NaNoWriMo Motivation – Day 3

Day 3: We’re starting to settle in now. Regardless of whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, writing is a journey and an adventure. Keep writing and see where it takes you!

Today’s Count: 5,001 words

Happy Writing!

NaNoWriMo Motivation – Day 2

Day 2 : We all have to remember when writing out these words that they don’t have to be perfect. No matter our process, we just need to get them out.

Today’s count: 3,334 words

Happy Writing!

NaNoWriMo Motivation – Day 1

It’s Day 1 of NaNoWriMo, kids!

Time to hit the ground running and get in our 1,667 words. Everyone have their coffee (or tea if you prefer) and raided your kids Halloween candy?

November is the best month to get that story out of you and on paper. It’s the one time of year that a huge community of writers band together to encourage each other. Because we are all out for one goal: to write a novel.

So listen to Faulkner and use November to get that story out of your system.

Happy NaNo Writing!

Let’s be buddies at https://nanowrimo.org. I’m elizepeake15!

Eight Tips to Getting the Words in for NaNoWriMo

Daily word count is the bedrock of NaNoWriMo. Here are some tips to making sure you meet that count each day.

You’ve asked yourself some basic questions about your story (see what those are here).

You’ve gathered the courage to move forward and created a novel on the website.

Now it’s time for the work.

Getting the words on paper.

The default setting for Nano is 50,000 words in 30 days. Why 50,000? Because that’s the standard of what is considered a novel by the industry. However, Nano is also good to use for those writing a novella or an epic novel. The goal is to write and hit a target with a finished product at the end.

But in keeping with the default, we can see by doing the math, you’re going to need 1,667 words a day. Every. Day.

Gulp.

Yeah, I know.

It can seem daunting, especially if you don’t have eight hours a day, seven days a week to devote to it. In other words, you have a day job and life keeps moving on.

So how does one pull off a feat like this and not lose their minds?

Well, when I find out about the last half of that, I’ll let you know.

Otherwise, here are a few tips to help you get those words in every day. Your mileage will vary on how each one works for you and it may work best to use several of the them together. Or maybe you find a single one that works with your process. Whatever works for you is what’s going to get the story done.

Tip 1: Get up early/stay up late

I’m an early bird, night owl combination. However, when I write, the creative muse tends to be at her best early in the morning. Most of the time, my husband is already up and leaving for work and my teen isn’t anywhere near being awake, so it tends to be great alone time for me. I set my alarm for 4am and have my butt in the chair no later than 4:30 (it takes a minute for the coffee to sink in) to write for about an hour before real life calls and I head to the day job.

Conversely, your muse may need all day to get some ideas for you and tends to visit at night. If you’re a night person, you may find that waiting until after the work day is done, dinner is made, homework is complete, and the rest of the house is in bed, to be your best bet to get in an hour or so.

There is no right or wrong answer here. The goal here is to make a schedule and stick to it to help you get in those words.

Tip 2: Use a timer

You’ve found some time to actually sit and write, but maybe it’s a short amount of time. To help keep you focused on the task, you may find having a timer with a repeating tick-tock handy. For me, I find a time extremely useful. If I know I only have 20 minutes to get those words in, I’m more likely to stay focused and not be distracted from my goal.

Tip 3: Learn “snap-writing”

I didn’t know until recently that this technique actually has a moniker. Snap writing is the art of writing in snatches of time, no matter how long or short they are. The opposite of having a schedule or a routine. Writing whenever, wherever. This technique may not work for everyone, but it is a useful skill to learn if you are already overcommitted before you put a single word to paper.

Tip 4: Dictate

This is another tip that works brilliantly for some, but will leave others flat. And it does have a learning curve. But if this is something you’d like to try, it can be a game changer. I’ve used it myself a few times while stuck in traffic and have made some great gains with it. 1300 words on a long commute home doesn’t suck.

Dictation is something that takes a bit of practice though. You have to “train the dragon” which takes time and patience. Neither of which will be in ample supply in the month of November. But if dictation is something you already use or have used before in any way, I encourage you to try it.

Tip 5: Keep Track of Your Words

This can be a simple notebook with a date and a number of words done for the day or an Excel spreadsheet with formulas in it. Either way, keep up with your progress. This will be especially important if you “snap write” through out the day and only get in a couple of hundred or so at a time.

Keeping track of the progress is also a great visual way for you to see where you are and how far you’ve come.

Tip 6: Turn Off the TV, Phone, Social Media, etc.

Get rid of the distractions! While technology helps us in a number of ways to sell our books and provide research for us during discovery, it’s a double edged sword. It takes no time at all to fall down the rabbit hole known as the internet, or Facebook, or Twitter, or any other social media platform. Time in those rabbit holes are time that you could be writing and getting in those words.

Same goes for Candy Crush or SimCity or that farming game. I speak from experience here.

Tip 7: Get an Accountability Partner

Fitness gurus will tell you that it can be easier to lose weigh or stick to a workout regimen if you have someone keeping you accountable. And if you are helping them as well.

That same philosophy applies here. It helps to have someone that you can check in with or that will check in with you to make sure you are getting those words down each day. And if you’re flagging, they will cheer you on with razor sharp jabs or a gentle shove, whatever it is you need to get back on that horse and keep going until the end of November.

Tip 8: Stop for the day on a “downward slope”

I’ve heard this in a couple of places, one of them being on the Journeyman Writer podcast. The idea is to stop at what would be an unnatural break. For example, stop in the middle of a paragraph or the middle of a scene. This allows for you to pick up where you left off the next day and help keep that momentum going.

Much like a manual transmission car on a downward slope. Pop that brake and you have instant momentum to get started.   

Keep in mind, small gains added together equal big gains. So if you can only manage to bang out 250 words at a time but snatch several times through out the day, you’ll be at your word count target before you know it.

The other great thing is that once you pick up the momentum, you can keep rolling. If you can type 250 words in 10 minutes on day 1, you may graduate to higher numbers in the same amount of time.

So keep going. Don’t stop. Stay focused and keep the momentum on an upswing as long as you can.

You can hit the floor on December 1st.

Happy Writing!

cheap femara online Do you have any tips that have helped you hit your daily target? I’m always looking for new ways to try, so please share!

New to NaNoWriMo and Don’t Know Where to Start? Here are Three Questions to Get You On Your Way

There may only be a few days left in October, but there’s still time to get your head in the game to hit the ground running by November 1st.

You’ve visited the NaNoWriMo website. Made your profile. Connected to a regional team online. Tweeted that you are participating.

You’re ready!

Except for that one section you left blank. The section where you create your novel.

Because for all of your enthusiasm to be a part of this writer’s rite of passage, you don’t really know where to start.

I’ve known some people that just sit down with a blank page and start writing on November 1st. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that and if that’s how you can write a story, I applaud you! 

But what if you’re a bit more (or a lot more) of a planner than that?

I’ve been in your shoes. It can be scary and overwhelming.

I’ve participated (and finished all but once) in NaNoWriMo for the last few years and some years I’ve already had a story going that I would use NaNoWriMo to finish.

But my first time? All I had was a loose plot I dreamed up driving to the beach earlier in the summer.

So with nothing more than my vague plot bunny, I started with three basic questions for my story. These are questions that everyone, pantser or plotter, can use. 

Don’t worry if you don’t know everything about the story just yet, how well you know your characters, or even if you know their names. This is discovery phase.

So, relax. Take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

1 – What is the genre of my story? What type of story will give me energy and why?

Many times when I start a brand new story, it comes from what I call a “plot bunny”. It’s a kernel of an idea I get from someone I meet, a song lyric, just about anything that jogs an idea from your brain. Regardless of where the plot comes from, once the idea begins to percolate, you’re going to need to know the genre the story is going to fall into.

The reason this is important to figure out is because genres have different conventions, different rules they play by. For example, in the romance genre, it is expected to have a “happily ever after” (HEA) or at the very least a “happy for now” (HFN) ending. Other genres, it isn’t uncommon for the ending to end tragically. If you don’t understand the type of story you’re writing, you’ll fail to deliver reader expectations. And that’s a hard thing to come back from once it’s happened.

The last thing is making sure the story you aim to write will give you creative energy. If it is a drudgery every day to write the story or your excitement fizzles quickly, it may not be the story for Nanowrimo. Nano is a marathon, not a sprint. So you’re going to need to keep that creative well properly primed for thirty days. And this is great practice for writing novels for the future.

Knowing what kind of story you’re going to write allows it to feed your creativity daily.

2 – What point of view (POV) do I plan to write this in? Whose story is this?

I think innately as writers when we create a story, we know whose story it’s going to be. That may change over time, but we’re just starting out here, so let’s go with what our instincts are telling us. Unfortunately, while we may know whose story it is, our gut doesn’t always let us know who is going to actually tell the story.

First, it helps to know what the POV’s are:

http://technicalwritingprocess.com/oldvip.php 1st person: The entire story is told from the narrator’s point of view only. “I” is the big giveaway here. You see first person a lot used in young adult and new adult fiction.

purchase estrace cream online 2nd person: The story is told as though the audience is a character. “You” is used instead of “I” in this case. I don’t recommend 2nd person in fiction. It’s rarely seen in books and there’s a reason for it. It’s difficulty to develop adequate characters and maintain the style for a long format piece in the second person POV. So make it easy on yourself and just don’t do it.

3rd person: The story is told using the pronouns he, she, it, and they. There are two ways to write in third person: limited and omniscient. Limited is where only one narrator’s feelings and thoughts are shared. Omniscient is where the thoughts and emotions of all characters are told by the narrator. A vast majority of novels are written in third person.

As the writer, it is up to you as to which point of view you want to use. However, just be sure that you keep consistent. There are some authors who have switched POV’s throughout their novels, using things such as chapter breaks to show the difference of POV’s. However, this is an advanced move and not done lightly.

3 – When and where?

You’ve answered who, what, and the why. Now we can think on the when and where.

To flesh out that plot bunny and those characters, you’re going to need to think on the world building. The words “world building” can sound daunting, I know. But start with something easy, such as a time period.

Do you see your story in the current time period? Or are you writing a historical where electricity doesn’t exist? Or is this a sci-fi with space stations? Even if you don’t know every aspect of your story just yet, you have an idea of your time period. You hone the details of it later as you write or in revisions. Just have a framework of the time period to work in.

Which leads to the “where” or setting of your story. The beautiful thing about fiction is that you can build that world in your mind and make it all your own. You can create an entire alternate universe, a new solar system, or you can use your hometown.

One thing to keep in mind though when world building: even in a made up place from your mind, things have to make sense. The reader will suspend disbelief for you, but only for so long. In other words, you’re only going to get away with complete disbelief for so long. Here’s an example:

You are writing a story set in northern Canada near the Arctic Circle. It’s January, the middle of a snowy winter. Your characters should be wearing heavy coats, gloves, hats. If you have them walking around without any winter gear, in light jackets, or no jackets at all, your reader won’t buy that for long, if at all.

It doesn’t make sense. Even with climate change. It still gets cold!

But what about something like Harry Potter and all that magic, you ask? The difference there is that JK Rowling built her world to include magic. It makes sense to have a magic wand and for people to fly. Be authentic to the world you built. World building isn’t easy. Do it justice and give it the respect it deserves.

Look through some of your favorite stories and see what they do for setting, how they build their universe inside those pages. Perusing the pages of stories that prompted you to write can be helpful in giving examples of how to create images for your own story. Images you can translate to paper.

Chances are once you start asking yourself these three questions, more questions will arise, and you will soon be sucked into your story.

Which is exactly where you need to get used to living for the next month.

Happy Writing!

Look for me as elizapeake15 at nanowrimo.org

Check back for my next post on tips to getting the words down and things you’ll need to get through NaNoWriMo!

Podcast Series Ep 3: Two Motivational Podcasts to Kick Start Your Writing

Writing can be hard. It’s a solitary, isolating profession and sometimes we need a pick me up. These two podcasts accomplish that in their own ways.

Having a cheerleader, even if it’s through the speakers of your computer, headphones, or car as you commute, is vital to the self-esteem of a writer. While we may have our characters we hang out with daily, writing can still be a lonely endeavor.

I’ve listened to podcasts for many years now and part of why I love them is because they meet so many of my needs. In this episode of my Podcasts Series, I talk about two podcasts that keep me going from two different perspectives.

The Petal to the Metal – Hosted by J. Thorn and Rachael Herron

Honestly, I can’t remember how I came across this podcast. I was familiar with J. Thorn since he has worked with my author entrepreneur idol, Joanna Penn in the past. I didn’t know Rachael, even though she’s been writing for years. But I have to say that even though I can’t remember how I found them, I’m glad I did.

This weekly podcast started at the beginning of 2017, so it’s a bit younger than other podcasts I listen to. Both J and Rachael are full-time authors, living the writer’s dream. One of the things I enjoy most about this podcast is the conversation like nature to it. Instead of the polish of a formal show, it’s simply two people talking about writing. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a format. They catch up with what’s going on with each other and then they move on to the question of the week. One will come up with a question for the other that has to do with their writing process, writing goals, or anything else in regards to the writing journey.

The camaraderie between these two is fun to hear and I have found myself laughing along with them. What makes The Petal to the Metal motivational is to hear two writers making a living at writing and be truthful about the world of it. They are cheerleaders for each other. Because it isn’t an easy business, but it is worth it if you have someone to motivate and inspire you.  When I listen to them, they remind me to stay the course and never give up.

Length: 20-30 minutes long depending on the topic.

Find them at http://thepetaltothemetal.com/

The Journeyman Writer – Hosted by Alastair Stephens

Full disclosure that makes me sad: this podcast is no longer producing new shows. It was owned by an organization called Story Wonk and earlier this year, the couple that ran it divorced. However, they continue to maintain the website where the podcasts are and you can still find all 235 episodes on any podcast app you use.

Fortunately, the craft of writing is evergreen, so the discussions and teachings that Alastair imparted can still be used. I found this podcast to be one of the better ones to explain writing craft. He uses a lot of cinema to help explain craft for writing novels and for me, it helped connect the dots. Mindset, productivity, publishing, Nanowrimo are just a few of the things he discussed on the show. And each show is short and sweet, which I appreciated so as not to overwhelm me.

The Journeyman Writer is motivating in the fact that he breaks down the craft in bite size pieces. It makes you feel like not only could you write a book, but you could write a book well and actually learn the craft.

The fact that he has a fun Scottish accent is just a bonus. 🙂

If you listen to The Journeyman Writer and love it like I did, I have good news. While that particular show may be over, I found out that he has recently started a new craft podcast called The Narrative Beat. I haven’t listened to it yet, but now that I know it exists, I plan to check it out as soon as possible. Check back in a couple of months and I’ll have a review of it.

Length: 5-10 minutes depending on the topic.

Find the old episodes at https://storywonk.com/category/podcasts/the-journeyman-writer/

Find Alastair and The Narrative Beat at http://pointnorthmedia.com/

As I always say, there are a ton of podcasts out there and these are only my opinion. But whether or not one of these or a different one helps you, podcasts are one more medium that can help writers on their journey in a number of ways.

What are some of the ways you look to others for motivation? Do you have another podcast you’d like to share that has kickstarted your writing somehow? Share with me and drop a comment below!

Happy Writing!

Podcast Series Ep 1: Three Self-Publishing Podcasts Indie Writers Should Subscribe To

Podcasts can be a treasure trove of information for writers. Here are the best ones for self-publishing I’ve found to give the best bang for my audio buck.  

Podcasts are one of the hottest mediums out there today.

People can listen on the go, sitting in traffic, walking the dog.

They’ve become my “go to” when it comes to getting news on publishing, book marketing, learning new skills for writing, or learning how to grow my blogging business.

Over the last few years I’ve listened to several podcasts on writing and the business of books. Each one I listen to helped me in some way over the last few years.

Back in 2013, I self-published a novella and did everything wrong. These three podcasts have taught me more than I could possibly learn about self-publishing. My next time around (I’m looking at you 2018!), I’ll do a lot of things differently thanks to these helpful souls.

Note: This is just my opinion and I’m not affiliated with any of these podcasts. I simply love them!

The Creative Penn Podcast – Hosted by Joanna Penn

When it comes to podcasts, this is the one that I look forward to the most. Joanna is a lovely host with her bright personality and English accent. She’s hosted her show for several years now and it amazes me the amount of content she has produced.

A weekly show, she gives updates on the top trending publishing news and personal updates. She uses the interviewing format and never fails to bring in fantastic guests. Through her show I’ve gained knowledge on everything from learning Facebook ads to author mindset to publishing adult coloring books.

Joanna is a futurist and I enjoy hearing her predictions for the publishing world and where it looks like it’s going to take us. Don’t miss her shows where she takes inventory of the goals she sets for herself. Enlightening and always makes me want to run out and write down or evaluate my own goals.

Listening to her show gives me motivation and makes me think I can really do this writing thing.


Length: A little on the longer side with most podcasts clocking in at an hour, give or take. But the content is so engaging, it’s a quick hour.

Find her at https://www.thecreativepenn.com/blog/

The Self Publishing Formula Podcast – Hosted by Mark Dawson & James Blatch

While this podcast hasn’t been out as long as some other self-publishing podcasts, I really enjoy it. I’ve heard Mark on The Creative Penn a couple of times so I was familiar with him and his story.

He went from having a traditional deal with virtually no followers and not having an email list at all to an indie published, multi six figure (perhaps seven-figure at this point) author with a potential movie deal on one of his book series.  

The podcast is in an interviewing format and provides motivation and education for indie writers, no matter what level they may be. They have featured Pat Flynn, Marie Force, Bella Andre, among others. In addition to the interviews, listeners are privy to James’ journey writing his first novel.

One other thing Mark does monthly that I find inspirational is his income report. He goes over each of his marketing strategies and explains how much he spent and his ROI (return on investment). The transparency he brings is uplifting because it shows that this making your living as a writer thing can be done if you put in the work.

Length: Between 35-45 minutes per show, varying by topic.

Find Mark and James at https://selfpublishingformula.com/category/podcast/
The Self Publishing Podcast – Hosted by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, & David W. Wright

These three guys are on their way to being the Pixar Studio of stories. They write books, help writers, host several podcasts, and hold the annual Smarter Artist Summit through their company Sterling & Stone.

Their weekly podcast includes updates on what they are up to and interviews with independent publishing experts and how to DIY your way into author entrepreneurship.  Marketing and business strategies all delivered with sharp wit and sarcasm. I love snark so these guys are not only informative but entertaining to listen to each time.  

Fair warning. Don’t listen with the kiddies in the car. They aren’t afraid to let some f-bombs drop and “shits” to fly.  

Length: Right at an hour per episode.

Find the trio at https://sterlingandstone.net/series/self-publishing-podcast/

 

There are a number of self publishing podcasts floating around out in the podcast-sphere to help the budding writer that wants to control their publishing destiny. Most of them very good. But after careful curation and some research (you know, me listening to them), I found these three have really helped to motivate and inspire me to continue on my indie publishing adventure.

It’s an adventure I don’t want to go at alone. And with these podcasts behind me, I won’t have to.

How about you? Any podcasts that have inspired you in your independent publishing journey? Let me hear from you! I’d love to try a new one!

Happy Writing!

The Four Types of Character Arcs

An arc gives a character dimension and texture. Here are four types to bring your character to life.

What is a character arc and why is it important?

Think about yourself. You aren’t the same person you’ve always been in every way. At some point, you were one person then experienced something (went to college, got your heartbroken, had a baby, etc.) that changed you perspective or changed you completely.

That, my friend, is an arc.

As to the why?

Without an arc, your protagonist would be one dimensional and boring. Readers need to care about your characters. If they are flat and lifeless, readers will move on to some other hero/heroine.

With an arc, readers go on the journey with the character through their ups and downs, their fatal flaws, and in the end, the reader will feel complete.

A few months ago when I was working on character development, I was having a bit of trouble with my arc. I knew about the dominant “hero’s journey” arc, but honestly, I didn’t think it fit my character. This left me frustrated and unsure of how much I actually knew my character.

I started researching character arcs and found that there are two basic types of character arcs:

      • The kind that positively change your character
      • The kind that negatively change your character.

Most characters change from the beginning to the end, right? Whether they live or die tells us the difference.

Sure. But if you really want to bring your characters to life, you’re going to need to give them some depth and texture.

Digging deeper, character arcs are actually broken down into four main types. Many will say that there are only three with one being a sub-arc of sorts from one of the main ones. But I prefer to give it it’s own credit because, although slight, it is there.

There may be some extremes to the arcs (think Sarah Connor of the Terminator movies or The Bride from the Kill Bill movies, one of my favorite character arcs), but they all stem from the main four arcs.

1 – The Change or Transformation Arc

The change/transformation arc is the most common of positive arcs. We’ve seen it a thousand times in the “hero’s journey”. The protagonist changes significantly in some way. They are set along a path that brings out hidden talents or strengths, causing them to go from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

By the end of the story, the protagonist is the hero and their world is forever and irrevocably changed.

Example: Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy

2 – The Growth or Progressive Arc

The growth/progressive arc is another popular arc where the character remains much the same, but overcomes a conflict that makes them better. In the growth/progressive arc, our hero/heroine overcomes an obstacle that is within themselves.

Usually there is an external catalyst that rocks their world where they are forced to use their talents or strengths that may have always been within them, but suppressed for their own reasons. The protagonist has fundamentally stayed the same, but they are a new and improved version of themselves.

Example: Red in The Shawshank Redemption

3 – The Shift or Altered Arc

This is the aforementioned subtle arc. The character hasn’t transformed or been made better. But their set of circumstances has made them a different person. The shift/altered arc is slight, but there. The protagonist may have acquired a new position, gained new perspective, or discovered old, forgotten talents or strengths.  This differs in the fact that they know they have them (unlike the change arc) but forgotten them, not repressed them (as with the growth arc).

The character is the same, but different.

Example: Indiana Jones in any of the Indiana Jones movies

4 – The Fall/Descent Arc

The fall/descent arc is our negative arc. It is common to tragedies that lead to the downfall of the protagonist. The arc follows the character along their collision course to failure, corruption, or even death. It can be an internal or external downfall.

The fall/descent arc is a tricky one because it can depress readers, especially if it comes off a gratuitous downfall.

Either way, our protagonist ends up in a place worse off than when they started.

Example: Ben Sanderson in Leaving Las Vegas

It may appear that the positive arcs are one and the same. Don’t get hung up on the vocabulary. It is important to understand that while they may seem similar on the surface, the change is a different level for each one. Change and growth may be synonyms, but to say they imply the same thing would cheat your characters out of who they were meant to be.

 

What do you think of the examples above? What are some of the best character arcs you can recall?  Does identifying a character arc help you understand your characters?

Let me hear from you! Share your experiences!

Happy Writing!

How to Give a Writer Constructive Criticism

One thing I love about working with other writers is critiquing. I enjoy reading works by new and budding authors and helping them along with things that they are too close to see or simply don’t know.

Last week, I posted an article about five ways to cope with criticism as a writer.

Today, I want to talk about how to give constructive criticism to a writer. 

I have been on both sides of this equation. As with anything, there are two sides to every situation. What if you’re the one doling out the criticism? How do you go about being honest, but fair and constructive?

Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about being a beta reader and providing feedback. So far, these tips have served me well.

  • Start with the positive, move on to the negative, and end with a call to action for the writer.

I once worked with a beta who could be tough on a manuscript. But she had a method in giving her feedback that never made me feel like she was berating me. Every piece has some kernel of goodness, even if it’s buried. Find it and accentuate it in the beginning.

It will help a writer to know they have something to work with when you deliver the “what doesn’t work” to them. End with a call to action. Give them some suggestions as to how they can make the bad better and how to make the good great.

  • Give feedback from a good place.

In other words, be honest but not hateful. A writer will not make everyone happy. As a critic, you should be objective. Does the story make sense? Are the characters developing as they should?

If you’re more of a mystery/suspense sort of girl, but you’re editing a romance story, don’t turn your nose up at it. It defeats the purpose of your job: to aid a writer along in the writing process.

If you’re reading a subject matter that offends you, you’re better off to pass on reviewing the manuscript than letting it color your judgment.

  • Give suggestions, not commands, when it comes to story edits.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions for clarification. As a writer, I understand that sometimes what I’m thinking isn’t what comes out on paper. As a reviewer, I understand that as well.

If something doesn’t make sense, ask about it. Playing devil’s advocate can be a winning game at times. Perhaps that sentence would sound better than the way it’s written in your opinion. But keep in mind, it’s just your opinion. In that vein…

  • Don’t force the writer to take said suggestions.

Remember, it’s not your story! It is not your baby. Your job as an editor is to help that baby live up to its potential, much like a godparent. Though there will be times the reviewer will feel like they went through the labor pains as well, in the end, you are not the parent. Whatever final decisions are made have to be made by the writer.

Most betas aren’t out to destroy someone’s work, but to help them make it better. As a reviewer, critiquer, beta reader, keep in mind that the author poured heart, soul, and time into what you’re reading.

Even if it needs work, those words were more than likely hard fought words. They deserve your time, attention, and respect.

Do you have any tips you’ve learned as a beta or editor? Share them with me!

Happy Writing!

How to Create Enriching Characters Using Ennegrams

Creating compelling characters draw readers in from the beginning. Ennegrams are one way to get the job done.

A few weeks ago, I was working with my group of trusted betas on my current manuscript. I was getting great feedback, which was a relief.

Then one of them asked me, “What is the male protagonist’s fatal flaw?”

After a pause, I was able to launch into what I believed it to be. But as I spoke, it didn’t sound real to my own ears.

Even after the meeting, that question plagued me as I continued to write this character. Fatal flaw…hmm. He’s a good guy, but is he too good? He did screw up years before and is still paying for it. Was that his fatal flaw? I was beginning to wonder if I could see the forest for the trees when it came to this character.

And did he really need a fatal flaw? Wasn’t a regular flaw good enough?

To write an excellent character, they should be real and the reader should care about them. They should have strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. They also have goals and motivations. No one, in real life or fiction, does anything without motivation of some sort.

What motivates someone to get what they want tells us about their personalities. In fiction, for a character to evolve, they need to resolve a conflict. Which is why we writers need to find a fatal flaw in our characters.

So yeah, my character was going to need a fatal flaw.

In the world of psychology, counselors have studied personalities in humans for centuries and continue to do so. But they have narrowed down personalities to fit into nine categories. Using “ennea” which means “nine” in Greek, they call these traits “enneagrams”. For writers, it can aid in characterization to know which one of these your character exhibits. And then exploit it to bring them to life.

Laurie Campbell is a romance writer that holds workshops on creating fatal flaws. As a former counseling therapist, she is somewhat of an expert in this area so I studied up on what she had to say.

Here’s a quick rundown of what each of the nine personalities are and their corresponding fatal flaws:

Type One: Perfectionist/AngerType ones have high standards for everyone around them, including themselves. They live in a black and white world and do their very best to avoid criticism.

On the flip side, their fatal flaw, anger, can bring about hard feelings towards themselves or others. They can be considered hard because when perfection isn’t achieved or even strived for, type ones show their disappointment through anger.

Type Two: Nurturer/PrideType twos need to be needed. They tend to be a bit of a martyr, frequently giving up everything for everyone else. This can lead to hurt feelings and yet they will continue to give.

Their fatal flaw is pride. Unfortunately, pride can make them weak instead of the pillar of strength they like to think they are by giving, giving, giving.

Type Three: Achiever/DeceptionType threes are very self-aware of their image to the world. They’re always “on” no matter the situation. They live to succeed and failure is not an option. Threes tend to be firstborn or even only children.

Given their need to appear successful all the time, threes fatal flaw is deception. They wear a mask to hide anything that isn’t “right” and keep up the façade at all costs.

Type Four: Romantic/Envy – Type fours are the romantics, the artists. They feel everything and in a big sweeping way. Big ups, big downs. Drama, tragedy, love. They search out these big feelings in order not to feel ordinary.

In spite of Fours loving tragedy and big feelings, they are often times left with feelings of envy. That everyone else has it bigger and better than they do. This keeps Fours from being truly happy.

Type Five: Observer/Avarice – Fives enjoy their alone time. They like to think and stay below the radar. Many people would call Fives introverts, but there is a lot more to the introvert than simply staying to themselves.

Fives have to learn to be more giving of their time, open up to others. Something that they really don’t want to do.

Type Six: Skeptic/FearSixes are steady. They worry about the ones they love and want to keep them safe. And will do what they need to in order to keep them that way, even if it means breaking some rules.

But by burdening themselves with worry, they tend to walk around worried where the next danger to their loved ones is going to come from and what they will do to handle it.

Type Seven: Adventurer/GluttonySevens are always looking for the next exciting thing. They love to make plans and not be tied down. They get their rush from moving to the next thing.

But always being on the move and keeping their options open can eventually lead them to a sense of aimlessness and realizing that at some point in life they have to commit to something or someone can be a hard lesson to learn.

Type Eight: Leader/LustEights are the natural born leaders. They take control and expect others to fall in line with them. They look out for what they perceive to be weak, which can be met with some resistance.

Source: https://media.giphy.com/media/ A9grgCQ0Dm012/giphy.gif

Their biggest flaw is their lust for power, control, to have the “my way or the highway” mentality. Eights can be heroic, but eights can also find themselves in for a fight, especially if they come across another eight!

And finally…

Type Nine: Peacemaker/SlothNines will never rock the boat. They want to float through life on a comfortable cloud where everyone gets along and when unpleasantness comes to pass, they sweep it under the rug. But life doesn’t work that way, even for themselves.

Their fatal flaw, sloth, leaves them ill-equipped to deal with any pent-up anger they may have for going with the flow one too many times or to make a decision when pressed.

By understanding who your character’s personality is (my guy ended up being a number seven), exploring their fatal flaw ramps up the tension and conflict. Knowing them will keep you from have two peacemakers together who never make a decision about anything and nothing ever gets done.

Because without conflict, you have no story. No depth, no texture to the characters or their relationships.

Fatal flaws are an essential cornerstone to making your character real and not so perfect. None of us are perfect and neither are our characters.

Even the best set of abs needs a personality.

So how do you find out your character’s fatal flaws? Do you recognize any of your characters in these nine types?

Comment below and let me hear from you!

Happy Writing!