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Fiction Groupie Archives

These are my writing posts from my former blog, spanning 2009-2012. To see new writing posts, click on the blog tab above. To see these archived post organized by topic, click "For Writers" above.

Entries in ashley march (8)

Monday
Feb212011

Guest Blog: Author Ashley March on Character Emotions (and contest!)


Today I have an extra special treat for you. Historical Romance author Ashley March is here to talk to us about character emotions. And believe me, this chica knows what she's talking about. Her characters are vivid and spunky and full of attitude. Seriously, if you haven't picked up Ashley's debut yet, Seducing the Duchess, you are missing out. Such a fun and heartfelt read. 


Now I hand it over to Ashely. And make sure your read all the way to the bottom. There's a prize up for grabs! :)

Building Reader Rapport through Characters’ Emotions

When I started thinking about a topic to write about for my guest blog on Fiction Groupie, I knew that picking the right one would be difficult. After all, Roni is phenomenal with all the information she shares with us (yes, I’m a reader of the blog, too!), and I know that a lot of you could probably teach me how to write better. J In the end, I decided to blog about something that has helped me the most on my journey as a writer.

First, if you haven’t read Characters & Viewpoint, a Writer’s Digest book by Orson Scott Card, go buy your copy right now.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably read dozens of books about writing a novel. And just like me, you probably haven’t read most of them. But trust me, Characters & Viewpoint is one that you definitely want to read with your highlighter out and ready to go. I’ve heard a lot about how to create great characters, but the idea that was suggested by Orson Scott Card and has stuck with me since is this:

If you want readers to care about your characters, give them something to care about.

Sounds simple, and honestly, it is. But this idea isn’t talking about making your characters miserable just for the sake of entertaining your readers. It’s about getting your readers invested in your story and getting their emotions engaged. And the best way to build this kind of reader rapport is through the showing of your characters’ emotions.

We’ve all heard how important it is to show and not tell when writing description. Instead of “It was a windy day”, try “The leaves scattered across the yard, a frenzied kaleidoscope of autumn colors harkening another Halloween to be spent splashing through the rain.”

The same idea carries over for character emotions. Don’t say, “Adam felt angry.” Don’t even say “Adam’s blood boiled”; this is only a cliché way of saying the same thing. Instead, try to show Adam’s physical response to the correlating emotion. Does he punch his fist through a wall, slam it on a desk? If he can’t respond physically, maybe internally he swears, is sarcastic, or daydreams about physically injuring Peter while Peter gloats about the new promotion he received.

But there’s more. Why should we feel upset that Adam isn’t getting the promotion? We care because from the very beginning of the story, you’ve been building sympathy in us by showing his emotional stakes in other aspects of his life. Maybe he needs the promotion because he’s screwed up in so many other ways that his wife no longer has any respect for him. Maybe his child is sick with leukemia and he needs the better salary to pay for unexpected medical bills. Maybe Peter stole Adam’s fiancée and Adam thought he could show her that he was a better man by getting the promotion over Peter.

Make the reader care by giving them a reason to care. Show your characters’ emotions to invoke a similar, sympathetic response in your readers. Up your characters’ emotional stakes by revealing what’s at stake in the plot. If you’re able to do this and get your reader invested in your character, they’ll become invested in the story. They’ll turn page after page not because you’ve written the next episode of Jack Bauer’s 24 and the entire world is going to end, but because they care about the characters.

This kind of reader rapport is the kind where you actually get a physical ache in your chest when Rhett leaves Scarlett at the end of Gone with the Wind.  It’s what makes you cry for Robert when his pet pig is butchered in A Day No Pigs Would Die. (Seriously—I remember my entire 8th grade English class sobbing at the scene when Pinky dies.) That’s the sort of emotional investment you want to create; that’s what will make your characters and your story memorable.

Although I wish I could give many more ways to build this rapport, this post is only meant as an overview. I really encourage you to read Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. It is a book that entirely changed the way I wrote and the type of characters that I created. Because I think Characters & Viewpoint is so awesome, I’m going to give away a copy to a random commenter. Just comment below and tell us about a book or scene that really elicited an emotional response from you because of the way the author wrote the characters and their emotions.


Ashley March (www.ashleymarch.com) is an historical romance author of Victorian romances that are sometimes sexy, sometimes funny, and always emotional. While you’re reading this, Ashley’s sitting at home on a couch trying to brainstorm her next book while she watches her 20-month-old daughter throw a tantrum and tries to keep her 3-month-old from spitting up on Ashley’s third shirt of the day.





Thanks so much to Ashley for stopping by! Feel free to ask her any questions in the comments. And don't forget to follow her instructions above to enter the contest!

Thursday
Nov182010

Get A Partial Read by Agent Sara!

 

I know I usually don't post on Thursday, but I had to pass along this awesome opportunity to you guys. My agency mate, author Ashley March is having an killer contest. The lucky winner will receive a partial read from my super duper fantabulous agent Sara Megibow!  How awesome is that? And to enter is simple:

 

 

Eligibility
1) You must have participated in NaNoWriMo this month.
2) Your work is either romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA, middle-grade, commercial fiction, or women’s fiction (seewww.publishersmarketplace.com/members/SaraMegibow or www.nelsonagency.com for more info about preferences).
3) You must comment on ASHLEY'S POST (not this one) by Tuesday, November 30th.
One random commenter will be drawn on Wednesday, December 1st to submit their first 30 pages of their completed NaNoWriMo project to Sara by Tuesday, December 7th (no query letter necessary).

 

So get your tushies over to Ashley's blog and while you're at it, buy her book Seducing the Duchess--it's made of awesome. : )

Good luck everyone!

Friday
Oct082010

Why You Should Read Debut Authors

 

We all have our favorite authors, the ones we go back to again and again. The ones we buy no matter what the story may be about because we know they won't let us down. And this is a great thing. We want to support those authors who always manage to sweep up into their stories and leave us satisfied at the end. That's the kind of author we all strive to be.

 

However, sometimes that means we can get into a pattern of only reading those go-to authors and we miss out on all the new authors breaking in. It's hard sometimes to part with money and take a risk on a new author, but here's why I think we should:

1. Debut authors offer us a glimpse into stories that captured an editor's (and usually agent's) attention. These are breakthrough books. These stories were so good, they beat all the odds and got the book deal. We can learn from that.
2. Debut authors were "one of us" (the unpubbed/pre-pubbed) not that long ago. We know how hard it was for them to get to the point they're at, so don't we want to support them and  help them be successful?
3. Because these stories got to this point, you're probably going to end up with a really great read and maybe a new author to add to your favorites list!


And if you're looking for suggestions for a debut author...

 

 

Seducing the Duchess


My agency-mate, Ashley March's Seducing the Duchess was released this week. I'm 2/3 of the way through reading it and it is fabulous.  So much fun.

 

Here's the blurb (from Amazon):

Love and marriage don't have to be strangers... 

Gambling. Carousing. Flirting. Charlotte, Duchess of Rutherford, will do anything to escape her painful marriage and force her husband to divorce her. But when Phillip, Duke of Rutherford, promises a divorce if Charlotte will help him become a better husband for another woman, she wonders if she really wants to lose him...

 

Now how can you resist that hook? :)


So what debut author have you read lately that you'd recommend? Do you tend to stick to your favorite authors or do you venture out and try new ones?

**Today's Theme Song**
"Break Out" - Foo Fighters
(player in sidebar, take a listen)


 

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