Tag Archives: writing

Everyone Has a Story: Anthology One

This book is a breakthrough in so many ways.

First of all, I don’t believe anything like this has ever been done before. Why? Because it contains 12 stories, written by 32 authors from 8 different countries. And it isn’t the “who wrote the best chapter” type either. There is a starter of 500 words that has been thoroughly edited. Then ten 500 word chapters that are each booked in advance. There is a guideline regarding what needs to be added to the serial in whichever chapter has been booked. BUT it is not about the serial itself, it is a basic outline for a short story. Beginning, middle and end. If you want to see it in action go over to The Story Mint.

Secondly, this was my first experience in editing and I managed the progress of the Anthology, using my administrative experience to keep track of the whole progress.

Now it is available for sale! The first time any of my fiction writing has been published!  Woohoo!

 

So if you reaaaally like me, go out and buy this book.

 

How to create a believable character

A blog post for The Story Mint.

No matter what genre you are writing in, you will have to create characters that populate your story. Creating characters might sound easy, give them a name and carry on with the story, right? Ever read a story where the character seems like a cardboard cut-out? Or seems erratic in his/her behaviour? The main reason this happens is because the character wasn’t created ahead of the story.

I found a character worksheet on the Harlequin website many years ago that truly helped me with creating a believable character. Even the peripheral ones. The easy answer is that for any character to be believable, you, as the writer must know everything about him/her. If the character is real in your mind you will automatically show this in your writing.

Your first start is to capture the physical and emotional characteristics that you want this person to have. Add their age, colouring, height, emotional baggage (we all have it), motivations, state of mind, occupation.

Then you add their connections to other characters and how they relate to each other. These characters also need description so add that as well. Even if your character is a fisherman with five daughters, but his only part in the story is going to be a short interaction with your main character for two or three paragraphs. His family life shaped him and knowing this will define how he will react. This is called backstory and every character has this.

By building a complete history for each character, that person becomes real in your mind and the interaction with your other characters will reflect a well-rounded character even though you may not use ninety percent of his/her background in your story.

 

The character worksheet is no longer available on Harlequin’s website so I’m adding it here:

 

CHARACTER WORKSHEET

 

Physical Characteristics

Name:

Age:

Birth date:

Birthplace:

Height

Weight:

Body Type:

Hair:

Eyes:

Nose:

Mouth

Clothes:

Personality Profile

Strenghts:

Weaknesses:

Ambition:

Beliefs:

Self-perception:

How others see him/her:

Hobbies:

Moral values:

Eccentricities:

Most defining characteristic:

Current Situation

Marital Status:

Educational background:

Occupation:

Food preferences:

Drink preferences:

Car:

Pets:

Present Problem:

How does this problem get worse?

How does this problem get resolved?

Synopsis about childhood:

Relationships

Spouse:

Occupation:

Location:

Defining Characteristics:

History:

Effect on plot line:

Best friend:

Marital Status:

Occupation:

Location:

Defining Characteristics:

History:

Effect on plot line:

Mother:

Marital Status:

Occupation:

Location:

Defining Characteristics:

History:

Effect on plot line:

Father:

Marital Status:

Occupation:

Location:

Defining Characteristics:

History:

Effect on plot line:

Child:

Age:

Occupation:

Location:

Spouse:

Grandchildren:

Defining Characteristics:

History:

Effect on plot line:

Sibling:

Age:

Marital Status:

Occupation:

Location:

Defining Characteristics:

History:

Effect on plot line:

Effect of previous relationships on present situation:

Globster

The things you stumble across when doing research!
This morning I was working on an idea for a romance starter at The Story Mint.
The setup for the story was a young widow with two kids, boy and girl. Who is having a well deserved holiday. The love interest comes in when she is seen on a daily basis by a famous movie star who is working incognito on a screenplay. Sounds like a typical Mills & Boon story right? You got it 🙂
Now originally I had the story set in Seattle and he was working out of a two story house/apartment next to a park where she takes her kids on a daily basis. He becomes obsessed with her and finally approaches her. She doesn’t want to be involved with a movie star – too much publicity, etc. He changes careers (because he was fed up with the public lifestyle in any case) and they live happily ever after.
I decided to rather add a bit of local flavour to the starter since the other serials have all been in foreign (and sometimes frightening) locations. Well, for little old South African me at least. So I tried to set this story up in a South African City/Town/Whatever… and I came up with Margate! If you’ve tried working on a laptop in any South African city you’ll know that the selection of places that supply you with a power outlet is limited. BUT since I was sitting in Wimpy this morning working on my laptop, I thought of the big Wimpy right on Margate’s main beach. Perfect spot for our hero to watch our Heroin.
Since I’m a very fair-minded person, I decided to see what info is available on the internet on Margate and Wimpy and if the other serial writers would be able to google any info they needed to contribute to the serial. I found Margate, SA on Wikipedia (PS: what is with the unoriginality of the South Africans? Every single SA place I google, has been named after some other place…. St Lucia, Margate. I mean really!) and I was amazed to see that Margate’s claim to fame was a HUGE furry water animal that had a fight with some killer whales and then washed up on the shore. The thing was called Trunko. So obviously I google Trunko and it turns out thatTrunko was, in fact, a globster. In other words, a piece of decomposed whale that was unidentifiable because of its state. The fur was only exposed connective tissue fibers. Uhhmmm, Yuck!
Of course, now I’m stuck with this image of “vrot” whale carcass in my head… I’ll have to skip the romance until later.