Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Author Toolbox Blog Hop- Character Building

August 13, 2020
mandyevebarnett


character-cube

Whether you spend time intricately plotting and creating your story line or let the story flow unbidden, one facet of all stories that must be created and created well are its characters. Your protagonist, antagonist and all the supporting characters have a ‘job’ to do. They must give our readers an insight into their personalities, their struggles, ambitions and fears. Characters build the ‘world’ you have set your characters within by showing it through their eyes, their thoughts and actions.

Every writer has his or her own methods, when it comes to the creation of a character.

  1. Name,
  2. Physical attributes
  3. Personality traits.
  4. Setting.

For example, Setting: an alien being trapped in a spacecraft, a monster hunting its prey or specific behavior traits for period pieces.

Physical features: This primarily gives our readers an image but more importantly an idea of their personality. A thin, acne-faced teenager will not automatically give our readers the idea of a ‘superman’ kind of personality but a muscle bound, athletic type could.

Name: a good starting point for our creation, but it is also a minefield. Research into real persons, living or dead should be foremost, unless of course you are writing about that particular person.

Accent: a character’s voice says a lot about their location and background.

Real people or not: We can base characters on people we know or a combination of several or from people watching – an author’s favorite pastime. As writers situations, overheard conversation and life in general is a constant source of inspiration.

character-development (1)

There are numerous ‘character development work sheets’ available on the Internet and it can be useful to fill them in for your main characters, if you have no clear ‘picture’ of them to begin with.

I tend to write the story letting my characters dictate how their story will unfold. In so doing the characters develop creating their own story. This tends to change the narrative from my initial perception.  In this way they may develop characteristics I had not considered or react quite differently to a situation from my preconceived idea. This method may seem harder than having a detailed description of each pivotal character, their backstory and emotional compass, but it is my method.

We ‘live’ with our characters for a long time and they become ‘real’ to us. This enables us to write the story with ‘insider knowledge’ of our characters backstory, their emotional compass and their ultimate goal. This knowledge becomes paramount during the subsequent drafts and editing process, giving us a well-rounded character and a believable one for our readers. In truth, the initial draft is the testing ground for our characters, and revisions make them well rounded and ‘believable’.

Character profile

How do you create your characters?

Recognize these characters? Remember how irate poor Wile E Coyote would become with Road Runner? No matter what he did he never succeeded in catching his ‘dinner’. Beep, beep would ring out as yet another ACME kit damaged the coyote instead of the bird. It was truly a lesson in perseverance. No matter how many times the speedy bird escaped the coyote he would try, try, try again. I actually went past a road sign to Acme on my way to Canmore one time and wished I could have made a detour just for the fun of it.

wile-e-coyote-roadrunner

The art of creating such lovable and memorable characters is what every author strives for. We hope our creations will stay in our readers minds long after the last page has turned. Character profiles and back story play a large part in ensuring our characters are well rounded and believable. We delve into their personality type seeking out traits and habits to make them react to their crisis situations in an authentic way.

Do you make up scenarios for people you observe? Have any made it in to a manuscript?

 

Without characters our stories would have no real impact on our readers. We write to engage and intrigue them and hopefully make our protagonist the character our reader cares about. If your experience is anything like mine, there is usually one, or possibly two characters, that make their presence known in no uncertain terms. They want the starring role in our narrative. These characters are usually more defined in our minds and are ‘easier’ to relate to, whether because of a personality trait or that they are more fun to write. When creating the protagonist and antagonist in our stories, we give each opposing views and/or values. This is the basis of the conflict that carries our readers along their journey. Each character, whether major or minor, needs to have flaws and redeeming features, motivations, expectations, loyalties and deterrents.

With such a guideline our characters become clearer. A lot of the details will never reach the pages of our manuscript but knowing our characters well makes for a more believable personality as they struggle through the trials and tribulations, we subject them to. As most of you know I am a ‘free flow’ writer so everything is by the seat of my pants until the editing starts. This is where I find character flaws or great character traits that I can correct or build upon. My characters live with me during the writing process and usually lead me in directions I had never considered – I’m sure many of you can relate to that. As these personalities gain strength they become more ‘real’ and that is the moment their true selves appear.

When creating characters we must remember to ensure that each character acts and responds true to their given personality. Character profiles are a good way of ‘getting to know’ our characters. For example this sheet.

character

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Name that Character – Help Needed

February 25, 2020
mandyevebarnett


I am asking for help naming my heroine in my steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift. I have named her Owena but need to know your thoughts. I used Owena as it is a Welsh name meaning  young warrior.

The images above are for reference only, to give you an idea of how I envisage her.

To give you some background on her – here are a few things about her.

1. Comes from a upper middle class family background but not super wealthy.

2. Her mother died when she was young.

3. She was brought up by her father and older brother – they allowed her to learn from ‘manly’ literature, practice sword play and was more ‘tomboy’ than debutante.

4. She is feisty, adventurous and opposed to a conventional female role in society.

5. She stands up for herself.

Comment below with your suggestions. Thanks for taking part.

Remember you can find my books on these websites:

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01MDUAS0V

http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Mandy+Eve-Barnett

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…

November 1, 2017
mandyevebarnett


writing-hub

Writing:

It may be a day late but I hope you enjoy this Halloween themed story. I wrote it 3 April 2011, when my writing career was starting.

A Glimpse Through a Window

It started with a glimpse out of the corner of her eye. A movement passing the opened window but when she turned there was nothing there. Dismissing it as possibly a bird or a butterfly floating in the warmth of summer sunshine, she turned back to her work.

Just one more chapter and then she would treat herself to a walk to ease and stretch her aching muscles. Janice had woken bursting with inspiration at five o’clock, now six hours later a major part of the novel was complete. With a flourish she hit the keypad and straightens up. There in front of her was a beautiful face peering through the window.  Instinct made her jump and involuntary utter a gasp.

“Hello, who are you?”

The lady smiles but does not answer just reaches out her hand to beckon Janice outside. Her dark shape and long ebony locks float as if in water, it is surreal. Fascinated Janice opens the patio door and enters the warmth of the day time sun.

“Come follow – you will find.”

“Find what, where are we going?”

Without waiting the lady turns toward the rose garden, the oldest part of the cottage garden. The floral scent permanents the air as they approach the blooms.  The dark lady stops in the center of the path and points. Janice’s eyes follow her fingers direction – there blooms an ebony rose so dark it gleams.

“Write its story, Janice and release me.”

“Release you – I don’t understand?”

“My spirit resides within the bloom I am relying on your gift of words to free me forever.”

“What shall I write? Tell me what to write.”

“You know my story it is deep within you.”

Janice’s mouth opens to ask another question but the dark lady has disappeared. Was she dreaming? Everything seemed so real, so tangible – the warmth on her skin, the grass beneath her feet. Janice returns to her desk puzzling thoughts race through her mind. There she finds a dark rose petal lying upon the laptop keys. It was real?

A blank page faces her and her fingers begin to type – a story unfolds.

Esmeralda’s roses were well renowned even as far away as London. Each bloom was perfection itself due wholly to her unwavering commitment to their care. After years of trial and error with combinations of manure, egg shells and herbs, Esmeralda had found her ‘secret’ formula. Each season demanded another ritual before the first buds appeared in April. With careful attendance each bud was nurtured to its full potential. Every flower show saw Esmeralda take first place much to the dismay of her rival, Vanity. The competition between the two women was fierce.

During the sixth annual London show Esmeralda was summoned by the Duke of Suffolk. He commissioned her to produce a truly black rose – something never achieved before. With a deep bow Esmeralda had thanked him for his obvious confidence in her abilities but felt she would not succeed. The Duke took her hands and solemnly stated that if anyone could succeed it was indeed the Rose Queen herself.

Upon her return home Esmeralda began researching the deepest and darkest strains of rose. Using grafting techniques and cross pollination she grew several young plants. As they grew and flourished she waited patiently for the first blooms. She achieved deep burgundy and the darkest crimson but never ebony. Three long years past each new bloom took her a step closer to her goal but never close enough. Then in the fourth year a tiny shoot grafted to the main plant produced a bud unlike any Esmeralda had ever seen. It was the darkest green she had ever seen. She tended to this special bud as with all her charges and waited in anticipation for it to blossom.

Sunday 14th April would be a date Esmeralda would never forget – for that morning she witnessed the darkest most beautiful ebony bloom gleaming in the sunlight. She would send word to the Duke that she has succeeded in making his wish come true. However, Esmeralda died that day at the hands of her arch rival, Vanity. It was a dagger to her heart as she breathed sweet words to her special bloom. Vanity took the plant and professed it was her own creation. She became famous over night and revelled in the adulation.

As for Esmeralda her body was buried beneath her rose garden- a place she had loved above all others. Her spirit lived on in the multitude of blooms until one day it rose up and made its presence known. She was the Rose Queen and the ebony bloom her creation.

The words flowed so quickly Janice could not read them quickly enough. At last her fingers ceased their frantic tapping and she realized who her visitor had been. Janice would make sure the real creator was acknowledged for her Black Rose.

Most of my writing for the next couple of months is going to be my freelance project – I have to keep to the deadline! If my brain needs refreshing I will return to my YA novella, Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria, I have maybe 2-3 chapters to complete now. Then I can send the whole manuscript to my illustrator with ideas for the chapter header images.

What projects do you have planned for the winter months?

Books:

I am reading this novel by a young local author. She has created her voice and a wonderful cast of characters. Review to follow.

chronicles

Writing Tips: Hashtags for writers.

#amwriting: Commonly used by writers to indicate they’re generating pages.

#amediting :  a writer is going through his or her pages, revising.​ 

#writingtip or #writetip
Writing coaches, editors, and others whose livelihoods depend on authors will offer up their tweety pearls of wisdom, marked by these hashtags.

#writingprompt
This hashtag is used when writing coaches give a suggestion about what to write, an idea to get the writer going and help to stimulate the flow of the pen on the page.​

And good luck to all who are participating this year.

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#nanowrimo
National Novel Writing Month (November) helps create solidarity among those toiling on their magnum opuses

Other tags:

#book
#novel
#nonfiction
#fiction
#paperbacks
#short or #short #story or #shortstories or #shortreads
#litfic (for literary fiction)
#histfic and #histnovel (used for historical fiction)
#womensfiction
#scifi or #science #fiction
#romance
#paranormal
#crime
#suspense
#kidlit
#cookbooks

What hashtags do you use?

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…

October 25, 2017
mandyevebarnett


writing-hub

My main concentration over the past week and into this week has been my ghost writing project. Fueled with ‘technical jargon’ from my client, I have been incorporating it into the story. The characters are taking shape and after this evening, I will send the revisions ready for our meeting on Thursday. With all narrative’s, be they creative or non-fiction, there has to be a ‘voice’ present. My main character is clear to me and the supporting characters interactions with them is ensuring an engaging story.

I will get back to my YA story in time but need to focus on freelance work for now. I am still undecided on which ‘pending’ novel to tackle next. Each one has its own unique qualities. The Giving Thief – a suspense/coming of age, Willow Tree Tears – a western romance and Life in Slake Patch – a speculative fiction. Logically I should complete Slake Patch, as it is the oldest manuscript and has been rewritten and edited too many times to mention. But with the success of The Twesome Loop – romance with a reincarnation twist – should I follow up with another romance?

What are your thoughts? Which one would you tackle?

Book review:
blood games

Believable and well formed characters, a great plot with lots of tension even after the criminal is revealed and beyond. A real page turner with a climax that keeps you reading in trepidation.
If you like detective stories this is one for you.

Currently reading and enjoying this:

chronicles

Writing Tip:

Get your characters talking

Writers are observers and listeners. This trait is essential for creating fictional characters. The use of accents, verbal habits and choice of words will enhance the exchange of dialogue within the narrative thus bringing the characters to life. The reader should be able to identify the particular character through their ‘voice’.

How do you create a characters voice?

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…

October 18, 2017
mandyevebarnett


writing-hub

Writing:

Writing has been spasmodic this past week but I have accomplished several ‘to do’ items on my list. I have increased the word count on my YA novella, which now has the new title of Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria. The word count stands at 24,491 as of today. I think the new title reflects the age group and hopefully will intrigue them.

The fairy story, I submitted for an anthology has been edited a couple of times and I am happy with the changes.

My freelance project is continuing and the collaboration with my client is working well.

My excitement went into overload this week when The Twesome Loop was on the Edmonton Bestsellers from October 9th to October 15th.
Link for print or ebookhttps://www.amazon.com/Twesome-Loop-Mandy…/dp/B075DRWHXN

Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers

1. This is All a Lie – Thomas Trofimuk *
2. Maybe This Time: A Colorado Ice Novel – Jennifer Show *
3, Raincheck – Marlo Lanz
4. Origin – Dan Brown
5. This Wound is a World (Poetry) – Billy-Ray Belcourt
6. Alice Network – Kate Quinn
7. A Legacy of Spies – John Le Carre
8. Left-Handed Dinner Party & Other Stories – Myrl Coulter
9. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
10. The Twesome Loop – Mandy Eve-Barnett

 

Books:

blood games Enjoying this detective versus serial killer story even though it is not a genre I normally read. My friend V.J. has a great style and keeps the tension going.

Looking forward to reading this by a new local author I connected with a while ago.

chronicles

Writing Tips for famous authors:

Use concrete imagery when you write about large, abstract themes – Wislawa Szymborska

Work stories out in your head when you can’t write – Alice Munroe

Make people believe in your story first and foremost – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Don’t focus on the end goal excessively as you write – John Steinbeck 

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