Guest Post: Brianna West on Character Development

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Joining us today for a humour packed guest post on the importance of character develoment is the wonderfully talented author, Brianna West.


The Joys of Authorhood: Raising Fully Developed Characters

Hello all aspiring and current authors desperate to figure out how to fully raise your characters into complex, well-developed, functioning-in-plot characters! I’ve come here because I was once like you: scared, unsure, slightly crazier than normal people and talking to all the voices in my head. The characters whose names you need to figure out, whose personalities aren’t complex enough, aren’t realistic enough to be featured in your current or maybe not even your future work.

Don’t be discouraged! I’ve come to give you my experience with how to raise fully functioning, story-ready characters and how to develop them over the course of your work in progress.

First things first, whether you plot your story out, outlining every detail, or you just write where your characters lead you, guiding when need be, characters that aren’t fully developed can sometimes cause a story not to feel real or read as well as one that has characters fully realized.

  1. Aw, he’s got your morbid sense of humor—get to know what their personality is. This is something I tend to do when I’m “imagining” how I want interactions to go. Whether or not the two characters would fit together with certain aspects of their personality. It’s a good time to figure out what characteristics you might want from them. Are they quirky, broody, moody, playful, quiet, and so on so forth. It’s important to get to know them and figure out where their personality needs improvement or adjustment.
  2. Playdates are fun until someone’s kid gets killed—there’s been a time or two where I’ve been unable to fully grasp an interaction between two, mostly because I haven’t really written them before or it’s been a while. So, giving them a test run in a small written interaction might help tighten up some of the aspects you were hoping to achieve or where they could change when dealing with other characters.
  3. Scarred for life—backstory is something you can get away with not knowing much of to begin with, having it develop over the course of a story and getting to know their history as the story unfolds. But it’s a good idea to have some sort of idea where you want your character to have come from, even if just that their daddy was a drunk and their mommy a drug-dealer.
  4. Growing up sucks, but it’s great for plot—the most important is the growing and changing of a character over the course of a story or series. Seeing them change as it goes along, reacting and transforming due to encounters, other characters etc., it gives the reader a sense of knowing them and real-time movement that builds a relationship with the readers that all the above doesn’t build in such an intense way.

These are just a few things to think about when dealing with character development, but in the course of my authorhood, the most important. Hopefully these help you raise well-developed, happy characters and not angry, superficial serial killer characters that spend their life blaming their author (unless that’s what you were going for).

Happy Writing!

Brianna West.


71zctz9tEAL._UX250_.jpgBrianna West lives in beautiful Northern California with her wonderful husband and four adorable children. She writes funny, real stories that are accompanied by humor and supernatural elements. Recently published in October 2015, Brianna has gone on to add several books to her main series and spin-off series since then.

Indie Book Advent #17

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Day 17 of my Indie Book Advent features Unexpected Gifts by Bronwyn Green

00Feeling sorry for herself, Cassie Williams plays sick to skip out of her family’s Christmas Eve gathering. She loves her family, but on the heels of a divorce and her ex’s new engagement, an evening of togetherness is the last thing she wants.

Long-time friend, Sam MacLane has been in love with Cassie for years, and he isn’t about to let her have her pity party. There’s a blizzard on the way, and Sam shows up on her doorstep—bearing gifts….

Where to find Green and her book:

Goodreads

Amazon

2001

 

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Indie Book Advent #11

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Day 11 of my Indie Book Advent features Faith Rivens’ novella, Eleonore.

33113796Eléonore Dormant’s life is a precarious balancing act: librarian by day, demon hunter by night and single mother around the clock. Each day brings its challenges and she brings her A-game. It helps that coffee and a bottle of painkillers are always in supply.
For six years, she’s protected the streets of Montreal from all manner of demons and the consequent evil that they would wreak on her city. But even a resumé like hers isn’t enough to prepare her for the unforeseen night when she becomes the hunted.

A sorcerer, an enigmatic Elder, has placed a hefty bounty on her head and the demons are eager to claim the reward for her capture. They bear down on her, disrupting her mode de vie and endangering her son’s life all in one fell swoop. But Eléonore is ready to fight whatever Hell deigns to send her way to save him. The path she pursues will lead her to new places and old faces.
One thing is certain, Eléonore’s about to get into a whole hellhole of trouble.

Where to find Faith and her book:

Amazon

Goodreads

Twitter

2001

 

If You Like… A Darker Shade of Magic

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand. .

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…


Content belongs to K.J. Chapman

Blurbs sourced from Goodreads.com

Capitalisation of Honorifics and Names is the Bane of my Editing Life

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What has this edit and my proof-reader shown me? That I am inconsistent in my capitalisation of honorifics and names. Oh my word! As soon as my proof-reader started pointing them out, she just couldn’t stop. I mean, seriously, I’m totally crap and inconsistent to the point of frustration.  Titles such as King, Your Majesty, and the more common ‘Father’ (in terms of referring to an actual person by that name), are just a few of my pit falls. This is how I picture my proof-reader’s reaction every time she has to correct me on this issue:

srsly

What makes this edit even more exasperating is that my novel is full of honorifics with one of my main protags coming from royalty. Oh well, at least I am now aware of my annoying tendencies, right? Ha!

Do you have any annoying writing habits/ pit falls? What is your biggest editing peeve?


Content belongs to K.J. Chapman

GIF sourced from GIPHY.COM

Self Belief

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I have been inspired to write this post by Al over at Hyperactive Pandemonium. Al’s post about the motivational quotes he relies on to get him through writer’s doubt, got me thinking about my own motivation when it comes to my writing. You can check out Al’s post here: Step Up Saturday.

Other than a love for writing, we must have some motivation, some inkling that we can write a book, edit a book, and publish a book. Mine was a quote: ‘She believed she could, so she did.’ I wrote this quote in the front of my notebook for EVO Nation. For some reason- a reason I still cannot fathom- I knew EVO Nation was the book I was going to complete and self-publish. Before I had even written a word of the first draft, it was the one I had all my determination, motivation and inspiration focussed on.

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I did! And I have since done it again and again.

Anytime self-doubt creeps in, I just dig out my original EVO Nation notebook and look at this quote. It’s hard to not find a sliver of self-belief when I know I have succeeded in something I only dreamed I could do.

Do you have a go to quote or practice to beat self-doubt? Can you pin point the moment your dreams started becoming reality?


Content belongs to K.J. Chapman

If You Like… The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Blurb: The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

Nano Contestant #1 (Novella) by Leif Sterling

Blurb: In 2114, Pinnacle Corporation, the world’s largest tech company, hosts the Tech Games to showcase the world’s latest technology. The contestants must battle it out in 11 brutal games to ultimately win a $100 million prize!

These digital and hybrid athletes must use everything at their disposal in order to take that prize and all of its glory in the Tech Games.

Hacking, firewalls and electronic countermeasures are all being used by each contestant while running and fighting at top speed. It’s all on the line, because nothing is being left on the table!


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

Blurbs sourced from Goodreads.com

If you like… Cell by Stephen King

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Cell by Stephen King

Blurb: Mobile phones deliver the apocalypse to millions of unsuspecting humans by wiping their brains of any humanity, leaving only aggressive and destructive impulses behind. Those without cell phones, like illustrator Clayton Riddell and his small band of “normies,” must fight for survival, and their journey to find Clayton’s estranged wife and young son rockets the book toward resolution.

Fans that have followed King from the beginning will recognize and appreciate Cell as a departure–King’s writing has not been so pure of heart and free of hang-ups in years (wrapping up his phenomenal Dark Tower series and receiving a medal from the National Book Foundation doesn’t hurt either). “Retirement” clearly suits King, and lucky for us, having nothing left to prove frees him up to write frenzied, juiced-up horror-thrillers like Cell.

The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R.Carey

Blurb: Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.


Content belongs to KJ.Chapman

Blurbs and book images sourced from Goodreads.com

If you like… The Golden Compass

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The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Blurb: Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the alethiometer. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

The Golden Compass (also known as Northern Lights) is the first in His Dark Materials Series.

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Blurb: Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death — and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own hidden destiny.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear — and sometimes disappears altogether.

Sabriel is the first of the Abhorsen Series.


Opinions and Content Belongs to KJ.Chapman

Why Are ARCs Important?

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Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, advanced reader copies (ARCs) of your edited manuscript are important. Here is why…

What is an ARC:

ARC is the shortened term for ‘advanced reader copy’. An ARC is a copy of your work that you send out to a group of readers ahead of your publication date.

Note: an ARC copy is not the same as a beta copy. Beta Copies are usually sent out before the final edit to garner constructive feedback during the editing process. ARCs are edited, finished copies of your work that are ready for publication.

Why send an ARC:

  1. ARC reviewers can offer honest feedback before your book is even on the market. You can get a good idea on how well your work has been received
  2. Free promotion. ARC readers tend to be reviewers. Having reviews on blogs, Goodreads, and social media etc is brilliant promotion before publication.  Authors need reviews, plain and simple.

When to send an ARC:

Of course, it would not be an ARC if it wasn’t received in advance of the publication date, however, there are differing opinions as to how early to send an ARC. I have received ARCs up to seven months before publication, and some within two weeks of the release date. Ultimately, it is the choice of the author/publisher. I would not advise sending unedited ARCs, but again, that is personal preference, but please be fair in your time allowance. Give the reader enough time to read and review your work comfortably, unless they specifically agree to last minute reads. 4-8 weeks before publication is acceptable for sending ARCs (especially indie books/ eBooks).

How to find ARC readers:

ARC readers are everywhere, you just have to know where to look for them.

  1. Blog: If you have a blog, do a shout out for ARC readers and reviewers.
  2. Twitter: Write a tweet requesting ARC readers. OR search hashtags such as #bookbloggers #bookreviewer #bookblog etc. You can DM or find blog links to reviewers in your genre.
  3. Social media: Post requests for ARC readers and reviewers on all your platforms.
  4. Research: Use search engines to find book blogs etc. Most book bloggers have review policies for you to study.
  5. Netgalley: You can pay a fee to have your ARC signed up to Netgalley.com. Members can request copies of your work to review.
  6. Friends: Send out copies to honest friends. Make sure they will give you a review. The more reviews the merrier.

Keeping ARC readers for future use:

Once you have found ARC readers, you ideally want to keep them.

  1. Always thank them for reviews, even if it is not the 5* review you wanted!
  2. Reblog/ share their reviews and links. Not only does this help you, but it helps them get traffic to their platforms.
  3. Build a list of trusted reviewers. Ask all of your ARC readers if you can call on them in the future. Avid readers are a valuable assets to all authors.

filth


 Content belongs to KJ.Chapman

GIF sourced from giphy.com

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