Tag Archives: character development

Character Development: Creating Unforgettable Characters with Rachel A. Marks

Posted by August 17th, 2015

Darkness-BrutalPlease welcome Book Country member Rachel Anne Marks back to the blog! Rachel’s been a wonderful force of positivity and wisdom here on Book Country for going on three and a half years. We were absolutely thrilled when Rachel announced that Skyscape had picked her up for a 2-book deal. Her young adult debut, DARKNESS BRUTAL, is on sale now. Rachel stopped by the blog this morning to share insights on the incredible character development that keeps her readers coming back for more.

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When we open a book, we begin a journey, and there are several things that help us decide if we’ll keep going. We ask ourselves if we want to hang out in the world of the book, if the questions raised seem interesting, but we also want to follow the lead subject on their journey. As a reader, this is one of my biggest questions when I start reading a novel: do I connect with the main character?

And as a writer, it’s even more important. In order to show a story through the eyes of another, we need to have a strong link to their motives, fears, and conflicts. We need to be almost literally in their shoes if we want the reader to feel that way too. Continue reading

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Doodling Prompts for Character and Story Development! By Lisa Currie

Posted by November 25th, 2014

Currie promptFinal week of NaNoWriMo 2014? Even if you aren’t participating with a new work, and are instead in some stage of editing your novel in progress, we can help! Today we offer the final installment of fun doodling prompts for character and story development, from author and master doodler Lisa Currie, whose new book ME, YOU, US is just out from Perigee Books. You can download and print these exclusive prompts by clicking on the hyperlinked words in the text below. Share yours with us on social media! Both books, ME, YOU, US and THE SCRIBBLE DIARY, are available widely online and in stores.

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So, you’ve made it through a month of thinking creatively about your novel-in-progress, through the power of doodle prompts. Huzzah!  I hope it’s been as fun as it has beneficial. To recap: In the first doodle prompt installment post, we established the power and popularity of doodling. If you click on the link, you’ll be able to download four doodle prompts that you can use to start fleshing out your character(s). The second installment, was a more in-depth online profile prompt. The third doodle prompt focused on plot points and obstacles in the way of your protagonist’s goal(s). Our fourth installment helped prompt you to finding those nuggets of details that makes your character unique. Continue reading

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Character-Based Doodling Prompts By Lisa Currie

Posted by November 17th, 2014

Lisa Currie

Midway into NaNoWriMo 2014? Or, stuck on your novel-in-progress or novel-to-be and feeling like your characters need a little more oomph? Today we offer another set of fun doodling prompts for character development from author and master doodler Lisa Currie, whose new book ME, YOU, US is just out from Perigee Books. You can download and print these exclusive prompts by clicking on the hyperlinked words in the text below. Share yours with us on social media! 

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Welcome to the fourth installment of doodling prompts for writers, adapted from my books, ME, YOU, US and THE SCRIBBLE DIARY. And as the holidays get closer, a little hint: the books make great gifts for writer and non-writer friends alike! In the first doodle prompt installment post, we established how doodling can help develop your book. If you click on the link, you’ll be able to download four doodle prompts that you can use to start fleshing out your character(s). The second installment was an in-depth online profile prompt. The last doodle prompt focused on plot points and obstacles in the way of your protagonist’s goal(s). Continue reading

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Doodling Prompts for Character Development! By Lisa Currie

Posted by November 12th, 2014

Lisa Currie prompt Participating in NaNoWriMo 2014? Today we offer another set of fun doodling prompts for character development from author and master doodler Lisa Currie, whose new book ME, YOU, US is just out from Perigee Books. You can download and print these exclusive prompts by clicking on the hyperlinked words in the text below. Share yours with us on social media! 

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This is the third installment of doodling prompts for writers, adapted from my books, ME, YOU, US and THE SCRIBBLE DIARY. Both are excellent tools for writer’s groups, and a fun yet productive break from laboring over the story page. In the first doodle prompt installment post, we established the power and popularity of doodling, identifying famous politicians, businessmen, authors, and creative types who doodled. If you click on the link, you’ll be able to download four doodle prompts that you can use to start fleshing out your character(s). In the second installment, it was a more in-depth online profile prompt. Continue reading

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Doodling Prompts for NaNoWriMo! By Lisa Currie

Posted by November 5th, 2014

ME, YOU, US by Lisa CurrieReady to start NaNoWriMo 2014Fleshing out characters for your novel-in-progress or novel-to-be? Today we offer another set of fun doodling prompts for character development from author and master doodler Lisa Currie, whose new book ME, YOU, US is just out from Perigee Books. You can download and print these exclusive prompts by clicking on the hyperlinked words in the text below. Share yours with us on social media! 

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In the first post, we established the power and popularity of doodling, identifying famous politicians, businessmen, and creative types who doodled, from George Washington to Bill Gates, Michelangelo to Larry David.  More relevant to you, well-regarded authors throughout history have turned to doodling and scribble-thoughts to better imagine characters and give them more depth, outline story arc, and visualize settings and context. Continue reading

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Doodling Prompts for Easy Character Development! By Lisa Currie

Posted by October 27th, 2014

ME, YOU, US by Lisa CurriePrepping for NaNoWriMo 2014? Fleshing out characters for your novel-in-progress or novel-to-be? Today we offer fun doodling prompts for character development from author and master doodler Lisa Currie, whose new book ME, YOU, US is just out from Perigee Books. You can download and print these exclusive prompts by clicking on the hyperlinked words in the text below. Share yours with us on social media! (And check out the examples I did for the MC in my NaNo project below!)

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U.S. Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, did it. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did it. So did Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Bill Gates, Winston Churchill, Larry David, and Vidal Sassoon. Famous authors throughout the ages have done it, including Vladimir Nabokov, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Keats, Sylvia Plath, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. They were doodlers, all of them. Good thing, too, because recent studies* have shown that doodling unleashes the power of the creative mind. Think of it as creating off-road trails between neurons. Continue reading

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The New Adult Genre Demystified

Posted by November 8th, 2013

new_adultEver since Nevena and Alex Maurer first explained to me what the “New Adult” Genre was, I’ve been super curious to do a deep dive into this exciting new territory of the Genre Map. In some ways, it feels like the genre I have been waiting for my whole life, as a reader and as a writer. In fact, I am so enamored with this literary category that I decided on a whim that my NaNoWriMo project would be a New Adult novel and I am having a blast with it.

Alex was kind enough to share her analysis of New Adult with Book Country today: already this is a genre with its own tropes, quirks, triumphs, and guilty pleasures. As I’m crafting my New Adult novel, I’m very grateful to have Alex as my genre expert. ~LS

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New Adult is a literary category occupying the middle ground between YA, contemporary romance and “chick lit” (the 90s most prominent women’s fiction subgenre). The storylines are adapted for the 18+ audience interested in characters that are in college or are newly minted grads heading into the world. New Adult shoots for the audience who’s graduated from YA and is not quite ready to read about divorce, re-marriages, or children.

Some paranormal and fantasy stories have college-aged heroes/heroines. But those books aren’t necessarily New Adult, because New Adult is similar to contemporary romance:the love story is the meat of the book. Because let’s face it. After YA, we as readers are looking for something steamier.

New Adult spans heroes and heroines that are between 18 and 25 years old. (If characters are in their mid-twenties, the book is pushing contemporary romance (i.e., Samantha Young’s ON DUBLIN STREET, Raine Miller’s The Blackstone Affair series, and Sylvain Reynard’s GABRIEL’S INFERNO). While all of these have young 23-24-year-old heroines, the heroes are older, and the story lends itself to more traditional contemporary romance tropes.

So what else differentiates New Adult from contemporary romance, chick lit, and YA? We look for the following themes!

The Reformed Man-Whore: The too-good-to-be-true hero who was essentially formed by the gods. Besides fantastic hair, piercing eyes, square jaw, high-cheekbones, and a smokin’ body, he most likely has a “little black book” the size of Webster’s dictionary. This reformed man-whore changes for the heroine and boom! the college big man on campus is now a sworn monogamist (for the most part!).

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Humor Writing Lessons from Semple, Goldstein, and Ulinich

Posted by September 6th, 2013

Infusing humor in your writing is a smart way to get readers to stick around. Who doesn’t enjoy good comic relief? Yet there is no recipe to make a book funny; “funny” is easy to spot but harder to recreate.

That’s why I decided to look at books I’ve read in the past month and study the strategies they’ve used to make me smile, chuckle, and even hoot with laughter.

Humor & Character

bernadetteHumor can affect the way we perceive a character, appeal to our sympathies. WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE by Maria Semple is about a mother who retreats from the world. Kooky Bernadette is pretty hard to like at times, but her zaniness is steeped with so much humor that I couldn’t help but like her a little. To avoid interacting with other people, she hires a seventy-five-cent-per-hour virtual personal assistant from India to do her shopping for her and organize her life. Bernadette affectionately refers to the other mothers at her daughter’s school as gnats. She can spend hours fuming over the design of Seattle roads. Humor softens up Bernadette’s edges, brings out her humanity. It heightens her character in a way that is almost loveable. Bernadette has flaws but is not unsalvageable.

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Takeaway Writing Tips from #BCReadalong THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

Posted by August 30th, 2013

perks with frame

Two weeks ago we launched a back-to-school themed readalong for Book Country writers. The book we chose was the Young Adult Contemporary novel THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky. Our inaugural #BCReadalong was designed to read the book as writers, using PERKS as an example of prose, structure, and character development that has really resonated with readers of all ages.

Here at Book Country HQ we’ve come up with a list of writing tips that developed as we thought about what works about PERKS: Continue reading

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Young Adult Contemporary Guidepost #2: Love Stories

Posted by August 23rd, 2013

YA Contemporary Guidepost #2 Love Stories

As the second in a series of Guideposts for Writing Young Adult Contemporary fiction, we’re thinking about that old YA standby: the teen romance. Should your book have one or not?

Put a Little Love in Your Book

It’s extremely hard to think of a YA book in any literary category that doesn’t have some element of romance. Romance might not be the central theme, but it’s a good anchor in almost any story. For example, THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS by Ann Brashares is about the friendship (and those magical pants). But of the four main characters in the book, three of them have a love interest. One of the most effective ways Ann Brashares illustrates the depth of the sisterhood is by showing us how the characters soothe each other’s romantic anxieties and heartbreaks, as well as celebrate when the others find love. Even books that are relatively “Gender”-less usually explore the theme of love: Stephen Chbosky’s THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (which is, by the way, our inaugural #BCReadalong), EVERY DAY by David Levithan, and PARANOID PARK by Blake Nelson are all welcome books that shows us the complexities of teen life—and love—from a guy’s perspective.

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