Tuesday, June 21, 2016

CHARACTERIZATION/Physical Description
 The first question to ask is: does your character have any? You may laugh at this question (I did), but it’s important to know.  Old men aren’t the only people who are bald. Women go bald, as well as young men. Even children can have no hair.
If your character has no hair, why is that? Is it because of age or heredity? Disease? Radiation and/or chemo treatments?  Sports? Fad? Showing support for someone who has cancer? Was the character’s head shaved as a punishment or as a result of a dare or a lost bet? How does your character feel about not having hair?
Does your character wear a wig to cover thinning hair? A toupee to cover baldness? A wig to disguise herself? Does he do a comb-over and think that no one notices that he parts his hair just above his left ear?
And if your character does have hair, what color is it? Is it prematurely gray? Is it dyed? Is it an unusual color (for example, natural red-heads are actually rare). A friend of mine’s son is exceptionally tall and has bright red hair. She always told him that he needed to think twice before he did something wrong, because people may not remember his friends doing the same thing, but they would remember him. Does your character like her hair color, or does she not even think about it?
Is it clean or dirty? If dirty, why? Is it because your character is homeless or too poor to buy shampoo on a regular basis? Or is your character too busy, a mom with four young children or an overworked employee? Or maybe your character is absentminded and just forgets? Maybe he is physically or emotionally not able to wash it. Is your character obsessive about washing her hair, even when it doesn’t need it? Is she picky about which shampoo she uses or does she buy the store brand?
Is it thick or thin? Coarse or baby-fine? Straight or curly? Is it hard for him to find someone who can cut his hair so that it behaves and not stick out all over the place? Is it long or short? Is the length his choice or is it forced on him by his job or his school or his parents? I remember my great-grandmother had hair that almost reached her knees. She kept it twisted up in a bun, but she was very proud of her hair. It was thick and wavy, a beautiful black with very little gray, even though she was in her eighties. When she fell and broke her hip, she went to live with my grandmother. It became too hard for my grandmother to have to deal with all that hair, so she cut it off very short. I can still remember my great-grandmother crying over the loss of her hair, her identity.
What about hair elsewhere? Does your character have a beard or mustache? If so, what does it look like? Is it scraggy or trimmed regularly? Does he have a beard to hide a weak chin or to make himself look older? Does he have mustache because his father has one? What if she has a mustache? Is she embarrassed about it or does she even care? Does he have a hairy chest? A hairy back and arms? Does he have to shave twice a day? Or is his body hair very pale or not there? Does it bother him to be so hairy or so hair-less?
How does she wear her hair? Does she enjoy the freedom of a very short haircut, even if it looks mannish? Does she enjoy the variety of hairstyles that long hair gives her? Does she get her hair cut in one style every time, the same style she’s been wearing for the past twenty years? Is she daring with her hairstyles? Does she enjoy shocking people with the latest strange fad?
Hair is very much a part of our identity, how we see ourselves. It’s very important to know how your character feels about the hair on his head and elsewhere.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

When I start planning a book, the first thing I work on is my character sketches. And the first part of the character sketch I work on is my main character’s physical description.  I want to be able to picture him or her as I write. If it’s a short story, then I admit I don’t always write this down. Sometimes I find a picture in a magazine. Short stories don’t take long to write, so I can hold a lot of character information in my head.
However, if I’m writing a novel, then I have to write my character information down somewhere or I’ll forget. I may not remember on page 150 what color my character’s eyes are, but my reader will, so I definitely don’t want to get it wrong. I write character sketches for all my main characters in a novel, as well as some of the secondary characters, depending on the part they play in the plot.
                The age of your character is very important, and you as the writer need to know what it is, even if you never mention it in your book.
                If you’re writing for children, then the age of your main character will often be the determination of what category it’s placed in. Board books are for children from birth to around age 2 or 3. Young picture books are for children 3-5, and older picture books are for children 5-7 (or older). Middle-grade novels are usually for ages 9-12, and Young Adult novels are aimed at teens and early adult reader (early 20s).  Therefore, the age of your main character should be within those age ranges so you reader can easily identify with him or her.
                Characters in adult novels don’t always have specific ages, but it helps if you know. How a character reacts to certain situations may depend in part on how old they are. A twenty-six year old woman looking forward to having her first child probably won’t react the same way a sixty-five year old grandmother of ten would react. A twenty-two year old man might feel differently about his first job than a forty-five year old man in the same position for the past twenty years. A woman approaching her 30th birthday may feel differently about it than a woman approaching her 70th birthday.
                And speaking of birthdays, how does your character feel about them?  Does he or she celebrate them happily each year? Does he or she try to avoid them? Does your character want to be older, younger, or is he happy with his age?
                You can see that the age of your character matters a great deal, so you need to take a little time in considering hold old to make him or her. This will figure into the plot and its obstacles either directly as part of the main problem to be solved or indirectly in choices your character makes.
More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

National Novel Writing Month

It's that time of year again!  November 1st is the start of National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo to "those in the know").  Don't know what this is?  Well, let me tell you -- it's a month of frenzied writing.  Participants try to "win" the event by writing 50,000 words in 30 days.  Can it be done?  Yes, as many winners will tell you.

Have I ever won?  No.  But, then again, I've never tried to win.  I love NaNo, but since I write for kids, 50,000 words is like 2 middle-grade novels in one month.  Instead, I use NaNo as a kick-start for whatever I'm working on.  There's tons of encouragement from other writers, lots of excitement as you add up your word count, plenty of write-ins (both virtual and in person), and many chances to ask for help and support from other participants (whether in person or on one of the many threads and chatrooms).

Am I participating again this year?  You betcha!  One of these days I might try my hand at writing 50,000 words, because I do have some adult novels I'd like to write.  But, for this year, I'm going to work on a middle-grade novel.

I'll let you know how I do.

Want to participate too?  Go to www.nanowrimo.org and sign up!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Calling Cards for Writers

Yes, writers do need "calling cards."

Today, no one today feels obliged to call you (whether in person or on the phone), email you, or even visit your website.  So why have one?

1)  It's puts a name to your face.
2)  It tells the recipient that you're a writer (and what type of writer you are:  fiction, nonfiction, short stories, books, articles, etc.)
3)  It tells how to contact you, just in case the receiver of your cards wants to.  You never know!
4)  It shows that you're professional, that you take your work seriously.
5)  It's easier to exchange information with someone, especially a fellow writer or editor or agent.

What needs to be on your business card?

1) Your name (obviously), as well as any pen names you use.
2)  Phone number (cell or home or both -- you can also set up a Google voice mail account that has a separate phone number for free)
3)  Email address (You can set up one just for your writing business so that your personal email isn't overwhelmed or your writing business emails get lost amid your personal ones.)
4) Website and/or blog

You can also include:

1)  Your photo (This makes it even easier for the receiver of  your business card to put your name and face together and remember you.)
2)  Your address (However, I recommend getting a post office box instead of listing your home address. P.O. boxes don't cost that much.  I've used one for years.)
3)  Your books or articles (If you have many, perhaps just list the most recent ones.)
4)  Your services (Do you ghost write?  Edit or proofread? Research?)

What to do when you get a business card from an editor or agent or fellow writer:

1)  Write on the back of the card when and where you met them.  It helps to remember who they are. You'll also need that information if or when you decide to contact them so they can also remember who you are.
2)  Keep it in a place where you can find it again.  Some people use business card albums (like photo albums, but with little slots that fit business cards) to organize and file the cards they receive.  You can get these at places like Office Max or Staples.  You can keep them in "recipe" boxes.  You can staple or tape them in notebooks.  The idea is to be able to find them when you need them.
3)  Write a short note or send a brief email (or visit their website and leave a comment) not long after meeting them.  It will keep you in their mind and provide a way to network.

A writer's business cards provide a way to network with others, both socially as well as professionally.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Victorian Calling Cards

Back in the 1800s, both men and women of middle and upper classes used calling cards.  These cards had their names printed on them and were the size of today's business cards.

You would present the card to the servant who answered the door as a way of introducing yourself.  When you called on someone, you visited them in their homes, spending a large part of the day with them.  If you called and that person wasn't home, then you'd leave your calling card to show that you'd come by to see them.  Sometimes a very short note was jotted on the card in the corner or on the back.  Sometimes the calling card would list the days and times when you were available for a social visit.

A calling card tray was in the entrance and a servant would leave your card there.  It was considered polite for the absent person to return the social call within one week.  You would have had a case to hold your cards to keep them nice-looking, and it would have been made out of sterling silver or ivory or something similar.

Change "calling card" to "business card" and it sounds somewhat like what we do today.  When a businessman visits a company or meets someone, he hands out one of his business cards.  The card will list the businessman's name and contact information, and maybe even a tiny bit about the company.  While "calling" today can mean a personal visit, it often means a phone call or email or visiting a website.

Do writers need business cards?  Find out in tomorrow's post.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Good Intentions and Passionate Subjects

I really do have good intentions when it comes to blogging.  And, yes, I do know where good intentions lead.  LOL!  Edie Melson always inspires me to get back to blogging, and she's right.  It's a great way to connect with people.

Perhaps I'm trying too hard to make blogging work.

I think I'm trying to make it like writing an essay for class, instead of making it a conversation.  So I'm trying to change that.  Some of my blogs may turn out like essays, but some may be more like this one...a conversation about what's going on in my life.

I should blog about my passions, and, of course, one of my passions is writing.  That's one reason I chose "Hurt the Bunnies" as this blog's name.  I love to write, to create stories about fun and interesting characters (that grow into people I love), as well as to research and learn new facts, and then relate them in a fun and interesting way to readers.  I love to teach others how to write, to share my knowledge and see the articles and stories that my students write.  I love to edit, to help shape an article or story into something that will sell. I love to sell books, sharing my favorites with customers.  I love to read!

Another passion of mine is animals.  I love all of God's creatures...with the exception of roaches.  I absolutely can't stand cockroaches.  They have no redeeming quality that I can see, and I think it would take an almost impossible amount of convincing to change my mind.  Nope.  Nothing will change my mind about roaches.

Kids are another passion.  I really enjoy them, whether I'm teaching them, writing for them, or just playing with them.  I thoroughly enjoyed my boys when they were growing up (okay, I still enjoy them!).  But I've discovered an incredible new love...that love I have for my grandchildren.  It's so hard to explain why I have such a tremendous amount of love for them, so I won't.  I'll just enjoy them.

I have a passion for Jesus and am so thankful that He gave His life so that I can live mine, knowing that I'll have eternal life in Heaven with Him.  It's another hard to explain passion and love.  I want to learn more and more about Jesus, about God, and I want to share what I've learned with others.

Man, I have lots of passions, don't I?

What are you passionate about?

Friday, April 12, 2013