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Friday, June 4, 2021

Self care

Let’s state a few things about mental health. Experiencing a mental health illness doesn’t make you weak or flawed. People fall ill with COVID, cancer, colds and other illnesses that don’t begin with c, all of the time. There are resources for individuals experiencing a mental health illness. (1)

What most new writers don’t recognise is that writing is a grind. Sure, there are moments where it’s fun and exciting to write a character or a scene. Typing the end is absolutely a wonderful feeling. And it’s a fantastic feeling to sell your first book.

Here’s the other side of writing. Editing your WIP for the twentieth time. Staring at a screen, waiting for the words to come. Struggling to find a solution to your plot hole that doesn’t require you to rewrite half of your story. The isolation. To develop your skill as a writer, you need to spend a lot of time alone in a room. Many people don’t do well in isolation, especially for prolonged periods. There’s the added difficulty that most non-writers don’t understand the appeal of writing. That adds a layer to the isolation.

There’s a grind to writing. Churning out five hundred words a day seems easy until you have to do it. Pile edits onto those five hundred words, and it takes a toll. It can be mentally draining to sit in front of a computer and crank out the words, especially when those words are subject to constant critique. Many people appreciate the talent and skill of a professional athlete. Most people don’t recognise the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a manuscript. The work involved in creating a polished manuscript is difficult to explain to a non-writer.

How to stay mentally tough? Adopt a healthy self-care regime. This means eating well, exercising regularly, getting away from the computer daily, scheduling time for friends and family, and scheduling writing time.

People who want to be writers feel guilty not writing because they don’t make time for it. Then, when they do make time for it, they feel isolated from friends and family. The key to that is finding the right balance. Permit yourself to write. It’s okay to close your office door to work. It’s okay to ask your partner to look after your child while you take thirty or sixty minutes to write.

New authors often don’t realise how much rejection there is to writing. Reviewers spot all errors and plot issues. Agents and publishing companies reject manuscripts. Reviewers and readers leave negative comments on public fora. Then there’s the occasional reader who will contact you and point each issue they had with your book, not with the intent of supporting you in becoming a better writer but destroying you and discouraging you from writing the next book. 

None of these things boosts morale or ego. All of these things, except the nasty email, are required to be a writer.

Joy.

How to stay mentally fit as a writer? Learn to learn. People wrongly believe that professional athletes are born that way. Top-performers in any field spend years improving their skills and adopt a learning mindset. There is always something to learn, improve upon, and hone.

Surround yourself with positive people. Every author needs beta readers but select beta readers that are helpful and supportive of you. Yes, some criticism can be difficult to swallow, but it can drive you to improve when it comes from a well-intentioned place.

Know when to take a break. Some authors can write every day, and others can’t. There are periods in a person’s life where disaster strikes, and they can’t write. There are constraints on physical and mental health that impede the ability of an author to write. Life happens, and it’s okay to step away from writing to sort things out.

Learn to recognise the signs of burnout (2). Burnout is often accompanied by depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, an overwhelming workload, and a desire to strive and be at the top of your profession. It’s a terrible condition that strikes the ambitious who push themselves too hard. The worst part about burnout is that once you have one, it often takes years to recover. Once recovered, a burnout survivor is unlikely to resume activities that once gave them joy or their previous profession.

Preventing burnout is far easier and better than trying to recover from one. And honestly, one doesn’t really recover from burnout. Like PTSD survivors, even a decade after burnout, you can be triggered by something and relapse.

Mental fitness requires a daily regimen. It requires experimentation to find out which routine and practice works best for you. It requires self-awareness to know when you’re struggling and need to take a break or reach out to resources. Perhaps, more importantly, it requires that you be kind to yourself.

The world is harsh enough. You don’t need to add to it by being brutal to yourself.

Writing is meant to be rewarding. Make sure the rewards include fulfilment and joy. 

I'd like to thank @AuthorIvanScott for the topic suggestion. 

Please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @reneegendron to continue the conversation. 

If you liked this post, please consider leading $1. I'm raising funds for a professional book cover for James' and Mirabelle's story. There's a donation tab in the top left hand corner of the screen called Ko Fi. You can read a bit of the mystery in James' and Mirabelle's story here. Over the summer, I'll be posting a section of the romance element. You can receive an advance section of the romance element by signing up for my newseltter

If you'd like to be an advance reader for James's and Mirabelle's story, please reach out. The book is in its last stages of edits and will be released in Fall 2021. 

 

(1)

https://www.ccmhs-ccsms.ca/mental-health-resources-1

https://www.mhfa.ca/en/general-resources 

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/mental-health-services/mental-health-get-help.html 

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/ 

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health-resources#types-of-providers

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/ 

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/getting-help 

https://www.mhe-sme.org/

https://mhaustralia.org/need-help 

https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/services-and-support/health-care-services/mental-health-services  

 

2

https://myparo.ca/6-signs-of-burnout-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/

 

 

 

 

 

 


Old couple

 

When most people think of romance, they think of people in their early twenties to mid-thirties finding the love of their lives. However, romances also happen between older couples.

Let’s start with the basic structure of a romance. Both love interests have internal conflicts that prevent them from entering a romantic relationship. Internal conflicts cause external conflicts (conflict between the love interests). For the love interests to have their happily ever after, they must first resolve internal matters and focus on external issues by working out their differences.

There are two types of setups in a romance. The first is the love interests don’t know each other at the beginning of the story, get to know one another, and resolve their matters by the end of the book. The second is the love interests are in an existing relationship that is on the rocks.  The love interests need to work to maintain and strengthen the relationship.

Whether you write younger characters or older ones, those structures remain the same. I’ll let you in on a secret about writing romances with older characters—there’s a lot of emotional depth to mine. I’m certain you’ll find emotionally mature nineteen-year-olds who have been through a lot and conduct themselves with poise and grace. Let’s not forget different historical times when most women were raised to marry by the age of twenty. That’s a different mindset than the way most people raise their children in Canada in 2021.

When you write older characters, especially characters with a lot of history between them, there’s a tremendous opportunity to explore emotion, resiliency, pain, loss, and triumph. Romances work because of emotional payoffs. Every romance reader knows there will be a happily ever after, but they don’t know how the characters will get there.

A forty-year-old who is divorced and has one child has different emotional baggage than a twenty-year-old who has never been in love. The constraints on the forty-year-old’s life are different than those of the unattached, non-parent, twenty-year-old. Making time to date when raising a child, working full-time, dealing with an ex who does all they can to make your life miserable while dealing with all of the other bumps and hiccups life throws at you is difficult.

Romances explore choices and how they relate to conflict. Let’s take that forty-year-old single parent and call him Léonard. He works full time, and he has to pay alimony to the ex. His commute is extended because he has to swing by the daycare/babysitter to pick up his daughter Claudette. He has to clean and cook and help Claudette with her homework. A fellow like that is going to be more practical in his approach to finding a romantic partner. Léonard isn’t likely to hang out in pubs and clubs, he’s unlikely to have a lot of time for hobby groups, and he probably won’t take a four-day vacation to a resort because he had a good deal (Claudette has school, after all).

Léonard is more likely to meet a potential love interest at one of Claudette’s after school activities, or through a neighbour, or a friend. When Léonard meets the potential love interest, he has to evaluate the potential not only through his lenses (do they get along, is he attracted to her, do they share similar interests, and so on), but also through Claudette’s perspective. Any love interest that isn’t interested in being with a man with a child, well, for responsible fathers, that’s a non-starter.  

Let’s take a moment to consider some of the emotional issues Léonard faces when considering dating. He was married for six years and dated his ex for an additional two years. Prior to that relationship, he had two other serious, long-term relationships. Each relationship was different, but each relationship also left him with unique scars. One woman wanted children right away when he wasn’t ready. One woman wanted to travel the world working gig to gig, while he had to stay in one place to develop his career. And his marriage, while things were good at first when Léonard and his ex were aligned with interests, hobbies, wanting to start a family, the toll of running a family tore them apart.

These different decisions have impacted him and alter the way he views a potential love interest. Léonard needs to weigh his past hurts versus a stable life for his daughter versus his current reality of being a single parent (time constraints, resource constraints, the messiness of coordinating schedules when a love interest also has split-time with their children) versus his interest in dating.

These constraints and conflicts are interesting to explore. How each person and romantic couple addresses these constraints allow for an enriching experience for the reader.

Some questions to ask when developing romances between people who are divorced with children still at home

  • How much does the ex still loom in the picture?
  • What are realistic expectations as to how much time the couple can spend alone versus childcare responsibilities?
  • How do complicated family arrangements (blended families with different parental structures) impact the ability of the couple to act in the best interest of the couple?
  • What are the sleeping arrangements? (This is particularly relevant if you’re writing a high heat romance and are writing sex scenes. What are realistic conditions in which the couple can have a sleepover?)

 

Let’s age the characters up a bit. Let’s say you’re writing a romance in which the romantic leaders are sixty years old. Let’s say you’re writing Céline, and she’s sixty-two years old. Her first husband died of a heart attack ten years ago. They were married twenty-eight years. It took her years to overcome the grief, and last year she met Pierre.

Céline has three adult children and four grandchildren. She may or may not work full-time. In the years since her husband’s death, she’s taken up new hobbies and has reinvigorated her social life because her husband wasn’t the type to go out. She’s sixty-one. She’s likely to have health issues, and she’s likely to be the primary care provider for her parents or aunt and the emergency babysitter for her grandchildren. There are a lot of pulls on her time.

She’s also likely been through a lot of emotional pain (given that she’s lived longer than a twenty-year-old). She might be more set in her ways for some things, behind the times on many other things, and wise in some areas.

If you write Céline the way you would a twenty-year-old, you’re cheating the character and the reader. You’re depriving the reader of an emotional experience gained for the school of hard knocks, and you’re depriving Céline of the ability to apply all of her knowledge and insight to resolving the issue that needs to be resolved. Remember, Céline’s been around sixty-one years. Maybe there’s a pattern or a similar situation that keeps popping up in her life that she has to learn to move past it. Maybe now, after decades of failing, she has the self-confidence to do something she’s always wanted to do. Maybe she can guide her grandchildren in a way she wished she could have with her children.

Questions to ask when writing older characters:

  • Have they grown more patient or impatient with age?
  • Are they more vocal about pointing out issues and problems than they were when they were twenty?
  • How have they stayed the same since they were a child?
  • How have they changed?
  • What are three major events that have changed how they behave, act, and feel?

In what way does their health impact their daily life? If you write high heat romances, you’ll need to incorporate some aspects of health and perhaps the need for pharmaceutical supports.

 

The structure of a romance between twenty-year-olds is the same as writing one between sixty-year-olds. What changes are the emotional depth, the amount of baggage each character has to resolve, and the tools each character brings to the table to address their issues.

Writing romances between older couples can be richly rewarding. Don’t be afraid to stack the conflicts and constraints each character faces. Explore realistic meet-cutes and flesh out each character’s world. Romance is romance.

Keep an eye out of James' and Mirabelle's story. He's fifty years old with four adult children and she's forty five. I'm in the last stages of editing it and will release it in fall 2021. If you liked the excerpt (still in draft) and/or this blog post, please consider chipping in one dollar towards a professional cover for their book. 

 

Thank you to @SStaatz for the topic suggestion. 

Let's keep the conversation going on Twitter. Reach out to me @reneegendron and let me know how you write romances with older characters. 


 

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Building An Author’s Platform

It’s tough being an author. Even if you write a perfect book that every reader loves, you may sell only a handful of copies. This is not because you are unlucky. It’s because you don’t have an author’s platform.

Just in case you don’t believe me, here’s an example from literary history. Back in 1846, three unknown young ladies self-published a poetry anthology titled Poems, by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. This carefully collated work of accomplished poetry only sold 3 copies.


Today, those same poems are studied in detail in high schools and universities across the world and have become the subject of many doctoral theses. Why? Because Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë later published bestselling novels, and their author’s platform expanded exponentially.

 


What is an Author’s Platform?

An author’s platform is a collective term for the goodwill accumulated by a writer. If you’re an accountant or familiar with fiscal terms, you’ll understand what I mean by this. Otherwise, let me explain.


A new author does not have an existing fanbase. They are an unknown commodity. This makes them unattractive to publishers and agents because they may invest money in publishing the author’s books and make a loss.


A published author who has successfully sold books has a fanbase. If they release another book, it is likely that people who enjoyed their previous books will buy their next one. The more successful books this author releases, the bigger their fanbase, and the easier it is for them to sell more books.


So, success breeds success. The established author is a safer investment for publishers and attractive to agents. As a business, that author has what an accountant calls goodwill. But if this is the case, how can a new author ever catch a break?

 


Building an Author’s Platform

An author’s platform consists of more than a fanbase of readers who have read previous books. It also extends to an author’s social networking accounts, their website visitors, and book reviews.


Quite often an author will have contacts through social networking who have never read one of their books. Despite being unfamiliar with previous books, that contact will still promote their future books for their own reasons.


An established website with a high DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority) provides another platform for marketing your new novel.


Book Reviews are ESSENTIAL to increasing an author’s platform. When somebody is considering buying your book on Amazon or another platform, they will often skip the blurb and hit the review section to find out what other people said about your book.


If you have no reviews on the platform, this puts potential readers off. But if you have lots of reviews with an average of 4 out of 5 stars or higher, you’re likely to sell a book. That’s why you need to get readers to review your book as part of your author’s platform.
Social Networking


If you have never published a book in your life, you can still open accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and other social networking sites. These are all free to join and make great networking tools.


I focus on Twitter because I find it easy to navigate and gain followers. And, more importantly, I have met people on there with similar goals to myself who are willing to work together with me to our mutual benefit. If you want to follow me on Twitter, I’m @TheRomanceBloke.


The same principles apply to any social networking platform, and many find Instagram a great place for writers. For some reasons, a lot of publishers like their authors to have Facebook Author pages. These are easy to set up and completely free. I have one, though I rarely use it.


It’s not easy to start from zero on a social networking site, but it’s not impossible. I opened my Twitter account in December 2020 but didn’t send out my first tweet until sometime in January 2021. At the beginning of January, I had zero followers. By mid-May, I had over 7,300.


Many of my followers have over 50,000 followers of their own and regularly retweet my tweets. That is why my Tweet Impressions for the last 28 days stands at 626,000. This means that my tweets have been viewed over half a million times in the past month. That’s a lot of potential readers for any books I publish in future.
How do you gain followers?


The same basic principles apply to all social media platforms. To become popular, you must interact with other members of the writing and reading community and offer them something of value.


Since you are mainly interested in finding readers for your books, you should focus on book-related posts. What I mainly offer in my posts are links to articles about writing, publishing, book marketing, and book reviews.


Instead of posting links to the same article ten times a day, I have built up a portfolio of articles and book reviews that I rotate so that there are different articles featured on my profile every day.


But interaction is key. By regularly retweeting/sharing the posts of other members of the writing community, I am helping them to market their books and products. Because I am helping them, they are more inclined to help me.


I also offer to publish guest posts on my website. I invite other members of the writing community to write articles about their books, products, or writing techniques. These guest articles help those authors to market their books.


I usually keep a link to one of these guest articles as my pinned tweet on my Twitter platform. This not only promotes the guest author, but it also directs people to visit my website and encourages more book readers and authors to follow me on Twitter. For me, it’s a win-win situation.

 


Website
Many authors’ websites are white elephants. If you check out their DA and PA scores, they’re around DA 1 and PA 1. But what does that mean?


Domain authority (DA) is a measure of how authoritative a website is. A higher DA means that the website is respected as a source of information within its speciality. Page authority (PA) is a measure of how likely it is that a page on that website will rank high in a Google search.


The DA and PA range is between 1 and 100 for all websites, but few sites come close to 100. Wikipedia, for example, stands at DA 93 and PA 81. An established publisher like Penguin UK has a high DA and PA. Penguin’s scores are DA 73 and PA 63.


When you start a new website, you begin with DA 1 and PA 1. That means that it is unlikely anyone will visit your website without being invited to do so. They won’t stumble across your website in a Google search. If you want to get noticed, you need to improve your DA and PA.


To increase DA and PA, you need to publish new articles on your website on a regular basis. You also need to attract readers to view these articles, and you need other websites to build links to those articles on your website. The more visitors that come to your website and the more links that are constructed, the higher your DA and PA will grow.


I have divided my website into different areas for different kinds of articles. I have a Book Reviews tab for storing all my book reviews, an Articles tab for the writing-and-book-related articles that I have authored, and an Experts Opinion tab for the guest articles written by authors I have met via social networking. This makes it easy for my website visitors to navigate and find what they want to see.

 


The Cost of a Website
Unfortunately, you have to pay to set up a website. However, it’s not as expensive as you might think. You need two things: the software and a host. You can get the software for free from corporations like Wordpress but you must pay for the hosting, which is the place where all your website’s information is stored and processed when you run a site.


I paid around US$90 for a 3-year deal with HostGator for my hosting and then imported WordPress software for free. Shop around and never pay the full price. There are always ads that offer a discount on hosting at various hosts if you use their discount code. If you want to keep setup costs minimal, you can get hosting for a year for less than $40.


The biggest expense on your website growth and maintenance is your time. Websites don’t grow on their own. You have to write articles and post them. If others write articles for you, you still have to format and post those.

 


Book Reviews

As I said earlier, book reviews on Amazon and other platforms are an essential part of your author’s platform. When you are planning to publish a book, it’s a good idea to hand out a few Advanced Review Copies (ARC) to people you are confident will read your book and write reviews.


The authors and readers you’ve connected with through social networking are ideal candidates to read and review your ARCs. If you’re previously read and reviewed their books, they’re even more likely to agree to read and review your ARC.


There are also organisations like Reedsy Discovery, Book Sirens, and Book Bub who will distribute your ARCs to readers who promise to read and review your book in exchange for a fee. Now, it’s always better if you can get your ARCs read and reviewed for free. But these services do help you to gain more reviews quickly if your “volunteers” fail to deliver.


I have found writing book reviews to be one of the best ways of quickly making new friends in the Writing Community. Authors love to receive reviews, especially if it’s clear you’ve actually read their books and noticed what they did. On Twitter, authors have become much warmer to me and likely to retweet my tweets after I’ve reviewed their books.

 


My Final Word

After reading this article, I hope you understand why building an author’s platform is so important for new authors. Don’t be daunted. Anyone can build an author’s platform.


I would advise you to avoid the temptation of publishing your book before you’ve built an author’s platform. No matter how good your book is, you will most likely be disappointed by a low level of sales.
Once you’ve established a loyal author’s platform, you should find it much easier to get volunteers to read your ARCs and even find customers who buy your books. The larger your author’s platform, the more likely you are to publish a successful book.


Also, if you dream of traditional publishing, agents and publishers will be much more interested in your unpublished manuscript if you can demonstrate to them that you have a huge author’s platform. An established website with a high DA and PA alongside a social media account that shows you have thousands of followers will go a long way toward you receiving that elusive acceptance letter.
 
 

Thank you Robert Baker for your guest post on Building an Author's Platform. 

 

Robert Baker — The Romance Bloke @TheRomanceBloke
 

Robert is the founder of The Romance Bloke, a website devoted to romance book reviews and articles about books and writing.

He passionate about reading and creative writing. He has published short stories and poetry in magazines, such as the ASP Literary Journal, Open Door Magazine and Meet Cute Press. He is frequently found hanging out on Writing.Com with other wannabe authors.

Robert is a freelance content writer and website manager. He has written informational articles, reviews, and blogs for a wide range of online businesses in the fields of travel, health, technology, and outdoor adventure.

When he is not reading or writing, he loves traveling with his family and horseback riding. Robert is also on the judging panel for the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Awards 2021.


Thursday, May 13, 2021

 

Active voice is a sentence in which the subject performs the action of the verb. In active voice, the focus is on the subject. Passive voice occurs when the verb acts upon the subject, and the focus is on the action. Active voice ensures tighter sentences that pack a stronger punch. Strong writing requires active voice to engage the reader, deepen POV, pacing, and immersive worldbuilding.

Let’s look at some examples to ensure we have a good grasp of the differences.

Example #1

Active voice: The doctor wrote a prescription.

Passive voice: The prescription was written by the doctor.

 

Example #2

Active voice: The aliens invaded my homeworld.

Passive voice: My homeworld was invaded by aliens.

 

Example #3 (because I’m a romance writer)

Active voice: She kissed him.

Passive voice: He was kissed by her.

 

 

Engaging the reader

Active voice is important to engage the reader. Active voice ensures crisper sentences that aren’t bogged down by needless words, nor do they require the reader to think about the author’s intentions. Every time a reader pauses to work out a sentence, you remove them from the story. Let’s consider the following examples.

Example #1 The houseboat was repainted in yellow by Tom.

Example #2 Tom repainted the houseboat yellow.

Most readers would understand that Tom repainted the houseboat. However, in longer sentences, the reader will have to work harder to understand what is happening.

Let’s review another example.

Example #1 My questions were always answered by my mentor, and when I had difficult ones, an extended session was scheduled to respond to my queries.

Example #2 My mentor always took time to answer my questions, and when I had difficult ones, she would schedule an extended session.

The reader needs to work harder to understand sentence #2.

 

 

Deeper POV

Active voice creates a deeper point of view and immerses the reader in your world and story. Active voice ensures the characters are present and active (yes, I need a thesaurus) to drive the plot. Writing in deep POV keeps the perspective of the story centred on the character. A deep POV creates opportunities for the author to show the reader the world through the character’s eyes. The author can use character-specific language, incorporate details only that character with that background would notice.

Conversely, a deep point of view also generates opportunities for the character to miss information, details, and opportunities because they aren’t comfortable, knowledgeable or don’t care about that aspect. Being aware and ignorant of certain details generates opportunities for conflict, problems, and obstacles. In other words, fantastic stuff for stories.

Let’s consider the impact of active voice on point of view.

Example #1 She ignored the blue dress hanging in her wardrobe, but the painful memories of that day crashed against the battered walls of her heart.

Example #2 The unignorable blue dress was hanging in her wardrobe and crashed painful memories against the battered walls of her heart.

Which example is clearer to understand, and which example draws you in more as a reader? In the second example, there is subject confusion. The FMC is the subject of the sentence. She is the one who is reliving a painful memory triggered by the presence of the blue dress. Yet, in the second sentence, the FMC is faded and removed. She’s not present in reliving the painful memories, and she’s secondary to the dress, which creates distance between the story and the reader.

 

 

Pacing

Active voice helps with pacing. The character drives the plot when the focus of the sentence and subsequently paragraph, scene, chapter and book. The character is active, problem-solving, working towards a resolution. In passive voice, things happen to the character. The perception of the reader is that the character doesn’t work to resolve the plot.

Example #1: A tire was removed from the tire by Josée before throwing it at her attackers.

Example: #2 Josée removed a knife from her tire and threw it at her attackers.

The second sentence ensures that Josée is active, making decisions, and engaging with her attackers. In the first sentence, Josée is passive and removed from the action, which slows the pacing.

 

 

Worldbuilding

Lastly, active voice improves worldbuilding because of deep POV. When you show the world through a character’s eyes, you provide your reader with a unique experience. You’re generating opportunities for the reader to know your character and empathise with them. Many readers won’t continue reading if they understand, relate or like the main character.

Example #1 The summer festival was the favourite of the year for Jean-Michel because his mother brought him there every year.

Example #2 Jean-Michel’s mother brought him to the summer festival every year.

I would add a description of the festival and an emotional beat to create emotional resonance with Jean-Michel to underline the festival’s importance. You can further expand on worldbuilding and contrast Jean-Michel’s impressions of the festival to his friends or family. Perhaps his mother has a different recollection of the event where she was stuck for three days with dozens of children who were high on sugar running half-wild from activity to activity. Perhaps Jean-Michel’s mother’s days were filled with breaking up fights, stopping bullying, applying first aid, and ensuring that one hundred children were sufficiently fed and hydrated. Quite a different experience indeed.

 

Concluding thoughts 

I often slip into passive voice. It happens. Sometimes I can’t think of a better way of formulating a sentence, sometimes I want to hit my word count, and I’ll fix it on the next edit. Other times, I write in passive voice because I’m in a telling kind of mood, only to shudder on the next revision and wipe the slate clean to write in active voice.

Writing in active voice is a skill that everyone can learn. Be mindful of who is doing the acting in the sentence and write to ensure it’s the character driving the plot and not the plot imposing on the character.

Please reach out to me on Twitter @reneegendron to continue the conversation on active and passive writing.

 

Thank you, @TheJasonOffut, for the topic suggestion.

 

If you liked this article, please consider living $1 at the Ko-Fi at the top left of this page. I’m raising funds for a book cover.


Wednesday, May 5, 2021 Character development questions

Colourful question marks

For those who follow me on Twitter, you know that I ask many plot and character-related questions. I do so to help writers think about their stories, the finer details and encourage conversation about the topic.

I was asked to compile a list of questions to help authors develop their characters and plot. Below is the list. Please note that after most questions, you can also ask why and why not.

Courtesy of the requester of this post: Would you be comfortable on a bus with the characters of your WIP?

  • Does your MC return to their hometown?
  • Does your MC run for public office?
  • Does your MC perform any charitable work? If so, which?
  • What takes up most of your MC’s day?
  • How much sleep does your MC get?
  • What is your MC’s biggest regret?
  • What is your MC’s most significant accomplishment?
  • What is your MC’s deepest emotional pain?
  • What does your MC say when they stub their toe?
  • What does your MC do when they’ve cut themselves preparing food?
  • Does your MC take any health supplements? If so, which ones?
  • Does your MC have a best friend?
  • Does your MC have a frenemy?
  • Does your MC have a work rival?
  • Does your MC have any savings?
  • Does your MC have a hidden talent?
  • Does your MC stargaze?
  • How has your MC’s disposition changed in the last ten years?
  • How has your MC’s disposition stayed the same in the last ten years?
  • How does your MC keep their fingernails/toenails?
  • How does your MC keep track of appointments?
  • What is one thing your MC has never forgotten about their childhood?
  • If your MC were to get into a car, where would they sit?
  • What is your MC’s favourite mode of transport?
  • What is your MC’s least favourite mode of transport?
  • What does your MC do on their day off?
  • What is your MC’s favourite article of clothing?
  • What is your MC’s least favourite article of clothing?
  • Does your MC recycle gifts, throw gifts out, or keeps unwanted gifts?
  • Which unwanted gift does your MC receive that your MC regularly throws out?
  • What does your MC do with a scented candle?
  • What does your MC do with take-out (food takeaway) containers once the food is eaten?
  • What is one spice your MC can’t live without?
  • What is one spice your MC hates?
  • What is your MC’s preferred method of communication?
  • What is your MC’s preferred method of work?
  • What is your MC’s preferred method of relaxing?
  • Which sport does your MC excel at?
  • Which activity does your MC struggle with but enjoy doing?
  • Which leisure activity does your MC despise?

 

Which question did you find most beneficial for your writing? Please reach out to me on Twitter @reneegendron

Thank you, @0CarlGriffin0, for the suggestion for the post.