Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Flashback! on a Great Old Book ~ Afton of Margate Castle (The Theyn Chronicles Book One)

I have to tell ya, there are some novelists who have jumped around from genre to genre in their story-telling, and that's just fine, but when an author like Angela Elwell Hunt writes an historical fiction piece, she's second to none. Don't get me wrong. She's a great writer of contemporary fiction too, but I was first captured by her historical fiction. It is gripping. Today I'm remembering The Theyn Chronicles series, and most of all, book one: Afton of Margate Castle.

As it says on the cover, it's "a novel of intrigue and romance in medieval England". Afton is a from a poor family, but she is taken by the earl's wife (who has mothering issues) to be raised as a companion to her daughter. Of course, being raised around the gentry and turning into a lovely and vivacious young lady, it isn't long before Afton falls in love with her childhood protector who is none other than Calhoun, the earl's very own son. This would be all well and good, except that Calhoun's mother reacts to this a little bit like the evil queen in Snow White. Oh, the fit of panic! So poor Afton is cast out of the castle, and in a way that is absolutely despicable. She's given in marriage to a brute of a man in return for his loyalty. Trust me, things are not good, and the result of this union can only stir up one thought for Afton -- revenge!

Afton of Margate Castle is a heart-wrenching romance, complete with knights and villains -- not to mention villeins -- love and treachery, and a big dose of chivalry. If you enjoy a big ol' novel full of this sort of medieval action and adventure to really sink your reader's teeth into, then give it an add on your Goodreads list. Angela has re-released the book, so you'll find it with this lovely new cover too:
Click on the cover to find purchase links on Angela Hunt's site.
When you've finished reading, you might want to follow up with books 2 and 3, The Troubadour's Quest and Ingram of the Irish.

Happy weekend reading!

Monday, July 3, 2017

A New Trick for Getting Into Your Character's Skin #WriterUnstuck

Do you ever have trouble getting at the heart and soul of one of your characters? You've tried journaling or free-writing from his or her perspective. You've answered all their questions -- what their deepest desire is, what dark thing happened in their past, what their greatest emotional need is, and so on. You've stepped into their skin in every way you can think of, yet, when writing their character, they still feel lacking in personality somehow.

Here's a little trick I stumbled upon that helped me tremendously with a recent character who, after trying all the usual devices, was still too stiff to be real. Maybe it'll help you. As well as answering the important questions and journaling from my character's perspective, I tried the same technique from the perspective of other characters involved with them. In other words, I wanted to know from another character in the book what his/her view of said character was. Wow! What a difference. Try it. The other character might be a parent, a sibling, a best friend or lover -- or it might even be your problem character's nemesis. Everyone will see them from some other aspect, and you'll be surprised by the things they tell you.

You might be surprised at how characters see one another.
They definitely won't all view the individual the same way.

Did you ever wonder how other people see you? If your mom, best friend, or coworker were to write about you and give free rein to say anything they wanted, what would they have to say? How would they describe you? What secret insights might they share? What memories and stories would they tell about you?

I found it amazing how doing this with my stiff character brought out the substance of her personality in ways I hadn't yet imagined. So try it. Hop into the head of any other surrounding character, and let them talk about the one you're having trouble with. Sit back and soak in their gossip. Let them introduce you to that character in a whole new light.

Write on!

Friday, June 23, 2017

What Color Are Your Characters' Personalities?

Admit it, you've gotten sucked into those color personality quizzes on social media. They're all mostly flattering. Oh, you're orange? You must be playful and witty. Certainly you're attractive with all that energy you exude! Or maybe you're red: confident, powerful, and passionate. Yes! Bring on the passion.

Well, I don't know how accurate all those tests and quizzes are. They seem to be pretty good at massaging our egos. Most of them don't mention the negative sides of those color traits, whether or not we tend toward being self-centered, irresponsible, or just plain dull. I'm sure the makers of those tests are missing a few shades in each quiz. Nevertheless, there is a good use for those color charts if you're a fiction writer. You can use them to flesh out your characters' personality profiles.

people vector created by freepik

Consider the Green personality: Calm, intellectual, powerful, curious, introverted, cynical. Sounds like an anti-hero to me. Maybe it's even a villain. I think examining the traits of a "green" personality would add a lot of dimension to some of the villains I've read. It would help to learn that they are not only maniacal and egotistical, but that they are curious and intellectual too. Do you see what that could mean to the fleshing out of their character? How much more dimensional might that make your villain if you added in traits and characteristics that explored these other nuances of personality? How about a dangerous, egotistical villain, who also happens to be a brilliant horticulturist or amateur astronomer? What if they're a winner on the game show Jeapordy? What if they got a full ride scholarship to a prestigious school because they're brilliant, yet morally demented in some way?

Let's look at another example. How about a romantic lead who is Purple by nature: Peaceful, charismatic, gentle, supportive, sensitive. It's easy to find leads who are gentle, supportive, and sensitive. Romance novels are swamped with them. Maybe they are peaceful as well. But if we add charismatic to the mix, what might that mean to the things they do when it comes to their actions and behavior? If they are all those positive things, what would their struggles be? Because they are sensitive, would they hide behind the mask of their charismatic actions if they feel hurt? Also, take a look at the color list below. Those gentle souls have some serious issues to deal with in the personality department too.

It's important to note that not all the color personality tests completely agree, and some are more expansive. Here's a basic conglomeration of what some of the charts say. I've grouped the results together and generalized. (How very unscientific!) Whether they're to be believed or not is up to you. You can still use them to round out an otherwise flat personality in your story world.

Confident, Strong-Willed, Determined,
Ambitious, Passionate, Vibrant
Can be harsh, critical, cheap, workaholics, poor listeners, domineering

Sensible, Helpful, Faithful,
Thorough, Responsible, Committed
Contrarily, some tests say they are persuasive, spontaneous, motivated by fun and...
Can be self-centered, superficial in friendship, easily distracted

Calm, Intellectual, Powerful,
Curious, Introverted, Cynical
Can be argumentative, tend to gossip, unmotivated, unwilling to take risks

Sincere, Romantic, Idealistic,
Spiritual, Empathetic, Loyal
Can be perfectionists, moody, insecure, unforgiving, and very controlling

Peaceful, Charismatic, Gentle,
Supportive, Sensitive
Can be impractical, cynical, aloof, arrogant, a social climber, have delusions of grandeur

Witty, Playful, Open-minded,
Generous, Energetic, Active
Can be judgmental, over-analytical, impatient, pessimistic, cowardly, non-emotional

Considerate, patient, accepting, devoid of ego,
non-confrontational, good listeners
Can be self-deprecating, unwilling to set goals, express conflict, or work at another's pace

There are a lot more. Plus, each of the colors I listed have further variations of personality than what I've included. If you find it might be useful to enhance character development in your writing, investigate color personality further. I found this site to be very helpful, explanatory, and just plain fun to investigate:

Write on!