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Contests – Can They Help Even if You Don’t Win?

Our Iowa Romance Novelist’s group met today. I mentioned in an earlier post that our theme this year is Survivor. This is not exactly like the television show. No one will get kicked off the island but we are attempting to help each other achieve our goals by working as a team.

This month’s program was about contests. We each received the first five pages of a Golden Heart winner’s manuscript. She then gave us the instructions for judging it. There were different points allotted for romance, plot, writing, and character.

As a group, we were all over the board with our answers. It was all subjective. Some looked only at what they could see. Others judged off of where they could see the story going. We were not aware when we started that this was a winning entry. This exercise gave us a feel for how an agent or an editor might review a submission. We all agreed, they would probably make a decision within those first five pages.

Part of the challenge is that we have to submit something to a contest before the next meeting. If we do, we will have a chance to win our entry fee. I am now searching for something I can enter. Since my manuscript is not complete, I am limited to something that doesn’t involve submitting a large portion of my work.

I am now writing my first draft. Keep an eye on my word counter here on my blog and you will be able to see my progress. I am also saving vacation time this year in the hopes that with a completed manuscript I can start attending more writer’s conferences in 2014.

I do continue to read because like Stephen King, I don’t think you can be a serious writer and not read. I usually mix it up with novels and writing how to books.  I finished reading Beautiful Creatures and really enjoyed it. I read Mary Buckam’s Writing Active Setting Book 1 and I purchased Book 2. I think those will really help when I get into the editing stage for adding depth to the story. Because I have a 40 minute commute to work each day I listen to audio books. I finished Evanovich’s Notorious Nineteen and I am currently listening to a Robert B Parker’s Jesse Stone book.

I will let you know next time what contest I enter. Hope you have a great week writing. Now get off the internet and write.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2013 in Write a Novel

 

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Creating Character

 

“I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.” Stephen King

No matter what genre you are writing, I think this is true. Mr. King may literally turn the monsters loose but I believe all writers, no matter what genre, need to torture the characters. Otherwise why would anyone want to continue reading.

I have read that character is half of what is needed for story. The other half is plot. Without both there is no story. A story may be character driven but without plot, there is no story. A plot driven novel may have characters that don’t change so much from book to book because they are often part of a series. Those characters are developed well but the reader may not find out everything about them in the first book. I do believe those characters reveal more slowly over a series.

Creating characters is fascinating. Whether they are completely fabricated or created piece by piece from real people, kind of like Frankenstein, the choice is up to you. How many of you have been tempted to model a victim or a villain after someone you are not so fond of? I know I have. Even with that seed of someone you know though, my characters tend to become their own people, so those real life templates get buried in the work. How do you create your characters? Do you start with a seed of an idea and write or do you spend time filling out background and bio information? Do you do personality tests on your characters? What is your secret to creating characters?

For more on character – don’t miss this week’s IRN meeting. Leigh Michaels will be speaking about ‘Character Secrets’. Don’t know about you but I can’t wait.

Talk about interesting characters, just finished reading ‘Dark Side’, by Belinda Bauer. I want so much to tell you about this character but it would ruin the book. Just trust me that this is a worthy read, if you like mysteries. It has the feel of Midsomer Murders which is one of my favorite shows. An inspector that no one seems to like but who has moments where I actually did like him. The story is about a village in England where older women are being murdered. They are all burdens to their families so there is the possibility that it could be any of the family members who are doing it. Of course the killer is crazy but they can’t come up with solid clues. Officer Holly is the local police who bumbles his way trying to help. He too has a family member who has become a burden. His young wife has MS and now he spends most of his time worrying about her. Lots of twists and turns and a shocker ending. I did start figuring it out before the end but I still felt satisfied. This author has been added to my list of authors to watch.

Also my friends Sparkle Abbey’s second book in their Pampered Pet mysteries just came out the other day. ‘Get Fluffy’. Plan to get my copy very soon. If you haven’t read the first, ‘Desperate Housedogs’, you need to get moving.

See you Saturday and keep writing!

Virginia

 

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