Gail Lukasik, whose latest novel The Lost Artist is now available, worked with us on "Creating Memorable Characters". One of the points she emphasized was to know your characters intimately. One way to accomplish this when you are getting started is to do a Character Sketch. Write down the character's physical appearance, background, and what overwhelming desire he/she may have. Of course, not all of these details need to be written in the novel in detail. "Sprinkle" these characteristics in throughout the book showing them, not telling them. This can be done through actions and dialogue. Gail also made suggestions on how to pick character names and gave us hints on how to make our protagonist and antagonist memorable.
Patricia Rosemoor, has written 30+ books from romance to mystery to paranormal, and her latest novel, Born to Be Wild is now available on e-book. Patricia advised us on Crafting Suspense, suspense simply meaning anticipation. What makes the reader want to keep turning the page. There are several methods which include the "ticking clock", distancing the character from his/her goal, creating a dangerous environment, isolating the character physically or emotionally, and foreshadowing. The most important thing to remember is to give suspense in bits and pieces to keep the reader interested and anxious to move onto the next scene--keep the action intense, emotions high, and make the danger feel real.
Our third session was Point of View presented by Michael Allen Dymmoch whose latest novel M. I. A. is now available. Michael reminded us that we as authors have an unwritten contract with our readers to be unobtrusive, clear, and to create a flow to keep the reader mesmerized and unconfused. She went over each type of point of view, its advantages and disadvantages and limitations. We were given handouts as references to point of view with samples of poorly written paragraphs, editing abbreviations, and a bibliography of sources for writers.
The last session conducted was Killer Opening Scenes presented by Clare O'Donohue, author of Life without Parole: A Kate Conway Mystery. She read the opening paragraphs from several novels of well-known authors. Clare pointed out that many think of that first chapter as a "hook", she prefers to call it the "tease". The very first paragraphs of the first chapter or prologue must give the reader a desire to want more. The reader must be able to determine the mood of the book and leave the reader wanting to know what happens next. The opening must tie into the rest of the book. Don't introduce a character if he/she isn't seen again or an action if it is not going to be explained. You may want to introduce the main character right away, but don't fill the first chapter with backstory. Backstory should be introduced in bits and pieces. Also, don't introduce too many characters in the first scene. This will leave the reader confused and make it necessary to turn back pages to remember who they are. Most importantly is to intrigue the reader enough to keep them reading.
For me this was a day well spent. I'm now anxious to get out some of my recent work and make sure I've hit all of the points from yesterday's lessons. Thank you so much ladies for this wonderful workshop.
You can find out more about these wonderful authors at the following websites:
Gail Lukasik: http://gaillukasik.com/
Patricia Rosemoor: http://www.patriciarosemoor.com/PRBooks.html
Michael Allen Dymmoch: http://michaelallendymmoch.com/
Clare O'Donohue: http://clareodonohue.com/
Until next time!