27
AUG
2016

Assignment #4: GMC

Your next assignment goes hand in hand with assignment 3. GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) is another peek at into the mind of your character. It’s also a great reference point to make sure each scene is moving the story forward based on these things.

I’m going to be honest and say I have a really hard time wrapping my brain around GMC before I write. I can tell you the GMC of any of my characters in books I’ve already written, but when it comes to characters I haven’t written yet or am writing now, I just can’t get GMC to work for me. That’s not to say I don’t know them in some roundabout way, because I do and it’s what I work toward while writing. But condensing it into three key pieces before the book is done is really difficult for me. If this is you, too, that’s okay! I’m a firm believer in trying new crafting tools, but not forcing anything that’s obviously not working for you.

That said, I have a lot of friends for whom this works fantastically, and you might be one of those. If that’s the case, let’s get down to it.

GMC is really very simple at its base. It consists of:

S/he wants X (goal) because Y (motivation) but Z (conflict).

My friend, Ellis Leigh, likes to use this very basic example:

He wants to get laid (goal) because it feels good (motivation) but his pants are in the way (conflict).

She also says, “But that example is super shallow. Some GMCs should be deep. Like, if a character wants to be married, the writer needs to unpack that. What does marriage represent to them? What is it that fuels that need? There’s a base desire at hand, more than love. Usually it’s something like security (physical, emotional, financial).”

I have smart friends.

So delving deeper into your characters’ goals and motivations could come directly from the character questionnaire you filled out, or vice versa. See how all this stuff works together?

For a more in depth look at GMC, check out Debra Dixon’s book. It’s something I own and a book that comes highly recommended. This blog post also goes much more in depth on GMC and may be helpful to some of you!

If you have a favorite GMC reference, don’t be shy! Share it in the comments.

26
AUG
2016

Assignment #3: Character Questionnaires

In case you missed the first two assignments I posted last year, you can find them on my blog. Assignment 1 is on beat sheets (super important for everyone, as I’ve yet to have a mentee who didn’t need help in some form with pacing. It’s a very common problem.) and assignment 2 is on finding a CP (also super important so you can find your tribe). For this assignment, we’re going to talk a little bit about character questionnaires. What they are, how they work, and why you need them.

character questionnaireWhat are they?

They’re pretty simple. It’s a list of questions you answer as your character. If you google character questionnaires, you’ll find loads of examples on questions you can use. I have a total of 300+ questions covering almost twenty pages. Yes, it’s a lot, but it has always helped me get in the mind of my characters. I use Scrivener and a couple years ago tackled the project to break them down into categories for ease of finding the answers I need at a later time.

How do they work?

The idea is to answer the questions rapid style (remember playing the word association game by saying the first thing that came to mind? That’s exactly what you’re doing here.). You don’t want to think about how your character would answer it; you just want to answer it. Another cool tidbit: the questions you leave unanswered sometimes tell as much about the characters as their actual answers do.

Why do you need them?

For one major reason: deeper and more consistent POV. If you know your character inside and out (which you will by the time you’re done answering these), you’ll have an easier time portraying that on the page and you won’t get as easily stuck when you come to a part in the book in which you’re not sure how your character would react.

I fill this out for my hero and my heroine in every single book I write. It’s a lifesaver for me and allows me to fast draft novels because I’m so in tune with how my characters think and act.

Any questions? Leave me a comment or head over to Twitter and fire away. And if any of you are super hardcore, Type A writers and want my ridiculously long character questionnaire, leave me a comment with your email and I’ll send it along. For the rest of you, just google “character questionnaires” and combine/cut/edit till your heart’s content to get something that works for you.

13
JUL
2016

Writing Tips & Tricks Catch-all

Now that this is my third year mentoring for #PitchWars, it’s getting a little difficult to gather up all past info I’ve shared. I figured it was a good idea to put it all in one place, as much for me as for any writers out there who are interested. While some posts are specific to Pitch Wars (and marked as such), most are relevant to all writers on their publishing journeys.

I’ll continue to keep this updated with any new tips and tricks I post, any blog posts that are relevant, etc, so feel free to check back regularly. And, as always, I’m available to answer questions on Twitter. (Please remember the underscore when tweeting me. The non-underscore WriteAsRain doesn’t like to be bothered, to put it mildly. LOL)

Editing:
Dialogue
Garbage/Distancing words
Beat Sheets
Formatting your MS
First chapter do’s and don’ts
Showing vs Telling

Synopses:
Yes, You Need One (Pitch Wars specific)

Random:
Critique Straight Talk
Find a CP
It’s Okay to Say No
The Power of Perseverance
Are You Ready (Pitch Wars specific)

Miscellaneous Writerly Things:
Ten Things I Wish I Knew
Finding the Perfect Agent (for you)
The Road to Publication: Twitter Question Style
Do You Really Know Your Characters?
Every Step is Worth Celebrating
So You Feel Like a Fraud, Huh?

 

16
APR
2016

Friday (Plus One Day) Round-up

Friday Round-upWelcome to the Friday (plus one day) Round-up! I was so busy going, going, going yesterday that I just couldn’t fit this in. (that’s what she said) But, hey, this is my blog, and I do what I want, so Friday (plus one day) Round-up it is!

I didn’t save a ton on Pocket this week, and most of it was work related. But I know I have at least three writers following the blog (hi, friends!), so maybe it’ll be helpful to someone.

First up, a book series bible using Scrivener. I’ve been planning to start a series bible for a while now and am trying to figure out the best/easiest/most conducive to my brain way to do it. The reason this one popped up was because Aeon Timeline is on sale now through 4/25. Even if you don’t want or need a series bible, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this particular program.

Another thing I’ve wanted to try for keeping my book/series plans organized is One Note. I mean…some of the stuff I’ve seen people do with this is so awesome. And it totally speaks to how my brain works. I just need to sit down and dive in. That’s going on my to-do list for Monday. Also, did I mention One Note is freeeeeeee?

Finally, I’ve been contemplating a FitBit (or something similar) a lot lately. Mostly because my orthopedic surgeon wants me walking a certain number of steps every day and my piece of shit free phone tracker doesn’t work. But, listen, it doesn’t excite me to wear a plain black/red/pink/purple band all day every day. Even if you throw that color on there, it’s still just a band to me. Enter Funktional Wearables. I haven’t had time to really dig in and see everything they’ve got, but from what I have seen, they’re super cute.

Whoops! I said finally, but one last thing… Found out this week that Season of Second Chances, a second chance romance with a hot single dad (there may be nail painting in here, but you’ll have to read to verify), is on sale for only 99 pennies. I have no idea how long it will stay this price on Amazon, so if this sounds like something you’d like, snag it now! As I was sleuthing the pricing, I also noticed Plus One, a friends to lovers, best friend’s brother story, is also on sale for $1.24! That’s both of them for about half the price of one. Not a bad deal!

That’s it for this week! Have a great weekend. My oldest is having a sleepover tonight, so it’ll be hours of screaming/giggling/obnoxiousness in my house. Here’s hoping your night is quieter and filled with lots of books. See you Monday!

03
SEP
2015

Your First Assignment: Beat Sheets

As I mentioned on Twitter, my lovely Pitch Wars mentees this year, Lisa and Suz, gave me the thumbs up to share with you some of their homework assignments. That way, those of you who didn’t get picked can whip your MS into shape as best as you can. (Please note, this doesn’t negate the necessity of CPs and/or beta readers!)

I’m going to post the homework assignments here on the blog, in separate posts, as well as tweet about them. Some will be super short, so don’t expect a novel every time you come here. These will be posted after my mentees have been given them, and will be done when I have a spare minute to do so.

Your first mission, should you choose to accept it: Beat Sheets.

I know not everyone likes them. I also know some people are plotters and some are pantsers, and those who are the latter get terrified at anything like this. And that’s totally okay. However, it means nothing to me in this stage.

You’ve already written the book in whatever fashion you preferred, whether you used a beat sheet or the snowflake method or a cocktail napkin. Regardless, now it’s time to see if that actually worked for you. Enter the beat sheet.

A very common problem in manuscripts is pacing. Every story needs to follow an arc. I am going to be only talking about romance novels, because that’s what I write and that’s what I mentor. If you write something else, google beat sheet. I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding one for your specific genre and category. For all you romance junkies, here’s the one I like to use from Jami Gold.

The reason I want my mentees to do this is so they can see in black and white where issues might be. Once you fill this out, adjusting it for your book specifications, you’ll be able to see if there’s an issue within your book. Your points (or beats) should fall within a 10-15 page range, I’d say. And if they don’t? There better be a damn good reason for it. I’m always a fan of breaking away from rules when warranted, but this is not one of those rules. 99% of romances follow these beats for a reason–it builds the right amount of tension for the characters and the readers. Of course, there are always exceptions to some of these beats (first kiss and first intimate encounter, specifically), but never on the conflict, black moment, and resolution. Or at least I have not read a successful example of it.

Another very simplified way to look at beats is: 25% for first kiss, 50% for first intimate encounter (I’m being so proper for you guys…), 75% for the beginning of the end, 90% for the black moment/all is lost, and then the resolution.

Once you’ve got those filled out based on your MS, you’ll be able to see what, if anything, needs changing and can adjust your MS accordingly. Let me know in the comments or on twitter if you accepted the challenge and what you learned!

Up tomorrow: I don’t know. Come back to find out.

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