Monday, June 27, 2011

Wait… Is that Character based on me?

One of the most asked questions that a writer gets is: Where do you get the ideas for your characters?

Honestly, it varies from author to author. But I will tell you where I get the ideas for my characters.

First of all, I never base a character on ONE person. I learned the hard way that it just doesn’t work. If you are mad at the person in real life, then someone how it comes across on the character.

For example, I once killed a MAIN character in a book because I was very angry at the source inspiration in real life. LOL talk about major rewriting!

I like to take characteristics from several sources and create a character. Or sometimes I make up a character and give them a characteristic of a personal source.

1) From my Family- those nuts…uh… I mean very normal people (haha!) are always saying and doing things that are funny or interesting. My niece is definitely a constant source of inspiration.

2) My Friends - Of Course my friends inspire me. I spend time with a diverse group of people, with different views and goals. I would have to say that three of my friends inspire me more than others, though.

3) Strangers- Basing a character on someone that I don’t personally know is always fun. You get to imagine things about them and then run with it.

So, if one day you are reading a book of mine and think, “Wait… is that character based on me?”

Well… it just might be! Then again, maybe not… ;-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Passive Voice Monster

As a writer, I think it is very important to recognize when you have a problem within your writing. Sometimes it is harder than it looks, though, and that is where it is great to have another set of eyes reading your book.

I have a WONDERFUL critique partner. She is the best and is just amazing at what she does! She is always finding things that I have missed (like things that don’t flow within the story.) One of my favorite things that she discovered is that I wasn’t spacing when using “…”
Example: She stopped…and didn’t smile

It should be: She stopped… (SPACE) and didn’t smile.

I recently joined an online critique group to get a second (or third) set of eyes to look through my book. Just imagine if one person catches something, just think what three people find!

And this is where my latest problem was discovered (You are going to laugh about this sentence in just a second).

Here is my problem:

I fall victim to the ugly, green PASSIVE VOICE Monster!!

I know! It is scary! For those of you who don’t know here is the definition of passive voice: A passive construction occurs when you make the object of an action into the subject of a sentence. That is, whoever or whatever is performing the action is not the grammatical subject of the sentence.

And my biggest problem is overusing WAS.

“The sky WAS turning a dark grey as the storm moved in”

“The rain WAS pouring from the sky and it hit her in the face”

“She was terrified as she ran towards the trees”

Believe me, the WAS list goes on and on and on and…well, you get the point!

To keep the reader in the present, it should be:

“As the storm moved in the sky turned dark grey”

“Rain hit her in the face as they sky unleashed its fury”

“She ran towards the trees, terrified”

Sometimes its okay to use WAS and I have to find the balance. I think it comes up in my writing a lot because I say it a lot as well.

But it WAS (hehe) interesting to see something that I need to work on. Now I see it everywhere lol.