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How to Plan your protagonists journey

Throughout everyone’s journey, there are hopes, aspirations, and dreams; and in order for any of those things to come to fruition, certain steps need to be taken to get to the chosen goal. The superficial goal.

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Now here’s the tricky part, the unseen truth behind those desires: What we want, isn’t what we need. That’s because subconsciously, the things we’re hoping to manifest are in fact a band-aid of wishful thinking. The inherent lie we tell ourselves is that when we achieve X, Y or Z somehow we’ll feel better, be whole and be blissfully happy.

But in reality, a better-paid job, a bigger house or faster car will never fill the void we’re trying to escape. This applies to our characters too. Therefore its simply the superficial goal – to figure out what our character needs, we’ll need to delve further and enter the first stage of our character’s arc.

As we begin to align the needs of the character, we come up against conflict and what stands in their path. How will they overcome this, what do they need to learn and how will they adapt? What is their motivation to do this? This, in part, will have a direct correlation to their personality traits, but also the external or internal factors; which is where the plot and the character meets.

Last week I explored the concept of how to hook readers from the first line through curiosity and conflict. Here we play with a similar concept of how to hook readers through character, conflict, and stakes.

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What drives your character to succeed, what’s on the line if they fail and more importantly why should the reader care?

Creating a believable character that the reader can cheer for is the first step, the rest lies in the plot. The intriguing storyline that toys with something similar to this: Conflict, stakes and a failed attempt to solve the outcome, followed by a realization that what they’ve been doing isn’t working, the opportunity to try again and learn from their failures and ultimately their final decision: – Do they Awaken and grow, or remain the same and how does this decision affect the outcome of the story.

For a more in-depth look at these concepts, I recommend visiting the fantastic blog by K.M.Weiland www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

What do you think about this weeks post? Share your thoughts and tips, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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How to Write Rich and Vivid Settings

The setting of your novel is just as important as character development and dialogue. It needs to accurately reflect the period or define the world-building making it as vibrating and sensory as possible. It’s much more than painting a picture, its a fine art of evoking the five senses to bring the story alive, immersing the reader into the world you’ve created.

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Whilst it’s tempting to fill your pages with purple prose and lengthy descriptions, be mindful that those approaches tend to bog a story down. Foreshadowing is a great tool that allows the writer to drip feed upcoming events; a carefully placed dagger might elude to a murder or a broken lock might reveal how a derelict house is broken into. However, relevance is vital, if that dagger isn’t going to be used to drive the plot forward don’t use it for the sake of embellishing a scene. Aside from the odd red herring to mislead your reader, everything should have a purpose, even if it is only to show how affluent your character is or to reveal aspects of their personality.

To help develop the story and anchor the reader, include details such as the time of day, weather, place, or season. For example: An apple tree in early bloom would hint at spring. Some of the specifics could be done through character description and clothing, but others can be hinted at while your character moves through the setting. Instead show the streetlamps flaring to life as the sun dips below the high-rise buildings. Perhaps car lights reflect off of the slick tarmac to reveal a rainy night.

Another great writing technique is to add symbolism, we see symbols every day and take them for granted: A heart means love. Red signals passion or anger. And even names and places can have a meaning behind them. We can go further using similes, such as, as brave as a lion. Or by using metaphors: Imagine a character returning home to take care of an elderly parent, to find their childhood farm in a run-down dilapidated condition, much like the health of their loved one.

Use the landscape or worldbuilding as an obstacle for your character to overcome. An anxious character might fear large cities full of people. What would happen if he had to travel to a big city to meet with his dream agent? OK, so that’s one of my potential obstacles, but you can start to understand how facing that fear would be a great challenge.

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Lastly, let’s not forget the advantages the five senses play when crafting a novel. They can be used to foreshadow, show the passing of time, reveal landscapes that build plot and play with symbolism. But never underestimate the importance of evoking emotions in your readers, all of which can be done by arousing the five senses as the character’s move through the story.

 

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

What technique do you need to work on? And which is your preferred method of evoking emotions in your reader? Please comment, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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How to Create Believable Villians.

Antagonist forces are paramount to a story and while they can sometimes be represented by a theme, such as, prejudice or oppression. Or even an internal struggle, such as, mental health or limiting paradigms , they are usually represented in the form of a person.

So how do we stop this character from becoming a one-dimensional caricature representation?

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The best tip for any writer learning their craft is to read, read a bit more, and then keep reading. Study how these villains have been created; what works, what doesn’t and what you in turn would do. Another great research tool, is to study villains in movies and TV shows. Remember, inspiration comes from many sources. For more tips on finding inspiration why not click the link and check out my previous post?

First of all, remember that every single character in your story believes they are the hero. Yes, even the bad ones.

Just as your protagonist has goals, hopes and dreams, so does the antagonist. To create conflict, the villain and hero will challenge each other, doing anything in their power to stop the other from gaining their goal, because it will usually block their own journey. Play on this, use it to your advantage, imagine the villain and hero are magnetised polar opposites, doing everything in their power to repel the other whilst being constantly bonded together.

Interconnect both of Goal-Conflict-Stakes journey for maximum effect.

Whether a person is good or bad they will have a set of core values. Keep them authentic by sticking to those rules.

Villains need positive traits, just as hero’s need negative traits, it’s what makes them appear human.

Allow readers to empathise with the villain, even if they disagree. Envisage their full story, their journey and ask:

• What or who do they love?
• What are their struggles?
• What happened to them to make them behave in such a way?

Don’t fall into the trap of creating a villain that’s a psychopath or has a borderline personality disorder. This is stereotyping and, in my opinion, does more harm by labelling people struggling with such disorders as evil or somehow less than others.

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Show the reader that your antagonist wasn’t always bad. Perhaps personality faults, environmental circumstances or both drove them into the villain they are today. A three-dimensional villain is never cruel, manipulative and destructive just for effect, there’s a reason behind it, so allow the reader to explore this.

Describe your villain. Not only what their physical features are like, but show any ticks or traits they might have. What manner do they hold themselves in? What do they wear? Again, don’t be tempted to stereotype; not all villains need a scar, a limp, a black cloak or death mask. In real life they’re often undistinguishable, or perhaps even charismatic.

The villain and the hero mirror each other, through similarities but also through contrast. Thus the villain will expose certain truths about the hero, that they didn’t want to admit. And vice versa, whereas the villain won’t overcome this revelation, the hero will grow and evolve into the saviour. Thus being able to conquer all that was set out before them.

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Do you have any tips on how to create believable villains? What do think of my very first Infographic?

Please share your thoughts, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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Reaching Milestones and Conquering Fears

This post I’m changing pace and inviting you in for a friendly chat. So grab a cuppa and settle down. It’s all about workshops, writing groups, dreams and milestones.

Last week it was my birthday and I turned 40, it sounds old… it is old! To celebrate we had a much needed family holiday: Lots of riding bikes, swimming, crazy golf and a selection of rum based cocktails. Yum!

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Now that I’m home, I’m reflecting and when I look back on my life I’m not disheartened. I’ve crammed a lot in: achieved and failed in incredible ways. And more important than the past, I still have dreams to fulfill.

Many of you already know of my goal to obtaining an agent for my debut novel, and although it’s had some great feedback it’s time to shelve that story and start afresh. So with the help of my awesome betas I’m changing the sequel into a standalone. Yay, beta’s!!!!

Thank you Ari Meghlen for your invaluable feedback on the opening chapters of Mischief and Mayhem.

In the next few month I plan to start the submission process again.

I’m surprisingly optimistic about this. I learnt an incredible amount from my first novel and who knows, maybe one day it will still be published. Statistics say that on average, an author get picked up by an agent on their third novel. It’s all about perseverance, which is why following your passion is so important. Slogging away at something for years with no recognition or validation is brutal. We need the fire and determination to keep going. Hopefully, you have a few cheerleaders to keep you going!

 

Enjoy the journey - Benedict Cumberbatch
– Benedict Cumberbatch

I’m currently halfway through Rebecca Alasdair‘s YA contemporary-romance novel, Holding Up The Sky. Its beautiful and heart-wrenching… I can’t remember the last time a book made me cry – In a good way. I’ve completely connected with her MC. Rebecca is still looking for beta’s, so if you’re interested pop over to her blog, she has all the details written there.

I’ve joined a friendly little group of like-minded entrepreneurs where I hosted a short talk about copywriting and persuasive writing. You can checkout my previous posts if you’ve missed them. Yes, I was nervous and my voice wobbled a little, but the group were engaged and seemed genuinely interested. I even had a well-timed laugh.

My writing group (there’s only three of us, shh!) is taking shape and we’re set to meet this month. And from those experiences the opportunity to hold my own writing workshops has presented itself. (Aah, run’s around screaming!) I’ll keep you posted with more news.

Exciting times ahead!

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Thanks for stopping by. Do you have any news? If so, please share it. You know I love hearing from you.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

6 Powerful Tips to Keep your Writing Motivation

Writers flourish when our muse is alive. When our words build new worlds, ink flowing, filling up our blank canvas to create a novel. So it’s no surprise that the opposite results in dry spells of writer’s block, self-doubt, and even imposter writer syndrome.

SO! How do we keep those negative things at bay? Fear not, today I’ll share my top Six tips to keep your motivation alive.

book pen artist writer author Lorraine Ambers fantasy romance novel YA

Set Goals.

This is a small promise to yourself that your writing matters. That even in the midst of family gatherings, work commitments, and other priorities, you’ll acknowledge that what you’re working towards matters. Whether that be a daily word target, a weekend venture or the spare 10 minutes to make notes between appointments. Set a goal, stick to it and watch the word count rise.

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2. Keep the vision.

The most important aspect of reaching your goals is to envisage the final outcome. How will it feel to finally finish your novel? Who will you celebrate with? What will you treat yourself with? It’s your dream, so make it big, bold and beautiful. And anytime you start to flag, or you’ve skipped too many goal targets, and guilt has taken you by the throat. Allow your mind to wonder, to daydream – and then wipe the slate clean and begin again.

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3. Rally the troops.

Except for the characters that follow us everywhere, writing can be an isolating, lonely business. That’s where we need to branch out and connect with the other elusive, secretive creatures. Thankfully, you can find a few at writing conferences, creative writing classes, and on social media. #WritingCommunity on Twitter is a great place to start, and of course, I give a massive hello and welcome to my beloved blogging community. Life would be pretty dull without you all.

Abstract art - Photo by Art by Lønfeldt from Pexels
Photo by Art by Lønfeldt from Pexels

4. Get creative.

You can’t run out of creativity, but you can get stifled. So remember to stretch your creative wings and take flight to another craft. Colouring, flower arranging or even joining in with your kids at Lego time. I love a bit of block building fun.

It doesn’t have to involve starting a new hobby, there’s a wealth of inspiration all around us. Why not check out my other blog post with 5 Top Tips to Fuel Inspiration.

5. Celebrate the small stuff.

Don’t make my mistake of only celebrating the big stuff. Because usually by the time that rolls around, your sights will be set on the next big thing and you’ve bypassed all of your hard work. Have a cuppa after xxx amount of words. Have lunch with your friends knowing that you’ve written this week’s blog post. Binge watch that Netflix show at the end of the day knowing you’ve earned it. Ok, so you get the point… and yes that’s pretty much how I plan my week.

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6. Self-love.

This is such an important part and often overlooked or hidden in the shadows. But positive mental health can bring a wealth of abundance to our work. Whereas the opposite can often result in a collapse of creativity. Not only is it wise to get some fresh air, eat healthy and hydrate. But self-love for me means listening to my body, slowing down when my illness flares, appreciating the small things and allowing things to unfold in their own time. Even my novels.

Thanks for stopping by to read. I appreciate every single one of you. Tell me what your Top Tip for staying motivated is. You know I love to hear from you.

Until next time, Much Love Xx

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
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Are you Stuck in the Middle of Writing a Novel?

Hello, my wonderful writing buddies.

With less than two weeks until the end of NaNo, many of you should be halfway through your first draft. And if you’re anything like me, then you’re also stuck in the middle of your WIP. So today I wanted to show support, offer a little guidance and throw in a couple of great quotes to get us all moving again.

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Whether you write a detailed outline or dive straight into your new WIP, there is going to come a point at which it’s hard to move forward. Trust me, it’s not unusual, and it’s happened with my first two novels and again with my third. I’ve hit the halfway word count; I know where I’m heading, but something is stopping me from progressing. And yes its procrastination, but it’s more than that, it’s the inner monologue that comes with the writer territory. Well, let’s nip that self-doubt/ critical voice in the bud.

As soon as I stopped over-thinking my process, my infernal internal editor shut up, my characters started talking to me again, and my writing improved vastly. Turned out the very thing I thought was helping me be a good writer was holding me back.
K.M. Weiland – Are You Over-Thinking Your First Draft?

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The best we can do in this situation is to apply self-discipline. Sit down at the laptop – typewriter – notepad – napkin or whatever your preferred method is and begin, keep going and don’t stop. Whatever you need to do… Do it! Research, plot, plan or write. Become your own personal cheerleader. You’ll soon be over the hump.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. –  Ernest Hemingway

And for those of you who are struggling because you’re stressed, under the weather, or have too much on your plate with work and family commitments: I want to tell you that it’s ok to have a duvet day. Our creativity can’t bloom under those pressures. The best thing you can do is practise self-love. Your creativity will thank you for it.

If you are willing to do something that might not work, you’re closer to being an artist. –Seth Godin

I hope I’ve inspired you to keep going. What do you do to get over the writing hurdle? Perhaps your advice will help me, plus you know I love hearing from you.

Until next time, Much Love Xx

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
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6 funny writing quirks we share in common

We’re all creatures of habits, and writing a novel is no different. Whether you prefer to write on your journey home from work, late at night or early in the morning, there are a few quirks that we writers all share in common.

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The elusive word hunt.

It’s either sat staring at a blank page, while our brains conjure up a magic sentence that will steal the hearts of our readers, or it’s trying to remember that word… you know the one… it’s on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t find it. Until, ten minutes later, Eureka! That simple, completely obvious word decides to grace your presence and the writing flow can resume.

White Noise.

Let it be silence while a pink ribbon of sunrise streaks the sky. Or music to fire your muse and set your toes tapping. Maybe it’s the chatter on a busy train or in a coffee shop – but there’s always a preference and without that setting it’s impossible to connect with your characters.

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What’s your poison?

My preference is hot tea, keep me supplied in strong PG tips and watch my word count fly. If there’s a chocolate bar around – all the better. You have your own preference, and writing just doesn’t seem the same without it.

Faithful Companion.

Writer’s are solitary creatures: However with our faithful character companions we need never be alone. And yes, I can be found chatting to myself. But in case we require something more substantial, a fluffy pet or two will usually suffices: The writers familiar. In fact, in many ways I’m like my cats, requiring company and affection when desired, but if I’m interrupted during writing, daydreaming, planning, plotting, reading or browsing Pinterest – watch out or the claws may come out.

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Name in starlight.

Let’s be honest, who amongst us hasn’t envisioned our novels as a movie. Who amongst us hasn’t daydreamt about being the next J.K. Rowling, I know my WIP would make an epic ride in Orlando. While I joke about such things, there’s still a secret hope that one day I’ll steal just a fraction of that limelight for the worlds I’ve created. So the next time a bout of self-doubt claws through your MS, remember; dreams can come true if we work too, and re-emerge as a humble, hardworking artist and set your goals high.

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock.

We all know procrastination is a constant companion, like that well-meaning friend who insists that one more coffee, chapter, or Netflix series won’t really matter because everything will be waiting for us afterwards. I’ll offer some advice that none of us will take; don’t indulge her and crack on. Because on the flip-side of time wasted is the fantastic sensation of getting lost in our own worlds, writing sometimes feels like wading through thick water, other times it’s like flying. Regardless of the process one thing is for sure, time always disappears in the blink of an eye and it’s time to put the pen down and slip back to the normal world. And reality is what all writers dread.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

I hope you enjoyed this weeks fun post. Can you see yourself in any of these quirks? If so, why not tell me about it in the comments.

Until next week, Much Love Xx

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.