QUIRKY QUILL is for and by young writers and readers, hosted and moderated by me, Sharon Kirk Clifton. Welcome!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fiction in Baby-Bites ~ Three: Part 1

Do You Know Those Characters?

When I began my second novel, I didn't really know the characters. I knew about them--something of what they looked like and how they related to one another, that sort of thing--but they weren't quite real to me. If your characters aren't real to you, they won't be to your readers, either.

I hear you. "But they're people I made up," you say. Yes, but they must have--are you ready for a really big word?--verisimilitude. That just means they must be very similar to real life.

When you write, you're creating a world peopled by your characters. You don't want them to be one-dimensional.   They won't seem real if they're all bad, all good, always funny, always sad or mad or . . .  anything. People aren't like that. You're not. Neither are your readers, so your characters shouldn't be, either. A character who is all anything is called flat. We want our characters to be rounded, or mufti-dimensional. 

Figure 2

Here a Quirk, There a Quirk

You can breathe life into your characters by adding one or two idiosyncrasies, little quirks, habits, or pet words they use. Leah, the main character in one of my novels, doesn't curse, of course, but when she's frustrated, she says, "Oh, snap!"

Notice your friends. What little habits do they have? What word or phrase keeps popping up? Caution! These quirky tidbits should be used sparsely. Too many will jerk the reader out of your story because s/he'll pay too much attention to the quirk.
Figure 3

Picture This!

I'm a visual person. Yes, I can visualize in my mind what a character looks like, but I find it helpful to go on the internet and search for faces. It makes me feel as though I'm casting for a movie of my story. That's fun! is a handy tool for that. I, like a lot of my writer friends collect pictures of people, places, clothing, etc., that fit a book we're writing. Most of the pictures in this post are of my characters. Figure 5 is Leah. Figure 4 is her friend Trevor. Figure 6 is the man who shoots Leah in the leg. What do your characters look like? It helps to know.

Talking to the Invisible

Another way to get well acquainted with your characters is to interview them. Crazy, I know, but it works. Come up with a list of questions for your main characters. Most of the time, you'll know the answers in advance, but sometimes they surprise you. For example, I interviewed Trevor. His dad died heroically while serving in Iraq. Okay. I knew that. But Trevor knew more details. His dad had thrown himself on a grenade to save the lives of his soldiers. In a valiant act that reminded me of Jesus, Who died in my place on the Cross, Trevor's father had willingly given his own life for others. I hadn't known that. In my interview with Leah, I found out why she is angry with God. All of that sounds a little crazy to people who aren't writers, but character interviews are a common tool we use.

Blogger is acting a little weird today by not letting me type or place photos where I want to, so I'm cutting this post short. Check back in a few days, and I'll post an interview I did with a character. It will give you an idea of what I'm talking about. 

Write on!
Because of Jesus,
Miz Sharon
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6

Thursday, July 5, 2012

You Read, Right?

Is that book good?
So write a review!
Let others know
they'll like it, too.
You read, right?


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

HELP WANTED: Book Reviewers!

Read Any Good Books Lately?

Quirky Quill readers want to hear about it. Write a review of the book. Remember, don't give away the ending.

This is not a book report! In a review you tell:

  • the names of the book and author
  • what the story is about
  • the genre of the story (mystery, history, fantasy, sci-fi, funny, contemporary, etc.)
  • the setting of time and place (when it happens and where)
  • the important characters
  • the main character's (protagonist) main goal (what s/he wants most of all)
  • the main problem (what tries to keep the mc from achieving the main goal)
  • what you liked about the book

    Again, DON'T GIVE AWAY THE ENDING! When you're finished, send it to Miz Sharon at sharonkirkclifton [at] yahoo [dot] com (no spaces or caps). Put "Book Review" in the subject line. Oh, one last thing. Submit reviews about books that do not violate the Christian world view. It doesn't have to be a Christian book, however.

Writer's Nudge

I love this picture. It's so evocative, meaning it is heavy with emotion. It has many sensory images. What's going on here? Write a response to the picture or let it illustrate a story. Here are some things to think about:

Where is this place? What clues in the picture make you think this?

Who is this girl? What is she doing here? Why is she alone? Or is she?

What is the girl seeing? Smelling? Hearing? Feeling? Thinking? What emotions is she feeling?

What happened just before this scene?

What will happen within the hour?

What time of day is it?

How do the colors in the picture make you feel?

Does this picture remind you of anything you have experienced?

You don't have to answer all of these questions. You don't have to answer any of them, either. Write what you want to. The important thing is that it relate to the picture.

HINT: Have you ever tried listening to music while you write? I do that a lot. I choose music that goes along with the story I'm writing or the emotions I'm feeling as I write. Music can enrich your writing.

Click "Comment" and write your story. It may not show up right away, since I have this page set up so I can moderate comments.

Write on!
Because of Jesus,
Miz Sharon