Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Manuscript Research and Character Development

I recently got some feedback from some beta readers, "Your protagonist is too boring."

This is the last thing that anyone would want to hear. It may or may not be a difficult thing to change - but it is vitally important.  A unique character is crucial in manuscript progression. At first I loathed my beta readers and almost deleted them from my list. Well not really, but it was an initial reaction.

We all want beta readers to be honest and helpful. In this case, they were both. So, I sat down and thought about how would I bring depth to my character. I thought of two things; difficult moral choice and interesting hobby. Of course, I could have gone with a dozen other things, but this is where I felt that intrigue and depth could be accomplished.

For Difficult Moral Choice I easily chose Abstaining from Alcohol. In our society, this is a difficult thing to do. But, I felt that I could make the character interesting by setting down a rule. He wouldn't drink alcohol.  Then later he would explain why.  It happened to be a college acquaintance that died from alcohol toxicity.  Then during the story he breaks his own rule.  I needed to research the level of alcohol in the body that could potentially kill someone if they weren't used to drinking. It was a great addition to my character and his depth. We also need to relate to the character - even its only minimally.

The second issue was harder to find - an Interesting Hobby.  I chose a History of the Aborigines. Turns out, my character did a medical mission to Africa and became interested in the native indigenous in the region. He was given masks from the locals and voila another interesting aspect. I spent hours reviewing paintings, masks, descriptions, and others to make my character better.

In the end, I am so happy that my beta reader suggested some of the changes. It took some time researching and incorporating these changes but it really wasn't all that hard and I learned something new.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Writing Contest and NaNoWriMo

As much as I wanted to participate this year in NaNoWriMo - its a no go.  This is always a great time of year to write without restrictions. But alas, an early family Thanksgiving and a rigorous medical conference in California meant that within 10 days - we drove over 5,000 miles.  It was a lot of in the car, out of the car, sleep where you could fun.  Not sure that I would want to do that again.

On the first half of the trip I was able to edit a friend of mine's 1st chapter.  The second half I edited chapters 2-5.  I also was able to work out a synopsis for my medical mystery.  Just yesterday I entered a competition that I love - Pikes Peak Writing Contest.

Just under 400 people entered next year's contest and many attend a conference held in Colorado Springs. The 2012 conference is already scheduled and I am already picking through the literary agents and who to stalk  ;).

The contest is 1250 word synopsis and the first 4,000 words of the manuscript. The friend who I edited for is also entering the contest. The unique and amazing part of this contest is the feedback that you get. This is really the key for me. It tells me if one, my writing is getting better and two - if the story makes sense.

I am hoping to finish editing my medical mystery by the end of the year. [or sooner] I can't wait until I can get back to work on my fantasy project. It really needs a revamping and I am getting more and more excited to start. I really love writing and I want to love getting published - but that is a long way off.  So to everybody that is half way done with NaNoWriMo - good luck!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fall in Michigan - wish we could have visited.

My Mom recently sent these photos from Michigan. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to visit them this year. I guess its time to start planning for next year. It would be great to get in some fishing.  Michigan is an interesting place, my parents have retired there. My Dad grew up an hour or more from where they are now living. I could never call it home, but it is a fun place to visit.