Featured Writing Q & A, Day…a few days late

My apologies! I’ve been out of commission since the weekend, but hopefully I’ll get caught up soon.

When we create a character, they have a personality, mannerisms unique to them and many other things that make up that character. I think that’s why today’s question is important.

Today’s Question: Is it okay for me to take my protagonist out of character from time to time?

Answer: When a character you created says and does things that are not normal for their basic personality and ethics, that character may become less believable to your reader. (If he’s a cowboy, he wouldn’t suddenly put on a pair or shoes to go to the barn.) You can only get away with them being out of character if you have given good reasons and motivations for their behavior. Usually a slip in character will happen when a character is tested under extenuating circumstances, and is expected to succeed, and to make choices about tasks and situations out of their element. If their dialogue sounds unlike something the character would say, and there is no reason given, then the character would be speaking ‘out of character’.

Remember, motivation is the key to any character’s actions and speech. In general, each character will act according to their particular personality traits. So if you ask them to become super-heroes, you must give good reason, and be certain they have the capabilities necessary to carry out the act.

Featured Writing Q & A, Day 4

Unfortunately I told you a little white lie. I forgot I’m going to be out of town this weekend, so won’t be posting Saturday or Sunday. I promise to catch up.

I’d like to see some comments and questions come in. At least I’d know someone might be getting some good out of this. LOL

Today’s Question: What’s the difference in character traits and character personalities?

Answer: General characterization is the way a character is presented and described. Characterization includes the character’s past and present situations and experiences, plus their future dreams and expectations. It is everything about your character, his/her looks, personality, abilities, what set of ethics they hold true, and by what etiquette they abide. It is anything that makes them who they are. Be careful not to tell the reader too much information at one time. Filter characterization in slowly, a little at a time. A reader does not need to know everything about your character, some things become boring and repetitive, so be selective about what you tell your reader, and why they need to know.

Character traits consist of all those idiosyncrasies, habits, and mannerisms that are particular to only that character. A nervous twitch, stuttering, biting fingernails, compulsive behavior, constantly counting things or straightening things, never looking a person in the eye, always walking with their head down, walking with a limp, or anything else that one character owns. Character traits don’t usually include their physical appearance, unless they wear a particular item of clothing, or a particular color all the time, or have an odd hairstyle/haircut that makes a statement about them and the way they behave. Be careful not to overdo character traits, most of the time one is enough to identify them, some may have more, but they can become too much for a reader and spoil the effect for the reader, so add them cautiously.

Featured Writing Q & A, Day 3

This question kind of ties in with the last sentence of yesterday’s answer. ‘Remember, if you’re in omniscient/omnipresent POV you cannot relay emotion, you must be in a character’s POV.’ That brings me to today’s question.

By the way, if you have a question, please feel free to email me at skiz@skizstuff.com. I’ll be glad to take a stab at answering it correctly.

Today’s Question: Why can’t I convey emotions in the omnipresent point of view?

Answer: Omnipresent POV is the same as the ‘God-like’ POV and author POV (omniscient). This type of viewpoint is to be avoided since it is not a person and cannot offer any emotion to the reader because it is ‘telling’ what is happening rather than allowing the reader to experience the scene through one of the main characters’ POV. Emotion is a critical element of fiction, and your writing needs to address that part of human nature in order to give the reader a truly enjoyable experience while reading your work.

(All answers via Kathleen Garnsey’s ‘ACES Writer’s Advice Dictionary’.)

Featured Writing Q & A, Day 2

When I was asked today’s question, I felt compelled to look at the guy and say, “Really?” But I didn’t, I just answered the best I could.

Talking to Sleuth’s Ink at their May meeting, I tried to emphasize how to show your reader what you’re character’s are doing, not to tell them. This question holds a key word on how to do just that.

Today’s Question: Why do you think it’s so important to add emotion to a story?

Answer: Because emotion is what makes the reader “feel”, makes them laugh and cry, makes them identify with your characters, and care whether they succeed, live or die. Without emotion you have no story. It is a critical element in all genres of writing. Writing with emotion requires practice, but it’s what separates good writers from average writers, the published from the non-published. You know the basic emotions; love, hate, jealousy, depression, happiness, loneliness, compassion, and pure joy. Insure that each of your characters experiences emotions, because as your character experiences, so does your reader. Remember, if you’re in omniscient/omnipresent POV you cannot relay emotion, you must be in a character’s POV.

Featured Writing Q & A, Day 1

In the past I’ve been asked writing questions to which I didn’t know the answer. Imagine that! We’ve all been there, right? Then one day I thought, hey my ACES (Affordable Creative Editing Service) partner Kathleen Garnsey created the ACES Writer’s Advice Dictionary. I wonder if the answer would be in there? Low and behold it was!

She worked hard, and put in a lot of long hours, but it paid off. What a wonderful tool that includes definitions and advice for so many words pertaining to writing. Almost every question is answered in that dictionary.

I’d like to share my findings, so for the next 30 days stay tuned every day to see if any of them help you!

Today’s Question: My story is 9,000 words long. Is that still considered a short story or would it be a novella?

Answer: It’s a novelette. General consideration is as follows: Flash Fiction, under 1,000 words; short story, 1,000 – 7,500 words; novelette, 7,500 – 17,500 words; Novella; 17,500 – 40,000 words; novel, over 40,000 words. The length varies by publisher as to what word count they accept. Always check guidelines, publishers will not accept manuscripts that do not fall within the acceptable word count of the genre/line you are submitting to. (See word count.)