Negative Character Arcs

Hello people, it is I, your humble author reaching out to you once again.  Many of you are writers or authors, and I want to pay it forward.  If you have followed me for any time at all, you know this about me already.

Character arcs are a considerable part of character development, which causes your readers to empathize with them.  Much like the big-eyed boy with the black rim glasses living under a staircase, we all loved him.  Why?  The author did a great job of growing him as well as the other characters around him.

One way we do this is with character arcs.  So, Negative arcs???

I get this question posed to me often.

If you first understand what a character arc is, you know that it is basically the growth or change a character makes during the story.

Your protagonist will probably believe some lie that possibly they learned sometime in their youth.  They have lived a lie, and somewhere in your story, their ‘truth’ is challenged.

A common lie is, they are not worthy of love.  Many go through their whole life because of their upbringing, believing that.  A little secret here, I was one of them.  Shhh, that is our secret, and a lie that I had to overcome.   Those horribly abused children you read about…That was me, and I would have loved the staircase vs. what I went through.

Anyway…

During the plot, they go through twists and turns and discover that their ‘truth’ is indeed false.  This can create a crisis for them, which is fun to write.  This would probably happen during the climax where they ‘shift’ their thinking.  Letting go of the lie and accepting the truth as their new mantra.  Because the lie and reality are probably apparent to your reader, they can empathize with your character, which will engender support for your writing style.

Yeah You!

What about a negative character arc?

There is the same lie, but the truth remains elusive and, the character now embraces their lie even more and spirals downward into less than proper behavior.  Breaking Bad is a perfect example of a negative character arc.

Had I not learned the truth, I dare say that drugs and alcohol might have been my undoing.  That would have been a negative arc.  Death can be part of a character’s negative arc.

In my novel, Presidential Assassins, Kelly’s arc is compelling.  Before going into the military, her stepfather met an untimely demise, after attempting to rape her.  While it appeared as an accident, this action put her on the radar of a group that works outside or above the law.

After her mother re-married…Kelly became a military brat, enlisting as soon as she could to get away from her parents.

She was a pilot in the air force, shot down and tortured by the enemy.  Kelly, unknown to her captures, is a real badass.  She learned as a military brat, at an early age that she had to be tough. When she saved a school friend from being raped by a gang of older boys, she came close to killing them.  Her friend brought her father back to the scene in the nick of time.  He stopped her from breaking their necks.  She had them all down, and now she was going to end their reign of terror, one at a time.

Realizing that he now had a debt to repay, he hatches a plan.  Taking the gangly redhead under his wing, teaching her his ways would benefit her.  As a master of martial arts, he teaches her discipline, among other things.  While some of her talents come from her heritage as a red-headed green-eyed Irish woman, the lethal talents were taught to her by this man.  She became a master.

Fast forward past the war and her time in the exchange program on an aircraft carrier, she finds a job as a reporter.

After an explosion in California, Kelly is sent to research who was responsible.  During her flight, the plane she is on is hijacked.  Guess who kills the hijackers and flies a shot up 737 back into Scottsdale during a storm.

This novel is so full of action you will not be able to put it down.

Kelly has what we call a ‘flat character arc,’ or possibly a slightly positive arc as she does adapt and change to the situations.  I say that because, in reality, she arcs positive, negative, and then just kind of flat because she is who she is.  She is dynamite with a temper to match.

I don’t care what your gender happens to be; you will fall in love with her.

There is a secret organization that controls world leaders, and she is recruited….That is about as much as I can tell you without spoiling it.

A flat character arc is one where the character does not change who they are.  Some examples of that would be Indiana Jones or James Bond. To a large extent, it is Kelly McGuire.

I will put a link to the book here, Presidential Assassins.

If you honor me by reading it, please let me know what you think of it.  This is an adult read. There are sexual situations, some violence, and people Die!

My friends, I hope that you are all safe, and staying inside, away from those who this virus could be fatal.  With 7.4 Billion people affected, and the world’s economy headed for the toilette, we will be talking about this in the history books for some time.

Much Love…Stay Safe…-TW

Newest Project

Are you one who reads at lunch? Check out my latest project.

As we roll into a new week, I wanted to take a moment to thank each of you who hit that magic follow button, both on WordPress, and Twitter.

This weekend I attended a conference with many writers and want to be writers.  We had a wonderful time exploring the possibilities, hopes, and dreams, along with some that have already hit the publishing lottery.

I say lottery tongue and cheek.

We have examined the reasons we write, many times; please don’t let it be the ‘publishing lottery.’

While passion for the craft of storytelling should be your number one reason for writing, it is ok to entertain the ‘possibility’ that you might find the perfect agent who is just hot to trot over your idea or manuscript.  When I say ‘possibility,’ I want you to put that in the realm that I do when I spend a dollar on ‘a’ single lottery ticket.

“TW, you don’t waste money on those, do you?”

“Waste, no.  You see, with me, when I am traveling, and I need to use the facilities…(Nice way to say pee) and I don’t need gas or what have you, I will spend a dollar on a lottery ticket.

Now, I don’t feel cheap for using their bathroom; well, too cheap.   With that lottery ticket in my possession, I think of all the things I will do with it when I ‘win!’

Keep in mind, the only way to win the lottery is not to play.

We writers must have an active imagination, and that includes fantasy.  Use those thoughts as writing prompts.  Your character spent his or her last dollar on a lottery ticket instead of buying cheap soup.  You know those bags of noodles that you put into hot water like you did in college.

  • Why did your character do that?
  • Did he or she win?
  • How did it change their life?
  • Did they eat the ticket if they lost?
  • Did they have to explain what they did with that dollar to anyone?
  • Maybe your character is prosperous and just bought the ticket not to appear cheap and hit the lottery anyway!

*Write a flash fiction on your blog, with one of these and send me a link.

Since I titled this new project, I suppose I should tell you what I am up to.  I came up with the idea of creating a book of short stories.  Ten thousand words or less per story.  The idea is that you can buy this book, and take it with you to lunch and have a mental vacation while you dine on celery and salad.  Oh, you’re not one of those that made those ridiculous New Year’s resolutions to eat better?

Stay tuned for more details.

In the meantime, I am still editing and changing my novels as time permits.  If you bought one, and I re-release it, you can speak with the people at Amazon and get the latest, I am told.   I called to make sure that you could, and what the process was.

Stay safe out there, write to me and tell me how you are doing and if you take on the prompt, I would love to see how you do with it.

 

Much Love,

TW

*Flash Fiction… For those of you who don’t know, flash fiction is usually a story of 1000 words or less that demonstrates a story and character arc.  In 1000 words or less can be a challenge.

 

 

Writers Block

I wish I had a nickel for every person who has spoken with me about writer’s block.

I don’t believe it makes a difference if you are a plotter or a panster; at some time in your life, you will experience writer’s block.

How do you deal with the infamous blank page?

I find it useful to examine why I am drawing a blank, or my characters have stopped talking.  Many times it is that part of the novel that we all dread, the middle slump.  Since we all know we want to avoid that, just possibly, we put undue stress on ourselves and cause our stream of conscious to become, derailed.

Keep in mind that it is your SFD or $hitty first draft.  Only you will see it, read it, and know that your characters decided to go on strike.

Some causes for the strike can be that you don’t want to deal with this part of the story.  Maybe it is too close to you.  There are many land mines with writing, and I find it refreshing and often times cathartic when I work my way through a story.

If the words are not coming, turn off your ‘IBM Selectric’ and go do something else.  As an artist, I find if I am busy with some graphic, or a painting, my characters will want to see what I am doing and come out and play.

Now, why do you suppose that might be?

When we are between awake and asleep, in the shower and yes, doing something with our hands like coloring or painting, your brain produces something called Theta waves.  A different part of your brain is active and guess where the characters hideout?  Yes, you have knocked on the door, rang the bell and now you have huffed and puffed the proverbial threat, all while trying to color between the lines.

One thing that I find that assist me is I will put the project up, and work on something else, such as this blog.  Hours, days, weeks, and even months later, I will start at the beginning of the project and reread it.  There you will find the epiphany.  The Ah-Ha moment will become apparent and you will see where your GPS took you on a wrong turn.  You might have to scrap a few paragraphs or chapters, but that is how my process works.  In ten years, I have written well over thirty novels, so I must know something.

The literary process, to me, is the gold standard of how I wish to live.  How can I tell the best there while remaining true to who and what I am?  Truth over lies, love over hate and yes, and a dirty mind is necessary at times to keep it real.

We are the perfect juxtaposition of Jekyll, and Hyde, only most of us ‘hide’ that dark side while putting on our happy face.  In my books, I rip the Band-Aids off.  One of my critics told me that she did not like the F word.  Umm, don’t read it.  If my characters use that vernacular guess what, the F word is there.

Honesty, truth, and kindness will take you far in life.  Knowing who you are will assist you through those bleak times when the blank page is striking fear into your heart.

“Write the shitty first draft and own it!”

 

Much Love -TW

 

Greetings and Salutations!

After a very long day following a short night, I am home once again.

I wanted to share the day with you, as it was interesting in many aspects.  If you follow me at all, you know that I am about paying it forward, and about assisting fellow writers.

When I sign my post with ‘Much love,’ that is not a catchphrase.  I genuinely value writers and those that have the desire.  Today was all about paying it forward.

Before I continue, please note this is not about blowing my horn or any kind of nonsense like that.  This is about leading by example.

I am involved in some writer’s groups.  Firstly, allow me to elucidate on why I am involved with such people.  They are my tribe.  We have this kindred spirit, this connection that I feel.  It is almost as if it is in the air.

This sounds a little esoteric, but here goes, I get a sense of people, much like ‘Spidey senses.’  That might make sense to some of you.  Have you ever been around someone that just made your skin crawl?  Well, today all of the ‘energy’ was positive and uplifting.  I stay away from toxicity, and that includes Debbie Downers.

I know you have felt them too.  You get into an elevator, and you can almost sense the person’s feelings in the cab with you.  Today I was at an event where we were joined by many different people from all occupations.  Some were doing things like blacksmithing, to picking locks.  These are all necessary skills for who?

Well, for you and me, who might write about such things.

Some of these events were hands-on and that was fun too.

I ended up giving an impromptu class on my specialty, and it was fun.  These were writers who were excited to be there, and I was genuinely happy for them.  I think I was feeding off their energy if that makes any sense to you at all.

As I seek to inspire those that I met today, you too are in my thoughts.  I make a point to visit your blogs.  Some of you are great writers.  I hope you are working on a book!

Enjoy your Sunday, and stay in touch.

 

Much Love -TW

Writers, feedback, and what you should do with it.

“You don’t want them to edit your grammar; you want their first impression!”

Hello fellow bloggers, I have been busy and remiss from my blogging activities through NaNoWriMo.

I was successful with my endeavors for those of you who follow me on Twitter, or who have e-mailed me regarding my project.

I finished my 32cnd complete novel, all during November. That includes editing, creating the cover art all while learning a new OS (MAC) and a new software (Vellum). I still take the time to market my novels.

Over the years I have not put much effort into obtaining an agent as the time to do it is too costly.  Four hours for each query letter is a huge commitment for the ROI.

As a writer, I started throwing things at the wall to see what stuck.  Yes, that is a metaphor for testing the waters, while learning my craft.

Critique groups are helpful if you can find them.  Failing that, feedback from your readers will have to do.

E-mails to my website, are invaluable as most will not take the time.

Giving stories away on Kindle Unlimited, or BookBub, is a gamble; and here is why.

If you value your work so little as to give it away, why should I take the time to read it?  Further, if you give it away, and I read it, why should I spend my time to tell you why I liked or did not like it?

I market to other authors and writers like many of you, who are reading this right now.  You understand how valuable feedback is, and maybe you will take the time to offer comment, at the very least on this blog posting.

Failing that, we write a “spiffy” novel, we design the cover art, and we do all of the things one must do to sell a book.  We are learning our craft.

Finding someone to read your novel, and offer sincere feedback is imperative to shortcut the path that I have chosen.

My path has been this:

  • Discover what is selling.
  • Who is the author?
  • What is the genre?
  • Are they known or indie?
  • Buy their book and read it carefully.
  • Disassemble their work as if it were a clock, which you have to put back together. (cannot lose the pieces.)
  • Apply your style, and construct a novel that is in the genre that is selling most.
  • Market your novel through social media, word of mouth and so forth.
  • Ask for feedback and hope that you get some.

The saga of the Starduster has been my best seller to date.

“Why?”

With 32 novels out there, spanning the spectrum of naughty to nice, what is it about that book which garners the most sales.

My first feedback on that novel “on Amazon” was one star, with a horrible poison pen review.

Having written the novel and reading the review, it was apparent that the person never read it.  Someone who is most certainly an author in this genre took it upon himself or herself to flame the novel as a way to knock it out of the running.

If you read the novel, and then his or her review, anyone with any sense can see this is a crap review.

Investigating the pseudonym person who did this, looking at the other critiques, it is obvious they were on a mission to destroy the competition.  That is sad and unnecessary.

Authors, we are not competing with one another.  Your voice is different from mine.  The stories have all been told before; your unique voice is the difference between what you write and what I write.

Resisting the urge to confront said anonymous flamethrower, I pressed on, figuring even a bad review is better than no reviews.

The next person who reviewed it gave it five stars. They gave an abbreviated synopsis of what they liked about the story.  It was easy to see that this person read it.

It might appear that I had someone do that last review.  I promise you I did not.  I do not know either of those people.  My moral compass is such that I would never cheat, period, end of story.  I would also never post a poison pen review like the one this person did.

Bribing friends to read your work, always works, however, friends and family may not be objective as they like you, and do not want to hurt your feelings.

Recently I was assisting a fellow writer in this capacity and OMG!  I had nightmares about telling her how badly she needed to re-think the concept of what she was writing.

“I get it.”

Our novels are our babies.

I have three, which are my babies, which I am going to have to kill.

  • Is the concept off?
  • Is the writing terrible?
  • Have I not marketed them properly?
  • Why are they not selling?

Resist the urge to take on negative nellies.

When you are asking for critiques from people, make sure that they are the correct audience for your novel.

Do not ask a technical nerd to read your romance, and expect anything but “yuck!”

Do not ask a purveyor of Hallmark or Harlequin literature, to read your sci-fi and expect anything but a cure for insomnia for them.

When analyzing their “baby,” look for what they did well, before you pull out the red pen.  Human nature is to be brutal with another person’s writing, as we have this whole pride thing going on.

Objective critiquing skills are developed over time, and not just innate to anyone.  Those that read the most are probably best suited for giving you their gut first impression on your work.

“You don’t want them to edit your grammar; you want their first impression!”

I truly do look for ways to pay it forward when I am writing and working with other authors both locally and through social media, and email.

Time is valuable to me, writing this blog is one way that I am giving of myself to those of you who take the time to consider what I have to say on the matter.

When you are critiquing for someone, make notes as you go. When you are talking to them about it, start with a positive.

“What did you like first?”

If you start with a positive, they will be receptive to what you have to say to them.  Once you start with “Holy shit, what were you on when you wrote this!”  You have just wasted their time, as they stopped listening to you, and you squandered your time, and you might even damage a friendship in the process.

If they are doing so for you, and they start with WTF!  Take a deep breath, and practice being humble.

Humility is my personal foible. There are many reasons why, and I know this about me. When this occurs, I must swallow the negative, and try to take what they are saying with self-effacement. I can choose to ignore them, which is human nature, or I can use this as a growing experience for me as a person.

In my Nudists novels, I write about Enlightenment as a subplot.  Yes, they are tawdry novels but there is meat in them for those of you who like steamy stories, but also want to think and maybe improve yourself.

It is my genuine desire that you derive something of value from my tweets, and blog postings, as they do take time, and are not just tossed together for clicks.

The same is true of my novels.  Even the naughtiest story has a purpose.  My latest book “Tiffany Discovers Reform School” Conjures up all kinds of wicked thoughts about girls in reform school.  That is by design and is indeed a subplot in the book.

Those of you who read it will discover that the novel is much more than that.  This novel will be the beginning of the Tiffany series as I plan to create a female sleuth, who ends up working mysteries with the FBI.

Yes, there is steamy stuff in them as I am working to capture an audience that likes to think while they read.  Arcing the story and the characters while practicing my craft is what I enjoy doing.

If you have ever pondered the meaning of life and not the Monty Python version, you will undoubtedly glean something from this blog post.

It is my genuine belief that we are here for more than procreating and pooping. While that conversation is well out of the scope of this blog post, you can glean some of my philosophy from my “Hole in Time Series.” I will be taking them off the market shortly.  I want to concatenate them all into one novel after I polish them a little.

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Make smelling the roses one of your tasks.”

Much Love -TW