26 July 2012


I often think that writing is a bit like painting a picture except you’re using words.  For instance, a painter engages the viewer with the subject of the painting, the colours, style and the medium in which it’s painted.  And apart from the visual aspects there are the emotional ones too, bringing enjoyment and awakening memories perhaps.  No doubt the painter seeks not only to have the viewer look at the painting but to see what the painter is trying to convey.

Similarly, writers strive to engage their readers, taking them on a journey into the world they create; using their words skilfully like a painter uses brushes.

To create this world you need engaging characters, settings in which your story is told, structure, the building blocks, plot, a sequence of events, theme, the message it sends to the reader, and conflict that creates the action.  But this alone is not enough.  Other ingredients are needed to make this world real.  They include the five senses - smell, taste, sound, touch, sight, as well as showing  rather than telling your story.

Today we’re going to talk about creating engaging characters.

Cardboard characters v Three dimensional characters
If you only describe your characters physical attributes, ie, their looks, idiosyncrasies, likes and dislikes, they’ll appear flat and lifeless to your readers.

To bring your characters to life you have also to reveal their emotional and psychological sides in the course of telling your story.  For example, their thinking processes, why they react as they do in certain situations, etc.

It might be something external to your main character.  For example, in my Fitzjohn mystery series this external force comes in the form of Fitzjohn’s nemesis, Chief Superintendent Grieg.  At the same time, there are internal forces at work concerning Fitzjohn.  The death of his wife, Edith.  And we can’t forget Edith's legacy, a greenhouse full of orchids, and the murder case Fitzjohn is investigating.  All these elements help to create a three dimensional character that readers can relate to and care about.

And this leads us to your characters back stories.  What are their pasts?

All the above helps to create characters that your readers will care about or loathe depending on whether it is your protagonist or your villain.  They will appear as real to your readers as they are to you as the writer.

14 July 2012


My most favourite

If you visit my blog often you might have gathered I go for a walk most mornings and always take my camera.  This morning I was a bit late setting out, however, so missed the birds waking up.  By the time I arrived they'd sorted themselves out and had already decided what sightseeing they were planning to do for the day. 
Except for this magpie.  He's still undecided.  I’ve been trying to figure out how he landed up there.  Not to mention balancing on that spike. Ouch!

I think the cow is wondering the same thing. 

I could spend all day out here taking photographs and enjoying the peace and quite.  No wonder it's my favourite way to avoid writing my book (at the moment, specifically, Chapter 21).

There are other way of course.  Talking on the telephone, sending emails to friends and family, going out for coffee, shopping! (always takes up lots of time), social media (that can take up the whole day).  The list goes on and Chapter 21 waits!

What is your favourite avoidance tactic?

13 July 2012

14th July - BASTILLE DAY

HAPPY BASTILLE DAY to all my French followers.

Bastille Day, the French national holiday, commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on 14 July 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution.

7 July 2012


by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Have you ever sat there trying to think of new, fresh ways to describe emotion in your writing?  I know I have, and that’s why I found TheBookshelf Muse blog site a wonderful writer’s resource.  And why I’m pleased they published, The Emotion Thesaurus.  So if your characters are nodding and smiling too much this thesaurus might give your imagination a boost.

The Bookshelf Muse blog is also worth a look.  There you will find thesauruses for weather, settings, character traits, colour, textures, shapes, and so much more.

3 July 2012


Do you have a favorite book?  One that you RE-read.

I have.  It’s called MIDNIGHT IS A LONELYPLACE by Barbara Erskine.  I’ve read it three times.

Why is this?  What is it about this particular book?  Can it be that good?  It is, as a matter of fact, but after a great deal of thought, I’m not sure that that’s the only reason I keep reading it.  I think it has something to do with where I was and what was happening when I first read it.

It’s a particularly spooking story and just one of the books I took on an ocean cruise.  The whole voyage had been rough but this night the waves lashed my window as the boat listed.  I didn’t expect this because my cabin was on the uppermost deck, supposedly, high above the ocean.  I’m not a good sailor.  I have a fear of sinking into the watery depths so this situation filled me with dread.

Luckily my coping mechanism kicked in.  I closed the curtains so I couldn’t see the waves hitting my window and started reading MIDNIGHT IS A LONELY PLACE.  Needless to say, what was going on outside added atmosphere to my read where, on a stormy night, Kate Kennedy, in her lonely cottage on the Essex coast, is terrorized by mysterious forces.

And, yes, I will be reading it again.

Do you have a favorite book?

by Barbara Erskine
After a broken love affair, biographer Kate Kennedy retires to a remote cottage on the wild Essex coast to work on her new book until her landlord's daughter uncovers a Roman site nearby and long-buried passions are unleashed! In her lonely cottage, Kate is terrorized by mysterious forces. What do these ghosts want? That the truth about the violent events of long ago be exposed or remain concealed? Kate must struggle for her life against earthbound spirits and ancient curses as hate, jealousy, revenge and passion do battle across the centuries.

1 July 2012

STARTING A NOVEL? HATE STRUCTURE?:  How to jump-start the process!  Have a novel in your head that you secretly are dying to write ... Read the complete post on Marla Madisons blog, READING AND WRITING ARE FATTENING.