added more. Sapphy screams at Bryce, "DON'T COME ANY CLOSER. DON'T FOLLOW." She means every word she says, and Bryce must decide to listen to her or to deal with the asshole that just hit him with a lead pipe.
4. After he kills the first villain, he runs to follow the other only to find they are long gone and he's stuck in middle of nowhere, Iraq.

So complications have to be there. Even if they're simple. If you have more than one person/thing complicating -- you'll be raising the stakes even higher.
Plot Depth - Public Stakes
It's a really exciting day today! We get to talk about plot. The next chapter is called Public Stakes.

Things can go wrong in so many different ways, don't you agree? We sometimes think: It can't get any worse than this. But it can. [And usually -- it does.]That is the essence that there is more to lose, promising even bigger disasters that will happen if the hero doesn't make matters come out okay. Who has not had a string of multiple disasters, run-ins with enemies, and just plain bad luck?

Everyday problems presented in an ordinary way, problems hat anyone might have on any given day, do not have the power to become universal; that is, to resonate within us and remind us of all humanity and its eternal struggles. But when stakes rise to a high enough order of magnitude, a protagonist's problems will become the problems that we all have. What was personal becomes public.

What about the outward, or public, stakes in your current novel? How far do they rise? How deep do they cut? How bad do they get? Take them higher and deeper. Make them worse; much worse. Your novel can only get better.

Some personal advice, there are some scenes or important plot points that just feel as if there's something more that should be done. See how you can make it worse. And worse. And worse. Make it a struggle. Put emotion into. Make it seem impossible. Who wants to read about a hero that overcomes the average struggle that we deal with every day?

Question of the Day:

What have you done to make everything crash down on your character? How have you made something worse?

Well, I tend to do this with my fight scenes almost all of the time. For those of you who know my MC, Bryce Bourbon, he has the unique ability to heal himself and others. This ability is limited only to him, and for that reason, when there's a fight going on, it's his sole responsibility that everyone feels as little pain as possible.

The last fight scene of the third book, Bryce was fighting with five other people. As the first person gets hurt, his team covers for him while he runs to heal her. But the opponent is too difficult for him to put on the shoulders of his partners. So every time he goes to heal a deadly wound, another gets wounded. And another, and another. So he's constantly having to chose between healing one person over the other or fighting to protect them all while allowing the wounded to die.

So, there's too much for an average person to handle at stake. As the fight continues downward, it doesn't look as if anything could get worse. It has to get worse. Just has to.

One of the few ignorant comrades on the field, lands a lucky lethal blow to the devil. Before she realizes what she had done, she was consumed by the evil "will" that chose her for its next host. With dead allies on one side of him, weakened friends on the other, Bryce has to face one of his hardest decisions: should he kill his best friend now or should he save the few friends left alive?

As if that wasn't hard enough, he then had to go back home, face her husband and her baby boy along with his other dead comrades' families.

Things can always get harder. The stakes can always be higher. And the loss can always get larger. It might suck putting your character through such hard times (or killing off a character you love dearly), but sometimes it's the best route your story could go. Imagine the impossible.
Blog Archive!
Click on the following link in order to view whichever blog interests you most. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me at saibutterfly@live.com. Enjoy!

About Me

Need help with your novel?
Character Depth:

Breathing life into your Main Character
Inner Conflict
Larger than Life qualities
Turnabouts and Surprises
Personal Stakes
Connecting with Characters
Secondary Characters
Once you have your characters, how do you weave their stories?
Character Voice
Designing a character after someone you know.
Character Growth

Plot Depth:

Public Stakes
Plot Layers and Weaving your story
More on Plotting
Digging for your Plot Holes


A trick to help you show, not tell.

Tension on every page? Should you? How?
The biggest post on a Query, ever.
Should you outline? Or not?
Pen Name?
Avoiding the Info-Dump
First Chapter "How-to"

Filling in your world

My terrifying, heart-wrenching query process:
Day one
Day two

Teaser Tuesday!
Teaser 1
Teaser 2

Road Trip Wednesdays:

#12 - Reaction to being a writer
#13 - Favorite unheard of books
#14 - Favorite Book Covers
#15 - Next big thing!


Finishing the third book!
When you find a book whose plot is similar...
Inspiration - 7 figure YA debut author deal
Inspiration - From Agent Fischer
Need a laugh? Here's the place!
What I've been up to!
Writing what you want or to stay true to your character?
I'm too determined to let it beat me.
The idea that got away.
Road Trip Wednesday
Road Trip #13: What books do you love that no one else has heard of?

Well, I have to start it off with
Trudi Canavan's series Age of Five. It's about a priestess who talks to her nation's Gods. It isn't until she wages war on an opposing nation that she realizes she's just her Gods' pawn. As are her people, and the people of the opposing tribe. Five bored Gods have been meddling in the affairs of humans while acting as two separate entities. The trilogy in general is so much more, but the plot is simply tantalizing.

Next is YA author Sherwood Smith and his book: Crown Duel. In general, anything Mr. Smith writes I read without setting the book down. It is one of my favorite romance stories that deal with true love, something many lustful YA stories try to create, but fail. It's about a young woman who fights for her nation. Overcomes a tyrant and inspires other countries to follow in her footsteps -- all while falling in love with someone she believes to be the second-worst man she's ever met. The characters are so unbelievably written, that it alone has made this book a treasure.

Last but not least is Jennifer Fallon's Hythrun Chronicles. To me, this storyline has everything a story should: love, heroes, failures, perfect antagonists, fifty billion different plot lines. Just everything a novel should be. Her writing is probably one of my biggest inspirations. I'd even put her above Tolkien.

That's it for this Wednesday! Hope you give the books a try and enjoy them at least as much as I did.


Today, I'll be focusing on Chapter 11: Antagonists.

They are perhaps the funnest characters to write because it allows you to explore the dark side. In order for the antag to feel as the biggest threat to your protag, you must give the antag motives and feelings. He/she must be developed. We have to
understand this character.

To me, the antag is HANDS DOWN the reason I will re-read a book. It's what makes me read fantasy over romance, even though I enjoy both. Romance usually has a weak antag. The struggle within the MC just isn't there like it is in fantasy. Why isn't the struggle there? A weak antag.

For example, my antag is loved by most of the characters I set against her. Each one of them will always think twice before trying to kill her. Why? Because she's a person. Although she always goes with the evil twist, every now in then there's a glimpse of who she used to be. A caring, compassionate, righteous warrior.

So how do you get an antag that makes the MC's struggle compelling? Go through the exact same steps you did with your main character. Give him reasons. Give him qualities. Make the internal struggle there. Allow even your antag to connect with the character.

Here's a movie example: Law Abiding Citizen. You walk the path of the insane murder who slices his victim in millions of pieces, who kills multiple innocent people. There's no way you can connect with someone like that, right? Wrong. Very wrong. You see at the beginning of his story the injustices he had to face when his mother and daughter were brutally raped and killed. The rapists? Let free. So he took justice into his own hands while trying to show the world there needs to stricter laws.

Amazing movie if you haven't seen it.

Question of the Day:

How did you know which good qualities to give your Antagonist?

There really only seemed to be a few ways I could go with the character. I knew she needed to be brave. I have a martyr theme going throughout my entire book. The devil's will is actually its own embodiment, while the people are just the hosts. When one host dies, the will goes to the stronger host -- the person that kills the current host. So, in order for Becca, the current Christian Devil, to become the devil -- she had to kill Lucifer. So bravery and determination, check. I wanted to also give her qualities that were the opposite of what you might think of the devil. Selfless, check. Sweet, check. Loving, check. Compassionate, check. These qualities you see in slight flashes of hesitation. I wanted her to always show inner conflict. And the last quality that I made sure she had was the ability to manipulate. I believe mind games are some of the hardest things a character can go through and overcome, so naturally, I wanted my MC to over come all the mind games I could imagine.

So when deciding what qualities you want your antagonist to have, consider inner conflict and struggles you want your MC to go through. If you want physical challenges, make your antag the strongest person alive. If you want mental challenges, have them face a genius. If you want emotional challenges, have the antag work as a friend or family member. The protag and antag should ALWAYS reflect one another. And like the picture above, every person -- every character reflects their past, who've they have effected, and their regrets.
Secondary Characters
Today's lesson, Chapter 10 in the Writing the Breakout Novel, is on Secondary Characters.

Hands down this is one of the most important points of a novel to me. People can write about their main character all day long. They have things happen to him/her that push them to be the best they can. But people often forget about the secondary characters. Not saying people don't have them in their story, but the characters aren't real. You can't connect with them. They're only in there to fulfill one role. They come in, do their business, added to the plot without us readers knowing why, and exit.

Like many plots, there are cliche secondary characters. Examples:

  • The master that helps the young hero learn everything about whatever. Only to die in a "heart felt" way where the hero MUST continue.
  • The best friend/sister to a romance heroine that is there only for advice and matchmaking. Yet never needs any herself.
  • The damsel in distress. What the hell is amazing about a woman who can't save her own ass here and there?
  • Dead/missing/I'm-completely-out-of-your-life parents.
  • Bitchy popular girls that want to ruin everyone's reputation/hot guy that is willing to get down on the "ugly ducklings" level.
  • There's always the one side-kick that can't do shit that is only there for comic relief.
Secondary characters can be the most vibrant and active in a manuscript. They can also be lifeless and cardboard -- mere prop-ups for the hero.

Remember all the elements we've been talking about? Time to make sure you put them to use again. In order to have depth with each of your secondary characters, do the following:
Write down a defining quality of the character. When does he/she show the opposite quality? When does this character have inner conflict? How do you show it? Write down things this character would never think/say/do. Now make them do it. Show growth.

Question of the Day:

Can you give an example of bringing life to your secondary character?

I decided to chose Hank Jager since he's is one of the secondary characters I never planned on using. It wasn't until the second book that he appeared.

When we first encounter Hank, he's locked away in the basement of an insane asylum. As his straight jacket becomes undone, Bryce notices he's got scars all over his body. The man literally seems insane.

Who would've guess that Hank Jager once went by the name of Hugues de Payens, the man that helped create the Knight's Templar. As a former Knight, you assume he'll be chivalrous, kind, heavily religious. When in fact, after living through all the years he's seen, Hank is bitter, harsh, and doesn't seem to have a religious bone in his body.

As the reader grows to learn more about Hank Jager, they realize he's been living with one horror none of us wish to burden. He is in love with the devil. Not the type of lust you would assume. His wife that he was married to for years was consumed by the hatred and evil of the devil. So for hundreds of years, he roamed the Earth following only her. Protecting her. Hoping that one day their love would conquer all. He was constantly at battle whether he should help her or kill her. And finally when Bryce comes giving him the chance to face the love of his life, Hank makes the decision to free his love of this evil.

As you can tell, this tough boy isn't the sentimental type. Sure, he has a weakness. All in all, you'd never expect this man being the one to give you advice. To help you through your darkest moment. To cry. To put a sword against his wife. He does all of this, and for that, Mr. Hank Jager has become a real person. A real character. Even if he wasn't planned to be one.
Exposition and Loving the bad-guys
Have you ever disliked someone, then one day they come to you asking for help? You're not exactly sure why you help them or why your impression of them changed. I'll tell you why: Exposition.

In life it is difficult, if not impossible, to like someone whom we do not know. But when someone is self-revealing we (usually) are drawn to him. In any event, honesty about oneself is a positive quality. It takes courage to take a hard look inside.

Perfect example is a girl named Valerie. She was my ex-roomate's "sex-buddy" that couldn't keep it just sex buddy. She basically lived with us for months, and she was completely guppy-eyed over John. And yes, I thought she was a complete and utter bimbo. I don't really like bimbos. He cheats on her. She comes to me for help, and if I do say so myself, by the end of the night John was ignoring his new eff buddy and going nuts over Valerie. Then the bimbo went against my advice and effed him that night.

My opinion changed right back to the initial thought. Three months later, John has an affair with a married woman with a child while sleeping with Valerie. When she finds out -- devastated. Back to me for help. So I tried. What happened? Same exact thing. She goes back to him, only this time he tells her it's over.

Morale of the story: People don't change, but when they allow us to see how the feel exactly, we connect with them. It doesn't matter if they're a whoring bimbo. You still connect. Which is your number one goal for your character: connect with the reader.

Make sure the protagonist reflects and self-examines. Allow them to talk about what's happening to them/how they feel. You yourself have all kinds of ideas, observations, opinions, and gripes, don't you? Well, so does your main character.

Question of the Day:

How do you give your bad-guys appeal?

Honestly, it was easy. My main antagonist is one second favorite character in the entire book. In the first book she has very little depth. She's there as a symbol of power and evil. Second book you crack into her. Her past. Why she became what she is. And you find probably one of the most brilliant flash backs I've ever written.

After I finish the last book of the quartet, I'm going to go through the books and write from a second character's point of view. This character is going to be the main antagonist, and hopefully readers will see more of the political strains while learning more about the devils.

If you're looking to give your bad guys appeal, I'd suggest the following:

  • Have them have a real reason. Crazy is boring. Unpredictable is a bit better. But real meaning and determination -- sounds like someone we could connect with.
  • Don't have them talk like mouth breathing morons. Have you ever seen a bad guy that sits there before destroying the hero and laughs at his own genius? Let's pretend it doesn't exist and find another way to have the reader know what the hell your protag is doing.
  • Make them bad. Sure you can show goodness in them. You can show them having inner conflict. But all in all, when it comes to them pulling the trigger on the five year old girl. They do it. No one likes a pansy.
  • All in all, make him believable. As much as I adore Harry Potter, I sometimes wondered why he-who-must-not-be-named wouldn't just ignore Potter's existence and continue with his plans. I mean, he really went out on a limb way too much. Most the time, I just felt it was unnecessary.
Three down one to go!

Finished book three -- whoo whoo! I'm about 10k words short of where I want to be, but I'll skimmed over some scenes, so I'll be able to lengthen it up a bit more. Geez! I'm absolutely excited. The ending is perfect. This is one of those "final" ending type endings.

These first three books revolve around one character's POV. The last book focuses on both Bryce and the actual "legend" Hayden Woodford. It's also the book that revolves around the Christian theme: Revelations.
I've always wanted to write a story based off of revelations, simply because I always found it absolutely terrifying. If you've ever taken the time to sit down through it, you know. There's some scary shit in there.

Doesn't help that I've been told on multiple occasions that I'll be going to hell for writing something based off of Revelations. "You're going to tell if you add or take away from the bible." I wonder if that's true on people that don't try and force beliefs on people. Like I could really see why it'd be a problem if a preacher was twisting God's words onto God's believers to manipulate them for more power/wealth/ect. I don't really see it being much of a problem if I'm telling a story that references Revelations. All in all, I'm pretty sure I'm going to hell for one reason or another -- might as well have fun doing it!

Funny/random thought of the day: Does your God (I don't care which religion) see black and white or do you think God makes exceptions?

Could you just imagine:

Man steals to feed his starving children.

God argues with himself, "Bubububut -- the babies, they were

Note to self: If I ever write a make-believe world which has a God. I'm going to have him (maybe her?) have multi-personalities. And argue with him/herself. It'd be entertaining to say the least.

Ah! I'm so excited!
Stakes and Why I write
Good morning bloggers! Focusing on chapter 7 & 8 in Writing the Breakout Novel.

Today's lesson is on PERSONAL STAKES! Probably one of my favorite things to focus on when writing. What is the character's motivation? What drives her to do this? Why did he do that instead of that?

Personal stakes are more than just what a hero wants to do. They illustrate why. Why this goal and the action that must be performed matters in a profound and personal sense. The more it matters to your hero -- the more it'll matter to the readers.

Have you ever been in a relationship with someone jealous? Every single time your partner would ask why you did something, you could shoot an answer out immediately. You might not think you had a reason for doing something, but if asked, you always have an answer. There is a reason people do everything they do. Your character should -not- be different.

So, what are Ultimate Stakes? Even larger personal stakes. They are the stakes when life absolutely tests us. We become more determined than ever to make a difference, to persist, to overcome all problems and obstacles. At the moment of ultimate testing we summon our deepest beliefs and swear that nothing, nothing, will stop us. These moments people realize there is absolutely no turning back.

So here is a quick exercise to throw in personal stakes:
What is the mail conflict/goal/need/desire?
What could make this problem matter more the the protag?
When you run out of reasons, ask yourself what could make this problem matter even more than that?
Finally, what makes this problem seem to matter more than life itself?

As always, if you have an in-depth questions, feel free to comment/e-mail me your question.

Question of the Day:

Why do you write?

Whew, what a big question. I'm in the mood to tackle it today, though.

1. I write because I feel like I should give back to the people what so many have given to me. There was nothing more in the world that I loved than a wonderful book. Nothing. So when I became a late-teenager, I decided I would do my damnedest to give back. I want someone to read my book and be happy they paid how ever much on it.

2. Before I started writing, I was literally buying five to six books a week. As a teenager, that was all I could really afford. It was getting fairly expensive, and not to mention, after reading so much -- books become predictable. Some people's writing was so wonderful, that I didn't mind predictable. Most weren't though. So I started weaving a story that would push limits. That would surprise. That would have an unexpected turn. That would make you cry. Or laugh out. That would make you dream. Perhaps look at the luxuries today and be thankful.

3. I want to prove to myself I can do it. The first book that I thought was absolutely amazing -- flopped. (I look back and realize why it flopped, and it's honestly a big pile of horse shit). But that isn't the point. I set out to do something. Failed the first time. So I'm doing it better this time. Way better.

4. Who doesn't look at the success of writers and think, what if that was me! You know, what if I could really make a living off being a writer? Sure I could always go into journalism, but that's not what I want. I want to write urban fantasy. And getting paid to live in worlds -- how wonderful a thought.

5. Most importantly, I. Love. It. I love the story, I love my characters, I love every inch of the process. I love outlining. I love the typing. I love the aggravation. The smiles. When I cry myself to sleep. I love it.
Road Trip Wednesday!
So today's Road Trip Wednesday asks:

Topic #12: What's everyone's reaction when they find out you're writing a book?

"You're a writer? I thought you did books for a sign company?"

"Oh where can I buy you're book?" (Hate this response, it's about a billion times harder to get published than anyone could imagine.)

"What's your story about?"
I hate this question. What isn't my book about? Then if I go into any type of detail, I get looked at as if I'm crazy.

But I have to say the worst of all is when someone responds, "Can I read it?" But they never. Ever. Give. It. A. Damn. Chance. I'll send it to them and five months later the email won't even be open. They'll give the wonderful excuse of, "Oh, I'm sorry. I've been so busy."

p.s. I lost my font changing button. And the color changing. D":!
Another Good Morning to you all.

Today's lesson is a bit short:

Character Turnabouts and Surprises

Have you ever watched a movie and seen EVERYTHING that could happen before it happens? Perhaps it's as simple as a hot-tempered character having a hissy fit. It's about to happen in 3... 2... 1.... bingo -- you were right. It's a bit boring.

Now imagine if that hot-tempered character is in need of dire help. What if he gets down on his knees and gravels to beg for help? It's completely unexpected. Having this surprise gives your characters more depth, but also more respect while keeping the reader engaged by being unpredictable.

Question of the Day:

Do you ever dream about your Work In Progress?

Why, yes, yes I do. In fact, I had a dream this weekend that changed the entire outline. Two. One where Bryce and Miss Bombay were cowboys >.>? Another where Bryce was sitting down on my bed talking to me about everything he regretted. In my story I show Mr. Bourbon mourning/upset/saddened/angry by what has happened, but I've never actually thought about him having regrets. Regrets that haunt him. Regrets that are there that he didn't really realize. So in my story, I'm going to give him the option of changing one thing he really regrets.
Exactly how BIG is Larger?
Have you ever walked away from a fight wishing you could've said this instead of what you said?

Or while joking around with friends you think of something three conversations later that you should have said to get a laugh out of everyone?

If you're anything like me, you can list a thousand situations of each. Well, that's what today's lesson is on: Zingers. (Chapters 4 and 5 in Writing the Breakout Novel)

Best way to describe a zinger is to show you examples. It's not just saying what you damned well want, it's doing what you damned well want.

Example of saying a Zinger! Jodi Picoult's Salem Falls:

Wes slid his free arm around her waist and grinned, his teeth as white as the claw of moon above them. "You must be reading my mind, honey, since that brings me right to my third question." He pressed his lips over her ear, his words vibrating against her skin. "How do you like your eggs in the morning?"

He's too close. Addie's breath knotted at the back of her throat and every inch of her skin broke out in a cold sweat. "Unfertilized!" she answered....

Example of doing a Zinger! Janet Evanovich's One for the Money:

"He specializes in virgins! The brush of his fingertips turns virgins into slobbering mush."

Two weeks later, Joe Morelli came into the bakery where I worked every day after school, Tasty Pastry, on Hamilton. He bought a chocolate-chip cannoli, told me he'd joined the navy, and charmed the pants off me four minutes after closing, on the floor of Tasty Pastry, behind the case filled with chocolate eclairs.

The next time I saw him, I was three years older. I was on my way to the mall, driving my father's Buick, when I spotted Morelli standing in front of Givinchinni's Meat Market. I gunned the big V-8 engine, jumped the curb, and clipped Morelli from behind, bouncing him off the front right fender. I stopped the care and got out to assess the damage. "Anything broken?"

He was sprawled on the pavement, looking up my skirt. "My leg."

"Good," I said. Then I turned on my heel, got into the Buick, and drove to the mall.

Hopefully you've got the point of zingers. They take the reader from a place where they were thinking of saying or doing something in their head, to actually being there with the character who does it.

"Harshest of limits are those we impose upon ourselves in our heads." -- Donald Maass

Now there has to be more to a LARGER-THAN-LIFE character aside from a zinger. And trust me, there is.

The next big part of a larger-than-life character is change. Doing something that the character would have never done at the beginning of the book. I'm not sure this needs an example. I believe you can open just about any book and see what I'm talking about. Change and growth create amazing characters, and what a better way of showing your readers change than to have them do something they would have never done. Ever.

A larger-than-life character is one who says, does, and thinks things that we would like to but never dare.

Question of the Day:

Author's Message - What is yours?

While I never wrote my story to have a morale to preach to readers, along the way I believe there are a few in my story.

  • Never give up, and when you feel like you can't accomplish something, open up to your friends.
  • Have an open mind towards people in general. There are so many religions and different beliefs out there that you'll close out billions of people if you base them just off of religion.

Flat = Splat
I'm trying to think of one thing in the world that I like flat.
Cokes are terrible flat.
Boobs look terrible flat.
Even an ass looks terrible flat.
A flat tire...
Hopefully you're getting the picture. Why should a character be flat?

(To start off, I'm combining chapters two and three in Writing the Breakthrough Novel)

Mr. Maass' point:

  • One-dimensional characters hold limited interest for us because they are limited as human beings. They lack the complexity that makes real-life people so fascinating. We are more likely to identify with them -- that is to see ourselves in them. Why? Because there's more to see.

Naturally, you're going to think your characters are complex. All of them. This is how you can tell.

  1. What is your character's most defining qualities? (list five)
  2. Objectively speaking, name the opposite of those qualities:
  3. Now look through your manuscript. See how many times your character has demonstrated the opposite qualities.

Another way to show a multidimensional character is to show their INNER CONFLICT.

The way a writer creates inner conflict is force your protagonist to have two goals/needs/wants that are completely opposite of each other. This forces your character to be torn in two directions.

Genuine inner conflict will make your protagonist memorable. How? Look at it this way: When we say a character is memorable, what do we mean? Simply that we are thinking about that character after the story is over. What causes us to do that? Inner conflict. When it is powerfully portrayed, it lingers beyond the last page. Readers seek to resolve it. They will mentally talk to your heroine, trying to make her happy. They will imagine scenes in which things come out better for your poor protagonist. Trigger that response in your readers, and you will have succeeded in making your character memorable.

Question of the Day:

What was the hardest "inner conflict" your character was forced to go through?

Throughout the entire book there is an on-going legend. When we first meet Bryce, we think it's him. Three books later, the real legend is born. He's a baby boy that is destined to kill the world's cruelest devil. It sounds easy, but when his mother is corrupted by evil, everyone finds out the real destiny this child holds. He must kill his mother.

Bryce has been a second father to the baby. He loves and adores the child. When he finds out the boy's future, he's torn between his love for the child and his grudge against fate. He struggles with the thought of killing the baby. Innocent, sweet, and never knowing the world as an evil place -- Bryce could spare the child of his horrid fate. He could kill the boy. But murdering a child, no less a child that he loves, is gut-wrenching.

After Bryce struggles with what to do, he makes his mind up. The boy must be killed in order to spare him of his future.

On a personal note, Alex is leaving today. I could barely sleep with the thought of it, and I'm just wondering how long it'll be until I get to see him again. Probably a week or two. Hopefully not much longer. I am completely excited for what type of plans our future holds. I can't wait ^_^!!!

Zero to Hero
Hello Bloggies!

Personal Note first: Alex is here and it's been WONDERFUL! Seriously, like a dream come true.
Now onto business.

I've decided that I'm going to do a couple things with the blog:

  • Work through Donald Maass' Writing the Breakthrough Novel Workbook
  • Question of the Day

That way, every time you come to look at the blog, you'll know exactly what you're getting yourself into.

Today's look in Writing the Breakthrough Novel:


  • Why would we wish to read about characters whom we do not like?
  • How you turn your protagonist into a hero: It starts with the opening pages, when your protagonist gives us some reason to care; that is to say, identify with him or her. We need to see ourselves in the character. Indeed, when we see in others ourselves as we would like to be, higher admiration sets in and with it deep concern and abiding hope. We want our heroes to win.
  • The words Hero and Heroine sound impossibly grand, invoking wartime, bravery, and inhuman fortitude.

All in all, Mr. Maass is a hundred percent correct. When it comes down to reading about a character, I'm not going to enjoy reading about someone I can't relate to.

So the question of the day?

What qualities do heroes possess?

1. Determination - a fixed intention to resolve even in the most complicated disasters.
2. Loyalty - a feeling of high allegiance
3. Courage - a firmness of spirit which meets danger without being overcome by fear
4. Dedication - a selfless devotion
5. Valor - courage during battles
6. Conviction - a fixed, unshakable belief
7. Fortitude - encountering danger and enduring pain with a steadfast, unbroken spirit
8. Sacrifice - willingness to do what is best for the world above what is best for your own personal pleasure
Quick Writing FAQs

Many people on AW (absolute write.com) make threads asking tens of hundreds of questions about writing. From what is a plot to how to get published. There are many personal ones, and since my blog is going to be mostly focused on my writing, here is my own little mini-interview (that is if you're allowed to interview yourself >.>)

Where did you get your ideas for your novel?

You know, when you're younger you pick up on
some things, but not many. I picked up that people made fun of Jews -- a lot. I asked my mom, heavy catholic, when I was about seven years old what the difference between me and a Jew was. She shrugged the question off like she usually did (yes, I was the annoying kid that asked every. freaking. question.) and just gave me an answer she thought would shut me up.

"They don't believe Jesus is apart of the Holy Trinity. They think he will come later in the future." I was a smart kid. And I had one question that boiled in my head every since I got that answer: if Jews believed their messiah would come later, and we believe the next person to "pretend" to be the messiah, then it would start a war... right? They'd be praising this one guy, and we'd think that guy is the anti-christ.

So I guess you can say that's how it started. Religions fighting religions. Being a theologian now, I prefer not to "pick" sides or lean one way or another. So instead of having different conflicting view points between religions, I made a story up about devils. Let's assume every religion on the Earth is right. Each religion has their God, and in turn, each religion has their devil. Now, imagine if those devils finally came together, for their own reasons of course, and fought the entire idea of religion. That's where I started.

How did you figure out the names of your characters?

It's pretty obvious by my previous answer that I came up with my antagonists first. I pinpointed what genre I wanted to write in (Young Adult), and I wanted to make sure it was something catchy that opened up to the older end of YA readers. The names were hard. I started my main character with the name Gabe simply because I like it. I was in the middle of my first outline when the phone rang at work.
"Good morning, Williams Sign."
"Well, good morning to you." A man answered me with the smoothest voice I've ever heard. "I was wondering if I could speak with Lowell Taylor."
"Your name, sir?" (Yes, I'm southern. I say sir and ma'am.)
"This is Tony Martini with Memphis Goodwill." Tony -- Martini. I liked the ring of his name, so much that I actually named one of the character's Tony Martini. After work, I went out to eat with some of my friends and grabbed the picture menu at Chili's. Bourbon, Sherry, Mudslide, Whiskey -- list can go on forever. That's how I came up with the names of my MC and his closest friends: Bryce Bourbon, Sapphire Sherry, Jive Mudslide, Singapore Sling, Miss Bombay, and of course, Tony Martini. I wouldn't change them for the world.

What keeps you up at night when writing?

I actually lose very little sleep at night over my book. If I get an idea while trying to lay down, hell it's time to break out the lap top!

On the other end of the spectrum, I've cried myself to sleep because of writing. :P

How do you find motivation?

Perhaps one of the reasons it takes me so long to actually write a book is because I don't go out and actively seek motivation. I will take a month off, perhaps two. Right now, I am unpublished. So I have time to take breaks, I don't have deadlines.

There are certain times I have to motivate myself to write a certain part, like a death. When doing that, I read real stories about death. For example, Alex is a paramedic. He sees more in one day than I have my entire life. He'll write in his blog when he can't get the memories out of his head, and even though it's tragic, it's inspiring.

Happier scenes are easy to motivate myself for. I enjoy the simple talks and the sweet moments. The older I become the darker my books get; so when I do come across a happy scene, I enjoy every second of it.

Other scenes like fighting scenes, I do a number of things. My father and brother are into MMA, so I go to fights with them. I actually watch quite a bit of Anime as well to get my blood pumping.

How did you decide which character would be your main character?

This is probably one of the harder questions. I knew I wanted a male teenager. I immediately thought of a boy that looked like the picture posted at the top of the message. I gave him a name, and I wanted him to be a bit braver than he looked. I'm someone that completely contradicts the way I look, and I love that about myself. So I wanted him to be the same. Scrawny, tall, young -- but a hero through and through.

I've always been enchanted by history, so knowing the boy's past before he was a New York city slicker was incredibly important to me. So I dug in his past a bit deeper, and realized what if he were the devil? What if this sweet, innocent, brave boy was actually just a reincarnation of one of the most terrifying demons that have ever lived? How would he handle that? And that is where his shy, clumsy personality blossomed into a boy that would be the hero. A boy that had to face his past. A boy that had to correct the wrongs he once made. A boy that turned into a man.

Are there any "writing rules" you've happily broken?

OH YES. There are. The biggest one is according to writers, people are sick and tired of the destruction of the world. You know, I don't blame them sometimes. Sometimes it's ridiculous that a character that average is going to stupidly save the world. But I'm a firm believer in BIG. I want the stakes to be high. Killing everyone. Destruction of the world. Character getting dragged to hell and back. I want all of it. But I'm also a firm believer in having the character be just as big as your plot.

The next thing is legend. People say it's to fill-in for weak plots. I have a legend in my story. Of course, middle of the second book, you find out that Bryce is in fact NOT the boy of legend. So he's strutted around all this time thinking he was the legend, and he isn't. I use this "cliche" as a tool of motivation. The prophet, Aki Sake, would have never brought Bryce to his full potential unless she made him believe in himself. What a better way to manipulate him and say, "Hey, you're the kid everyone's talking about. You're not going to die, you're supposed to save the world!"

The third biggest rule I break is sentence fragments. I like them. A lot. I write in first person, so it gives my character a bit more voice. He's a sarcastic brat sometimes, and that's when the sentence fragments start. It's writing. Times have changed. Call me the next Chaucer. I don't care.

That's all for today! If you have any specific questions -- feel free to leave a comment and ask! Have a good one folks.
The First Post!
Hello! While I have been blogging for a couple of days in another blog, I decided to switch blogs since I didn't like the lack of customization.

Anyway, let's start this.

A little bit about me:

Since I believe love is the most important thing in life, I’ll start with that. Relationship status = has been/could be. As in my has-been relationship is now a month over, thankfully. Long story short — no romance, no passion, no love. It was a dull mating ritual of co-existing to say the least. Towards the end of the relationship I’d be lucky to say it even was that alluring.

On the positive side, this "could be" fella, Alex, is flying into Memphis today! I should be picking him up about two o'clock if all goes well. It's funny, it's always snowing when he's here. Hasn't snowed all year, and the day it shows up -- it's snowing! (If you know anything about memphis, memphis doesn't get good weather. It's always either 100 degrees with terrible humidity or it's 38 degrees and raining.) So we'll see how great this could be really could be ^_^!

The next thing that I believe defines a person is their career. I work for a sign company, as in the neon signs you pass every day. It’s a company full of men, but fortunately they’re all family. I am the accountant for this company, and I don’t believe there is anywhere in the world that I would rather be. It might seem as if I’m not ambitious. It’s not that at all, actually. I’m just so entirely happy helping my father and my brother. Every day I get to wake up, go to work, and help them make their jobs easier. As an accountant, I work probably a whole five hours of the eight, and I am able to do the one thing that ignites my body: write.

I love writing. It is that simple. I love fantasy and what goes beyond the boring, average life. Fantasy and Romance are stories that have always fascinated me. As for writing, I prefer fantasy — urban fantasy at that.

My first book that I actually completed was finished right after I had turned 18. I was quickly crushed by oh-so-many rejection letters from literary agents, people who represent your work to publishing companies. The difference between a writer and a published author is the difference between burritos and sushi.

At the complete failure of my first novel, I simply told myself to do better. And that is exactly what I have done. The second book turned into a quartet of four books about myths, legends, religion, demons, and above all — the will to carry on. I am currently 20,000 words short of being finished with my 3 out of the 4 books. By the end of this year, I hope to be finished completely with the last book and starting on serious edits.

To get your feet a bit muddy, I post my query letter here. Query letters are about as close to hell as anything can get. I know writing 250,000 words might seem hard to some, but comparing it to writing 500 words about the 250,000 story — it’s a piece of cake. Anyway, this is what I have so far. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a start to many, many, many things on my re-write list.

The events foretold in the book of Revelation are occurring. But not as planned. Lucifer, the fallen angel, is protecting heaven.

Haunted by dreams of his previous life as Lucifer, the fifteen-year-old city slicker Bryce Bourbon vows to right the wrongs he once made. His plan: to manipulate aether, an elemental power with the ability to transform him into a lethal weapon, and stifle evil as it infects the globe.

Bryce’s mission leads him to Jerusalem where two devils seek to kill the Jewish Messiah, Sar Shalom. But the web of devils stretches farther than these two. Another four have placed themselves in prestigious political positions around the world to ensure their access to biological and nuclear weapons.

When Bryce stumbles into the devils’ trap, he discovers their plan to spark World War III. In order to spare the Earth of the agonizing genocide he once inflicted upon it, Bryce must find a way to control his strengths and save the messiah before the devils’ set into motion the Apocalypse.

As I said before, there are four books. First revolves around Judaism. Second revolves around both Sikhism and Buddhism. The third is about Hinduism and Muslim; while the fourth focuses on Christianity. These six religions I always found completely memorizing, so it’s only natural that I write about it. I left most of the heavy-religious tones out of the book so everyone of all beliefs could read it for what it is: a story.

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