Monday, June 29, 2009

New Award for Write Moms

Hi all,

Just wanted to let you all know that Angela from "Mom's Fortress of Solitude" has honored me with the Humane award. It is now my turn to find blogs in which I feel deserve this award. Frankly, I am still behind on bestowing the Friend's award given to me, so I have my work cut out for me. Will do my best to give both awards out to fellow bloggers. Here are the conditions of the award:

"The Humane Award is in order to honor certain bloggers that I feel are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn’t for them, my site would just be an ordinary blog.
Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendships through the blog world.”
Recipients of this award should write a post about it, linking to the person gifted the award, along with ten of their own nominees.

Thank you to all who read my blog and I hope the information I give is helpful to you in your writing endeavours.
I have bestowed this award on some of my favorite blogs. So far I have given it to:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Characters in the Novel – Making Them Real

Hi all,

Here is the next installment in my series on Novel Writing. I hope it helps you as you begin creating characters for your novel. Or, for those of you who are already writing your novels, I hope it helps you to look closely at your characters to make sure they are doing their job - making readers love or hate them! So, here we go...
(The image on the right is of two of my favorite people to write about - Harry Longabaugh alias the Sundance Kid and Etta Place. Photo courtesy of the Denver Public Library.)

Characters in the Novel - Making Them Real

Having a great idea for your novel and building an exciting plot are all wonderful, but you cannot have a great story without believable characters. The characters are the core of the story; they move the plot along and keep the reader interested. Characters cannot be stick figures running around within the plot. They must be fleshed out and become real people you either love or hate, or at least empathize with.

When I am developing characters I sit down with paper and pen and make endless notes on each person. First I start with the lead characters, then I begin thinking about all the other people they will encounter throughout the novel, all the way down to the shop clerk that helps them in only one scene or the waitress at the bar. Think of it like casting a movie; you can’t only have the main characters, there have to be everyday people living their lives around the characters too.

So, let’s say I’m making my notes on the first character. I write out their full name, (with maiden name if married), date of birth, hair color, eye color, weight, height and so forth. I write down their interests, where they have lived, what jobs they have had, who their friends and family are. What are the characters strengths and flaws as a human being? I actually write out a little story of their life up until the novel begins, so I know this character intimately and how this person will react in any given situation. I do this for all the main characters. As I am writing the novel, these notes become invaluable in case I forget something about my character, I can look through the notes to get my facts right.

With less important characters I also flesh them out to the extent that I will be using them. If all they do is appear to serve the main character a meal, I just outline their physical appearance. If the character appears in small scenes throughout the novel, I like to know more about them and outline not only their physical attributes but also small habits, likes, dislikes, etc. All these little details make the characters real to the reader so the reader will begin to form a relationship with the characters and the story.

The most important thing you have to do when building characters is create people the reader will either like or dislike. The reader is going to spend a lot of time with these characters, and if the reader doesn’t feel connected to the characters, then he will put down the book and stop reading.

Throughout the novel, the characters also have to grow, change or somehow be affected by what is happening to them in the story. You can’t have some emotionless body walking through the mystery novel, murder novel or love story without somehow being affected by what transpires during the story. Just like a real person, a character has to continually learn and grow in order to seem real.

Building characters takes time, a great deal of effort, thought and imagination. Think about the people in your life, people you’ve met or ones you have seen in movies and on television. Every person has their own opinions, ideas, habits and quirks. No one person is perfect, and neither should your characters be perfect. Taking the time to flesh out every detail of your characters will make your novel come alive from the first page all the way through to the end.

Begin building your characters for your novel and start writing! The next installment of this series on novel writing will be on dialogue. If your characters do not know how to talk naturally to each other, then it won’t matter how real they appear.

Until then…

Happy writing!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Write Moms Has a New Award

Hi all,

Many thanks to Lori from When We Listen for the Friends award. I will now scour the web and find 8 blogs that I find inspiring - it is hard, there are so many. Here is an explanation of the award:

Friends Award - This award is bestowed on to blogs that are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

I will also work on my next installment of my Novel Writing Series this week. We have been gone the past 3 days to a music festival so I am very behind on my writing. The music was fun, though, despite two days of rain! At least we all looked like drowned rats, so it didn't matter.

Happy writing,


Monday, June 15, 2009

E-How and My Shameless Promotion of Myself

Hi all,

Update: 4/21/10 - as many of you already know, eHow is no longer accepting writers to write articles directly to their site.  Now a writer must first apply to Demand Studios and be accepted before being allowed to submit articles to eHow.  They still have a residual income program and I am sure it is just as good as it was before, but you must do all your work through DS.

Well, in another shameless attempt at promoting my writing on this blog (sorry) I have added a widget from e-How to highlight my articles there. I only have three there so far, but hope to finish up at least 5-10 more before the end of the month. I decided to join e-How after reading Willow Sidhe's blog ( She has had very good luck there with residual earnings and I am willing to try it. I think it would be wonderful to have enough in residual income each month at the various sites so I can collect that money as I finish my book. It's always fun to set new goals, and that is mine this summer. Besides finishing my book and keeping up my blog, I hope to add many new articles to Suite101 and e-How to see just how high my monthly payments can grow.

For those who do not know, e-How is a writing site in which you get paid per click view on your articles. While that doesn't always sound profitable, and at some sites is not, e-How pays well per click, enough to make writing these quick and easy articles worth the time. All of e-How's articles start with "How to.....". So, you can write just about anything as long as it is in a How to format. You have to write a small intro paragraph outlining your article, then you write the rest of the article in steps, as in Step 1, Step 2, etc. So, lets say you want to write "How to Teach Your Child Manners". You write the intro paragraph stating the purpose of the article. Then you write, "Step 1 - Start teaching manners to your child at an early age. Blah, blah, blah." Each step should be somewhere around 50 - 75 words. It's as simple as that. At the very end they do ask for additional resources, so include at least one of the resources you used in writing the article. Also, add photos. Photos enhance articles. You can find these at many different free photo sites, just be sure to credit the site and photographer. Willow has an article on e-How that gives sites where you can find free photos. Just click here to see it.

For those of us with hundreds of articles already writen for one site or another, writing for e-How is fairly simple. I take a subject I've already researched and write an article about it for e-How. It is still an original article and passes CopyScape as original (never plagiarize anyone's articles, not even your own) so I am not stealing from myself. But if I have taken the time to research a subject, I use it to its full extent to make money.

Rights to the article are retained by you, e-How only asks that you place the article with their site first before distributing it to other sites. Therefore, to make extra money, you could write a How to article for e-How, then use the same info and just change the format to paragraphs and place it on Associated Content. Personally, I'd wait a couple of months before spreading it around so I could get the most amount of clicks on e-How for it. But you can do whatever works for you. I have seen many writers place their articles all over the Internet (legally) and earn clicks from several sites for the same article. It's all in what you feel comfortable with. Also, always read the guidelines at every site to make sure you can place previously published articles on their site.

One more word of advice; if you are writing for several websites and are placing your articles all over it is best to use the same writer's name on each of these sites. Plagiarism is rampant on the Internet and sites such as AC, Suite101, and e-How are always checking to make sure you actually own the material. If you are using different names, eventually your articles will be pulled. Try to stick to one writing name to save everyone the confusion.

Happy writing

P.S. The photo above is just one of the many clusters of birch trees in my front yard. I love birch trees! They make such good backgrounds for family pictures.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Novel Writing - Character Driven or Plot Driven

Hi all,

It is time to continue with my series on novel writing. Before I delve into characters, I wanted to hit on the important topic of Plot. we go.

There is more to novel writing than coming up with a plot. The story has to have a beginning, middle and an end plus a conflict and a resolution. And, of course, the story is nothing without the characters. As you take your idea and form the story, you need to keep in mind that a story can be either plot driven or character driven. Here is the difference between the two.

Plot Driven Story

A plot driven story is more about the story line and the action than about the characters. While you need characters to drive the story, in truth it doesn't really matter who they are and where they come from. The story is more important than knowing what the characters are wearing, how they are feeling about lunch that day or what their childhood was like. These characters are usually drawn into the story via the plot - wrong place, wrong time. Generally, plot driven stories are action stories where the excitement is in the action.

For example: In both of Dan Brown's books, The DeVinci Code and Angels and Demons, the stories are driven by the plot. Unfortunately, the characters are just shadows running around doing the bidding of the plot to solve the mystery. Robert Langdon, the main character in both of these books, is really just there to move the story along. We only learn a few sketchy details of his past and his life now, just enough to add to the plot and keep it moving. We don't know everything about his childhood, or his love life or how he feels about current politics. We do know his expertise and the fact that he loves to solve a puzzle. This is what you'd call a plot driven story.

Character Driven Story

A character driven story is one in which the plot is formed around the life of the character. Her dreams, desires, goals and fears are all of what makes the plot move. Generally the character's life is going along as normal until something happens to disturb that life and a resolution has to be made so the character can be happy or move on with her life. By the end of the story we know everything about her as if she were a close relative or friend and we even hate to say good-bye. The action is in what drives the character to a conclusion, not in the plot surrounding the character.

For example: Almost every one of Danielle Steel's novels are character driven. Where the character lives or the time period (although she does place many novels in the WWII era so time period is significant) really doesn't matter as much as what is going on in the character's life. The character's feelings, love, loss, love again are mostly what drive the story. In another example, drawing back into time, the novel Jane Eyre is also a character driven story. Jane's life is explained to us in detail so that by the time she goes off to work for Mr. Rochester we know her completely and are cheering for her to have a happy ending. The place or time period, while intriguing, could have been set anytime, anyplace because it is Jane we fall in love with and hope for a positive conclusion.

So, as you begin to develop your plot and characters, you will want to think about whether or not the story is about the action or the characters.

My next post in this series will be on Character Development. I hope these posts will help you as you start, or get back into writing your novels.

Happy writing,


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Great Blog to Visit for Freelance Writers

Hi all,

I just found the best blog for freelance writers (actually, she found me first!) and I just have to share it with all of you. While I should feel she is competition, I don't because we are all just trying to help each other make income at home through writing. At her blog, Willow talks openly about her experiences with different writing sites and the type of money she can make monthly. I think you all will find her, and her posts interesting and informative. Visit her at

Be sure to read through her blogs for tips and ideas and sites to try. I have written about some of these sites but she seems to be covering them all and there is no sense in me repeating what she already knows.

Happy writing,


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Demand Studios Update

Hi all,

I know I owe you the next installment of the novel writing series and I promise to have that done by the end of this week. I am writing about the "Plot" for the next installment and then I will go on to Characters. Be sure to check back soon.

I wanted to update you on how I'm doing at Demand Studios. I submitted two articles last week for pay and one I have yet to hear about, but the other was sent back to me for a small rewrite. As soon as I finished the rewrite, the article was purchased. So now I have money in my account and I will see if it is placed in my Pay Pal account on Friday, the day writers are supposed to be paid. I picked up two more articles to write and finish by the end of the week. So far I have a good feeling about this site. I think it is a good site to make a few extra dollars and choose topics to write about what interests you.

I also see that Demand Studios is in need of copy editors, so if you have some experience, or are a writer with experience, you might want to check this out. They pay $2.50 per article that you approve and you can chose how little or how much you want to work. I am thinking of this as a sideline, but first I want to get the hang of the formats that they use for articles before thinking I'm an expert. :)

I hope all the information on the various writing sites has helped some of you find work writing. I will continue to seach the web and see what there is for you, as well as continue my series on novel writing. So much to little time!

Happy writing,

P.S. The picture is the crabapple tree in my front yard. I love when the pink flowers bloom! I planted this tree years ago when it was nothing but a stick, and now look at it. It grew up, just like my children! :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Demand Studios Update

Hi all,

Before I continue my series on Novel Writing I wanted to update you about Demand Studios. I just finished writing and submitting my first article to them and am now awaiting the editor to review it. Cross your fingers - I hope he doesn't find too many errors! Demand Studios have a very exact format they expect for their articles and it is different from other sites I am currently writing for. It can become very confusing when you are writing for several different sites. At Constant-Content I am free to write about whatever subject I like and use any style I wish as long as it adheres to the rules of grammar. Some people find the editor there to be difficult to get through, but I rarely have a problem unless I have made a small mistake or didn't proofread enough. At Associated Content the rules are very lax and almost anything can be published. Suite101 has a stringent format and they do not want the writer to write to using the words "you" or "your", which I find difficult at times when I am writing directly to the reader. Demand Studios, however wants a professional article but written to the audience, so I can use "you" and "your". Sometimes it gets very confusing!

I am looking forward to seeing what happens with my first article at Demand Studios and will update you on what happens. So far I do like that they direct you in detail as to what they want and how they want it written. It helps make writing for them simpler in a way, because you know what is expected of you. They seem like a very professional site, so far.

If any of you write for Demand Studios, I would enjoy hearing your comments. Many times people are afraid of trying a new site in case the place is not legitimate. It helps to hear from those who have had experience with the site.
P.S. I chose the waterfall picture, not because it is relevant but because I thought it was beautiful and I love tranquility in my life. :)

Happy writing,


Monday, June 1, 2009

Novel Writing - The Idea

Hi all,

At long last I am ready to begin my series on novel writing. I am hoping this series will help to inspire all of you aspiring novel writers to get out those manuscripts and finish writing your novels. I will be working on mine also as I write this series. I may be slightly ahead of you (I'm on chapter 14) or slightly behind you, but wherever you are in the process, it's time to complete those novels. Please feel free to make comments, suggestions or to share your experiences as you finish you novel with us. I'd love to hear from anyone who is following along.

Here we go...

The Idea

Every novel begins with an idea. Whenever I tell people that I am a writer, one of the first things they say is, "I have a great idea for a novel." Don't we all. There are an abundance of ideas out there that sound wonderful, however the idea has to be more than just that. The idea has to be able to be fleshed out with a full story line, believable characters, believable settings and realistic dialogue. Ideas are easy, it's writing the full novel that can be hard.

Where do ideas for novels come from? Every writer is inspired by different things. You may be watching a movie and one particular scene may inspire you to write an entire novel. Or perhaps you are on vacation and a beautiful location inspires you. Maybe, and I am not insinuating that you are crazy, you always have little voices in your head acting out scenarios that would make a good story. Ideas can come from family situations, tragedies, something you've read or just a picture that infatuates you. Writer William Styron who wrote "Sophie's Choice" says he came up with the idea for the book when the memory of a girl he once met, a Polish refugee named Sophie who had survived a concentration camp during WWII, flashed back to him. That very day he completed the first pages of his book. Stephen King was inspired by a little window in his laundry room that looked out into the garden and wrote the short story "Secret Window, Secret Garden" which was eventually made into a movie staring Johnny Depp. J.K. Rowling was inspired by a train ride to write the entire series of "Harry Potter" books. Small ideas can turn into spectacular novels.

When I wrote my young-adult adventure novel, "Outlaw Heroes", I was inspired by two things; one was my love for the old west and the fascinating characters of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Etta Place, all of whom I'd researched extensively, and the other was my children playing cowboys in the yard with their friends. This made me wonder what it would be like to add a twist to the real life of Butch, Sundance and Etta by having a 12-year old boy join them in their adventures. As I formed the idea, I extended it to where the boy is from the future and goes back into time to join the outlaws. The story ended up with a surprising twist that even surprised me as I was writing it.

Once you have been hit with an idea, sit down and begin to flesh it out. This means making notes on who the characters are in detail, where the setting is, and a brief run-down of where the story will go. Some writers like to have a full-fledged outline before beginning their book. I don't go that far, as I find the story begins to change and weave itself as I start writing, but I do have several pages of notes when I begin to write. I like to know everything about my characters, such as age, date of birth, hair color, eye color, likes and dislikes, etc. The more detailed, the better. If I plan on using a location that really exists (some writers like to make up a town) then I do extensive research on the area so I don't make mistakes I will hear about later. While you are fleshing out your characters and location, you will be able to get a feel for whether or not you have enough story for an entire novel.

Research is the key to a successful novel, even if the story is completely made up. There will still be details that you will need to know to make the novel believable. Don't be afraid to spend time researching every detail, it will pay off in the end. I even find that I do a lot of research as the novel progresses because new details will arise that I need to find out information about. While you don't want to bog your readers down with details, knowledge of the details will help you write a better story.

In the next installment of my Novel Series, I will be talking about what drives your story line and how to flesh out your characters. Please feel free to add comments, advice, questions, and anything else that you think might help your fellow novel writers.

Okay everyone, let's write those novels!

Happy Writing,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...