Friday, February 25, 2011

Google Reader Roundup

Quite note: last week Nathan Bransford wondered if blogging had peaked. I'm not even going to link to his post because there is SO MUCH AWESOME in the GGR this week, which absolutely PROVES it has NOT peaked. Also, we all know, the GGR is the true reflector of a good blogging week or not! Yes!

  • Tawna Fenske discusses author pen names, and whether they signal a newbie or not.
  • An ab-fab post from Anne Allen on the question of whether Facebook has peaked (a thought jumping off of Nathan's post last week about blogging peaking) -- with some truly awful horror stories.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Google Reader Roundup

In addition to losing my mind thanks to the small alien parasite in my uterus, I am also horribly clumsy. Yesterday I spilled a glass of water on my beautiful, less than a year old laptop. This has resulted in very bad things. The Enter key works intermittently and the R and Y keys don't work at all, along with some punctuation keys. This is truly bad. I have ordered a replacement keyboard and am using the aid of an on-screen keyboard to type R and Y and Enter, but let me tell you: it is painful.

So I have fewer links for you this week because pausing every few words to use the on screen keyboard just plain sucks.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Google Reader Roundup

Short, agent-heavy list for you this week, but a good one!

  • Here are some really excellent tips on how to approach that Mt. Everest style revision in front of you, from the League of Extraordinary Writers. The only thing I would take with a grain of salt in this post is that the writer recommends the approach when it comes to line edits. The total revision process is best when it starts with plot and character first, leaving line edits to the last.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Strong Character

I've been thinking about strong characters a lot recently because I had some advice about making my main character in a novel stronger, less idealistic.

When I heard it, I couldn't agree more. It really resonated. And I thought, man, what do I love best when I read women's fiction? A strong character. And because I'm in revisions with a new story that I love, I paused a moment to make sure this new protag was as strong as she could be. I'm guessing agents and other readers want that, just as I want that.
(Note: I'm not saying every character need be strong. But for what I'm writing, and the story I've got, mine does.)

So, what makes a strong, kick-ass character?

1. Intelligence
If there's any spots in your story where your protag is acting dumb, you need to probably cut that. This probably includes scenes where the protag allows herself to be led, or fails to take the opportunity to think things through, and instead just lets things happen to her. Princess Leia in Star Wars is a great example of an intelligent character. She sasses Darth Vader in the opening scenes (original film) and then later takes an active role in directing the Rebellion assault against the Death Star. Plus, she had the smarts to hide the plans to the Death Star in an R2 unit and send it out! (And she's a great markswoman, too.)

2. Self-esteem
I had a scene right in the first chapter of my WIP where a mean ex-boyfriend toys with the protag's persisting affection, for his own gain. Instead of telling the guy where he could shove it, she was all, "okay, yes I will do it, okay." And then tried to be clever by making him agree to go out with her before she'd do the favor he wanted!

Ugh! Delete! No! We can all see right through that. Unless we're very young, in which case we're still learning. But this protag isn't very young, so there was no excuse. And I kind of disliked that she'd be so blind. Delete! Instant strength.

3. Determination
This one ties into the first two. Determination is something you usually have when you've got healthy self-esteem and intelligence, but you also want a character who will go after what he or she wants--which is why it's so important to know your character's overall story goal. A great way to show this is by throwing seemingly insurmountable obstacles at your character, and have him or her go around it without thinking about it. Or, think just a little but not worry about it, just a sense of bucking up and getting on with it.

4. Resilience
Whatever you throw at your character, you want him or her to bounce back without dwelling on the setback too much, without stopping to whine or feel bad or even vent much. The nastier the obstacle, the less the character should respond, probably. In my current WIP, I put my protag through a terrible medical issue. And did she mope or feel sorry for herself? Did she sit in her house and let the problem take her down a few days? NO! I made her get up and get going.

Can you think of any other traits a strong character has? Would love to get a discussion in the comments on this.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Google Reader Roundup

To all the new followers I've gained over the past weeks: Thank you. Thank you! I see you, and you make me so happy.* I'd love to follow you back, but sometimes your Google profile isn't linked to your blog! You can fix that, though. Just go into your profile and add your blog and Bob's your uncle.

*I know one is not supposed to worry about the number of one's blog followers, but it's still really nice.

Now! The momentous first World-Famous Google Reader Roundup of February 2011!

  • My uncle Vince continues his series of posts on exactly how treacherous some self-publishing companies can be...unfortunately including his own. (Note: he does not name his, but I know the name, and I can tell you that Absolute Write does not list it as one of the worst offenders.) This latest post on the company's "buy back" program is truly harrowing. Read to know when to run!
  • The Rejectionist makes the announcement that she's about to become the Rejected. (Seriously, best wishes to her!)