Thursday, 28 January 2016

Seven Characters That Will Strengthen Your Story

This is a great tool for outlining a new idea, but I mostly find its real worth when I'm revising. During this phase of writing I need to add meat to the bones of the story. I want to make sure the characters stay true, but this exercise also helps me tweak out something unexpected from them.

The Protagonist:

The character whose goal and transformation drives the story.

Needs to be likable. Show the reader the redeeming qualities as soon as you can.

Needs to be in trouble. What does she want and why can't she get it.

Needs to have a weakness. Primarily it should be her weakness that is her downfall. Whatever she fears the most should be the thing she needs to overcome at the end.

Needs to sacrifice something to get what she wants. She'll risk pursuit of a goal that she feels has a greater significance than her own comfort zone. Show how she changes/learns/grows through this transformation. In the end, she'll have to battle obstacles that would have stopped her at the beginning of the story.

The Antagonist:

The character whose goal drives the conflict and push the protagonist toward transformation.

Needs to have motives that make their ambitions opposite to those of the protagonist. Why are they in competition with the protagonist?

Needs to make sense. They can't be evil for evil's sake. Give them their own story arc. After all, the villain thinks they are the hero of the story.

Needs to be interesting, mysterious, and a little stronger than your protagonist.

Needs to go after goals in a way that sets up obstacles for protagonist to overcome, the more entertaining and extreme, the better.

Needs to have own transformation. Do they become a better person or do they get more desperate?

A Foil:

A character used to reflect and illuminate specific aspects of the progtagonist's strengths and weaknesses.

Needs to serve as an example or voice of reason through the story. Helps protagonist learn essential lesson.

Needs to be contrast to protagonist's logic.

Should have own character arc throughout story, but more behind the scenes than on the page.

A Threshold Guardian:

Someone who likes things the way they are and opposes the protagonist when she wants to change the situation.

Can be an ally of either the protagonist or the antagonist, or a completely neutral party.

Should be introduced to the reader before the turning point of the story.

Should add conflict to the B story by testing the protagonist or antagonist by pushing them to solve their problem by making discoveries or creating conflict by their actions.

Helps propel the story forward by either helping or hindering the protagonist.

May be come a mentor by the end.

A Mentor:

Someone in the story who give the protagonist answers, tools, or advice she needs to achieve her transformation or reach her goal.

Similar to the foil, but has a direct influence on helping the protagonist win past the threshold guardian.

Provides help to the protagonist based on respect or love or kindness. Through their actions, protagonist makes choices that lead to their change/growth.

May have a story arc of her own. Could be a foil who has fallen on hard times and resurrects for one last stand against the antagonist. Or she may be the foil who can't be brave enough when it comes to the showdown.
A Minion:

An agent of the antagonist or someone who wants the same thing as the antagonist does.

May oppose the protagonist for different reason, but assists the antagonist to help reach their goal as they share same desire to see protagonist fail.

Unlike a mentor, the minion is motivated to help antagonist by greed or hate.

A Ficelle:

A character who helps you avoid infodump but may create worse problems.

Has same motives as protagonist, but doesn't have the same obstacles.

Is useful for discovering information through dialogue or action that will help add detail or clues about the story without baring all the responsibility on the protagonists story line.

Is the most effective when they are introduced in a way that will be brought back and tied in to the story resolution.

How do you outline your list of characters? Who else would you include? 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

My Year In Writing, 2015

I usually post this the end of December, but I was knee deep in revisions for two different books, and then Christmas came ... and Netflix.

Anyway, the 'year in review' post has become a bit of a tradition for me. I recommend all writers (published and otherwise) take on this annual exercise. I've found going through the year a great way to re-examine my original goals and help set new ones for 2016. Plus, there's all those 'oh yeah, that happened' moments.

Here are my posts for 2012, 2013, and 2014.

So ... grab your popcorn folks, here's what happened in 2015. 



Sent in second round of edits for ASP OF ASCENSION to Fierce Ink Press. Get to talk 'cover talk' with my publisher.

Most popular blog post for the month is Twelve Awesome Ways to Reuse Old Books


Outlined sequel to ASP OF ASCENSION.

We have a huge snow fall in Halifax, then it rains, and then it freezes over for a hundred years. No one goes outside except to buy storm chips.

Ordered Netflix and binged on THE WALKING DEAD.

Most popular post of the month is a recap of The Bachelor Episode 6, "Crying, Catfights, and Cray-Cray"

Remember this girl?


Sent off final edits for JUST JESSE (companion novel to BUTTERFLIES DONT' LIE) to Nimbus Publishing.

Met with Fierce Ink Press to discuss cover ideas and book launch venues (whoo-hoo) ANNNND signed contract for book two of the series, DIADEM OF DEATH! (double whoo-hoo)

Traveled with family to Barcelona! So, so, so wonderfully gorgeous and delicious. I recommend the bikini sandwich at Tapas 24.

Halifax has two crippling snow storms three days apart. No one can remember why we still live here.

Most popular blog post that month is my recap of Once Upon A Time, Season 4, Episode 16 "Poor Unfortunate Soul"


Happy Easter!

Worked on first draft of DIADEM OF DEATH.

The last of the snow finally melts. No, seriously.

New title for JUST JESSE is *drum roll* ... GIRL ON THE RUN. The editor and I discuss cover options. Good times!

A few rejections roll in for NIGHT SHIFT. It's still a featured novel on Wattpad and has consistently ranked in the top fifty since it was posted a year before.

Most popular blog post for month is my coming of age epiphany simply titled "The First Time I Touched 'IT'"


Cover reveal for ASP OF ASCENSION and pre-order campaign launches. This is the most exciting part, my friend.

I discovered picmonkey and wasted invested time creating some lovely book art for my Pinterest boards like these...

The executive editor from Nimbus, the awesome Whitney Moran, drove to my house with an arc of GIRL ON THE RUN. I hugged it like a pillow.

I brought shenanigans to Authors For Indies Day and got to hang out with Alexander MacLeod and Kate Inglis at the cozy BookMark on Spring Garden Road.

I turned forty-four and eat all the cake pieces with the most icing.

Most popular post of the month is my recap of Once Upon A Time, Season 4, Episode 21 "Mother"


Made a few promotional videos for ASP OF ASCENSION, and sent off blog tour interviews.

My kids finished out their final years at their elementary and junior high schools. Everyone is pumped for summer.

NIGHT SHIFT is chosen by the movie 'The Gallows' to be part of it's official reading list on Wattpad. 

Most popular blog post of the month is "Top Ten Most Ridiculous Moments In Jurasic World"


Went camping for the Canada Day weekend with kiddos and hubby and Cody (beloved cocker spaniel).

Sent first draft of DIADEM OF DEATH to editor (four days before deadline *cough* awesome *cough*

After discovering she was tweeting from Chapters in Halifax, I rush there and manage to get a selfie with the adorable RAINBOW ROWELL!!!!

Had book launch for ASP OF ASCENSION!

My niece gave me a pompadour hairdo and I felt like a super star!

Most popular blog post of month is "Hosting A Writing Workshop for Teens"


Ate my weight in smores while camping and kayak the heck out of summer. Ah, sunsets...

Most popular blog post of month is "I Am Currently..."


Lovely weekend spent in Old Quebec city. Let me tell you, they do poutine and coffee like nobody's business.

Had book blitz and cover reveal for GIRL ON THE RUN. The fantastic publicist at Nimbus, Tom Ryan (who also happens to be a prolific YA author) made the snazzy trailer.

Celebrated Word On The Street at the bee-u-tee-ful Halifax library, or as Sarah Sawler likes to call it, Halifax's Book Palace. I had the opportunity to share a YA panel with the effervescent and hilarious, Melody Fitzpatrick. I don't have a picture of us together, but here's the Nimbus gang working hard at the book signing booth.

Had book launch for GIRL ON THE RUN! Some of the prizes included ...

Received four stars, highly recommended reviews for both ASP OF ASCENSION and GIRL ON THE RUN from the CM Magazine!

"... an amazing mix of reality, mystery, and fantasy. Asp of Ascension is a really gripping tale that will keep readers on the edge of their chairs right to the end."  

"Quick-paced with lots of twists, readers will love Girl on the Run."

I celebrated with sushi from Wassabi House.

Most popular blog post of month is Once Upon A Time, Season 5 Episode 1 "Dark Swan"


Now that all the books had been launched, it was time to get to my reading pile. I was thrilled to discover, AMRITA by Banana YoshimotoI also finished GIRL ON THE TRAIN, and THE MARTIAN.

Most popular blog post for month is "Once Upon A Time, Season 4, Episode 5 "Dream Catcher"

Went to my first Hal-Con and signed copies of ASP OF ASCENSION; fitting since Star Trek is mentioned in the dedication.


Book signings galore! I love book signings when the store is all decked out for Christmas. I was especially grateful to have three books on the table this time. 

Received my last EVER rejection for NIGHT SHIFT. That's because I made the decision to stop querying and self-publish the series. *takes deep breath, plugs nose, jumps from high diving board*

Lucky enough to enlist Penelope Jackson (editor super star) to edit NIGHT SHIFT.
Worked on creative portfolio for cover artist.

Began first round of edits on DIADEM OF DEATH.

Most popular blog post for month is "How To Be As Happy As Your Dog"


Began work on final edits for NIGHT SHIFT!
Got a sample of covers that are all beautiful. Picked the one that was a perfect mix of style and mystery. (I'd love to show you, but you'll have to wait for the reveal).

Tackled first round of edits for DIADEM OF DEATH. I can't wait to make book art for this one!

Enjoyed getting my skates on again as the Oval opened for another season.

Most popular blog post of month is Once Upon A Time Season 5, Episode 11 "Swan Song"

Goals for 2016

Write a combined novel for both Kelsey (BUTTERFLIES DON'T LIE) and Jesse (GIRL ON THE RUN).

Skate on the Oval more.

Somehow get chosen to be a parade marshal.

Outline third novel for The Nefertari Hughes Mystery series.

Find the agent who is the right fit for my secret project.

Learn how to knit socks.

What are you writing goals for 2016?

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