Happy Friday, Friends!
A bookish giggle to start your day: I’m reading a book about anti-gravity and it’s impossible to put down.
I had the privilege this week of being Amy Isaman’s guest on her podcast “Dear Creativity, Let’s Write.” We talked about how to ensure that your characters are all distinct, discrete, and memorable. And I found Amy to be a delightfully genuine gal! When the recording is released, I’ll post it here. :-)
Otherwise, it’s been a rollercoaster couple of weeks with regard to the traditional publishing of TOPANGA CANYON. (Book #4) My agent got a bite last week from an acquiring editor for the manuscript, raving over how in love with the book she is. But she had to present it to her editorial board and secure their approval before making an offer. This week she let my agent know it will be next Tuesday before she can present—just kill me now–but that she is still interested. Meanwhile, my savvy agent zipped the MS to another publisher for a “quick read” and hopefully competition. Please pray/cross your fingers for TC to be traditionally published.
Porter and I have survived week five of apartment living with windows overlooking one of the noisiest streets in downtown Greenville–if only we’d known. Overhead, two toddlers pound out set of laps, first thing in the morning and again about eight o'clock p.m. It must be super hard having little ones cooped up in an apartment, so I haven’t complained. But both of us are getting creative about finding remote places to work where we can hear ourselves think. When we’re not working, we are loving exploring Greenville and sampling (too much) of its great food and cocktails. At the end of July, we’re taking a little getaway to Saluda, N.C., where we’ll stay at the Orchard Inn and rest up for the move. Again, moving day is September 7th. Squee!!!
FOR MY WRITER FRIENDS:
As Amy’s guest this week, she asked me to talk about character differentiation and development. I basically wrote an article on it to help keep myself on point, and I’m sharing a slice of that with you. :-)
Two great tips for differentiating characters:
You know those books where the author goes on for an entire page telling us every single physical detail about a character, leaving little to the imagination? Physical description alone doesn’t make characters memorable for readers.
Tip One: Physical description should begin in the author’s mind but finish in the readers. (I’ve heard this attributed to both Jerry Jenkins and Stephen King. Either way, it got my attention and I posted it on my bulletin board when I first started writing.) Readers bring different experiences and expectations to a novel. They don’t want to be told at length how to see a character, but rather to form that vision for themselves. Think of how when a book you loved is made into a movie. An actor’s appearance can really throw you because it’s not the character you imagined for three hundred pages (and sometimes looks nothing like the way the writer described him/her either.) Besides limiting descriptors, come up with creative ways to slip in physical details into the story action. Ex. from TOPANGA CANYON: “I kissed him, bunching his dark hair into my hands before letting it fall back to his shoulders.” What do we know about the man (Griffin) without being told directly? He has dark hair and it’s shoulder length.
Tip Two: Describe a character by the way other characters see or perceive him/her. This one is not as easily crafted but is sooo effective and satisfying when you nail it. In GEORGIE GIRL, the boys’ school headmaster is regal in bearing, his posture ramrod straight. Rather than spelling that out for the reader, I wrote “Dr. Banks was the kind of man who made you feel like you were slouching even when you weren’t. This tactic also allows the reader to see the impact the character has on the protagonist (Georgie.) Win win!
GEORGIE GIRL playlist!
Here’s a link to the Spotify playlist I mentioned last week. Just copy and paste it into your browser and enjoy!