Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Most Common Characterization Mistake Writers Make and How To Fix It

The Most Common Characterization Mistake Writers Make and How To Fix It

ˈˌself əˈwernəs/
  1. conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

    "the process can be painful but it leads to greater self-awareness"

One of the most common characterization mistakes writers are guilty of is making their characters too self-aware. Inner monologue is a great tool, it lets the reader in on secrets, gives the character dimension, but it can also be the biggest stumbling block to the story.

There's nothing less satisfying than a character who analyses every decision, weighs the pros and cons, and keeps coming back to the same inner struggle over and over again. The reader gets it, there's a theme, but repetition kills the tension.

The good news is that this can be easily fixed!

Beware of using inner dialogue to provide an ongoing narration rather than what it really is, a response to immediate events. Keep it authentic!

And just like over analysing the decision, your character should be a little clueless about their faults, strengths, dreams/goals. These are qualities the character is supposed to discover through their struggle as the story progresses. By the end these traits will come to the surface and that's when the wonderful self-awareness happens in the hero's journey.

Okay, so how can you fix this?

Here are things your character should NOT do:

1. While in the middle of a crisis, they shouldn't be providing a narration as if they're an outside source watching with an emotional detachment.

2. They shouldn't label their emotions. Instead of your character thinking, "I'm so angry!" The anger should manifest itself in your character's actions and choices (without them realizing it).

3. The shouldn't analyse all the possible reasons behind all their emotions. "I'm angry because my boyfriend doesn't love me anymore." No, look at reason number 2. The analysing shouldn't come until they've made choices that lead to disaster. No one in real life figures it out that quickly so why should your character?

4. When your character is in a highly emotional scene, their self-awareness should be negligible. This is why when you're angry you shouldn't send that email right away. You wait until you're less emotional and thinking more clearly. Your character shouldn't use calm logic when they're being dumped by their lover. The place for this growth can begin during the following scene to provide a few subtle sparks of self-awareness (this hints at the coming revelation and is more enticing to the reader). 

Remember it's not just their flaws, their strengths should be waiting to be discovered as well.

Now go make your character clueless!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Novel Spotlight: Falling For Casanova

Debra Druzy

If she didn't know any better she'd swear he was seducing her...

Joy Barbieri has hit rock bottom—divorced, unemployed, sleeping on her parent’s couch until she finds an apartment suitable for two kids and a fur-baby—but she’s determined to start over. Eager for independence, she takes the first job she finds. A handsome stranger catches her eye, but with a name like Casanova, he’s got to be a world champion player—right?

Tristan Casanova’s only visiting this rustic town until he recuperates from his painfully quick divorce, not to make friends. However as he gets to know sweet and savvy Joy, he realizes their unexpected alliance comes with undeniable chemistry. She’s the perfect excuse to stay in Scenic View permanently, but when will she quit giving every excuse in the book why they shouldn’t be together?

Will pains of the past, excessive ex-spouse baggage, and interfering relatives keep these two from the happily-ever-after they deserve?

Buy now!


“Rex,” Joy shouted and Tristan’s heart sank.


“Look, I didn’t know you were involved with someone.” He rubbed his face, wishing he never hooked up with her. So much for doing a good deed. Now he’d have to dodge a boyfriend. “I thought we were both on the same level.”

“Rex is my dog. He’s probably missing me right now. Knowing my mother, she has him tied to a tree all night.”

Tristan exhaled a world of relief. “Wanna call home?”

“And say what? I spent the night with some guy I just met? No, thanks. It’s bad enough I’m crawling home after sunup. I’d rather not ruin this moment by inviting my parents into the conversation.”
The aroma of fresh coffee drifted down the hallway, along with the clamor of clanking pans.

“Someone’s in the kitchen.” Joy’s eyes widened in horror. “You have a roommate?”

“Nope,” Tristan said, amused at the grown woman’s sudden state of panic.


He shook his head. “My buddy Nick. He’s here to pick me up for work. And he cooks.” Fried bacon and eggs with a side of burnt toast was Nick’s usual wake-up call.

“I gotta get outta here.” Joy scrambled off the bed and into his over-sized gray sweat suit. “Thanks for everything, but I need to go home.” She slipped out of the bedroom and down the hallway.
Tristan yanked on his robe and followed behind, catching her before she reached the front door. “I didn’t put your clothes in the dryer yet.”

“Mail ’em to me.”

“You don’t have to rush out.”

“No. I do. I really, really do.”

“Your mother would actually tie your dog to a tree? All night? In the rain?” He pressed her back against the wall, getting close enough to kiss, hoping some memory of last night was enough to make her stay.

“Knowing her, she probably dropped him off at the pound. He already peed on her laundry basket and ate my father’s slippers. I can’t imagine what else he’s done while I’ve been gone. That’s why I need to find an apartment fast.”

Tristan almost invited her to stay here but decided against it once he glanced inside his daughter’s empty bedroom. Nicole would be here soon. How would he explain a new woman’s presence? A live-in nanny? That might would work to his benefit, but Joy might not like it.

“I know.” She snapped her fingers. “I’ll just tell her I found a place and that’s why I didn’t come home. I’ll say I was testing it out overnight.”

“You think she’ll buy that story?”

Joy rolled her eyes. “I was divorced for almost two years before I told her the truth.”

“How the hell’d ya get away with that?”

“She never visited us in Florida. And I only came to New York for Thanksgiving. I gave my ex everything he wanted in the divorce if he’d just play along.”


Joy sighed with her arms across her chest. “If you must know, in the beginning, when I was in college, my mother warned me about getting involved with Victor. But I didn’t listen. I guess I was afraid she’d rub it in about being right—as usual. I can’t imagine what she’s gonna say if she knows I spent the night with a stranger. God,” she growled between clenched teeth, “what’s wrong with me. Despite how this seems, I’ve never been a slut.”

“I don’t think you’re a slut.”

About the Author

Debra Druzy writes sweet n' spicy contemporary romance with happily ever afters.

Connect with Debra!

TwitterWild Rose Press Store


Friday, 21 April 2017

Begin With The End

My writing desk is an old sewing machine. As you can see, I like sticky notes.
Whre the magic happens...sometimes.

Before I write a scene I let it stew in my mind for a few days, choosing which parts to keep and which bits to throw away. For me, nothing is more exciting than opening up the laptop to make that moment exist somewhere other than inside my head.

After the first paragraph, I usually stop and read it over—then I make that face like I'm smelling milk gone bad. I delete everything I just typed, and then I start again.


Before I know it, a half hour has gone by and my word count is zilch.

It's frustrating. I have the scene in my mind, I know where it's going. I can SEE the finish line, but I can't seem to get started.

I always like to to have a chapter end with a cliffhanger or one of those 'uh-oh!' moments when the character(s) are seemingly trapped/caught/driving towards a cliff.

Recently I changed things up and wrote the last paragraph of the chapter I was working on.

I discovered that when I focused on the cliffhanger or the 'uh-oh!' ending, it gave my writing momentum. Without pausing to edit what I had just written, I jumped to the beginning of the chapter and wrote until I met up with the awesome cliffhanger.

This is how I tackle most of my scenes now and it has made a huge difference in how much writing I can get done in a short amount of time. And when I hit that word count goal, each chapter ending is a 'yes!' moment for me.

What writing strategies work for you?

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Novel Spotlight: LAST CHANCE

by Michelle O'Leary

A last chance for redemption or another version of hell?

Sunscapes Trilogy

Trapped in the criminal mega-corporation, Quasicore, Del tries to escape only to become entangled with the dazzling, dangerous Shays. Sinsudee Shay’s offer of protection and employment seems too good to be true. He has to find out if Shay Enterprises is a rival of the Core or a partner in crime.

Sin needs a pilot for her courier service. Rescuing Del from the Core is an added bonus, but he’s more than she bargained for. She’s too drawn to her new employee who’s intuitive enough to question her motives. He could ruin her and her brother’s plans.

Del’s wild attraction for the enigmatic Sin Shay only complicates matters. He can’t resist her lethal beauty, even as he fears the worst about their company. Is Sin’s offer of a new life his last chance for redemption or just another version of hell?


Amazon // Wild Rose Press


They were down to the last two pilots when the hum of slicer engines caught Del’s attention. Very powerful, very expensive slicer engines, the hum almost subliminal. The hair rose on his arms and the back of his neck, and he glanced over. Two sleek, black slicers coasted toward them, and Del fell in love. The ships made his red beauty look like a lump of used metal. Piloting one of those would be like having sex with a goddess, all smooth, profound ecstasy. Their black surface reflected the light in opalescent gleams as they settled in perfect synchronicity onto the landing pads.

“Oh Sun’s blood, the Shadow twins!” Hector moaned next to him.
Del’s grungy companion now wore beads of sweat across his forehead and upper lip, eyes wide and bulging. Others reacted to the arrivals with whitened faces, worshipful eyes, and muted whispers. A new, greedier current of energy ran through the crowd, and Del watched for the two pilots with increased interest.

The new arrivals levered themselves out of the sleek slicers with liquid ease. One male and one female, they were dressed in unrelenting black. They had an air of unconscious arrogance only the rich and powerful could manage, with a hint of real danger in their fluid strides. They moved like predators coming into view of their prey, and the crowd parted before them as if they knew they were the next meal.

As they neared, Del sucked in a startled breath. The arrivals were stunningly attractive, good-looking enough to turn heads wherever they went. Blue-black hair framed refined features, hers in a severe braid between her shoulder blades, and his in short disarray over his forehead. The man’s features were heavier and his skin had a dusky quality. The woman had skin like smooth cream and a lush curve to her lips.

Del was staring at her mouth when she entered the circle around Hector and the pilots. Her lips curled in a sardonic twist and he lifted his gaze, colliding with the most beautiful pair of green eyes he’d ever seen.

“Sun’s blood,” he muttered.

“Don’t do it, man. She’s poison,” Hector whispered as the two arrivals stopped and scanned the circle with casual propriety.

When the woman’s gaze came to rest on Hector, she smiled like a shark, all sharp edges and bloodlust. “Hector, my slimy friend! You don’t look happy to see me.” Her voice was smooth, cool, and laced with dangerous humor. She stepped forward, her companion staying where he was, arms folded across his chest and faint amusement on his features.

Eyes bright with something like malice, she paused in front of Hector. “How’s the hand?”

Del had never seen anyone quail before. Hector’s shoulders hunched as he tucked his hands into his armpits in a protective gesture. Whatever had happened to Hector’s hand, Del would lay odds this woman had either done the work herself or been responsible for it.

“Fine, fine,” Hec rasped. “Healed up real good.”

“And aren’t we relieved to hear it,” she drawled with biting insincerity. “You appear to be running an illegal slicer race, Hector. Can it be possible?”

“You know it is,” he snarled, shooting pure hate at her from under his eyebrows.


Scifi romance author Michelle O'Leary resides in Marquette, MI which graces the shore of pristine Lake Superior. Born and raised in Upper Michigan, Michelle is a child of nature, enjoying all things outdoors.

Originally published through a small e-publisher, Michelle became an independent author publishing her work through Amazon Kindle, CreateSpace, and Smashwords before being accepted with The Wild Rose Press family. Her titles include Vessel of Power, The Huntress, The Third Sign, Last Chance (Sunscapes Trilogy), No Such Thing, and more.

Michelle is a mother first, a dedicated chocoholic, a contented Michigander, and a delirious word lover. She loves all feedback and is always happy to hear from readers!


Friday, 14 April 2017

How to Make Your Readers Believe Anything

Ah, suspension of disbelief, or as I like to say, 'buying into anything Stephen King writes.' Quite simply, it's believing in a premise which you would never accept in the real world. 

No kidding. Try explaining the plot of IT to someone you meet at a party.

Me: "Okay, there's this clown-thing that climbs out of the sewer and terrorizes little kids in a small town in Maine."

Other person: "Riiiiight."

Stephen King does it much better than that, but you know what I mean. And if you were at that party, you'd run over, probably dripping chip dip down your shirt in all the excitement, and say something like, "Holy crap, I love that book. Remember the big spider? And that poor kid with asthma?!"

So, as writers, how can we make our readers believe in something that they know is impossible?

1. Describe the everyday parts of life in your fantasy world.

Across The Universe, by Beth Revis, she concentrates on her protagonist eating bland stew served through a metal portal, jogging in a tunic instead of her sports bra and shorts, and how there isn't a real sun, but only lights high above. It is effective because it grounds the reader in that world by comparing the familiar with the fantasy.

2. Ease your reader into the world.

A good way to do this is by using a transitional scene, or down the rabbit hole, named for the beginning of Alice's adventure. It should involve your protagonist, be grounded in the familiar, and have a logical sequence.

We're all willing to board the Hogwarts Express, but if Harry looked at platform nine and three quarters, and then just waltzed through the brick wall, we'd all cry 'shame'. The charming appeal of that scene is that Harry is abandoned at the station, embarrassed to be pushing an owl around, clueless and pathetic looking. When Mrs. Wesley takes him aside and gently explains how it works, we all breathe a sigh of relief because at that point in the story, we're right beside him, feeling clueless and pathetic as well.

3. Make the rules consistent.

If your teenage superhero can only fly at night, then he can only fly at night—
even if the girl he secretly loves is dangling from a runaway hot air balloon at high noon. Don't change his abilities near the end of the story to make the plot work.

Give suspension of disbelief a try. Let your characters experience something extraordinary and see what happens.

What's your favorite writing example of suspension of disbelief?

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Novel Spotlight: THE RIGHT FIT

by Daphne Dubois (me!)

A jilted bride sworn off love. A struggling hockey player desperate for a good luck charm. And the one night that changed everything.

When Maxine Nicholls discovers her fiancé is cheating, she turns to fast food and nighttime soap operas, but her sister has a plan—unbridled rebound sex with a stranger.

As one of Toronto's hottest players, Antony Laurent tallies scores on and off the ice, but when the chiseled defense man hits a slump, rumors of a trade to the minor league send him to ambush a managers meeting at a posh club.

That night a chance encounter ends up as an unforgettable evening of passion. But Maxine and Antony are about to discover a game of casual hook ups can lead to something neither one of them thought they deserved—the right fit. it on Google Play


She dropped her gaze and stared at his hands. God, they are big hands. Big hands, big… “Do you want a coffee?” she blurted out.

“A coffee? Non.”

“Or maybe you need the washroom?” She pointed down the short hallway that lead to her bedroom.

He looked down the hallway, then back to Maxine. “You want me to use washroom?” he asked seriously.

“No.” She backed up a few steps until she reached the kitchen counter. The heat under her dress was now slick and uncomfortable. She glanced down and saw a mint leaf sticking out of her cleavage. Classy lady.

The romance cover model ran a hand through his hair again, making his biceps strain under the t-shirt sleeve. Maxine suspected he’d practiced that move in the mirror a few times. “Then what do you want?” he asked.

A burst of nervous laughter escaped, but then her smile faded. “No one has asked me that in a very long time,” she said. Slipping off his jacket, she laid it on the counter, letting her finger trace the stitching along the zipper, trying to build up her courage. “Why did you follow me into the cab?”

“Because no one has ever run away from me before.”

Rolling her eyes, Maxine looked up and saw that he was smirking. “Rejection is a new thing for you, I’m guessing.”

“Is that what you call inviting me here?” He tossed the ball cap and it landed perfectly on the dining table. The floorboard creaked as he took a step closer to her. There was a spark of anticipation in his eyes.

“Hold on, cowboy,” she said, putting a hand on his chest. My God! His muscles are rock hard under his shirt. Who the hell is this guy? She cleared her throat. “What makes you think you can kiss me again?”

He was still as stone under her touch, but Maxine could feel herself falling into his stare. “You kissed me,” he said, his voice ridiculously smooth. “There is a difference, I promise.”
It wasn’t only the French accent, but the confidence in his voice that made her knees almost unhinge. Her hand was flat on his chest; his racing heart was keeping time with hers. “That sounds like a proposition,” she said.

“It can only be decided one way.” Then he repeated his earlier question. “What do you want?”

He was so close she could see the faint brown and black colors of his stubble. There was a cleft in his chin. What do you want? An image of the long white box hidden in the closet was ignored; all Maxine wanted at that moment was to mold herself into his arms and forget about the last four years. “Kiss me,” she said.

His fingers grazed her cheek, tucking a wave of hair behind her ear. “Un moment,” he said. “A man should be prepared.” He peeled the last mint leaf off her chest then placed it in his mouth.

Maxine giggled through a surprised expression, which faded into a sigh.

Then, with deliberate care, he brought his lips down to hers, perfectly fitting their mouths together. He gently moved his chin starting a slow pace, controlled but with a sense of held back urgency.

This was nothing like the hastily stolen kiss at the club. The cautious seduction was almost too much for Maxine. She wanted to taste him fully, kiss him back hard—tackle this moment like Alexis Colby.

Written for a romance contest hosted by Wattpad in 2015, THE RIGHT FIT gained over 5 million reads from fans all over the world. I'm grateful to Wild Rose Press for helping me be able to share Maxine and Antony's story with you!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

What Every Scene Needs

My writing desk is an old sewing machine. As you can see, I like sticky notes ;)

Imagine your novel as a storyboard; a series of graphic organizers (sticky notes on the wall above your writing desk) displayed in sequence for the purpose of visualizing your story.

Each sticky note represents a scene with a brief description or illustration detailing what happens.

Now, pick one sticky note. 

Is this scene essential to moving the plot forward?

Could it be more effective at another point in the story or should it be pulled off the wall and out of your novel completely?

If you're not sure, go down this check list and see if your scene has what it takes to keep the reader interested.

Using THE RIGHT FIT as an example, I'll be taking excerpts from Chapter three, the scene where Maxine and Antony meet for the first time.

1. Setting 

Ground the reader in place and time, but instead of saying it was a hot morning, describe how your protagonist is already sweating in their shorts and flip flops at the breakfast table.

Chapter three of THE RIGHT FIT is from Maxine's point of view and it's obvious from the beginning she's uncomfortable with this setting.

       Maxine was already lonesome for her bed and laptop as Crosby pulled her through the crowd. A line had been snaking along the sidewalk when theyd pulled up in the cab, but Crosby knew the doorman—she always knew the doorman. Maxine cringed under the glare from the other patrons still waiting outside in the frigid late February night as they were swept inside.
      “Is it always like this? Maxine asked, shouting above the music.
      “Of course,” Crosby said, smiling widely. “Uniun is the hottest dance club in Toronto.”

2. Tension

What's at stake for the protagonist? What is preventing them from reaching their story goal? There should be some kind of conflict in every scene.

Too embarrassed to tell them that she was stood up, Maxine lies to her friends about her botched blind date, but then the guy shows up!

       "A mojito with extra mint leaves for the cougar, Stuart teased. Then he nodded toward a group of guys even younger than he and Westley. Crosby tells me youre in the market for meaningless sex. I think delta-gamma-go-all-night over there is a good start. Might as well go for the sure thing. He squinted across the room, then added, Or sure things if youre feeling adventurous.
       Over Stuarts shoulder, Maxine saw a slim man with a crewcut walking through the crowd, a pint of beer in one hand. Oh God! She panicked. It was the divorced high school teacher with a phobia for dentists.
     She spied the neon sign for the washrooms, then grabbed her clutch, and quickly left the table. Stuart called out something, but the music was so loud it drowned out his words.

3. Emotions

Show how your characters are feeling. Describe body language. Connect the reader to the POV's emotional state. Don't forget about senses.

Ah! Their first kiss...

Hide me! Maxine blurted out.
        He frowned back at her, not understanding.
        The crew cut was about to pass them, he was only seconds away from seeing Maxine in her stained dress, her breasts covered in food.
        She panicked. What would Alexis Colby do?
        “Est-ce que
        Maxine never heard the rest of his question. His words disappeared against her lips as she grabbed him by the t-shirt and pulled him to her, pressing them both against the wall.

      She breathed in a spicy scent, and his stubble grazed her chin. Shocked by her own actions, Maxine stayed locked in the embrace. The kiss was chaste, but as the seconds passed with neither one moving from the other, the moment changed, becoming heavier, more charged.
     She was all too aware of the warmth of his lips, the pressure of his mouth against hers. Then he leaned back. His surprised expression matched her sputtering pulse. Merci, Ms. Dior, he said.       
      Maxine blinked a few times, her footing felt wrong, like the floor was tipping. I…uh, she started. Sorry about that. I must have slipped.

4. Dialogue

Employ key phrases for characters, but be careful of repetition. Nail the voice. Does it move the plot forward or is it just chit chat?

Since Antony is French, their first conversation in a loud dance club gets construed, but his assumption that her name is Ms. Dior is quickly established as her nickname and is played out as a cute quirk between the two of them as the novel progresses.

 Est-ce que ça va? he asked, bending down closer to her ear.
       “Excuse me?
        His look of concern melted into a wide-eyed stare. Belle rousse? he said.
       “Bathrooms? Maxine shouted up at him. Theyre down the hall.
        He gave her a mischievous grin. Are you okay?His gaze wandered her face, then lowered and fixated on her chest.
       She looked down and saw her green dress was stained, and the extra mint leaves from her drink had settled in between her ample breasts like some kind of cleavage dam. A wave of mortified embarrassment collapsed over her. And in addition to everything else, the outfit was ruined. Carmine would be so upset. Its vintage Dior, she said, her voice crumbling a bit.
       A complicated series of frowns played across his features. I can pay for dry cleaning, he offered. There was a pause, then he added, Ms. Dior.

5. Action

Action can be as simple as your protagonist finally calling up her secret crush, or as complex as a car chase through road blocks and marching bands.

       Standing against the wall in a daze, Maxine watched his broad for cut a path through the crowded bar. What the hell had she just done? Maybe he was going to tell a bouncer about her. She could imagine the conversation. Theres a large woman in an old tight dress grabbing guys by the bathroom.
       “No problem, sir, well have her contained immediately. Grab the tranquilizer gun!
        Snickering to her left snapped her back to attention. Two girls who looked barely old enough to drink were standing in skintight dresses with their heads together laughing behind manicured nails, cutting glances across the way. Maxine stood wearing her stained vintage Dior that now seemed musty and antique.
        Expecting to be tossed for violating hot lumberjacks, Maxine rushed to the closest exit, not even bothering to get her coat. The sharp winter air almost took her breath away. 

6. Internalization

Internalization is what the character is thinking, it takes the general and makes it personal. It's a great tool for handling infodumps, just make sure to keep it in their voice (let them internalize and judge what they’re thinking about) then it comes across more naturally. 

Maxine opened her clutch and looked at her phone. Shed actually gone fifty-five minutes without thinking about him. That was a record. But now, of course he was all she could think about. Did he think about her? Did he miss having coffee in bed on Sunday mornings while she read the comics and he did the crossword—he always used a pen, never a pencil. She loved that confidence about him. In fact, she still had the last puzzle hed done.
      The familiar stone lodged itself in her heart. She loved Johnny. She still loved Johnny. They had been together for four years.
      Four years!
      Four years of sharing and dreaming. Four years of walking through Umbra making imaginary purchases for their future home. Four years of waiting in the arrivals at the airport every time he came home—she was always there to meet him.
     And four years of walks in the park when they would make spontaneous plans, like the time they decided to adopt a rescue dog…except neither one of them filled out the forms.
      Four years.
     The burden of all that time was too much for Maxine to ignore. She simply refused to accept all that time, all that work with Johnny was for nothing.

7. Hook

A development the reader wasn't expecting that throws more conflict toward the protagonist, and keeps the reader invested and turning the pages.

       The cabbie beeped his horn and swore at the traffic, unable to pull into the lane.
       “I have no place I need to be, Maxine said, picturing her bed and laptop. She thought back to the kiss with the stranger and how foolish she must have seemed to him. Alexis Colby never looks like a fool, she whispered to herself. She would have kissed him again—no thats not right. She would have slapped him first, then kissed him back hard, and then left him wanting more.
        The cab driver narrowed his gaze at her in the rearview mirror.
       “Wouldnt it be great if life was like 80s TV? Maxine asked him. Everyone was in shoulder pads and size double zero didnt exist.
       He shrugged then turned up the radio.
       Maxine hugged her elbows. The traffic lights reflected off her fingernails.
       A sharp blast of frigid air ripped through the backseat. A massive upper body wrapped in a thin cortex jacket jumped in the backseat. Before the cabbie could protest, Maxine turned and was face to face with an ACE Towing ball.

So, how does your scene measure up?

What are some of your favorite scenes from novels?

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