Sketch-pencil-blog graphic-writer tips

Creating Simple Character Profiles

We all love things that make our lives a little easier. Especially, when being a writer can sometimes begin to feel like creative chaos:

How many characters do I have?

Where were they born?

Wait! What colour did I say their eyes were?

So many questions, so little time… and how many scraps of paper, notebooks or random computer files have I used to catalogue all this info?

Fear not, to help us all become a little more organised, I’ve created some fun worksheets that can be filled in and filed away to kickstart your WIP bible.

worksheet-writing tool

If you’re confused by what a writers bible looks like, then head on over to Kate’s fantastic blog to find out why you should have a series bible and what to include in them. Her posts are a wonderful resource for any writer, full of insightful, practical writing and editing tips.

Of course, characters are more than just appearances, they need to develop a distinct personality based on their fictional experiences and journey. To navigate that, I’ve developed another worksheet that delves a little deeper.

While not all of this information will be used in the novel, it will give you, the creator, a better grasp of who this character is, what makes them tick.

You might like to refer to one of my other post, How to Create Believable Villains, which will hopefully inspire you while developing your antagonist.

Writer-tools-worksheets

I hope you found them helpful and I hope you figure out a way to print them out!!
Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Let me know if I’ve missed something important and remember to keep an eye out for more worksheets in the future. I’m currently working on character family charts and Goal-Conflict-Stakes worksheets.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
man-crowbar-headlights-how-to-create-believable-villains

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?

Image link-Writer tips-pen-write-threatening man

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.

Infographic

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.
Creating a Logline for a Novel, The Perfect Pitch

Logline and the Perfect Pitch

Previously we’ve covered how to write a Synopsis and How to Hook an Agent. Why not take a look? In future post’s we’ll uncover Crafting a Novel Title and Writing Book Blurbs. This week we’re taking a closer look at Loglines.

As a writer I’m good with written words, but not so much when it comes to talking about my project. And I’m not alone, many writers flounder when asked the dreaded question; ‘What are you working on?’ or ‘What’s your book about?’

How to craft a Novel Logline and the Perfect Pitch

I cringe when thinking about my many long-winded blunders. They had little to do with my work and more about me clutching at something to say. I remember the life-light drifting from their eyes as I waffled on, knowing that we were both thinking – that sounds bloody awful.

This is where a Logline comes in. Or elevator Pitch, the name comes from the notion that the pitch should be succinct enough to be delivered to another party while riding an escalator. In essence, it is the quick presentation, outlining the idea for your novel. Usually one sentence, and spoken in around 30 seconds.

That’s quite a feat, to deconstruct a whole novel and narrow it down to its barebones. And there’s more. The Logline has a duty to perform. To engage our interest, evoke emotion by introducing the stakes. To introduce our written world, and pluck at the potential reader’s emotions.

Within the pitch, the following elements must be incorporated.

  • Protagonist – this is where you need to get creative. Instead of character names, give descriptions like: vengeful fairy, disabled cop or workaholic mum.
  • The protagonist goal – what does your main character want to achieve?
  • Conflict – the antagonistic force. What is your character fighting against?

Creating a Logline for a Novel, The Perfect Pitch

A great idea is to read Logline for movies on IMDB. Here are two of my most recent favourite movies.

Black Panther: T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.

Thor Ragnarok: Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela.

Practice your amazingly crafted logline in front of a mirror, then on your pets, kids, partner, best friend and anyone who will listen. Gauge their responses, if you get the glazed look perhaps it’s time for a tweak. Otherwise, congratulations you’ve conquered the dreaded Logline!

Here’s mine; do you think I’ve added the three elements? Is it intriguing or should I head back to the drawing board? I’d love your feedback.

Knights of Shadow and Lies: A telepathic Fae princess and clandestine guard race against the fall of the blood-moon, to save a goddess from a manipulative Magician before he attains control over the Enchanted Realms.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer
© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
How to Write a Synopsis Novel Story

How to Write a Synopsis

The thought of writing a synopsis is enough to make dread swirl in our guts. After months of plotting, writing and editing – we’re finally faced with five things that stops us in our tracks.

  • Novel title
  • Pitch/Logline
  • Blurb
  • Synopsis

In this week’s blog, I’ll be breaking down the elements needed for synopsis writing. Hopefully – removing your fear of how to craft one. It’s not hard… honest. It’s simply a different process.

One thing I discovered while writing my first synopsis, is that literary agents and publishers wants the complete story. So don’t leave them hanging with your story. Reveal the climax and ending.

The one page synopsis is intended to communicate to agents and publishers that you have a complete plot and character arc. They’ll be able to identify if the story works as a whole.

EE card Synopsis Writing Novel Craft Story

Tell the story. Keep it simple. I like to skim through my novel jotting down notes of plot points: Action & Emotion. From the notes, I begin to shape my synopsis. The notes highlight the important story elements. Always write your synopsis in 3rd person, even if the novel is 1st person and write in present tense.

Think of this as more of a technical paper, it’s a factual explanation of the events that drive your story. Don’t evoke your writing style and voice.

Set the stage by providing the setting and introduce your main characters (Protagonist and antagonist). Always introduce each characters NAME in full capitals, the first time they’re mentioned. Then include where the story starts and identify the inciting moment. But keep it simple. Use a few well-chosen words to evoke meaning.

  • Person
  • Time/Place
  • Action
  • Consequence

From there we begin to flesh out the details by revealing what the protagonist and antagonist are planning to do. Showing how, why and when are they going to do this. Don’t include side quests, additional characters or plot twists – unless they’re vital in explaining the story arc. There will be practically no backstory or description, it will clutter the synopsis.

Finally, it’s time to reveal how the story ends and how it was achieved. Remember to link it back to the inciting moment.

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance

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

 

writing desk flowers notebooks

#editing – Developing characters

When I embarked on my writing journey I thought reaching The End of my novel would be the hardest hurdle to jump. Like my protagonist, Princess Alicia, I was naive. Blood, sweat and story arcs were merely the beginning.

I tried editing and revising my MS as I went along. Inevitably by the time I’d completed the novel, my knowledge had grown, my skill set sharpened and my craft had been honed. Meaning my early work needed an overhaul.

 

Beauty of Life. Quote Lorraine Ambers writer

How to create believable, well rounded characters? Try asking your characters some key questions helps to identify them. What are there likes, dislikes, what do they fear, what’s there hobby or passion, who’s there family?

I like to use Pinterest to develop my characters looks, fashion and settings. It’s an ideal playground for formulating the initial ideas to grow a character. With the added bonus of visual stimuli to remembering eye and hair colour, sense of style and interests. It may seem like I’m pratting about on the internet but its research. I’m a fantasy writer; where else would I get images of otherworldly figures?

fairy quote character traits Lorraine Ambers

You’ll be able to distinguish there negative and positive character trails. Add a backstory that fills out the characters life and combine them together. Most of the information won’t make it into the novel but it will guide there choices as they move through the story.

One of my grey areas was my protagonist Alicia. Her internal voice was spot on but her dialogue came across as mousy and boring. The truth was; until the book had been completed I wasn’t sure of her journey, of how she’d grow and develop. Let alone where I wanted her to start. In hind sight drafting a plot would have overcome this problem.

Another tip is to imagine speaking to your character. Or at least imagine it’s the character answering the dialogue. When you know your characters like they’re your best friend, you’ll know how they’d react in a situation and what they’d say; in some cases what they wouldn’t say. Sometimes the tension from silence speaks volumes in a scene.

Got any other tips, ideas or techniques to share with me? Please add them to my comments. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂