Emerging author, teacher, and child wrangler
After coming back from the KidLitVic Conference I was challenge to re-look at my current writing project and edit for chapter length as there were some inconsistencies within the text. So as a topic for this month’s session, I chose to research articles which discussed both ‘chapter length’ and ‘dialogue length’ in fantasy fiction. I felt that this would suit our group as we all write in this genre.
The articles presented discussed a variety of texts and the differing lengths of chapters. As I am currently working on a fantasy fiction, we looked predominantly at Jefferson Smith’s articles.
Article One, Analysing Chapter Length in Fantasy Fiction looks at popular fantasy fictions texts using a more mathematical approach plotting chapter lengths from individual texts to see what patterns they form. We were surprised to discover that the longest chapter was The Last Unicorn with 23,000 words.
Article Two, Analysing Dialogue Length in Fantasy Fiction by Jefferson Smith, discusses the total percentage of dialogue in a variety of popular fantasy texts also noting the amount of characters which are given ‘speaking’ roles within the texts.
It shows the longest utterance, the shortest utterance, and the average amount. It goes into dialogue density, how many speaking characters there are, etc. So, if you want a new and different way of looking at dialogue, this is for you. Sorry, it won't help you write great dialogue though.
Article Three: We then looked at another more general article by Brian Klem on the Writers Digest , How Long Should Novel Chapters be? which examined a broader approach to chapter lengths in novels. According to Brian, ‘There are no hard-and-fast rules on how long or short a chapter needs to be. It could be three pages. It could be 22. It could be 40. You shouldn’t set manuscript guidelines for yourself on chapter length.
'Each chapter in your book tells a mini-story that forwards your overall plot.’ Brian Klem
So there you have it, Overall the general advice was that there is fixed rule about specific chapter length targets, although the important thing to keep in mind is pace and flow of the text. You need to ensure you are using chapter lengths to enhance and compliment tension and the events of the text.
Using your chapter breaks much like a TV show would use ad breaks either to encourage the reader to read on, as you have left events when tension is high or once a problem has been resolved, allowing the reader to sit back and absorb significant events.
These articles gave the group some interesting approaches to the question of chapter length in texts. With this in mind, we should always remember that through texts we are telling a story. By using the tools of chapters or breaks effectively, we can regulate pace and tighten tensions thus enhancing the experience for our readers.
Megan's two cents: Personally, as a reader, I enjoy short chapters. It allows me the ease to say to myself, 'Just one more chapter before I go to sleep,' when I look ahead and see only three to six pages in the chapter. But, I will still read a book with longer chapters, and bookmark my spot as my eyes begin to close. As Jacquie said, it is about the pacing of the story itself.
If you enjoyed this post feel free to like and share.
Karen Tyrrell Author is a Brisbane award-winning writer of empowering books for children and grown-ups.
Karen’s books are inspirational page turners, often humorous, showing how to live strong and be resilient.
Karen’s childrens’ books Bailey Beats the Blah and STOP the Bully are endorsed by Kids Helpline.
Harry Helps Grandpa Remember won a RADF grant.
Jo-Kin Battles the It, Jo-Kin vs Lord Terra and Song Bird Superhero share positive messages. Her messages include self-belief, resilience, team building, problem solving and STEM science.
Karen has just released Song Bird 2: The Battle of Bug World: Can Song Bird stop the bully, save her sister, the bees and environment … before it’s too late?
Welcome to the blog today, Karen. I’ve had you on the blog a few times now, and yet I always have new questions for you. This time around I would love to get your thoughts on writing junior fiction.
1. What drew you to writing junior fiction? And what do you enjoy most about it?
I loved reading junior fiction to my primary school classes, watching how engrossed they became with child-centred stories and characters they cared about.
I love creating humour and fast-paced action for my superhero, Song Bird AKA Rosella Ava Bird. She’s faced with dramatic challenges to save her sister from the bully … and save the environment and the bees.
Well, you’ve certainly achieved a fast paced book with lots of action with Song Bird Book 2.
2. What is the hardest part of writing junior fiction?
Combining all the layers of the story into one cohesive whole. My favourite layer is adding humour into the final storyline. I love watching the hero trip over and crack jokes about his dorky parents. I weave the child-centred humour into the final draft of the hero’s journey.
3. What are the most important elements to include in a junior fiction novel?Humour. Action packed adventure. A relatable kid hero and his/ her side-kicks. Yummy, delicious food.
We can’t forget the food, can we?
4. When did you get inspired by the idea for your latest book, Song Bird 2: The Battle of Bug World?
In 2016, I created version #1, Song Bird 2: The Battle of Hero World with a stop the bully and hero theme. Then I changed up the story line to add an extra plot line about saving the bees and the environment as well as the original bully theme. Bug World is a unique fantasy world, existing on two levels: the visible Bug World theme park and the mysterious world below the earth’s surface.
There’s certainly a lot going on in such a short book.
5. So, what are your top tips for writing junior fiction?
A: Junior novels or junior fiction: Primarily for 8-12+ years. Generally, a paperback with very few line illustrations (B&W) and the word length from 10,000 to 25,000 words depending on the series it suits. Books for young readers who are confident.
B: Create brick wall challenges, struggles, and conflicts for the relatable hero character to solve.
C: If your book is humorous, add hilarious humour to the very last draft. Think up crazy names. Create scenes to show-off slapstick humour and nerdy dorky parents who do ridiculous, embarrassing things.
D: Make the story child-centred with loads of delicious food, tons of action-packed adventure and dialogue that is punchy and creates tension.
Thanks for coming on the blog today, Karen, and sharing your tips for writing junior fiction. And don’t forget to check out the special prizes and giveaways that Karen has for readers at the end of the post. It’s some pretty cool prizes that you don’t want to miss out on.
A superstorm destroys Rosella Ava Bird’s flower garden.
All the bees are disappearing.
A giant sink-hole cracks open beneath Rosie’s school bus, and mysterious voices rise up from the depths.
A tornado blasts the house of Frank, Rosie’s sinister next-door neighbour, threatening Rosie’s family.
And Rosie’s sister, Raven, has gone missing.
Should Rosie lead a mission into Bug World to rescue Raven?
Or stay home and save her family?
You can find Karen on:
Facebook: Karen Tyrell
You Tube: Karen Tyrell
Instagram: Karen Tyrell
Check out the rest of the Blog Tour to win some AWESOME prizes:
From Mon June 26 AMAZON LAUNCH Battle of Bug World Amazon Releasewww.karentyrrell.com/amazon-release-battle-bug-world/
From Mon June 26 Battle of Bug World AMAZON LAUNCH
From Tues June 27 CURLY Q’S Kids Book Review
From Tues June 27 REVIEW Just Write For Kids. A New Eco Adventurefrom Karen Tyrrell
From Wed June 28 REVIEW Georgina Ballantine review
From Thurs June 29 Writing Junior Fiction with Megan Higginson
From Fri June 30 REVIEW & interview http://www.readilearn.com.au/blog/
Just leave a comment on any of the posts in the blog tour, to win a copy of The Battle of Bug World (Song Bird 2). Add initials SB2
FREE Children’s Book Assessment!
Win a free children’s book assessment (up to 10 pages) by the author Karen Tyrrell. Just comment on any of the posts in the blog tour and add the initials CBA
Win signed artwork by illustrator Trevor Salter. Add initials AW
Remember the more you comment, the more chances you have to win The Battle of Bug World. Good luck 😊
If you enjoyed this post feel free to like and share. And don't forget to comment to go into the running to win a prize.
By guest blogger Karen Hendriks
Children’s author, lover of travel, coffee, and the sea.
On the KidlitVic2017 Children’s Author learning train there was anticipation and excitement and we were all ready to journey aboard.
Middle Grade Station
The welcome roused a happy chorus and the first stop was at the Middle Grade station. Did you know middle grade is subdivided into age groups? 5-6 years, 7-9 years and 10+ years. So, story develops from being heavily illustrated to a much deeper higher level of characterization. The priority is always and foremost your characters and story. The slightly younger readers like to read about slightly older children. So perhaps the upper level reader in this group is ten years old. Three keywords to remember include heart, smart and fart. Stories need to have a connection to the reader, be told skillfully and with a sense of fun.
Then we all chugged along to the Illustration Panel and those clever passengers alighted to a world of colour and design and passion. I sat in a little and one message was ‘Can you illustrate people in all different sorts of ways?’ The most successful illustrators do not just illustrate words. They bring layers of meaning too.
The next station was Picture Books full steam ahead. Wow! The one everyone thinks is the easiest yet the hardest to do. The play between the text and illustrations is what creates picture book magic. Please don’t patronize a child and do tell your story from a child’s point of view.
Does your story have a uniqueness and an emotional connection? Red flags for picture book authors are submitting manuscripts in fancy fonts and colours. Please check your spelling and grammar. Remember the most successful picture books have layers of meaning that play together with the words and pictures.
Young Adult Panel Station
Back onboard after lunch we headed to the Young Adult Panel station. A little birdie tweeted that adults enjoy these books too although it is listed as 13-15 years old age group. These stories are very narrative driven with a distinctive own voice. YA stories must be authentic.
Last Stop: Question Time Group Panel
The last stop before home was the Question Time Group Panel. It was a power line of power with all those industry editors and agents. Members of the audience had a chance to ask questions and receive feedback. I did like the question about celebrities writing picture books as they do have the door open to them. It was stated that they are in a different category to children’s authors and that they give an illustrator an opportunity. The fact not many questions were asked is a sign of a good conference.
Last but not least after the closing ceremony was the cocktail party to mingle and jingle around the room. The time flew and there just wasn’t enough time to see and do all. Aaah! But there is always next year. The hidden gold was finding others of the same flock and being with your own kind.
Karen Hendriks followed her dream and started writing children’s stories in May 2016. She has written many short stories for children and has had several stories published in eBooks. Her wish to become a writer began when a lecturer at university said she had a talent for writing stories.
As a university student, she assisted in the production of an Aboriginal big book ‘Gang-Man-Gang’ at a local Aboriginal primary school. The big book is still used today in local Illawarra primary schools. As a teacher, Karen’s favourite time of the day was sharing stories and teaching students to read.
Karen is presently working on several new stories and has started doing author visits in schools. She has a keen interest in travel and has a great love of the local seaside village where she lives. Karen’s writing companion is a little Moodle called Elmo who is a cross between a poodle and a Maltese Terrier. Elmo is cheeky and very lovable.
Karen can be found by the sea or in local coffee shops. She has a husband who is a ginger beer (engineer) and a daughter and son who make her world full of smiles.
You can find Karen on her author page on Facebook.
Previous posts on KidLitVic2017:
Be inspired and informed by Pamela Ueckerman as she shares on my blog her reflections on the KidLitVic2017 - Meet the Publishers Conference.
For more coverage and different perspectives:
From an organiser's perspective: The KidLitVic 2017- Meet the Publishers Conference Wrap-Up by Nicky Johnson
Tania McCartney gives her view of KidLit, along with what she is up too on her blog, Works-in-progress, KidLitVic and Crystal Kite!
Romi Sharp reflects on her experiences on her blog, KidLitVic2017 Reflections
If you like this post feel free to like and share.
Guest blogger Pamela Ueckerman
Pamela Ueckerman grew up as much in Avonlea, Middle Earth and Narnia as she did in England. She also had a love affair with Spike Milligan’s limericks. She now lives in Melbourne and is the mother of two boys. Pamela teaches creative dance and writes stories that are infused with the magic of childhood.
After six months of looking forward to Kidlit Vic 2017, I almost didn’t make it as one of my children fell sick the day before. The stress! But, make it I did and oh my, it didn’t disappoint. Being in the same building with so many talented and caring authors, illustrators, editors and publishers for a whole day was incredibly inspirational.
The networking was priceless and the panels very informative. The 15-minute one-on-one assessment that I booked was worth every dollar and every minute of stress trying to decide what to submit. I didn’t book myself into any of the workshops this year as I wanted to attend the panels, but I intend to next year.
If you missed out on a ticket, do get yourself one next year as nothing can compare with being there. But, for those that did miss out and would love a taste of what we learned, here are some of the most interesting points that I took away from the panels.
Forgive me for this being quite author-focussed, it’s what I do, and remember that these are the views of a small selection of publishers and editors; in some cases, it’s one person’s opinion.
I highly recommend to all aspiring and emerging authors and illustrators to book a ticket to next year’s event and fully immerse yourself in it.
You can find more out about Pamela over on her website: www.ueckerman.net
For more coverage and different perspectives:
From an organiser's perspective: The KidLitVic 2017- Meet the Publishers Conference Wrap-Up by Nicky Johnson
Tania McCartney gives her view of KidLit, along with what she is up too on her blog, Works-in-progress, KidLitVic and Crystal Kite!
Romi Sharp reflects on her experiences on her blog, KidLitVic2017 Reflections
If you like this post, feel free to like and share.
by Megan Higginson
This month my writer’s group met to discuss antagonists, the bad guys of our novels, in a courtyard of a local café, beneath a maple tree that would periodically rain gorgeous red and gold autumn leaves down on us.
The previous month we had dived deep into tone words. For us as a group, we had never looked in depth at the bad guys in our novels.
Recently, while working on my novel, I discovered a new character. I was so excited, but I did not know anything about him accept that I didn’t trust him even though he seemed nice. When Ester, who was running the workshop for this month’s writers’ group, started talking about what makes a great antagonist, we got excited. We are keen to learn anything that will improve our story, and our story telling.
Ester had been watching Cy Porter's, 'Creating the Antagonist,' on YouTube. (He really gets stuck into it about 11 minutes). As well as Cy's, 'Creative Writing: Creating Villains We Love to Hate'.
So, here are some of the questions that Ester had us ask us about our antagonist:
Allow these characteristics to become part of your bad guy creation
In her article for the Writer’s Digest, 6 Ways to Write Better Bad Guys by Laura DiSilverio, she says regarding antagonists, ‘they’re just as important to good stories as the protagonists are. If your antagonist is not fully realized, lacks depth or is a caricature of evil, your story will suffer.’
Her article brought out six points, two that I had never thought of:
All these tips show that we need to be creative in the ways we structure our protagonist and antagonist interactions. This fascinating information got Jacqui, Ester, and I enthusiastic about our current W.I.P. (Work in Progress). This was also the first month that we ended up working on our current W.I.P., and not use a prompt and make something new, and we were excited to get started on ramping up the tension in each of our stories.
In approaching my recently discovered character (in my current W.I.P.) who is a bad guy, I have come up with a new way to ramp up the tension in my story. One way is to make one of my good guys an antagonist. How can my lovely, kind, caring brother become the antagonist? I’m also playing with peoples’ perceptions of others. Are the good guys really good? Are the bad guys really bad? Do we treat others through a filter of what we have been told about them? How will this affect the interactions with the antagonists and the protagonist?
All this is brilliant in adding an extra depth to your story. I'm off to create some havoc in my story.
Make sure to check out the next two videos. These two women had some fun and creative ways to look at using antagonists in your stories.
How to Make Your Villains Awesome by Ava J (bookishpixie)
How to Write a Villain by Jenna Moreci
And for those writing kids lit, this is for you. Top 10 Ways to be Evil in Children’s Books by William Sutcliffe
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to like, and share.
A guest blog post by Jacqui Johnson
Teacher, writer, friend
Building on a previous Writers Group ‘Setting that creates atmosphere’, this month I wanted to focus on developing the use of ‘word choices to affect mood’. Each time we get together, I am so thankful and amazed at being involved in a group which has such talented writers who can spin a few words into such eloquent phrases. I know this is an area I need to build, thus becoming my focus topic for the month’s meeting.
Initially, we read Cris Freese’s article, Use word choices to set the mood. It gives an example of how to use one setting, and create three different moods through word choices.
Building on this idea were three other articles by fiction editor Beth Hill. Her article, Zeroing in on words, gives practical advice to build on sample sentences for specific purposes. Keep readers close to the action and emotion article draws on the ideas on personal connection between readers and your text. Whilst, Tone, Mood & Style – the feel of fiction, goes into great detail about tone, mood and style mixing practical advice and examples you can use to sharpen you craft.
As a writing activity to build on what we had read, we brainstormed several settings and were to choose one to create two different pieces of writing. Our focus was on keeping the setting consistent whilst changing the tone, style, and mood through our word choices. Below are the drafted pieces we each created.
Ester’s piece based on ‘the beach at dawn’:
Megan’s piece based on ‘a wooden cabin near a mountain-top lake’:
Thriller: The dark cabin crouched in the shadows of the nearby pine forest. A chill wind howled through the pines, sounding like a hoard of ghosts. Stacey’s heart pounded. Cold penetrated her thin jumper making goose bumps rise on her arms. Her hair prickled up the back of her neck. The slamming of the back door decided her.
Stacey burst out of the front door making it jump on its hinges. She raced down to the shore where ice gleamed like teeth at the edge. She wondered if she should chance the freezing water. The still black water beckoned, and she said yes.
Fantasy: The dragon, Narli, burst out of the sparkling blue water of the mountain lake. Spiralling ever higher, Narli danced on the warm thermals, racing the eagles to greater heights. Tiring of the game, he finally flopped himself onto a warm ledge with a broad grin, and smiled down at the cabin bathed in sunlight below.
My piece based on ‘a kid’s park at night’:
Once again, all our pieces take on a slightly different feel based on the types of writer’s we are, experiences, passions, and motivations from our underlying ‘writer’s voice’.
Have a go at these and let us know how you go. It's fun!
Growing and sharing as part of a writers group is an inspiration and a good challenge. I encourage everyone with a passion for creating stories to go outside your comfort zone. You don’t need to be a ‘closet author.’ Develop your craft by participating in a group where you can cultivate your love of creating literature.
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to like and share.
I'd like to welcome the lovely Lisa G. to my blog today.
Who is Lisa G.?
In a nutshell…
I was born in Melbourne, lived in Beaconsfield Victoria then moved to Tassie at 6 yrs old. 8 years on, my family returned to Melbourne, before relocating to Gippsland, Traralgon as I entered my last year of high school. I have been here since and have no plans to leave other than for lots of holidays. I quite like not moving.
Married for 27 years, there are three cheeky boys in our home – one is my husband, and we all dote over our adorable Cheweenie, Lilly.
I am always thinking, creating and, even if I have no idea how to do it, on to a new project – which sometimes drives my family crazy.
I guess, I’m a little gypsy like. Other than writing, I have trouble sticking to one career – there’s just so many choices and too little time. I want to do it all and usually, in my own stubborn way! Retail, hospitality, banking, finance, managerial, legal, medical and education (Literacy and integration) have my name on them.
Though I enjoyed them all – and for different reasons, I can easily say, other than witnessing that light bulb moment when a child realises they can really do `it’, none have come remotely within coo-ee of the happiness, contentment and reward writing brings me.
How long have you been writing for? What did you first write? What genre?
Forever! It started with political poems based on my opinions of justice as a 12 year old. Inparticular, poverty and the lack of compassion in a world that has enough money that everyone can live well. At 14, I was writing lyrics and rhyme about heartbreak and love. For some time and after my first real boyfriend was killed in a car accident, poems of loss prevailed.
But my first serious foray into writing was with the emergence of rhyming children’s stories which turned everyday situations into magical adventures. That was at 16. The very first story is now the first in a series of five I have written, which I hope to one day publish.
Not until my early twenties did I attempt a novel. ‘Changing Faces’ was unfortunately corrupted by a virus and subsequently lost and I gave up on writing for a while. But being that writing is part of who I am, the moratorium wasn’t to be for long.
Writing took on a whole new meaning with the arrival of my first son. Composing during midnight feedings I fell totally in love with the beauty of night and the escapism of writing. And there spurned the pivotal moment my mind began the constant whirred of ideas, busy with creative projects, submitting editorials to papers (some published) and reigniting my desire and dreams, to not only write a “world class great read” novel but to be respected for my work.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? Describe your light bulb moment?
Sitting under canopy of the large snowball tree at our Booran Road Caulfield home, a skip, hop and jump from ‘The Heath’ (Caulfield Racecourse), I dreamed of writing a novel. Emerging as I leaned back against the trunk admiring the blossoms, I was scribbling down prose for what was, unknown to me at the time, to be my first ever children’s book. I was 16. Every chance I had, it occurred to me that I was writing something, anything.
So, it wasn’t so much of a light bulb moment but a realisation that writing and I were synonymous – it felt very natural and words just seemed to come together for me. Writing was my home… where I felt totally at peace and free.
The fact that I didn’t think I was worthy or good enough to really pursue writing seriously when I was younger, I regret somewhat. Life would have certainly taken a different path if I had. Though RUMLA may have never happened – so the regret is not deep… RUMLA has given me great joy.
What are your core beliefs around reading and writing?
In short, I believe literacy is to life as air is to breath!
I am deeply entrenched that it is non-negotiable that everyone should be supported in developing the skills and literary comprehension to read, and of course, write. In addition to the daily challenges of living, a life without literacy robs our minds of idea’s, imagination and personal growth.
Reading and writing are powerful tools. They take us places, actions will never achieve. They propel us forward, drive our ambition and open our eyes. They provide entertainment and fulfillment. At times, they even console us. Literacy elevates everyone’s ability to communicate, to articulate and enriches our well-being, gifting us amazing journeys to share and providing a life beyond what we see.
Now to your book, Rumla. Where did the idea come from for this book?
Tricky question! Short answer – there was nothing specific. The words just came. RUMLA evolved.
RUMLA’s is however, a culmination of childhood experiences that birthed adult fascinations for the history and mystic of ancient old worlds and an admiration of strong, self assured characters; more specifically, those who see beauty and freedom of embracing their ‘you-ness’. These ingredients came together after spontaneous literacy task during a professional development session and much to my surprise, a strange little tale that had both my PD trainer and myself wondering.
Where the idea came from initially, I have no idea other than that the gloomy sky overhead gave me a starting point. It was some 12 months later I actually decided I’d see where this unique little story would go. Continuing on from where I’d left off, the ideas started flowing, the plot developed and the reasons for my motivation, the messages to deliver, defined themselves. Research followed, building depth and RUMLA became a kaleidoscope of purpose.
'A life without literacy robs our minds of idea’s, imagination and personal growth.' Lisa G.
Why did you write Rumla?
Originally, RUMLA was just for me.
I believed for the first time, I could maybe write that novel. The desire to make my teenage dreams a reality was strong. I literally thought, it wouldn’t hurt to try. Letting my imagination take me on a journey, there was never originally a higher moral purpose nor a deeper message.
In saying that however, I do love the simplicity of ancient wisdoms and it just happened that while researching Ashanti Twi culture, I literally stumbled across Adinkra; proverbial symbols which set were the original moral compass of ancient life for the Twi people. The ethics of Adinkra perfectly encapsulated the tone I wanted to covey. Incorporating the African symbolism as chapter headings (and an English translation of the Ashanti Twi name/proverb), Adinkra defines each chapter’s underlying message.
So there are many beautiful subtleties trailing throughout RUMLA and they are very much what makes RUMLA uniquely special and individual to each reader. Being that the messages are a part of the mystery, I will let you unravel them for yourself.
You have a lot of African mythology woven it throughout the story. How long did Rumla take to research and write?
From initial pen on paper to published – 8 years. Never did I have a self-imposed time line to realise my dream. A working wife and mum with quite a few commitments, writing fitted in very nicely around the goings on of family life. But really, RUMLA was my little escape and I enjoyed so much that part of me dreaded finishing.
With no direction and initially just writing to see where RUMLA would go, researching the historical, mythological and cultural kicked in about 18 months into writing. Investigations from then on never really stopped. This was predominantly because I was intrigued, but also because the ending wasn’t clear until it was almost upon me. So I was always searching, looking to add more depth and credibility to RUMLA– all be it on the pages of google!
What do you hope that people will take away from Rumla?
As they turn the last page of RUMLA, I hope readers have been intrigued, entertained and have felt a part of the adventure as if they were written into the story.
I hope that somewhere along the way, a little something is discovered that resonates, making it personal in a way that is unique to them.
In the end, my deepest wish is they get as lost in my imagination and in the world of RUMLA as I.
You love to encourage people and inspire people. What is your favourite life motto?
In my usual style, I am bucking the trend. I have two!
It always seems impossible until it’s done; a dreamer is a winner who never gives up!
In a world where you can be anything, choose to be kind.
3 fun facts about yourself:
1. I dance in the shower - every day, every time
2. I always, always, mix up aphorisms i.e. His room is like a pig’s breakfast. Dogs might fly!
3. I can NEVER be trusted with your chocolate - ever!
Thanks heaps, Lisa, for coming on my blog today. It has been entertaining and enlightening.
For more information on Lisa and her book, visit her website: www.lisagbooks.com
Like her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/LisaGbooks and join the conversation.
You can also find her on:
What could she have to do with African tales of myth and legend, serpents and curses, of royal lines, the armies of rulers past, and a trail of clues hiding secrets of a
predestined prophecy? Absolutely everything!
Though she does not know, there are others that do. A sequence of exceptional events, see her desire to escape the boring grind of Rumlalian life granted with the adventure of her dreams. Though fearing where it may lead, an insatiable appetite to know all propels her deeper into the mystery in search of the secrets.
Before long, she comes to realise there was never a choice for her and that Rumla, protected by a complicated series of connections, was far from ordinary.
If you like this post, feel free to like and share...
by guest blogger Jacqui Johnson
Primary school teacher and author.
Can't see the forest for the trees? Are you lost in your story and don't know what is going wrong? Maybe it has something to do with your character's motivation. If so, read on.
As always, writer’s workshop this month was excellent! It’s such an encouragement getting together with fellow writers to support and inspire one another. I was pleased when we started the first meeting for the New Year by going over the groups official guidelines which were negotiated to ensure we get the best out of our meetings. This was inspired by Megan’s blog post on Creative Kids Tales about Writer’s Groups. Why be in One? How do You Start One?
We come together to share and critique each other’s work. Each month we choose an area of our writing which we would like to improve to focus on. As I was leading this month, I chose 'character motivation.'
There are times when writing that you are not sure if a character is doing all they should, or some of your minor characters can seem less or more realistic, these are perfect times to pause your text to ensure you fully understand their motivations.
Ahead are the three phases we worked through to find and improve our character's motivation.
"Do you understand what motivates your characters?"
In order to better understand this vast topic, initially we went through an article on the Writers Helping Writers website titled, ‘Character Motivation Thesaurus’. This article focuses on character goals (outer motivation), the human need driving the goal (inner motivation), methods for achieving the goal, how the character may prepare for this goal, possible sacrifices or costs associated with the goal, roadblocks which could prevent the goal being achieved, talents and skills to help the character, possible fallout if the goal is not met, and clichés to avoid.
We discussed how each element would help to better understand your character and drive elements of the plot. I discussed how the research into character motivation had help with editing a secondary text (that I am working on) ensuring motivations of the main character were being explored.
All too often, I just assume the audience will love my main characters as much as I do, so I don't always spend enough time explaining their drives, passions and motivations. Instead I feel the need to invest in secondary characters explaining who they are, and how they think in order for the audience to understand them and connect.
This can result in a main character the audience doesn't relate to, and a secondary character who the reader is more invested in and would prefer to read more about. A solution to this issue might be to ensure I’ve taken enough time to fully investigate each of the main characters and their motivations, factoring in how best to convey these and the way it will affect the plot.
We went on to summarize Kristen Kieffer’s article, How to Create Character Motivations that will Rivet Your Readers. In this article, Kristen looks at hooks and breaks it down to what it means. The article examines the craft of weaving good character motivations into a text. We discussed what is meant by a hook in detail.
Megan's two cents: Check it out. It helped me gain a better understanding of the all important hook. I knew that I needed one, but I never knew what having a 'hook' meant. Kristen explains it clearly. I no longer wonder what it means.
"Motivations work to grip the reader." Kristen Kieffer
We then completed a ‘character motivation activity’ based on selected randomly generated character motivations. We each selected one of the samples and built a character by following the guidelines of the ‘Character Motivation Thesaurus’ prompts. Below is my character based on the motivation prompt, ‘your character’s fondest wish is to take a new direction':
Goal: move/ re-create who he is
Need: safety, love and belonging
Method: quit job, search (seek & find) new direction
Proposed Character: Daniel Cooper, mid 30’s working off shore on an oil rig is questioning if the isolated routine he has is all there is in life. He wants to pursue photography, which he has always secretly loved to do and travel around Australia to key tourist destinations and find things that people often don’t notice and focus on them. He is in contact with his sister and her husband who are living in Melbourne, using this as a home base as he travels.
Preparation: quit his job, move in with sister, buys cameras, does TAFE course (meets possible love interest here), travels. The book he makes based on this will be called “What I found at the end of the road to no-where” (possible text title as well).
Sacrifices: initial and short term loss of income (he will need to eat thought a significant amount of savings) mates form job lost as they don’t understand him, arguments/strain on relationships with sister and new love interest as he travels.
Roadblocks: insecurities as he doubts his choices and abilities, car issues.
Talents & skills: handy (will be able to do seasonal farming to supplement income – staying for short burst in some places), ‘natural artists eye’ for photography, educated in a trade (electrician which is an employment he will return to).
What’s at stake: financial stability and relationships?
Cliché’s to avoid: that he creates a best seller (he creates a book but only published a few copies, publishers aren’t interested sending rejection letters, returns to electrical work - on shore developing relationships with love interest, sister. Sister gives a copy of book to good friend, a friend of theirs sees it and wants as they have links to publisher who becomes interested. Begins to take working holidays to do photography and does photography on demand whilst still doing electrical work. Art show).
Not only was this activity really entertaining, but as a group each of us found a whole new story unfolding simply by understanding a main characters motivation. This is an excellent activity to do when you are stuck for an idea of what next to write when between books or simply to challenge yourself creatively to get inside the mind and motivations of a character.
For further information please check out these great resources:
Character Motivation Thesaurus Example: Escape a killer
15 interesting motivations for heroes and villains
7 Tips for Character motivation
How to create believable characters
Let me know how you go with the activity in the comments.
If you like this post, feel free to share...
The writing life can be confusing, hard work, amazing, exciting, and not for everyone. How can a writer live a genuine writing life? Is it possible to keep up with the quickly changing publishing scene, as well as learn new technology? Who better to ask then someone who has been around the publishing scene for a long time, Hazel Edwards.
I met Hazel in Gippsland in 2015, when she re-visited the area where she had lived as a teenager and talked with a few of the people mentioned in her just released memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake’ Being an Author’. I wasn’t in the memoir, but I read and reviewed it, and blogged about my meeting with Hazel. We’ve kept in touch since.
Hi Hazel, and welcome to my blog. The first post for 2017. Yay! What a way to start an exciting new year.
Q. What are your writing projects for 2017?
A. Those writers, whom I’ve helped to finish their books, call themselves my ‘Hazelnuts’. I enjoy helping aspiring writers, so I’m offering a Non-Boring Finish Your Non-Fiction Book Project year long mentoring course with the Public Records Office. First Friday of each month 10-1pm and the aim is to FINISH each participant’s book by the December class.
It’s aimed at procrastinators doing family histories but can apply to anyone who benefits from having an opportunity to share book-length W.I.P. (work in progress), each month. (The PRO in North Melbourne also has free parking which is great for regional writers).
I’ve also switched to writing an adult murder series with a celebrant sleuth. So, I’m currently researching weddings, funerals and cross cultural celebrations. Interviewing florists, celebrants, retirement home staff and caterers. Plus, working on my plotting. Nothing quite like saying ‘My real son is getting married this year to a lovely girl and I’m working out how a murder might occur, in fiction, at a wedding’.
Our co-written ‘Hijabi Girl’ has been optioned for other media, so I will be involved in further stories for our feisty Melek in a hijab who may become Australia’s ‘Pippi Longstocking’ just like Astrid Lindgren’s Scandinavian girl, except our 8 year old Melek starts a girls’ footy team in a mainstream Australian school.
It is important for authors to ‘speak up’ about the ideas world they inhabit, as they are potential problem-solvers via their books suggesting more tolerant approaches to diversity. A book can take a reader into a different culture for the length of that story and maybe beyond. Compassionate humour is more effective than propaganda. And young readers become adults who think, then act. But they need the literacy skills to start.
Recently I was filmed in my study workplace by Channel 9 News and the Copyright Agency. A film clip which spreads around social media is a more strategic way of commenting on literacy or copyright issues for authors. But you do have to tidy up a bit and wear some makeup and a colourful ‘book’ jacket which looks ok on camera, even if you are NOT the glamorous type. Luckily, I have a wonderful author friend Krista Bell who picks out appropriate ‘camera’ jackets, as I have no dress sense and think in abstract.
Wow! That is a lot of exciting news. From mentoring aspiring writers, to starting to write adult murder mysteries, having Hijabi Girl’ be optioned for other media as well as working on further stories for Melek. You have a busy year ahead.
Q. What are your best hints for aspiring writers?
Try collaboration. Co-writing a project gives you an opportunity to learn new skills, a deadline and having fun together too. With technology, such as Skype, your co-writer can live anywhere. You can share the frustrations, rejections and the small triumphs as well as learn technology and new ways of sharing those stories.
Secondly, be businesslike. ‘Author’ is a brand. What are the words you’d like readers to associate with your name as an author, even if you write in different genres and formats? I’d like my author brand to be: Quirky humour, Issues based and Authorpreneurial.
Thirdly. Write. Don’t just talk about writing.
Great advice, Hazel.
"Write. Don’t just talk about writing."
Q. Could you share ‘behind the pages’ of your work?
My memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake: Being an Author’ was my candid sharing of the real life of a longterm author who also has a family and community involvement. One of my aims in 2017 is for the memoir to be audio recorded, as many readers now listen on various devices in transit.
But sometimes books take on ‘another life’.
In 2017 & 2018, my ‘Sir Edward ‘Weary ‘ Dunlop” Aussie Heroes series book is included in the ANZAC ‘Behind the Pages’ exhibition touring Brisbane and other libraries. Instigated by New Zealander Maria Gill, these war -themed collections of children’s books focus on Australian and New Zealand problem-solvers. Lots of educational resources provided. Stories can have long term lives in new formats, once they are written.
And a themed touring libraries and galleries exhibition could be relevant for other book subjects.
So back to the computer to write.
Thank you so much for coming onto my blog today, Hazel, and sharing your experiences with us.
Check out Hazel's website. It's jam packed with wisdom and insights, and you can keep up to date on where she is at and her books that are available.
e-books such as ‘Authorpreneurship; The Business of Creativity’ or 'Writing a Non Boring Family History’ are available here.
‘Hijabi Girl’ is available from BookPOD
Memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake; Being an Author’ is available from Booktopia who carry most of Hazel’s print titles.
Check out: 'Anzac Stories: Behind the Pages'
And if you want to know more about Non-Boring Finish Your Non-Fiction Book Project year long mentoring course with the Public Records Office, check out: Finish Writing Your Book with Hazel Edwards
If you like this post, feel free to share...
I love reflecting on the past year as I eagerly focus ahead for the coming year. It is a time that I take stock of the great experiences that I've had, as well as having a good hard look at the lessons that I have learned from the tough and challenging times as well.
In the past couple of weeks I have read over past blog posts and have picked out the most popular blog posts of 2016, counting down to the most popular.
10. At a writer’s workshop in my local writer’s group, find out what we learnt about using similes and metaphors to make your writing sing. Interesting stories are included.
9. Ester de Boer’s illustrator school visit is a success. Find out what she got up to at a local primary school that had them giggling.
8. Ever wondered if you should attend a Creative Weekend? Find out what happened when I took the plunge at a Creative Workshop Weekend in Bright, Victoria. The same might happen for you.
7. Check out my interview with Karen Tyrell and her latest book, Song Bird: Superhero, and find out why it should be on your kids 'to be read list'.
6. Have you ever wondered what it is like to live on the Autism Spectrum. Get some insight from my son, Brandon, as he chats candidly about living with Asperger’s in a Neurotypical world and not giving up.
5. Have you ever wondered what it is like to pursue a writing career and be a single parent? Is it even possible? Find out from someone who knows. Meet Robert Vescio, a children’s author and single parent.
4. The life is tough. The writing life can be tough. Have you ever wanted to give up? I have. Find out why, and how I fought back. I hope these tips will encourage you on your life journey.
3. Author school visits are all part of an author’s life. Find out about how I prepared for my first school visit, and how it went.
2. Wondering whether you should go to the KidLitVic2017 Meet the Publishers Conference in Melbourne next year? Don’t know what to expect? Find out about my take on the conference, as well as links to other authors' blog posts who went too.
And the top post for 2016…
1. The exciting announcement that Ester and I have our book, Raymund and the Fear Monster, coming out late 2017. It is a book about overcoming fear.
2016 has been an amazing year. I thank you all for being such wonderful supporters of my blog. I appreciate the time it takes to click and share; to post a comment either here, Facebook, or Twitter; or to send me an email.
If you want me to tackle something in particular, please email me, or pm me on Facebook or Twitter.
I have some new topics lined up, and some authors are coming for a visit. So stay tuned. Look out 2017, here we come.
Like this? Please share with your friends.
On my blog you will find:
Click to set custom HTML