Deepest Fears

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Does your character have a fear so strong that it literally paralyzes her/him?

I learned that I do, when I found myself for the second time within a month curled up and crying at the mere thought of the thing I fear.

What is your character’s strongest fear? What makes it so strong (are there several elements at work here)? When does your character become cognizant of it? What happens when the feared event occurs/doesn’t occur? Where does your character’s courage to continue to function in the face of her/his fear come from?

Happy Yarning.

Strong Male Characters

Some thoughts on what I’ve been trying to do in my writing.

When I think of a strong female character, I don’t think of a weapon-wielding, no-crap-taking, never-crying type of girl. I think of a “strong” character as a well-fleshed-out one. One who sticks in your mind because she is living and breathing on the page in front of you. It is vital to have strong female characters in fiction.

However, a fictional woman’s strength and reality is cheapened when she is surrounded by cardboard men. It’s relatively easy for me (a woman) to write women well. It is much more difficult for me to write strong male characters. Particularly when it comes to love interests.

I think the most important thing is character consistency. His stated strengths and weaknesses need to play real roles. If he’s a bad boy with a heart of gold, does he always know when to be a good boy and when to be a bad boy? No. He needs to slip up. If he’s never actually bad “on screen,” then he’s not a bad boy.

If, on the other hand, he’s a perfect, selfless angel, then he’d better be upright and selfless when it might be more convenient to be otherwise.

Inconsistent, weak males who are just there to be walked on by “strong” females have the added anti-bonuses of setting up unreal expectations and glorifying unhealthy relationships.

Then again, maybe I simply don’t understand the “romance” genre.

Just some thoughts.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled yarning.

Writing Groups and Why They Rock My Socks

If you’re serious about writing, find yourself a writing group.

My favorite creative writing professor, Carol Lynch Williams, assigned the class to work in writing groups, and I am hooked.

As a part-time housewife/part-time writer, I’ve been able to meet the demands of two separate groups at once. Both groups are based several states away, and I participate via skype, thanks to modern technology and my friends’ willingness to deal with me as a talking head. ( 😀 Thanks, guys!) From any given 1000 words of my manuscript, the two groups often come up with different pointers. I have had so much fun, and I’ve gained a crazy amount of help from my wonderful groups.

From my experience, here are five good reasons to be in at least one writing group:

1) A group will keep you accountable. There will be someone you have to say “sorry” to when you don’t submit anything. If, like me, you don’t have deadlines from editors or publishers (yet), making a commitment to a group of friends can help keep you writing and revising.

2) A group can be a great regular ego boost. My sister taught me that you can’t be an artist unless you think you’re better than everyone else and you deserve attention. Strong confidence is important for being a writer as well. Having a group who can tell you what they like about your manuscript and what points of craft you’re good at is a blessing. (That pile of a heck-of-a-lot-of other points of craft I’m not a star at yet can be pretty intimidating.)

3) You get to critique more manuscripts. When you come across a hole in a friend’s work and help her come up with ways to fix it, you hone problem-solving skills that you can then apply to your own plot holes.

4) Inside jokes. (Collar bones O.o) Enough said.

5) You get regular feedback. No matter how awesome your story is in your head or how amazing you believe your manuscript is, your work is not done until every scene is clearly communicated in the text. While ego and confidence are important, it’s way better for your ego to take a blow than for your manuscript to sit unpolished and unread.

So find a writing group. Or start one. You already know writers among your friends and family. Pick two or three that are close to your level of talent and motivation (doesn’t matter what genres they write), and start swapping segments of your manuscripts. Once a week, once a month, however often you can.

I’m probably preaching to the choir here anyway.

Happy Yarning!