It’s Christmas! Where Are Your Characters?

What would your characters do for Christmas?

Most of us have our stories wrapped around a mystery, life-threatening situation, or problems associated with fantastical conditions. Our main focus isn’t usually on holidays. So, what would the holidays look like for our characters? For instance, if they celebrate Christmas, who would be giving gifts and to whom? If not Christmas, what would they be celebrating at this time of the year?

My characters, although I’m not sure of all of their religious affiliations, would be having a traditional Christmas.xmas tree

***… Continue reading

What Can Jim Henson Teach Writers?

It might be hard to figure out what Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy might have to offer us as mystery writers. And that’s just what I thought as I was listening to Brian Jay Jones, author of the new Jim Henson biography at the 12th annual James River Writers Conference on October 18, 2014. But if you think about it, what other characters are so memorable and immediately recognizable? Jim Henson board v2

That related to the first point. Practice. This type of character takes a long time to find… Continue reading

Connecting with Character – An Unlikeable Victim

I am in the process of editing my novel and have just taken an online class about characters. I realized that as is normal in a cozy, I have a murder off-stage. It’s early so you don’t know much about the victim – and what you see is that he is very unlikeable. In thinking about this and asking the question, the instructor advised to find at least one aspect that makes this character a bit less one dimensional.

So, where to start? I used the character profile questions and soon found that he was a child only a… Continue reading

Found!

Before I begin my post I would like to say how happy I am to again be an active participant in this wonderful blog.  Beginning in late Spring and extending over the summer into September, I first underwent manic preparation of a manuscript for Thrillerfest, followed by a lingering family illness, followed by an all-consuming interest in the subject of this post. Those things combined led me to take a hiatus from the blog, which is now, happily, concluded.

Regarding the post, I experienced for the second time in my life what it is like to be drawn into

VWC’s Conference – and Subplots

Virginia Writers Club’s annual conference “Navigating the Writing Life”  took place on August 2, 2014.  This year, in response to comments from last year, the conference included a number of morning panels for genre fiction and then afternoon workshops.

For the morning, I attended the short fiction panel.  This was a discussion between Clifford Garstang and Jody Hobbs Hesler on their experiences as editor and writer.  They included some basic things like writing a great story, choosing your markets carefully, and that rejection is not personal.  Clifford talked about the… Continue reading

How Do You Write?

I love learning about how each writer’s process is different.  Plotters have their method – and then among plotters there are all different processes.  Pantsers have a different method – and again, within that group, each has their own process.  Mine?  I’m a bit of a plotter and a pantser.  I usually have a beginning (which changes) and where I think the story ends (which can also change).  A few of the points in between might also be there but I know the story will shape itself as I work through it and learn more about my characters… Continue reading

My Characters Speak

Seen from afar on a windy beach or along the edge of a cliff, Bianca Ferguson, nee beach crescentBrendani, resembles a fairy-tale creature, perhaps a wood sprite or a pixie. If you look a little closer, though, you’ll see that the wild blond vision is holding a sketchbook in her hand.

Bianca’s role in my story revolves around her art and her role as a loving aunt. Painting has always been part of her life. Her art flows from her brush as easily as words spill from her mouth. She’s been at… Continue reading

Intuition and Writing – An Interview with Diane Brandon

I’m pleased to be interviewing Diane Brandon today. Diane is an Integrative Intuitive Counselor who helps others access their own intuitive information. I wondered how we, as mystery writers or simply as writers, might use this in our everyday writing lives and in our stories.books and pen pic

Carolyn: Diane, thanks for being here today. To start, can you tell us what an Integrative Intuitive Counselor is? And what exactly is intuition?

Diane: Basically I use my intuition to help others in their lives, especially in finding more fulfillment and… Continue reading

UnBlock Us!

I’ve done some thinking recently about writer’s block, the self-inflicted wound that almost all wordsmiths endure at least once in our careers. So much has been written about the subject that it almost seems presumptuous to add anything more. Indeed a Writer’s Block cottage industry has sprung up, complete with books, audio tapes, even counselors who specialize in the phenomenon. Nonetheless, I’ll throw in a few more paragraphs in the hopes that they might be of help to anyone battling the wretched affliction. For, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there can never be too… Continue reading

Using Backstory

Backstory is one of those topics that we hear a lot about.  Too much backstory or an info dump can slow your story – or worse, the reader gets bored and stops reading altogether.   Not enough backstory and the reader isn’t grounded in the world and invested in your characters.  Lots of articles and advice on that.

We generally love our characters – and we want everyone else to love them too.    So the dilemma is what to do with all this great information we have that can’t make it into the novel.  And sometimes there’s a really interesting… Continue reading