Blog Chain Posts: The Revived

Alex tagged me in what she deems a “book meme” post and my first thought was: Oh yeah, the blog! Then my second thought was: Shoot, I need to put up a post!

And here you have it. A bunch of random questions to be answered by yours truly. Shall we begin?

How old are you?

What are you, the NSA?

What book are you reading?

The name escapes me, but it’s Book 2 in Sophie Jordan‘s Firelight series. Candlelight? Miller Lite? Anyways, I’m enjoying it. It’s an easy read about a girl who’s actually a dragon with romance. Ding!

What are you wearing?

Seriously, are you the NSA? But since you asked, my work out clothes. I worked out real good. And you’re probably glad blog posts don’t smell.


(For the old people in the audience: this is short for One True Pairing, or your favourite couple from a story.)

Right now I’m going to have to go with Yoo-Kyung and Hyun-Wook from a Korean drama called Pasta. HW is arrogant as all get out, but I still find him charming somehow, even though I’d prefer YK gave Mr. Cactus a chance. Doesn’t anyone care about Mr. Cactus?! ANYoNe?!

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Inspirational Monday Morning

Rainy days don’t get me down. But Mondays do. And here we are again. Does it sometimes seem like we’re pressing teh reset button for the exact same week? At least it wasn’t the exact same day for 10 years, like for poor Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day.

But this is supposed to be inspirational time. So let’s get inspired!


This may lay somewhere in between. I’m sure you’ve heard of hacking, but have you heard of life hacking? Here are 50 like hacks to simplify your world.


No, I’m not serious. As far as I know there won’t be a Book 8. But what if there was? What tidbits of information would you like to know? What if I told you there were tidbits JK Rowling revealed about the world of Harry Potter post Book 7. Would you cry uncontrollably for days because this is the greatest thing that has possibly ever happened to you?

Well get those tissues ready, my friends. Read 28 things that happened after the Harry Potter books ended.


For some reason over the weekend I was thinking of Ralph Wiggum. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been editing so much lately, I need a good hearty laugh. I put Ralph to you, also, as one of those really well written side characters. They seem to stay true to Ralph and a lot of the best Simpsons lines come from him. How well do you know your side characters? Are you staying true to them, whether they’re comic relief or otherwise?


And finally, the 20 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me At 20. Some good advice. But I wonder, would my 20-year-old self have listened to this advice back then? I’d like to think I’d have listened to most of it. If you’d told me at 18, that might have been a different story. But 20, I feel like I’d had 2 years away from home to realize how incredibly smart Mom and Dad were.

What do you think? Is that advice still applicable today? Does Ralph Wiggum annoy you or encourage you to write characters true to their nature? Did you cry a little when you read the Harry Potter post? And how many of those life hacks are you totally going to try now?

Row 80 Check-In July 31

Happy Birthday Harry!

Oh, you didn’t know it was Harry’s birthday? Yes, apparently he was born on July 31, 1980, so Harry did actually reach the ripe old age of 33 today. So good on you Harry for kicking… oh, right. Spoilers. Except I just said… *ahem* Moving on.

The Goals

1. Read at least 10 more Anton Chekhov short stories to add to my progress of 50 of 201. 57 of 201, thank you very much! Short story writers or wanna-be writers, Chekhov helps. Read here free!

2. Finish reading both The Fire in Fiction and On Writing. Still going for Spanish, but a great post I read earlier this week has jabbed me a little more in the direction of reading On Writing. Just got to get my schedule together and I think I can make this happen.

3. Submit Trick or Tree to another writing contest. Finish Dog Shy and write at least one other short story, all to be submitted to contests. No new progress.

4. Write a flash fiction story. No new progress, but I’m thinking when I get a free minute to edit those I have written. At the very least, I’m up to 2 flash fiction stories written, and that’s something to be proud of.

5. Do at least one thing every week that increases my fluency in Spanish and Japanese. Check and check!  Thanks to Teaching Tunes Tuesdays I’m keeping up with this one.

6. Finish feedback edits on SHADE and get it queried. Began the ominous task of edits this week. I’ve made it through three chapters, although no real guarantees that they are “done” in any sense. But her feedback was very thorough and she brought up a lot of questions that need answering. That’s what I love about this kind of feedback. The questions are asked, supported by reasons and I’m left to make the change for clarity. That way changes I make are mine and mine alone. I’m excited about this editing, even though it does feel a bit ominous a task. 🙂

Bonus Goals. Code Name Clemmings is on hold and it’s semi-killing me. I really got into the characters and story, but I feel like editing needs to come first. Perhaps when I need a break I’ll give it another go. I really just want to finish up Chapter 2 so I can take it to my writer’s group.

And yeah, thanks to The Cupboard Fiasco, the 5am coach found himself employment again. I’m hoping tonight I can fire him. Here’s to forcing that pink slip down his throat.

And what’s the status on your goals? Do life events often throw off your schedule or do you stick to the schedule *no matter what*? What kind of feedback do you like best on your work? Do you go to a writers group or do you have good friends you work with?

SMC: Character Arcs

This fun panel was brought to us by Jordan McCollum who also made access to her Prezi (like Powerpoint but cooler) via her website. So if my notes don’t make any sense, you can always check out hers. Plus she’s got links and sources. Nothing but the best for all of you peeps.


Your character needs to have made some change by the end of your story. This can be many different types of change. Examples:

  • Mystery to truth
  • Fear to courage
  • Ambition to destruction
  • Doubt to decision

The internal journey is a major part of the elixir—the process of fixing what’s wrong in his/her life. Sometimes this can be more compelling than the external prize he/she can gain.

What if you don’t know your characters well enough yet? Are you trying to find a good internal conflict, or you still can’t figure out how the external events of the plot are going to affect them internally?

Focus on what motivates your character. Is it her:

  • Profession
  • Hobbies
  • Journey & changes in the story

What compels her to go on this journey with you? What are her values? What does she prize above all else?


Let’s pretend our MC is going on the show “Perserverer” (think Survivor, but since that’s copyrighted, we’re using this title instead). Why would our MC be going on the show? Money is the obvious reason, but it’s got to be more than that to be a compelling story.

The external events of the story directly influence the character’s emotional journey. A well-executed internal character journey is intertwined with the external plot. The events of the plot show the characters’ starting and ending points. But the external plot’s events also force the change and show the stages of the journey throughout.

When your writing the conflict, you’ve got to take it way back. The starting point 1) must be shown and 2) it must be bad. You must have it on screen. You can’t have people tell the reader about it nor can you just tell the reader about it.

Michael Hauge says there are plenty of ways to create the starting point. It can be:

  • Longing
  • Wound (something that’s really affected them)
  • Belief (start wrong, lead them to assume a mask)
  • Mask (not who they truly are)
  • Essence

An example of this for character arcs can be Shrek. He believes that because he is an ogre everyone will run away from and fear him and so he wears that mask making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But when you’re writing these arcs, don’t forget character sympathy! If they just let life keep kicking them, it’s hard to sympathize with them. Make sure they have struggles AND strengths.

The emotional starting point must be BAD, so bad that the character must fix it. They’ve probably already learned how to cope with it, but when the story begins you must weave something in so that when they face it this time they have to do something more to overcome it. And the more ingrained this is the harder it is to change.

Go back to Shrek. He’s so convinced about his mask of being “the ogre” he’ll even travel to Lord Farquaad’s kingdom to have him order people away when secretly what he wants is acceptance. He’ll do everything he can to keep people away, to hide his vulnerability.

“Save the Cat” is a great book on story telling. Some pieces of advice from this book is to make sure you take a step back. We must show the audience everything, and sometimes you have to make it worse for your character.

Character-driven fiction is about internal change. -Alicia Rasley


Sometimes in between the starting point (or inciting incident) and the climax, our stories drag in the middle. Our character may retreat into the familiar and failure.

  • link the external events and internal arc in stimulus/response units (I think you could also call it action/reaction).
  • character should try to maintain their world view most of the story—doesn’t want to change.
  • character is presented with real choices, stacked choices
  • they may make a wrong choice, and slowly they’ll learn their old world view isn’t working.
  • choices hurt him until he has no other choice or realizes he needs to make better choices.


Make every response somehow different, and then assemble them in order of emotional risk. -Alicia Rasley


In the ultimate moment of character change, show that the character has learned his lesson and can defeat the bad guy.

Set up the bad guy (internal, external, weather, whatever) the right way. Align the bad guy with the mask. Going back to Shrek: I’m a big scary ogre, the bad guy believes the same.

Show how the MC is (or has been) like the bad guy. Make the MC choose and affirm the choice.


We want the internal and external climax to come as close together as possible. Readers will only believe the internal change if they see it on an external level. -Alicia Rasley

So how do you have a fulfilling ending, even if your character doesn’t achieve his/her external goal? (Hint: it’s the title of this notes post…)


Each charcter in the main relationship needs their own arc, needs their own wound, and/or their own mask. The love interest must be able to see past the mask eventually to the character’s true essence. The MC will have problems with their love interest when they retreat behind their mask. The MC’s wound should somehow match the strength, personality, etc. something about the love interest/buddy. This trait helps heal the character’s wound. (Think Donkey and Shrek. Donkey is good at talking and relating to people. He helps Shrek gather the courage to share his true feelings with Fiona, something he wouldn’t have done before.)


Yes. They are often seen in series. They already have larger than life qualities and often go on larger-than-life adventures. (James Bond, Indiana Jones) This isn’t as common as it used to be with readers. Most these days like being with a character that arcs. You know, like Harry Potter.

Or this guy:


Character arcs in fiction show the power of transformative experiences. Watching that tranformation, rooting for it, and growing the character are the major reasons we read fiction.

What do you think? Do you plan character arcs into your stories? What tips do you have for those trying to figure out their character arcs? Do you miss David Tennant? Anything else you would add?

WFC – Building Professional Relationships

They listed this as “relationship building” or some such and I think most of us thought this would be a forum on character relationship building. Not so.

But not disappointing either. One of the foibles of many writers (and I’ve been guilty of this too) is our lack of interest or ability in forming professional relationships. Some of us can barely stomach the thought that people are reading our precious stories, let alone talk to those people after they’ve done it.

Being around the BFF has made me more of an outgoing person, because I was able to watch her seemingly flawless skill at connecting with people. She’s been in sales for years. Couple that with her natural love of people, and boom, her skills dominate.

Last year and this year too while attending the Writing for Charity conference I noticed the majority of writers I met seemed about 0% interested in networking. When I asked them what their story was about, they transformed into the wary cat, guarding the precious food it just found. That or they gave me that look, the what do you want look. That’s not all of them, but it was a lot of them.


If you can’t see the point of networking and connecting with other authors, then I’m sure this question has crossed your mind: What can other authors do for me? It’s not like they’ve got an agent either.

True, some may not. But you’re approaching the point with completely the wrong attitude. Networking and building professional relationships isn’t about what that person can do for you, but what you can do for them.

Let’s start with a quote from the forum:

Every opportunity has its root in a relationship.

Remember that phrase it’s not what you know but who you know. Although what you know is important and will take you far, who you know is equally as important. You’re probably still wondering how getting to know other aspiring authors is going to get you published.

Stop it. Stop that approach. Focus instead on what you can do for them. For me, in the beginning, it was that I knew networking and building relationships would at the very least bring me into the circle of my peers and keep my motivation running. But while networking, I met a friend who introduced me to all kinds of things I hadn’t know about Twitter. Hashtags like #myWANA #Row80 and #wordmongering now entered my hemisphere, all because I was willing to open my mouth and say hello.

I also tried to be his motivator and he was mine, and we checked in with each other on our progress. Friendship. Karma. If you give help freely, help will be given freely to you. I always learn something new from networking.

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