JK Allen on Creating Complex Characters

Characters bring our stories to life. Even if we have the most exciting plot, if we have cardboard characters, our stories will fall flat. Characters are what our readers relate to and get invested in, so it’s important that they feel like real people we love or love to hate. But how do we accomplish this? First, by starting with the basics and giving our characters everything they need to be well-developed.

Basics

Every character, even the minor ones, need to have three things: a goal, motivations, and flaws. The protagonist’s goal propels the story forward. The antagonist’s goal works against the protagonist, creating much needed conflict. These two things make your story. But goals are not relegated only to your two biggest characters. Goals make your characters human and give them a purpose, even if it’s just to be left alone. We all have goals, hopes, and dreams. It also helps to keep characters from lacking depth or being stereotypical.

Goals

Your characters need to want something, even if it’s to be left alone. This gives them a layer of depth and realism and keeps the story moving forward. And what a minor character wants may go against what the protagonist wants, creating more of the conflict your story needs. Every single person has wants and desires, so giving them to your characters makes them more human and relatable.

Motivations

Motivations are closely related to your character goals. They are the reasons behind what your characters want. These could be fears causing your character to act a certain way or a strong desire. Explore the reasons for why your characters do the things they do.

Flaws

Finally, we have flaws. These are so important for our characters. Nobody is perfect, and perfect characters are unrealistic and boring. Especially when they are our protagonist. But more on that in a minute.

It’s also important we don’t give our characters flaws that aren’t really flaws, like being clumsy. Flaws need to affect the character’s actions and the plot. They should impede your character from achieving their goal. In a tragedy, a fatal flaw leads to the character’s demise. And we end up caring for them even more for that.

Flaws make our characters relatable for our readers. Also, keep in mind that your protagonist and antagonist should be evenly matched (if not skewed in the antagonist’s favor) in both strengths and weaknesses. If one is lacking a strong flaw, then they could easily overpower the other and then why would your reader need to read on? It should not be obvious who is going to win or lose, otherwise you lose tension and reader interest.

Just the Beginning

Now, developing fully fleshed out characters requires a little more. If you’d like to learn more about how to make 3-dimensional characters that readers will fall in love with, check out Creating Complex Characters brought to you by OWS-U. OWS-U offers great, affordable classes for authors in both writing and marketing. Creating Complex Characters is everything you need to bring your characters to life, including an in-depth character sketch you can use and the importance of what your characters really need (hint, it’s not all about appearance).

Check out Creating Complex Characters and more of these great classes at https://ows-university.teachable.com/

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JD Estrada: Writing is a liberating experience. Write on!

Everyone’s writer journey is different because what drives each person is different. Some people love honing their skills in a specific genre or style, some might love spending years developing an intricate world or worlds, and some might love to push themselves in other ways.

As an indie author, the freedom to pursue whatever creative adventure you want is one of the most liberating experiences ever, and for me, pushing myself in many genres aligns with my personality and is me being my most genuine. As of today, I’ve published twelve books. These include:

  • Six poetry collections with a wide range of feels, styles, and even lengths, one of them even being in Spanish.
  • Two urban fantasy novels (Only Human and Shadow of a Human) that are my exploration of what it means to be human while chasing after angels, demons, vampires, plant people that are called photogeni, and therians (never call them werewolves).
  • A bilingual collection called Twenty Veinte, which includes short stories, poetry, and essays in English and Spanish with a rhyming bilingual poem in the middle.
  • Two non-fiction books: Peace, Love, and Maki Rolls and For Writing Out Loud. The first is a guide to creative kindness, and a certain brilliant indie author described the other as a daily reader for positivity and motivation.
  • A middle-grade fantasy short story collection that take place in the world of dreams and is called the Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore. The stories within have been described as whimsical, modern-day bedtime stories, and I actually kind of love that description.

For my thirteenth book, I’m releasing my first full-length middle-grade fantasy about a kind boy who dreams about flying, and its name is Given to Fly. For this book, there are a couple of things that were taken into account, but one of the most important details is that the book does not have violence of any form. Maybe I delved into a bit of ultra-violence in my other books, or maybe it’s a response to what we see in the news every day, but it was very important for the book to be kind, fun, and uplifting—not the easiest thing but a very rewarding effort.

As you can see, I’m kind of a fan of variety. Some people might think there’s a lack of focus on my part, but the reality is that if you see my music history on Spotify and the books and movies that I enjoy, you can see I’m just expressing who I am. The beauty of it is that I have fans in several genres and people who only read my poetry, or my fiction, or my non-fiction. The main thing I promised myself a long time ago is that I wouldn’t limit myself creatively, and I’ve stayed true to this promise, which has been incredibly rewarding for several reasons. For one, the only limits that exist for me are the ones I impose. Secondly, I get to know myself in so many ways by tapping into different themes, styles, genres, and writing skills. It’s a very curious experience because you keep discovering more parts of who and how you are, and although not always easy, it is very rewarding.

How you approach a poem is very different from an essay, a short story, and a novel. How much or how little you plot is up to you, and for me, I’m a fan of trying different methods to tap into different parts of my soul well. Inspiration also has a knack for arriving at different moments and in different ways. While The Human Cycle came about almost like a self-imposed dare, the epiphany for Given to Fly came while I was on the Soarin’ ride at Epcot Center. The entire inspiration for the novel had eluded me and then in one two-and-a-half minute ride, my senses came in contact with things that triggered lightning, and I had a bottle waiting.

I got off the ride in tears of joy with my idea in hand, and then I began the process of outlining, of asking myself what parts of my childhood I wanted to delve into, what adventures I wanted to have, who I wanted to meet, and what things in my life inspire feelings of floating. Some of the answers I got to that question were music, food, inner peace, and other random things…and how I translated each of those into a fantasy setting was incredibly fun. Think about it, have you ever tasted something SO good that you’re almost at risk of floating off blissfully? Okay, now take that moment and think of the most random whimsical way of expressing that, and that was just part of the process while writing Given to Fly.

Writing is a liberating thing to most of us, and it can be for you. It all begins by being more focused on crafting something that’s true to you and that you’ve never written before. Rather than trying to impress someone, focus on entertaining yourself, and push yourself. Be a harsh editor, a kind brainstormer, plot or pander, but be true to you. I have, and I can’t recommend it enough, because at the end of the day, what I write makes me smile, and if you can achieve that, trust me, you’ll make at least one other person smile—and that’s how it all begins for us.

Happy writing.


JD’s Latest Release

John Rivers is a kind and imaginative 11-year-old who is about to learn that magic not only exists, but is closer than he thinks. As much a dreamer as he is curious, John comes across a house that defies logic while embracing the amazing. Influenced by Hayao Miyazaki, Peter Pan, and dreams of flight, Given to Fly is a book full of heart that skips the violence in favor of the fantastical.


BIO

An avid reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy, throughout his life, he’s always loved writing and connecting with people. Mind you, although he loves those genres, his reading tastes are as eclectic as his musical passions. So from rock to salsa to classical music, he also reads and writes in a variety of genres and is just as satisfied writing a review or a poem as he is in writing his next novel. One of his blogs is called For Writing out Loud and on this blog he’s been able to connect to hundreds of fellow readers who share the passions of writing and connecting.

This obsession with the human aspect of who we are is deeply embedded in all his work and his first book is no exception. Though still starting its journey towards the top 100 Amazon books, Only Human is the first link within the Human Cycle, a three book exploration of humanity through fiction.

His favorite band is Pearl Jam, he was born in Puerto Rico, he bodyboards and to him, playing a guitar is as therapeutic as a notebook. So by all means, visit, say hi and connect.

He hopes you are doing well and that you enjoy your visit to any of the literary planets he has lovingly crafted.

Social Media

Blog/Website: For writing out loud – The Blog & Website of Author JD Estrada – Writing frees my mind. Feel free to share the ride.
Facebook: JD Estrada – Author (FB)
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Google Plus: JD Estrada Writer (Google Plus)
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Rebekah Jonesy on Fleshing Out CLAY AND BLOOD

I don’t know about you guys out there, but sometimes I have a story in my head that is so loud and overwhelming that I have to just get it out. Nothing else matters except getting the story down on paper. That’s what happened to me with Clay and Blood, my newest release that comes out on Halloween this year.

I sat down at my computer and ignored the world—as best as you can when you have two dogs and a bladder—and just pumped out my story. When I wrote THE END, I was elated and could finally breathe again, and think. And most importantly get some more coffee and move around a bit. I came back to my book two days later and took a look at it. And the paltry 28k word count that showed at the bottom of my Word document. It was like seeing my cheerful balloon two days after I had gotten it at the fair.

 

Orange balloon deflated
Free Stock Photo by Avopix

So like any self-respecting author I immediately went and got chocolate and coffee. Then I sat down to go over it again to see what I had missed. I read it through, but it was all there. Start, middle, and end. But it was supposed to be a 50k word novel! I knew it would be, should be, and could be. I had no choice then but to turn to an author’s second line of defense. I took a walk, then mixed a drink and sat down with it again. Reading it slower this time, as a reader would, I saw my mistakes. Lots of them.

I had written all of the scenes, but I had not fleshed out any of them. So while my story was there it was just the bare bones of it. After figuring that out, I proceeded to flesh out the scenes and the characters. I had introduced them all, but I hadn’t really explained or defined them. Gillian needed to be shown for how anxious and worried she was. Pitch had to be shown as more than just a sharp-clawed goofball kelpie, he was a concerned friend and loyal member of the Shadow Court. The antagonist had to have her backstory and more scenes in order to actually get to know her and understand why she was acting the way she was.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 5.36.59 PM

I checked my word count again. 36k. Still not enough. At this point I had read it too many times and it had become way too familiar. So I did what the smart authors do. I sent it to my editor and begged her for help. I knew she could help me, especially since she had edited my first book in the same series and was familiar with the main characters. Not only is my editor amazing, she is also a really good friend now. She responded with just the right advice for me.

“This is flat. Where’s the descriptions? The scenery? The plot is there, but I’m not feeling anything.”

Oh, right! The story had been so loud in my head that I had laser focused on that. It already felt so real to me that I hadn’t described anything. Oh, write!

I geared up and went in again. This time I described the scenes that had stayed in my head for the first two passes. The luxury home turned into a silent tomb waiting to be discovered and mourned in. The exotic, thick, rich forest where the newly formed fae ran and learned how to use her new magic. A wooded area off of a golf course where friends and police searched for a missing man. The slow circuitous route a lost child takes as he wanders, looking for his home. And the way dense woods echo with hysterical lamentations as the main characters race to save lives.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 5.41.01 PMAfter writing it all out again, and hitting my 50k mark I sent it off again. Then took a break and read it again. The difference was night and day. My original rough draft was what had been beating at my head to get out. The bare bones of the story. The rest wasn’t as loud and came slower, but it filled out from a story to a novel that you could really get in to.

 

I had done it. I had written out my full story. Like a BOSS. Several editor passes and formatting tweaks later and I had a book. One that I hope you will enjoy reading as much as I did once it was all polished up and I could finally lay my eyes on the idea that had been trapped in my brain for so long.

If you would like to check out this book you can find it here:Clay and Blood cover

The paperback is coming soon!


BIO

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 7.34.31 PMRebekah Jonesy knows stuff about things and isn’t afraid to talk and write about it. Outside of the literary world, she is a mad scientist cook, gardener, Jill of all trades, and military spouse. Inside the literary world she is a devourer of books, publisher, and mentor.

“Rebekah has the best kind of rabies”- JD Estrada

You can follow author Rebekah Jonesy at Twitter, Facebook, join her reader’s group, or her blog Heart Strong.

And of course you can find her books here for the free prequel to the Mab’s Doll series or grab your copy of the first book of the series, Moss and Clay. Then snag book two, Clay and Blood.

Clay and Blood square 2 (Instagram)

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Blog: http://rebekahjonesy.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dirtyrjonesy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorRebekahJonesy/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8292001.Rebekah_Jonesy
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/RebekahJonesy
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rebekah-Jonesy/e/B00NQ5Z1CS
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1214371635362864/Newsletter

Tosca Lee on Movie-Worthy Writing

NY Times bestselling novelist Tosca Lee’s book THE PROGENY is in development as a TV series! Here’s the article: https://bit.ly/2xt2yf2. In this episode, Tosca will be one-on-one with Christie Stratos to share what makes her novel prime to come to a screen near you, what suggestions she has for authors who want to make their novels TV/movie marketable, what could be holding your novel back, and more.

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Rebekah Jonesy on How to Research Legends

Ever wonder how writers do in-depth research, especially into very old, handed-down stories? Rebekah Jonesy has been kind enough to share her approach, including how she uses Wikipedia (correctly), getting to the bottom of legends, and choosing exactly how to include those legends and myths in her writing.

One of the things that every author has to do is research. This is a great way to waste time while still telling yourself that you’re working. But that doesn’t mean it’s not needed. Especially when you’re writing about a mashup of old beliefs and legends, like I am for my new series, Mab’s Doll.

Gaelic legends in itself are convoluted and twisted. It started its existence as an oral tradition. And of course over the years with wars and conquerors and famine and blight and the resulting chaos, a lot of the stories were lost. Or became confused.

People like Shakespeare came and heard the stories and adapted it for their own use. They

By John Duncan – MerlinPrints.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46025095

crafted their own stories and wrote them down. Those written stories were shared farther and faster than the oral stories passed down through the generations. While I have used this bastardization of the stories as a plot point, it makes finding the original stories much harder.

Wikipedia has actually been a great help with this. I looked up the character or creature I wanted to know about, then I ignored most of what was written on the page and instead check out the source links at the bottom. Because the creatures of the fae are so similar to the creatures from other cultures, I tried to focus at least my origin story for my MC, Gilian Gilchrist, on the Irish and Scottish legends about the Sidhe.

And I realized right off the bat that I did not know nearly as much as I assumed.

By Anonymous (Greece) – Walters Art Museum: Home page Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18797458

I didn’t even know how to pronounce Sidhe. It’s actually pronounced Shee. So it has been a wonderful trip through the Underhill for me. I’ve started separating out the origins of each type of critter I had planned on using for my series, even knowing that I’m later going to mash them back together. But my plan for now is to make sure that everyone knows the origin of each type of character I introduce through my series.

Even my first book, Moss and Clay, which deals with a siren, is a mixture of Irish and Greek lore. And from that combined lore, I came up with a creature that had lived for centuries in Ireland, Greece, and ancient Rome. But even knowing where she came from I still had to decide whether or not to give her wings. Because my research told me that while sirens in Ireland started out as snakes, the sirens in Greece had bodies of birds and heads of women. Or maybe they had bodies of women and heads of birds. Or maybe they were women who just had wings. Or maybe they were men and women who could be any bird-like combination thereof. So while my research gives me a lot of ideas, in the end it’s up to me how to put the pieces together to make them fit into the story line my main character insists on.


BIO

Rebekah Jonesy knows stuff about things and isn’t afraid to talk and write about it. Outside of the literary world, she is a mad scientist cook, gardener, Jill of all trades, and military spouse. Inside the literary world she is a devourer of books, publisher, and mentor.

“Rebekah has the best kind of rabies”- JD Estrada

You can follow author Rebekah Jonesy at Twitter, Facebook, join her reader’s group, or her blog Heart Strong.

And of course you can find her books here for the free prequel to Mab’s Doll or grab your copy of the first book of the series, Moss and Clay

Don’t forget to check out other awesome stops on the tour.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Blog: http://rebekahjonesy.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dirtyrjonesy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorRebekahJonesy/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8292001.Rebekah_Jonesy
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/RebekahJonesy
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rebekah-Jonesy/e/B00NQ5Z1CS
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1214371635362864/Newsletter

Developing Prolific Writing Prowess

The more books you publish, the more attention you receive from readers – that’s a fact. So how do you go about becoming a prolific author? And how often is too often to publish – or is there no such thing? Join us for secrets and strategies that could change your writing game.

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Uncommonly Common Writing Questions

There are loads of common writing questions whose answers overload the writing atmosphere. But what about the common ones you can’t find answers to? Or that are too hard to phrase to ask online? Fret no more! The experts are here to help. Bring your questions to the chat, and if there are loads of questions, we can do this more regularly!

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