One of those random thoughts…

No Romance Weekly today, unfortunately!

Instead, have a post on something I been thinking of a lot lately 😀

The other day I watched Divergent (and my excitement had nothing at all to do with the fact Jai Courtney was in it…), and I will admit now I haven’t read the books, but what I want to talk about I can guess is part of the books.

The movie was going ok, I got the jist of the world and things and then it came to the point where Tris had to choose which faction she was going to be in for the rest of her life.

She had five choices- Abnegation (Selflessness), Erudite (Intelligence), Amity (Peaceful), Candor (Honest), and Dauntless (Brave).

She was originally in Abnegation, but she changed. Can you guess which faction she chose?

You were most likely right- it was Dauntless.

And that was great and all, and I could see it coming from a mile off, but I couldn’t help but sit there and think, ‘Why couldn’t she have been the heroine and still have been in abnegation?

What was wrong with the character’s main trait being selflessness or kindness and not the ability to kick someone’s butt?

Is that what makes a strong character now? The ability to knock someone out? Would someone who didn’t have the ability to beat of attackers be considered weak?

Ok, Tris has different circumstances with her being divergent and all, so she is all of the traits, but the main trait that is still focused on is her bravery and fighting skills.

I understand action scenes make for more excitement, and I, myself, enjoy the fight scenes.

But if Tris had stayed in abnegation or switched to amity, would the book have been so popular?

Would a book with not only a female lead, but one whose favoured trait is something that doesn’t involve fighting, have gone down well?

I don’t know, but it certainly got me thinking.

A few books I’ve read even start off with the character having no abilities, and then they go through a training chapter, and develop these fighting skills and only then are they classed as a good, rounded character and able to continue the story.

I write fight scenes in quite a few of my books, but in my stories I enjoy having the plot resolved in some way other than violence, even if there is a big fight scene. It’s part of the reason I enjoy writing romance, because it can be the powerful connection between people that can overcome things, not necessarily the fact that my female character can right hook the bad guy into oblivion!

Still, I admit myself that I would second think making a character, especially a female one, who didn’t have the ability to defend herself for the fear of having readers think she was weak.

But to be fair, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to fight off an attacker, and I am not a fan of violence, yet anyone who has met me knows I certainly wouldn’t be called weak!

So, maybe it’s time to start thinking about that more? If we didn’t push the ability to kick butt as such a highly valued trait, and focused more on the nicer qualities, it might help people to see that violence isn’t always the answer and that being a nice person isn’t a weak thing?

Well, that post got a lot deeper than I meant it to 😀

Anyways, I’m not saying these awesome fighters aren’t great characters, because they’re brilliant! It was just a random thought I had 🙂

What do you think of this topic? Do you think characters could be written without the ability to fight and still be classed as a strong character?

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 22,940 (+6094 since last check-in).

Books read towards challenge: 2/50
Currently reading: Thyme in a Flask by Glen Quarry

Flaws aren’t always bad…

Lately I’ve been going through an older piece of writing and editing it and rewriting it. It’s not writing anyone will ever see, it’s simply a piece I come back to often for my own pleasure of writing.

Anyways, it’s been quite some time (over a year) since I’ve worked on it and as I progressed I realised my main character is incredibly selfish.

Often, when other characters experience emotional pain, she will become upset herself, but not for the same reason most of us would when watching a friend be sad. Instead, she worries about being upset herself at having to watch them go through the emotional trauma!

Well, I was a little more than put off by her, I have to say! 😀

I was determined to take out this flaw I had written into this character, and was about to do so throughout the entire manuscript, but stopped myself.

It might not be a flaw I like, but it’s obviously how I’ve written this character throughout the whole story. And if I take out her flaws, she’s not exactly going to be very interesting, is she?

So, even though I don’t like the trait, I’ve left it. Characters need to feel real and, I have to admit, it does round her out as a character when it’s left in. Throughout the rest of the story I have written other characters noting it about her, so it’s obviously something I’ve noticed before.

It might be nice to have her grow out of that trait, and change as a person.

That’s all part of the fun of writing, isn’t it? Letting our characters grow out of some their faults and become stronger for it 🙂

Have you ever given a character a trait you didn’t like? Do you enjoy writing their flaws as well as their strengths?

Romance Weekly Blog Hop #lovewritechat

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It’s Tuesday, which means it’s Romance Weekly Blog Hop time!

If you’ve joined me from Veronica Forand, then welcome! 🙂

This week the questions focus on characters.

1. How much free reign do you give your characters during a story?

I give them pretty much completely free reign. Although I love to have a plan, some of the best things can come from the unexpected moments when your character’s take the story out of your hands!

2. Have your characters ever done something so out of the blue that not only changed your story, but changed the tone and maybe even the genre you were originally going for? (Like your contemporary romance turned into a spicy paranormal)

I’ve had some characters do some things that were completely out of the blue, but I don’t think it’s ever changed the tone or genre. Though, it could still happen 😀

3. Do you have one character in your head that is sort of boss over all the rest? Or do you decide who to work on and when?

On my current WIP, I have a group of characters and I do have to say I’m pretty good at managing to spend time on each. Out of the group, there are three who are the strongest and the main focus, so obviously they get more time, but I do have a character with a smaller role who just loves to push his way into focus every time there’s a scene! 😀

Now why not go check out what Victoria Barbour has to say in response to these!

How would you answer these questions? Do you give your characters free reign to do as they wish when you write, or do you like to stick to a plan?

Romance Weekly Blog Hop #lovewritechat

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It’s that time again, Romance Weekly Blog Hop time!

If you’ve joined me from the lovely Josie Malone’s blog, author of The Hero Spell, then welcome!

Now onto the questions!

Which type of character do you prefer writing about: Sexy, romantic, sweet, quirky, mean, old, young, smart, silly or other?

I’d like to say sexy, but in all honesty it’s probably the snarky characters! 😀 Those ones that always have a comeback for everything and their sarcasm offers no useful input, but it’s fun anyway.

Have you ever killed off (or gotten back at) an ex in your writing? On paper, of course.

No, I haven’t. I do try to stay away from basing my characters off of real people, as I always worry someone will guess!

What hobbies do you have that you incorporate in your writing?

Gardening is probably the biggest one. I do tend to find when characters are in a garden, I have to hold off from going into explicit detail of how the flower would look and how best it should be cared for in the coming season 😀

Some interesting questions answered this week 😀 So head on over to J.J.Devine, author of Into the Darkness, and see what she has to say in response to them!

Also, why not check out the new Romance Writers Weekly Blog?

Or sign up for the newsletter?

There is a monthly giveaway and this month my newest release, The Magic Spark, is one of the prizes! 🙂

So, what about you guys- Have you ever got back at someone through your writing?

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 5283 (Total word count: 12,148).

Books read: 1/4

Mid-October Book Review: Writing review.

Meet my character blog hop!

So, I’ve been asked to participate in the Meet my Character blog hop by the awesome Shehanne Moore whose next book, ‘The Viking and The Courtesan‘ hopefully won’t be far from publishing after being signed with Soulmate publishing!

First, a bit of info about Shehanne Moore:

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When not cuddling inn signs in her beloved Scottish mountains, Shehanne Moore writes dark and smexy historical romance, featuring bad boys who need a bad girl to sort them out. She believes everyone deserves a little love, forgiveness and a second chance in life. Visit her blog to find out about past releases and hear more about her forthcoming time-slip historical, The Viking and The Courtesan.

Shehanne’s blog: http://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/

So first off I have two things to say before starting:

1. I’m VERY sorry to Shehanne who asked me to do this a couple of weeks ago and I just completely forgot, and she was really, really lovely to let me try it again!

2. I’m a terrible blog hopper. Because I actually forgot I had to find people to, you know, hop onto next 😀 So, I’m making a plea to other bloggers to do this and post a link in the comments? Because you’re all so lovely!

I swear I will get better at blogging one day!

Now onto the questions!

The character I have chosen is Alex Lailand from my work in progress, which is embarrassingly still untitled! 😀

What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Her name is Alexandra (Alex) Lailand and she is a completely fictional woman.

When and where is the story set?

The story is a modern day story set in London and Scotland!

What should we know about him/her?

Alex is a very practical woman, and a very confident one. She built her business from nothing to a business that allows her to have a fancy apartment and office in the middle of London.

Though city life is beginning to wear on her, she won’t admit it.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

What messes up her life? More like who messes up her life!

That would be FG, her rom-com obsessed fairy godmother who appeared in her office one day and sent her life spiralling into chaos. FG believes Alex has lost her heart and passion for life including love and business, and she isn’t leaving until that’s fixed!

Though FG’s imagination runs as far as throwing Alex into her own romantic tale, flinging her and her ‘perfect match’ into an assortment of clichés she’s picked up from watching and reading too much romance, which only serve to make things a little awkward for the pair.

What is the personal goal of the character?

To be successful.

Alex is all about getting the win, even if that means focusing only on the hard facts rather than the personal when it comes to her clients.

Is there a working title for this novel and can we read more about it?

There is currently no working title! Which I should probably rectify pretty soon.

I recently posted a short, unedited teaser from the first draft. And of course I shall post more about it the closer it gets to release day (end of September!).

Ok, now is the part where I’m supposed to link to the other bloggers participating in the hop! But like I said, I had a complete blank when it came to this hop apparently! So I really hope someone is willing to join in!

If you do, please post it next Monday and let me know and I will link to the post 🙂 If you want more info, drop me an email and I will send you the details! Email: harliqueen (at) Hotmail (dot) co (dot) uk

Progress Report:

Status of fifth manuscript: Editing first draft.

Books read this month: 0/4

Mid-September Book Review: Currently reading.

Oh, that’s your name too, is it? And yours as well?!

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Coming up with character names can be an interesting and fun thing to do. I like to find names with meaning, a name that represents some part of the character’s personality or appearance. I don’t know why, it’s just something I am keen on doing 😀

But I’ve noticed something happening.

After I find these great unique names, suddenly, I see them EVERYWHERE!

I chose the name Otto for one of the characters in my current book, and I was rather pleased with myself for finding a simple, yet interesting name I hadn’t heard of before.

Then, the very next day on a forum, I see the name pop up for someone’s pet. I then hear it for a character on TV.

I had never even known of that name before, then I heard it twice the next day 😀

This has now happened a few times with unusual character names. Maybe I’d heard them before but hadn’t taken notice? Possibly I’m being hyper-aware after spending so long searching for the name? Whatever it is, it’s something that always seems to happen lately.

For my next book, I am using relatively common names to suit the contemporary setting, so I’m not so worried. But in the future if do another fantasy, maybe I will just have to make up names from scratch!

Has this ever happened to you? Do you like using character names with meaning? Do you make up names or use real ones?

Progress Report:

Status of Fourth Manuscript: With the readers (2/3 returned). Cover done, blurb written.

Books read: 2/4

July eBook review: Written and ready.

Argh!

I am sorry for not posting yesterday and for not getting back to comments and emails! My internet decided to break on Tuesday night and they couldn’t get a technician in to fix it until this morning (he was rather nice on the eyes though, so I didn’t mind that he took his time, he also smelt gorgeous!).

Anyway!

I think I have managed to catch up 😀

As today is re-blog day but re-blog is still not liking me, I am linking to two posts that I think are really worth reading 🙂

http://faithsimone.com/2014/07/16/descriptive-writing-tip/ – Great writing tip!

http://eightladieswriting.com/2014/07/17/michille-caples-archetypes/ – A post that really got me thinking about the way I plan characters.

Have a great day 🙂

Progress Report:

Status of Fourth Manuscript: With the readers (2/3 returned). Cover finished. Blurb written!- I really like being ahead of schedule 😀

Books read: 2/4

July eBook review: Written and ready.

What a dynamic group!

Photo by Grzegorz Łobiński on Flickr

Photo by Grzegorz Łobiński on Flickr

My fourth manuscript is finally with the readers! Now all I have to do is sit and try not to chew my nails too badly whilst I wait for what they say, and wonder how much editing I will have to do 😀

It will be good to take a break from it myself so as in a couple of weeks, when I get it back, I can start with fresh eyes again.

But, thinking over my current work, I was trying to work out what I enjoyed most about writing it.

What I decided upon was the group dynamic between my characters.

I have written a larger cast of characters before in Heart of the Arena, but this book and its characters are different in that they’ve known each other for quite some time.

I find it fascinating to look at groups of people and friends and see how they interact- You notice the people who are closer to others in the group, the underlying tension in others and even those who are attracted to the other.

It’s a really interesting thing to me, and it was great fun to write a group of characters all with their distinct personalities, but that all have their own opinions and history (remember when I said two of these character had spent the night together?) which shape their way of interacting with these friends who they’ve known for years.

The roles these characters play also made a difference to their interactions and the way they behaved. For example, upon meeting up with an old friend, the group dynamic shifts and that friend once again takes place as leader amongst the group, even though that person had not been with them for a long time. It was a natural shift amongst them, because that is what happens when people who know each other well get together.

Then I chucked in a newcomer, and the fun got even better 😀 Especially because the newcomer is half their age, so they all react to him differently.

Another thing I really enjoyed in writing this book was developing the relationships, not just the romantic relationship, but the friendships and rivalries.

It was something I was keen to try in this book and hopefully have succeeded at writing well!

Do you enjoy writing about the relationships between groups of characters? Do you like discovering the dynamics that grow within a group? Do you enjoy reading about the relationships between different types of characters?

Progress Report:

Status of Fourth Manuscript: Sent to readers.

Books read: 1/4

July eBook Review: Written and ready.

What they don’t know won’t kill them!

The back story of my characters has been on my mind lately, and obviously on other people’s too, as there have been a couple of great posts about it, for example:

Shehanne Moore has a great post about drip feeding the back story into your book.

Rachel Carrera has an interesting post asking for opinions on how readers enjoy reading back story in books.

Knowing where your characters come from and what they’ve done to become who they are when readers meet them is important.

The way back story is introduced is very individual based on the story and the writer, but it wasn’t the technical aspect of writing back story that had me thinking. Instead, lately I have been mulling over the back story itself.

Have you ever had a piece of back story for your characters pop into your head out of nowhere, that is so random or out of character for them, but you just know that it’s right?

What I mean is, I have a group of characters and for some reason I just have this thought that 2 of these characters got together one night.

For this to happen would be rather out of character for them, but now I’ve thought of it, I can’t un-think it, and it’s stuck as being a part of their back story.

Now, this piece of information isn’t written in my story or even hinted at, and it will never be revealed to readers. It’s just a snippet of info about these characters that I, as the writer, know about them and has shaped the way they are.

It got me thinking about other bits of back story from previous characters that I know as a the writer, but that readers would never know, and how it affects the way that I write these characters.

I wonder how many characters I’ve read about in books who have back story I don’t know about.

It’s interesting to ponder, right? 😀

Do you have any interesting back story about characters that only you know about them, that you haven’t shared with readers or other people? Have you ever imagined your characters doing something really out of character? Do you enjoy creating back story for your characters?

Progress Report:

Word Count: 3049 (39,207 total word count)
Status of fourth manuscript: Writing first draft.

Books read: 1/4

June eBook Review: Review written and ready.

I hope my face doesn’t stay that way!

My dog, Harli, giving an example of the expression, 'Look how cute I am!'. Taken by my mum, Twisted Pixel on Flickr.

My dog, Harli, giving an example of the expression, ‘Look how cute I am!’.
Taken by my mum, Twisted Pixel on Flickr.

The other day I turned to my mum and sister whilst writing and asked, ‘What is this face?’, and then contorted my features into some weird kind of wrinkled expression.

They gave me one those looks that said, oh dear, she’s finally cracked, and answered along the lines of, ‘I don’t think that’s a real expression’.

I realised then, that I really love what I do 😀

The saying (that has been drummed into anyone wanting to pursue writing in any form) goes, ‘Show don’t tell’. And so, in order to achieve this, I try and act out whatever it is my character is doing, or try to feel what they are saying or the emotion they are experiencing, to get a better sense of exactly what that would look and feel like to the senses.

A lot of the time, I look down right bizarre! But at least I can see and sense exactly what it is I am trying to write, and in general my writing goes up a few notches because I can see all the detail of that expression, gesture or action that I might not have though of and can note it down.

For example, if I had a character who was angry and shouting. I would shout out the line of dialogue, taking on the role of the character and see how I say the line, and what I do during it. This gives me a more realistic sense of what is happening to transfer to the page. It also gives each character an individual feel, as when I ‘act’ them out I can get into their headspace.

Sometimes, I will say a line of dialogue and come up with an awesome response that I wouldn’t have come up with if I hadn’t said it out loud. Though anybody passing would speed up to get by me having a conversation with myself, but I think that comes with the territory of being a writer!

For me, this method really works! 😀

I love creating characters that are unique and leave an impression on the reader. And it’s really interesting to find out how other writers tap into characters and how they create the emotion and dialogue that goes onto the page.

Do you act out emotions or say dialogue when writing? How do you get into the headspace of a character? Any techniques you use that might work for others?

Progress Report:

Word Count: 15,017 (+12,478 since Tuesday)
Status of Fourth Manuscript: Writing first draft.

Books read: 1/4

June eBook review: Book chosen. Reading.