December 11, 2017- I love to start Monday mornings by drinking coffee and writing things that are outside of what I’m currently working on. I think that writing prompts are important for expanding ourselves as writers and that reading and writing things that are outside of our genres is essential for growth. Today we have a picture that I love because it’s so refreshing. The premise of this exercise is to write a couple of pages, a paragraph, or whatever length you want, about said picture, and today’s particular image can have so many themes! My head is spinning with ideas already:) Happy writing!
December 9, 2017- I’m happy to say that the turn out to my last class, Novel Writing 101 was great last week. Lots of brilliant minds with excellent ideas for stories that are fiction and non-fiction. On Monday, December 11th, at 7:00pm, I will be teaching a class on Publishing 101. The course will include the major differences between self and traditional publishing, the benefits, and setbacks of both avenues as well as the question that is on everyone’s mind…MONEY! This is a class that you won’t want to miss! I look forward to seeing some familiar faces as well as some new ones. See you Monday, December 11th at 7pm at the Sherwood Branch of the Hamilton Public Library.
December 8, 2017- Hi Friends, I’m really excited to share a little piece of a book that our very own Shamayal Hayat is working on as we speak! It will be released in the spring of 2018, and the title of this children’s book is Phillip Star. Phillip Star is larger than life and I can’t wait for you to meet him! Stay tuned for more updates and new releases from Pandamonium Publishing House. We have some really exciting things in our lineup for the next 2 years not only for kids but for adults too. Remember to follow us on Facebook!
December 6, 2017- Here’s an excerpt from my untitled novel that is coming out late next year (2019). Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Before I close my eyes I catch a glimpse of his tiny body covered in my blood; he has two perfect hands and feet, and a beautiful face. I struggle to stay awake to hear his cry, but the room is silent; at that moment, I know that our son is dead.
December 1, 2017- I absolutely love coming across new writing prompts. Not only does it help writers sharpen their skills, but it also allows us to write about things that we may not normally write about. There are different types of writing prompts and here are a few examples below. Try a couple of these per day!
November 29, 2017- Hello friends! I just wanted to say that the support for my upcoming thriller, Obsessed with Her has been amazing. Thank you to everyone who has sent me messages asking about how to get a copy, here’s the rundown. I’ve decided to do a very special first edition of 100 copies, if you’d like your name on the pre-order list to receive the first edition, please send me a message via email (email@example.com) or Facebook messenger and I will ensure that you get a copy! Spots are filling up fast, and I’m so grateful to each and every one of you that have joined me on this journey. Thank you for all of your kindness and love.
November 28, 2017- I’m very happy to announce that school visits are in full swing for this year and into 2018. It has been an absolute pleasure to visit students in various schools to read them my book Deer Diary. I’m always inspired by what they have to say, and they often give me new and exciting ideas for upcoming books; This is precisely what happened during a school visit in Hamilton on Friday! The students wanted to know if next time, I could write a book about different woodland animals, as I had left out some of their favourites! When I asked them what animals they would like to see in the future, the answer was unanimous: They picked a wolf, a fox, and an owl! That being said, I’m thrilled to say that I’ve decided to write a sequel to Deer Diary with a whole new cast of characters that will include the animals that the students suggested. Of course, this means that I will dedicate Deer Diary 2 to the students of that school! Look for Deer Diary 2 in the summer of 2019:)
November 25, 2017- Here’s a quick and dirty guide to creating characters. This is just a taste but feel free to contact me for more information about the classes I teach!
- Without characters what is the point- Characters are the heart of your novel
- What a character wants- It’s critical for the reader to know what your character wants from the start.
- No one has to like me- The reader doesn’t have to like your character let’s get that straight but they MUST be able to give the reader a reason to follow him. To continue to read his story.
- But they must care about what happens to him, they might want to see him dead but wishing him dead invokes strong feelings.
- Tension creates awesome characters, it shows your reader what they’re made of. Put them into tense situations and see how they fare.
- Choose your name wisely! Stay away from things like Skye and Storm…publishers are sick of seeing these names over and over.
Here is a basic character creating checklist:
- Name, sex, right or left handed, age, height, build, eye colour, hair colour, distinguishing marks eg. Tattoos, scars, birthmarks etc.
- Parents, siblings, marital status, significant others, children, other relevant relatives, pets, friends, enemies, other relationships eg. The person they buy lottery tickets from every single day etc. religion if applicable, beliefs and superstitions.
- Occupation, status, wealthy or not, living space, mode of transport, workspace, are they a neat freak or are they messy
- Fears, secrets, eating habits or food preferences, sleeping habits, hobbies, pet peeves, how they relax, attitudes, stressors, obsessions, addictions, ambitions, how are they seen by others and how are they seen by themselves
The bottom line is the more that you know about your characters the better. Of course, you don’t have to include everything on the checklist in your book but the point is to know your character so well that it comes through in your writing. Let a little of your character seep out at a time and be sure to show and not tell.
- Make your character memorable but believable
- What are the characters flaws? Arrogance, lust, greed, self-destruction, martyrdom, self-deprecation, martyrdom, stubbornness etc.
- Don’t forget about facial expressions, body language, and emotions
- Make sure you know your secondary/supporting characters, as well as you, know your protagonist
- Remember that the secondary characters don’t know that they are secondary characters
- Don’t let your characters have what they want
- Ask yourself how you can make your character’s situation worse
- Build flaws and conflict into the setting
- Create conflict between characters (not only the protagonist and the antagonist but also between the characters who are friends and allies)
- Increase the consequences of failure for the hero
- Remember to blur the lines! The hero doesn’t know who to trust or the hero has clashes with the law, the hero hurts those closest to him, society turns on the hero.
- Do terrible things to your character. Make them suffer a horrible loss or maim them if necessary.
- Creating characters is the most important thing you do. If you get it wrong your story will be wrong no matter how well plotted.
- These are the characters that you need to STOP writing! The hunky, brooding, and mysterious guy: mystery does not mean substance. The Mary Sue: the perfect main character who always gets everything right but doesn’t see it, everyone loves her and she can do no wrong. The popular girl: she’s mean and hates the protagonist for no reason. The nerdy sidekick: make sure their existence means something or kill them.
- Make sure your character is always acting in character. Don’t make them do something that they wouldn’t normally do. Eg. Your character never combs his hair because he’s bald. Make sure you don’t put him in a bathroom with a comb, brushing his hair.
- Give every character a reason to be in the story, if there is no reason for them to be in the story then kill them off.
Hope you enjoyed a tiny piece of character creation! Now get writing:)
November 16, 2017- I’m really excited to share this with you guys! Here is a special, never seen before, sneak peek of an up and coming character, illustrated by our very own, Shamayal Hayat. This children’s book will be launching in March 2018 so stay tuned for details! Until then, I’m not giving anything away…nope, not even the title!
November 3, 2017- There seems to be a lot of confusion around three little words…Middle-Grade Novel. Let’s dive into the basics and explore what elements make up a middle-grade novel.
- Middle-grade books are for kids in grades 4, 5, and 6-ages 9,10, 11.
- This is a diverse group of readers, and the middle-grade word counts are as follows: books for younger kids are 20,000-25,000 words and the books for the older kids usually contain 35,000-40,000 words.
- These books are usually large print, fast reads. A great example of a younger middle-grade novel is Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and a great example of an older middle-grade book is our very own Unfrogged by Tamara Botting.
Middle grade interests include the following things:
- PEERS– I capitalized this word because it’s the single most crucial thing to middle -graders and it’s important to know that kids care what their friends think above anything else at this age!
- Family-The child is the main character, the child is in the middle, and everything revolves around him or her. For example, parents are getting divorced what does that mean to the child?
- Self Concept– How do I belong? Who am I? Kids at this age are just starting to figure this out and ask the questions that will eventually shape them into adults.
- Puberty-Looks, development, gender, opposite sex and relationships.
- Future-Upon who does the future depend?…It depends on the main character of course!
So if you’re planning on writing for middle-graders, keep the above things in mind!