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The Rich Writer

The Rich Writer: April 2011

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Friday, April 29, 2011

Using Archetypes to Create Characters

It’s been on my list for a while to write a post about character archetypes and how they can inspire your writing…

Writer’s Block

…but Mark Nichol over at DailyWritingTips has such a comprehensive post about character archetypes—including the use of horoscope signs, Jungian psychology, Shakespeare characters, and the “personality enneagram” for character inspiration that instead of writing my own post, I’m going to point you over there.

Here’s a taste:

In essence, any literary character is drawn from one or more archetypes. An archetype is basically the pattern for a character, associated with a trait or a concept. Archetypes are most easily recognized in genre fiction — science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller — but they are applicable to any fiction, whether of high or low literary aspiration. The key is to select one or more archetypes as just the first step in character building.

But there are many types of archetypes from various belief systems and other sources. Try, for example, associating a character with one of the figures from the Chinese zodiac — boar, dog, dragon, horse, goat, monkey, ox, rabbit, rat, rooster, snake, and tiger — each of which is endowed with a complex array of both positive and negative traits….

See? Don’t you have to go read the rest?


:-) Cheryl

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Games in Boys’ Books

I’m racing forward with the first draft of my latest middle grade fantasy…and learning things left and right as I go. Is it just me, or do other writers find the writing process a terrific teacher? Since I’m writing middle grade fiction right now, you all get to hear about my middle grade fiction insights <grin>.

****DRUMROLL….Here it comes….BOYS LOVE GAMES!****

boy*Photo courtesy of Jerry on Flickr Creative Commons

Okay, maybe it’s not *that* revolutionary an idea, but I think it’s worth keeping in mind if you write middle grade stories. Games can be a great way to add action, explore theme, develop character, and engage the ever-elusive boy reader.

Read more »

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Writing from Your Character’s Point of View: 5 Guidelines

In my current work-in-progress, I’m writing from the POV of a 12-year-old boy. As I wrote earlier, finding his voice has been a challenge! And since I’m writing in first person, I have to stay in that voice ALL THE TIME—when he speaks, when he thinks, even in the details I include when describing setting and other characters.

squirrel*Photo courtesy of exfordy on Flickr Creative Commons

Despite my love of writing flowery description, 12-year-old Elliot probably won’t think about the way light reflects golden from the many-paned window, and even he does happen to notice flowers growing alongside the path, he certainly won’t know that they’re tiger lilies unless I’ve already shown him to have a love of horticulture. (He doesn’t. He loves squirrels.)

I never get voice perfect on a first draft, but keeping the following guidelines in mind can help me get closer. On a rewrite, these guidelines help me analyze whether the voice is consistent and believable—or whether it strays into author-speak.

Five Guidelines for Writing Character’s POV

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mining Real Life for Story Ideas

I've written previously about reading local news coverage to inspire plot, setting, and character for my last work-in-progress. Well, another amusing tidbit—filed away when I read it last fall—is making its way into my current book: “Woman Fights Bear with Zucchini, Wins”.

bear What more could a story desire?

Do you incorporate news items, overheard conversation, or intriguing-looking characters into your writing? What sources inspire you?

:) Cheryl

Photo courtesy of http2007 on Flickr Commons

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Crafting Believable Villains: 52 Questions to Ask

If you read much writing advice, you probably know that villains are supposed to be believable, well-rounded , and not necessarily evil. (And if you haven’t read that writing advice, now you know.) But how do you go about creating such a believable-yet-villainous character? Plunking a black hat on your bad guy is oh-so-much easier!

When in doubt, I like to start by asking questions—so I figured I’d share :). Don’t feel the need to answer them all; instead, ask and see which evoke answers that surprise or inspire. Happy writing!

52 Questions to Ask Your Villain

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Writing Your Character’s Thoughts: 3rd Person Limited POV

On Wednesday, I wrote about the importance of showing your characters’ thoughts in your writing—especially your main character’s thoughts—and gave examples for a first person point-of-view narrative. But what about third person narrators? How do you portray a character’s thoughts here without a constant stream of “he thought this” and “she thought that”? Here are some ideas…


Read more »

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Writing Your Character’s Thoughts

iStock_000016072830Large Character thoughts are a powerful tool for any fiction writer—but one that many don’t, well, think about. What can you accomplish by writing your character’s thoughts? For starters, you can:

  • Introduce problems or worries
  • Explore relationships
  • Expose insecurities
  • Show the logic that drives a decision
  • Illustrate bias
  • Develop the character’s voice

Great, you say, but how do I do those things? It depends on your chosen point of view. Here are some examples for writing in first person—I’ll have some third person limited examples for you on Friday.

Read more »

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Monday, April 11, 2011

More Thoughts on Voice

Thanks for such a great discussion last week on voice, what it means, and how to find it! Blogging friend Charissa Weaks was inspired to write more on the topic on her blog in the post “The Difference Between Voice, Style and Tone.”

Here’s a taste:


Why is this such a vague area?  Well...because there is no specific definition for it, so everyone defines it in their own way - which is exactly what I'm about to do!

After Googling around I came across several articles about voice and style and tone.  Some people see the trio as separate entities and others see style and tone as a part of voice.

Maybe they are the same thing...I don't know...but in my eyes they are not.

Visit her blog and join in the discussion!

:) Cheryl

*Photo courtesy of UggBoy*UggGirl on Flickr Creative Commons

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Finding Your Voice: Seven Tips

Despite the oft-repeated advice for authors to write for a single audience (to build that elusive brand), many childen’s writers write for both middle graders and young adults. Denise Vega entertains middle school students with her novels Click Here (to find out how I survived seventh grade) and Access Denied (and other eighth grade error messages), but reaches teens in Fact of Life #31 and the soon-to-be-released Rock On. (She also writes picture books, but only because she’s an overachiever <grin>).        Pictures

Fantasy author Hilari Bell targets younger readers with fast-paced adventure in The Prophecy and Wizard Test, but writes for a more mature audience in books such as her latest release, Trickster’s Girl. How do they do it? How does one change from a young voice to teen and back again?

Read more »

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Care and Feeding of the Discouraged Writer

Jami Gold's recent post Have You Ever Been Tempted to Give Up? is thought-provoking and true. In a weird way, it’s encouraging to realize that even published, successful authors struggle with this question.

Jamie’s post ends with a question: “What pushes you to the edge of giving up (lack of time, rejections, something else)?  What things help motivate and encourage you (a support system, wanting to prove something, finding successes wherever you can)? ” Visit her blog to see what other writers have to say.

Have I ever been tempted to give up? Absolutely! As has every writer in my critique group. As has every writer I know personally. And yet, most of us don’t. What keeps us going? I think the answer depends on why we’re tempted to quit, the way different illnesses respond to different treatments.

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