Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Character Creation: Ten Questions To Ask

February 24, 2022
mandyevebarnett


When creating a story the main element is the characters within the narrative. To ensure we, and our readers, can visualize and become empathic with these protagonists and antagonists, we need to take into account their personalities and backstory. We can begin by asking questions to enable us to create a fully formed character.

  1. What is this character’s name?

Names are a vital first impression for your reader. It can denote an age, location or era. Research names for your story that will fit time and place. You may also chose a name that has a significant meaning.

2. How old are they?

You can state a character’s age, or allude to it with their reactions, preferences or actions.

3. What do they look like?

You can give subtle clues to your character’s looks through careful descriptions rather than listing their physical features. For example, the steamed up mirror gradually revealed her wet long black hair. He easily picked the box off the top shelf.

4. Who are they?

Utilize a character’s occupation, a prominent personality trait, or interaction to give your reader a glimpse at them.

5. Where are they?

Ensure the location of your scenes is ‘visible’ to your reader. A dark room, a summer day in the park or a sandy beach. Place your character within these locations and have them interact with their surroundings.

6. What era/season/day do they inhabit?

With historical fiction, or date/era sensitive stories this is important so your readers are orientated to where your characters live.

7. Who are your characters interacting with?

Name other characters within a scene, this is usually accomplished through dialogue, or interaction.

8. How do they relate to the other character(s)?

Create scenes that help your reader understand the relationships between your character’s. For example, Tom laid his hand on Cheryl’s shoulder as she typed up the letter. She shrugged her distaste at her boss’s physical touch. Tom positioned himself on one side of her desk and grinned.

9. What is your character accomplishing in each scene?

Each scene should relay what your character is trying to accomplish, with whom and how. Give your readers enough information, but also ask questions on what happens next.

10. Keep your character’s plight foremost.

Keep your reader engaged with curiosity, emotional investment, or sympathy for your character, this will keep them present in the story.

Remember to be true to your story but also your readers expectations within the specific genre.

Do you have certain questions you ask your characters? Care to share?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – In the Writing Saddle Again

January 13, 2022
mandyevebarnett


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It feels good to be back in the writing saddle again after a break after National Novel Writing Month and the Christmas & New Year’s celebrations. Leaving a manuscript for a while helps refresh our brains (and Muse). Obviously, we do not need to return to the frantic writing style of November, thank goodness! With a sizable word count from the challenge, we can now relax back into the story.

There are a couple of options we can take. Firstly, to continue where we left off or to go back to read the text and make changes or plunge into editing. We all have a specific target for our NaNoWriMo manuscripts. Some will be filed way for another time, others completed before the editing process, while others may be subject to a full revision. Whichever, method you use, it is always a personal choice once we see the work of November.

My second book in my detective trilogy – The Tainted Search, took an unexpected twist during November, so I am keen to follow the story line to see where it takes me and my characters. I did know one of the characters was the cause of the procedural mistake, but until NaNoWriMo not the method of how he was found out and by whom. It has created an unlikely alliance.

What are you doing with your NaNoWriMo manuscript?

Care to share the genre, story line, plot?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – What Makes a Good Book?

January 11, 2022
mandyevebarnett


Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

As a reader, I look for a story that grips me from the beginning. It maybe the opening line, a well defined character, or an inciting scene. To become quickly immersed into a narrative, means the author has done a good job. We also tend to have certain authors we read as we know their skill in storytelling and the genre they write.

Choosing a book to read is a personal preference and a gift card is a good way to delight the reader in your family. Unless of course you know them very well and their reading likes and dislikes.

There are many ways a book can be defined as a good book.

  1. A strong opening. A sentence or paragraph that compels you to continue reading.
  2. Well defined and relatable characters.
  3. A well written constructed plot.
  4. Believable dialogue.
  5. The writer’s style absorbs you into the story.
  6. Good use of description to let you ‘see’ the location/characters.
  7. Great tension in the story line.
  8. An original tale.
  9. A sense of expectation of what happens next.
  10. A satisfactory conclusion.

How do you determine your choice of a book?

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – The Dreaded Editing Process

December 2, 2021
mandyevebarnett


Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Editing encompasses several elements in order to achieve a well-polished manuscript for submission. Editing includes among other things, continuity, grammar, spelling, character development, revisions to scenes etc. the list is long and sometimes overwhelming.

Where should you start?

Instead of plunging directly back into a first draft, let it sit for a while. Start another project, take a rest, whatever you need to tear yourself away from the world and the characters you created. Ideally, leave it for three to six months, depending on any deadlines you have, of course. This will allow you to ‘see; it with fresh eyes.

When you go back to re-read there will be new insights. Rather than overwhelming yourself with trying to ‘correct’ all the editing elements mentioned above, concentrate on one item at a time.

Limit each read through to a specific task.

When you have completed these tasks let either trusted friends, or members of your local writing group read it. Take note of their suggestions and correct any errors they may find. Remember, no matter how many times you or your beta readers go through a manuscript, there will always be a word missed, mis-spelt or a continuity slip up. Once this is done it is time to consider handing over the manuscript to a professional. A professional editor is a good investment, if you can afford one. A badly edited book reflects on you the author and no-one else.

Here are a couple of tricks that can help you edit more effectively:

  1. Read the book from back to front page by page. This stops your brain putting in words that are not there.
  2. Read it out aloud to yourself or an understanding friend. A missed word is very obvious with this technique.

When editing there may be sentences or even whole paragraphs that you know need to be revised or even omitted from the manuscript to help with the flow of the story line or scene.  Deleting these can be hard. There are different opinions on what to do with these revisions but I think they should be saved in a separate document until you are absolutely sure you do want to delete them and even then you may keep them as a record of how the scene developed. A writer’s jetsam so to speak. These ejected words from our narratives may dwell in our hard drives or document folders for months, sometimes years. They may even be useful if at some point in the future you decide to use them in a sequel!  

Without correcting and improving, our creations will not be polished and worthy of reading and that is the one thing we all want – our work to be read and enjoyed.

What is your editing process like?

Creative Edge – Author Interview – Thorsten Nesch

June 24, 2021
mandyevebarnett


Your novels tend to have unexpected protagonists/settings. Was this a conscious decision or the spark of an idea that evolved? My ideas hit me just as unexpected. It is not like I want to come up with this or that like a contract writer where an idea is developed and catered to a market, I am on the other end of that spectrum. I am not in control of my ideas, and there are plenty, and many I can’t even tackle, most of them I won’t finish in my life time. The once that make it are pressing, have an immediate impact on me and when they linger over weeks I know I have to sit down and deal with them. What brings us to …

Do you plan an outline or free flow write? … this question, and yes I do. For the longest time I had to keep up a job to buy myself time to write (and food and the other trivialities), so I couldn’t just write into the blue and hope the novel turns out well somehow. I had to be sure. I could not waste any time. Early on I developed my outline technique where I work only on 1 letter sized piece of paper, which I could take anywhere (jobs etc.) at all times. Everything is on that 1 page, the entire outline, like “They steal the car”, that’s a beat, at that time I don’t know where they do this for example. Only when I see these beats work and I understand my protagonists, hear them, feel them, know them, and I clearly hear the narrating voice I start the novel. This planning phase takes between 2 and 15 years before I start writing, but then the 1st draft is the novel. 

Can you explain how the process of writing with a fellow author works? Is it a chapter each or a combination of thought and writing? I did this more than once, but always we agreed one of us writes a quick first version and the other expands on that. This way the voice of the novel is not flopping back and forth – except there are 2 distinct views or narrators, then this would make sense.

What differences are there from writing a novel to a film script to a song? A song or a poem is the entire opposite to a novel to me. These happen in an instance, a spontaneous outburst in under an hour, unplanned, unmanaged, quasi anarchic in character. A film script (as well as a radio play or a theatre play) is planned like the novel, but the writing is a fraction of it. I love film scripts, I wish more people would read them and they’d become an own literary genre.

Does your music affect your writing or the other way around? All the different media I am working in influence each other, ideas bleed from one form into another (example my song “Joyride Sky” was inspired by my novel “For a Spin”, I invented a band that pops up in a number of my novels, and for the dystopian novel “2112” (working title) I am currently working on I recorded an entire album you can listen to on Bandcamp, the band is called JENNY HAS TRAFFIC. It is fun and adds to the characters.

You have been prolific in the number of publications. Are the ideas still coming as quickly? Do you have a folder of ideas pending? Oh yes, ideas come constantly, I have to dodge them, write them down and put them in the folder. That folder is full with ideas, no way I can write all of them.

What challenges do you face with language? English is my 2nd language. The biggest challenge for me as a writer is not so much the spelling, grammar, vocabulary (you can work on that), but the fact I did not grow up in the English culture, I miss out on most childhood references, sport and political events, etc. I have to live with that, there is no way I can catch up with that.

When you write songs what influences you? My mood. My mood dictates the feeling of a song. Many lyrics come from darker places, I am not a musical comedian although I wrote many funny novels and had the pleasure to experience their impact first hand during my readings in schools between Denmark and Italy.

What propelled you to start you podcast? I was the kid (14 years old) that stayed up late to listen to radio shows at midnight. I always loved the medium, for music and word. I worked for radio in Germany, and as a volunteer I had an own 4 hour show at CJSW at the University of Calgary called PolterZeitGeist where I mixed words and music. Since technology evolved digitally I was able to get the equipment and do it myself.

Can you tell us about your latest project? I received this year the Literary Arts Individual Project Grant by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts to write the dystopian novel “2112”, and I document this process on my homepage in words, photos, audio and video until February 2022.

Where can readers find you? http://www.thorstennesch.com

Is there a message you would like to share with your readers? Don’t judge a book by its cover, please read the first page. Even with my novels, because the narrating voice changes.

Bio:

Thorsten Nesch is a German author who lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. 2008 Nesch’s first novel Joyride Ost was nominated for Oldenburger Kinder- und Jugendbuchpreis and the Landshuter Jugendbuchpreis. 2012 the book won the Hans-im-Glück Award

Blog at WordPress.com.