Saturday, January 25, 2014

It Starts With A Plan

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Your Manifesto by Helping Writers Become Authors

People message me all the time asking how they should write their story and finish it.

For one, I'm not expert so I'm probably not the best person to ask. Two, we all go about it a different way because we are different people. How I do it might not necessarily work for you.

There is one thing that I think we can all agree on—we need a plan.

Yes, writing is an art and requires that perfect flow of creative juices.

I completely agree, but it's also a bigger than just your story or your book. Writing, for me anyway, always comes with the goal to put all those creative ideas in one neat precious package which will hopefully be multiplied by a large number and distributed to people who would read the story and delight in it. While I'm usually a happy audience of one, I do want to share the story.

With the digital age, publishing isn't always so traditional anymore. There are tons of successful self-publishing stories out there. Whichever route you want to take, this very helpful article from Helping Writers Become Authors will give you a simple breakdown of how to make the idea in your head into a story and then a book which will hopefully be on its quick way to getting published.

I believe in plans and the way they put things in perspective.

I like directions when I'm going somewhere so I have an idea of how long it'll take to get there, what will be required to make the journey, and hopefully don't get lost along the way.

Planning out your writing is no different. :)


Monday, January 13, 2014

Fan Mail: Who Is Your Favorite Male Lead?

I've been getting lots of emails and messages asking me all kinds of questions. A lot of times, they're the same questions so I thought I'd post one here or there so that I can share it with anyone else interested to know. =)

Fan Question: Who is your favorite male lead out of the ones you've written?

Me: They really share a lot of similarities (you can pretty much figure out the kind of male lead I write if you've read one or two of my stories) but I must say that as much as I adore Brandon Maxfield (like any girl who wants a near-perfect guy), I'm still very drawn to Sebastian Vice.

Sebastian to me, is a perfect mix of a tortured soul, a domineering male, and an inner romantic. The guy quotes poetry by heart, for God's sakes.

Anyway, having written the prologue when he was just a boy, the meat of the story when he was a man at the crosspoint of his life where he could choose light over darkness, and the epilogue where we see the road he's gone down after making that leap, I feel like I know him better. He was really in a very dark place (dark enough that it turned what was supposed to be a sultry, summer read to an almost gothic romance) and I felt every bit of that pain, even as I was writing the story from Cassandra's point of view.

A lot of readers have mentioned he's quite flawed and he is and I don't apologize for any of that. He was supposed to make you fall in love but drive you up the wall (ahem, literally in our imagination, perhaps) and make you jump back and forth between rooting for him and swearing him off for good. I think I was able to feel all of that for Sebastian which really makes him a very full, very real character to me.

But who knows? There will be other characters in the future and you just never know who's going to walk out of those pages (or computer screens).

Hope that works!

(Send me a question through a message here in FB or Twitter or Wattpad and I'll do my best to give you a candid answer.)


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Writing Class: Fatal Flaw in Your Characters

My husband once looked up from a Stephen King book with a horrified expression and said, "He spent the last ten pages telling me about this character, who she is, where she's from, what her life is like—and then he killed her."

I recalled that memory not precisely because of the character getting literally killed in the story. It's the fact that my husband had cared enough about the character to be affected by her sudden demise. What kind of character would you care enough about that if something horrible happens to them, you have to somehow take a moment to cope?

I haven't taken formal writing classes but I've read enough books to know that the characters who stick with you long after you've read the book are characters with rich layers to them—their history, their strengths, their vulnerabilities, their secret thoughts, their struggles.

It's easy to create a character who hits all the marks but perfection is so one-dimensional.

Characters need to be relatable so you need them to be human and to be human is to flawed.

I attached a link to a great article in Romance University on How Fatal Should Flaws Be from a writing class with Laurie Schnebly Campbell.

It talks about making your character suffer.

Give him/her something to struggle with—a vulnerability that is ingrained, and that manifests in various parts of the story, something that has a sway on their decisions and actions.

Merely giving your character the fear of china dolls that would somehow never come up in the story is interesting but pointless.

If your character can't handle clutter or disorder, for example, she would have issues with people in her life who just drop in or call our out of the blue—may it be a parent who walks in and out of her life through revolving doors, or a close friend who keeps pushing her to throw caution to the wind and live a little, or a love interest who likes to live day by day, with no plans or prohibitions.

This flaw may have a small impact on the grand plot, or may be the very leg it stands on—it's really up to you—but the point is that it gives your character more dimension and in turn, provides you with more meat for sub-plots and character development.

To be perfectly honest, I don't start out writing by building up a character. It's very rare for me to do that.

I usually write names first because then I start to think of them that way.

Then I write down dialogs they somehow manage to have in my head and then I get to know my character's personality that way. When I start hearing their voice (not literally, hehe) and what they say and how they say it, I start to detect their character make-up and from there it occurs to me what they're strong at and what makes them vulnerable.

It's an odd way to build a character but I've found that it works with me.

There's no perfect formula—writing is an art form, after all—and creativity is tapped differently with every individual.

The point is, when you've gotten started, think about your characters as people. And because they're people, they're not going to perfect.

Poke away at them, leave them with some scars, turn their world upside down—the list is endless.

© Ninya Tippett. All rights reserved.