A Fun Way to Learn How to Write From the Male and Female POV and Perspective- Part 2

Pad of Paper & PenDid you miss yesterday’s video share and breakdown on writing POV? If so, visit this link before you continue!

A Fun Way to Learn How to Write From the Male and Female POV and Perspective- Part 1

Now to pick up where we left of….

PERSPECTIVE: the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship

(Definitions via dictionary.com)

Now that you have determined what character’s POV is will be used and when, it’s time to determine how much information will be shared by that character and when.

As the definition above says, perspective is the story according to what a character sees, hears, feels, and experiences. Character A can have a totally different view of the same events than Character B, as seen in the Date Night video.

Let’s revisit Couple A:

THE BREAK DOWN:

HER POV: The Date SUCKED!

Woman A was looking forward to a romantic interlude. She did her hair and make-up, took the time to prepare a meal, and set the table. She expected her date to arrive looking nice, probably bearing a vase of flowers, and taking the time to appreciate her appearance and the meal. Next would have come some small talk, flirting, and no doubt, some personal fun time.

What did she get?

A quick hug, no compliments on her appearance or the meal. Instead he made a beeline for the food, woofed it down without any conversation besides grunts that seemed to ruin her appetite. And when it came to fun time…well, let’s just say Mr. Happy was there and back again in less than 3 seconds, or as she said, before she could unhook the back her dress. And to top it all off, he finds his way to her bed and passes out from what has to be over eating and rapid blood loss to the brain.

His POV: IT was AMAZING!

Man A wanted exactly what he got: A good looking woman who cooked for him (free food), had nothing to say, and stood there long enough for him to get his rocks off. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the comfy bed. In his eyes, major score!! And he got to leave with his needs satisfied in time to watch the big game at home without interruption.

THE BREAKDOWN

The characters depicted in this portion of the video didn’t have a back story as Man B did, so there is no way to know how their previous experiences affected them. But what you do get is the perspectives of a man and woman who experience the same events.  She thought everything sucked, while he had the time of his life. All of this from the same scene.

How can you incorporate this type of storytelling in a scene in your novel?

This was a challenge I faced when writing my first novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken. My stories are told using First Person POV voice and feature the viewpoint of both the male and female protagonist. Each chapter is told from whomever’s POV tells the most important points throughout the story. There are a few times when a third persons POV is shared in order to present an outsiders perspective and introduce the back story of the heroine in the next novel, Jaded. There comes a point in the story when each of the characters previous experiences intersect into one scene. And in this scene what happens next comes from each person’s view point based on the information they have received and how they see things happening around them.

I hope this gives you a useful outlook on how you can incorporate Point of View and Perspective in your work!

Chapter 37

(Yasmine’s POV)

“Mmm, that feels good, don’t stop.”

Javan’s large hand moved slowly, massaging my back. Even though we’d made love twice, the feel of his hands on my body ignited me like the first time. “So what do you think about June?”

His fingers froze. “For what?”

I rolled over on my back. He looked delicious. His thick dreads hung loose and masked his face. My eyes tracked to parted lips that waited for action, his deep penetrating gaze heavy with desire. I bit my lip as my thigh brushed over his arousal.

I glided my fingers over a handful of locks as he leaned down and kissed me deeply. I loved the way our lips locked together. They felt like heaven and sin as his kiss moved down and worked my chin, my throat, and my breasts.

“Oh, no,” I giggled. “You’re not avoiding this conversation. What do you think about a June wedding?”

Javan regarded me with eyes so filled with desire he looked confused at the topic at hand. His head ­ both of them ­ were focused on one thing.

His eyebrows creased. “Yasmine, that soon?”

“Javan, that’s nine months away. There’s so much to do. I’ve got to find a place for the wedding and reception. We’ve got to come up with a guest list. I’ve got to find a dress for the girls and for me. And we’ve got to find someplace to live. Both of us have roommates so moving in together is not an option. And, oh, God, we haven’t met each other’s parents yet.”

The expression on his face was comical. “I didn’t think about that.”

“Yeah, baby, it’s work to get married. But once we are, the benefits are…” I grinned wickedly. “Let me show you.” I pushed him on his back and straddled him.

“I like this part.” His voice went deep as he grabbed hold of my hips.

Our tongues were fighting their private war when heavy banging on the door startled us.

“Didn’t you put the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door?” His annoyance mirrored my own.

“Yes.” My employees knew not to disturb me unless it was an emergency. Such as the hotel being on fire. “This better not be about the computers,” I mumbled and climbed off Javan to grab the guest robe from the bathroom.

Javan lay in bed smiling. His thick biceps were pronounced as he shifted his arms behind his head.

The banging continued.

“Go get ‘em, baby.” He chuckled.

I reached the door, twisted the lock, and yanked it open. “What the hell do you…Brian?” He had a murderous expression on his face. “What’s wrong? Is Ebony okay?” I pulled the lapels of my robe tightly across my chest.

“No, she isn’t.” His lips were drawn tight, his brows dropped low. “Where is he?”

I was really confused. Brian should have been with Ebony, but she didn’t seem to be around.

“Why do you─”

“Move.”

I stood firm. “No, not until you─” Brian shoved past me and headed for the bed where Javan lay.

“Your ass is mine,” he growled.

*  *  *  *

(Ebony’s POV)

“Do you want me to call the cops?” Kaitlyn asked. She held her cell phone in one hand and gripped the door handle with the other.

I drove wildly, trying my best to catch Brian at the hotel before someone got hurt. I struggled to keep from running red lights.

“Come on, come on…” My palm ached from pounding the steering wheel.

“Never mind. The way you’re drivin’ the police will just follow us in.”

“Kaity, I don’t know what to do. This is all my fault. I should have said something as soon as it happened.”

“Why didn’t you?” I saw her turn to face me in my peripheral.

I glanced at her, then burned rubber the moment the light turned green.

“Honestly, I didn’t think she’d stay with him this long. You know how Yasmine is, always with a new guy every few months. Brian didn’t need the distraction while he was on the road. He would have dropped everything and come home; it would have ruined his career. Plus, I was scared he wouldn’t want me anymore.”

“That’s just plain stupid,” she said. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Another quick glance revealed hurt feelings on her face. “We’re friends, Ebony. I could have helped you. You shouldn’t have dealt with this by yourself.”

Another wave of guilt hit me. “Honestly, Kaity, I didn’t want you to keep it from Yasmine. It wouldn’t have been fair to you. I’m sorry.”

She reached over and gripped my hand. “And you were pregnant?”

I sighed. “I don’t know, I could have been. Before Brian left we had a moment…and well, both of us were willing to accept the consequences. The next night Javan raped me and didn’t use protection. It scared me. I thought about what would happen if I ended up pregnant and the baby was his instead of Brian’s. I couldn’t live with that, so I did what I had to do. And I hate myself for it.”

Her grip tightened. “God, Ebony, I am so sorry. Whatever you need, I’m here for you.”

“What I need is to stop Brian from doing something stupid and destroying his career. I’ve got to get to him. I need him.”

“I’m gonna call the police.” She placed the call with her free hand.

The lights of the hotel loomed in the distance. I released her hand to grip the wheel and pushed the pedal to the floor.

*  *  *  *

(Brian’s POV)

“What the fuck, man!” Javan scrambled naked from the bed and reached for his pants. He hopped around on one leg to get them on. Only the king-sized bed separated us.

My mind went all over the place taking everything in. The fact Yasmine gripped my arm and shouted at me was insignificant to the hum of anger that buzzed in my ear.

I took one look at the bed and felt sick to my stomach.

This was the same room where Ebony and I spent the weekend. The room she cried in the moment I opened the door.

And then it hit me, a full shot to the chest.

She’d made love to me after she was been raped.

How was that even possible? How could she want to be with me after that violent act? After having her will of what happened to her body stripped from her?

The hatred for the man I considered my friend for the past ten years blazed out of control. The logical part of my brain clicked off and went primal.

I scrambled across the bed, grabbed him, and threw him against the wall with force I prayed felt twenty times worse than what he’d done to Ebony. I held him in place and with my free arm, reached back as far as I could and pounded his face.

“Brian! Oh, my God! Stop, you’re hurting him!” Yasmine grabbed my fisted arm and put her full weight on it, slowing me down.

“You son of a bitch! How could you do that to her? Why?” I got a few more licks in and a kick to his groin before Yasmine managed to knock me off balance.

Javan slipped out of my grasp and slid down the wall, groaning and holding his sack. It wouldn’t be long before his jaw, eye, and lips were black and blue. The sight of blood pouring out of his nose and cut lip gave me a small amount of satisfaction, but it wasn’t even close to what I wanted to do.

“Oh, no, Javan, baby…” Yasmine pushed past me, ripping the sheet from the bed to blot the blood running down his face. “Brian, what the hell is wrong with you?”

“Whatever she said, the bitch is lying,” he spat out along with blood.

“Call her bitch one more time and you’ll be picking teeth off the floor,” I growled while I paced the room. I wanted to push Yasmine out of the way and get to him again, but there was no way I’d put my hands on her.

“What the hell is going on?” she shouted.

“Brian’s woman is a liar.” Javan struggled to get up.

Yasmine looked at both of us in confusion. “Ebony? What are you talking about?” When Javan didn’t supply an answer, she turned to me.

“He raped her.”  Saying the words again shot a pain to my stomach and chest. Anger like I never felt before flared before my eyes. I wanted to do nothing more than grab Javan’s throat and keep him from breathing.

Yasmine’s eyes flashed in disbelief.

Javan moved to get up again.

“Sit your ass back down before I put it down for good,” I warned.

Yasmine turned to him, an expression of confusion on her face.

“Your girl is a ‘ho. She wanted me to─”

I stepped over to give him another helping of personal justice, but Yasmine beat me to it by giving him something akin to a bitch slap. His head spun around, dreads swinging through the air as his head hit the wall. I wanted to punch his teeth in, but her slap sufficed for now. “Don’t talk about her like that. Why would Brian burst in here and say that? Did you rape her?” she asked.

I could not see her face, but her voice sounded pained.

“Because the bitch─”

Yasmine’s hand shot out again, but this time he caught it and twisted her wrist. She yelled in pain.

“Don’t ever hit me again, bitch,” Javan growled.

I got in his face in two strides. “Let her go,” I said through gritted teeth.

My hands fisted in a handful of his dreads as I snatched him up off the ground, thankful for the excuse to exact my revenge. He released her, shoving her away; she stumbled to the floor. Javan swung at me, his fist connected with my face and doubled back for my gut. Adrenaline pumped through my veins; I didn’t feel a thing.

His next swing missed as I dodged, leaned down, and rammed my head into his chest. I wrapped my hands around his waist and slammed him back into the wall. He pounded my back while I retaliated, throwing punch after punch into his gut.

“Brian!”

In the midst of the yelling, grunting, and crashing of hotel furniture as we fought, Ebony’s voice rang crystal clear in the room. I managed to turn my head enough to see her standing horrified in the doorway with Kaitlyn on her heels.

####

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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A Fun Way to Learn How to Write From the Male and Female POV and Perspective- Part 1

Before reading any further, take the next three minutes to watch this video. Get your laugh on, then watch it again and get your learn on. Not only will you be entertained, you’re going to learn something new because afterwards, I’m going to break it down!

DATE NIGHT! -THE VIDEO

(Video via Facebook share)

Hilarious, right? It’s the typical men see things differently than women story of a date through the eyes of two very different couples. The difference? The back story. Knowing what each character is going through before, during, and after a scene helps you, the author, know what experiences should be included in a scene and how to present them.

Remember those pesky and time consuming character outlines I’m always referring to? Well, here is how they work for the characters in this short video.

THE BREAK DOWN:

COUPLE A:

HER POV: The Date SUCKED!

Woman A was looking forward to a romantic interlude. She did her hair and make-up, took the time to prepare a meal, and set the table. She expected her date to arrive looking nice, probably bearing a vase of flowers, and taking the time to appreciate her appearance and the meal. Next would have come some small talk, flirting, and no doubt, some personal fun time.

What did she get?

A quick hug, no compliments on her appearance or the meal. Instead he made a beeline for the food, woofed it down without any conversation besides grunts that seemed to ruin her appetite. And when it came to fun time…well, let’s just say Mr. Happy was there and back again in less than 3 seconds, or as she said, before she could unhook the back her dress. And to top it all off, he finds his way to her bed and passes out from what has to be over eating and rapid blood loss to the brain.

His POV: IT was AMAZING!

Man A wanted exactly what he got: A good looking woman who cooked for him (free food), had nothing to say, and stood there long enough for him to get his rocks off. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the comfy bed. In his eyes, major score!! And he got to leave with his needs satisfied in time to watch the big game at home without interruption.

 

COUPLE B:

HER POV: Most ROMANTIC DATE EVER!

Everything about the evening was different than being with any other man. First, he paid for a cab. Dinner was an amazing experience. After, instead of hailing a cab, they took the scenic route, walking along, holding hands, and experiencing the night life from another point of view. At his place, the romance continued with lit candles to set the mood, a very intense love making session that lasted longer than anything she’d ever experienced. And the best part, he didn’t pass out when they were done. They lay there wrapped in each other’s arms and talked all night.

In a nutshell, everything was magical and perfect, just what a girl could ever want.

 His POV: EPIC FAIL!!!!

It’s been a long day full of one frustrating event after another. Failure to pay his light bill lead to to spend money taking her out instead of having her come over. After paying for a cab, dinner was so expensive he could no longer afford a taxi cab home. He plays off the whole broke thing by suggesting they ‘sight see’ and walk to his place, (is this chick gullible or what???). No electricity leaves him improvising again with candles. Frustrated by the series of mind numbing fails, he has too much pride to say let’s call it an evening and tires to play it off by ‘making love’ when what he’s really doing is stalling for time to work himself up for that magic moment. By the end of it all, he doesn’t feel like finishing the act, but he’s literally ‘in the game’ and has to figure out how to play it off, because hey, Ms. Gullible is having the time of her life. Again, frustrated, pissed off, and ready for it all to be over, he can’t sleep which means he has no choice but to be subjected to Ms. Chatty Cathy.

This date sucked so much he probably would refuse to see her ever again.

Pad of Paper & Pen

 

 

 

Now, how does all of this tie into writing?

First, let’s review the definitions of Point of View and Perspective:

 

 

 

 

 

POINT OF VIEW: The position of the narrator in relation to the story, as indicated by the narrator’s outlook from which the events are depicted and by the attitude toward the characters

PERSPECTIVE: the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship

(Definitions via dictionary.com)

DETERMINING USE OF POINT OF VIEW:

When telling a story, you must know which character’s voice you want the readers to experience. If the entire story is being written from one character’s POV, then it’s simple. Everything that happens comes from them. If your story is being told from more than one character’s POV, then you must decide how much of is being told and from who’s POV. This can be done in several ways:

  • An entire scene or chapter is told in one character’s POV
  • A scene or chapter is told in split POV’s
  • A section, or portion (meaning more than a few chapters in a row or Part 1, Part 2, etc. of the manuscript) are told from various characters’ POV

Knowing the story your telling (story line) and what your characters experience and how those experiences will affect their decision making (back story) determines who’s POV is shared at certain points. The character’s reactions to their environment and scenarios they face will be based on that back story.

Of the four characters portrayed in the video, the best example would be Man B from the second couple. An unfortunate event (failure to pay his light bill) led to changing his date night plans (paying for cab, expensive dinner, walking home, candle light sex, aggravation to the point of failure to perform for an extended point of time, and sleeplessness). Lack of electricity set off a catalyst of events that when told from his point of view, led to the date from hell. His POV was much more entertaining than Woman B who saw things from a fairytale perspective.

Now, how does perspective come into play?

Come back tomorrow where I’ll break down that portion of the video, as well as share a scene from my bestselling novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, where I demonstrate the use of perspective from three characters POV in one scene. Until then, Happy Writing!!!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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It’s a Book-A-Versary!!!! An Interview with the Characters of A Heart Not Easily Broken

I can’t believe it! September 20th marked the one year anniversary of the release of my debut novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken!  While it is a celebration of my journey into the world of being a published author, it’s also the ‘day’ Ebony and Brian meet for the first time, thus…it’s their Book-A-Versary!!!

I managed to find time during both of their hectic schedules and mine, to sit down for a chat and find out where they are now in life. (And this, my friends, is why authors are often in need of strait jackets…)

MJ: Ebony, Brian, it is so good to see you again! How is life treating you?

Ebony: Very well, thank you.

Brian: Good, busy, and a hell of a lot of fun. (He grins)

MJ: I am so glad to hear that! So, congratulations and Happy Book-A-Versary! I can’t believe how fast time has flown by.

Ebony: And a lot has happened.

MJ: Yes it has. (I eye the shiny ring on her wedding finger). So, without giving away too much about your story, what can you tell me about your relationship now?

Brian: (Picks up Ebony’s hand and squeezes) There’s been a lot of good in our relationship, despite the fact we had a rough time, but we made it through. The support of our family and friends has made it easier.

Ebony: I agree. I can’t believe I ever doubted for a minute what my family would have to say about us. But above all, I have to say I appreciate Brian in ways I can’t even explain. One thing I’ve learned is to never second guess my feelings. If something is bothering me or I’m unsure, I communicate it to him and we work it out. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not perfect, neither is our relationship. We’ve just learned how to make it better.

Brian: And it just keeps getting better. (He lifts her hand and kisses it; Ebony blushes.)

MJ: I won’t take up too much of your time because I know you guys keep busy schedules. I do have some questions from readers who have been asking for months if it would be possible to get an update from you. Are you up to it?

Ebony: Sure!

MJ: Cool! Ebony, we’ll start with you. Readers would like to know how your families are getting along. Brian, we know your family loved Ebony from the beginning, but your family, Ebony, well, your sister to say the least, wasn’t too thrilled.

Ebony: (She laughs)  Lashana has slowly come around. Her biggest fear was whether I was thinking with my head or just looking for a thrill in trying something new. But now that she’s meet him, I think he’s growing on her.

Brian: I have that effect on people. (Ebony slaps his arm playfully)

Ebony: My brother, of course, is cool because come to find out, they have a lot in common. And my parents…they surprised me. They get along great with his family and love Brian to death. It seems as if I was the one who had the problem.

MJ: We all learn and grow. It sounds like you have done well. Next question, have you finished school?

Ebony: YES!!!! And yes, I do have the job!

MJ: Congratulations! Now of course, we know that you, Yasmine, and Kaitlyn are very good friends and have seen each other through a lot. With the change in your lives, have you been able to keep up with your Girls Night Out plans?

Ebony: Oh that is a good question. Yes and no. Each of our lives has taken a different path and the ease of being single and free is gone. We still talk by way of the phone and of course we’re always on Facebook, but the reality is we’ve had to grow up. We mostly do lunches and meet at the nail shop for mani and pedicures. (She looks at her nails), though why I bother I have no idea. But regardless, we’re always just a phone call away.

MJ: Yes, life does have a way of changing things for us. And it’s good to know your friendship is still strong. Now, Brian, the next question is for you. Have you been back on tour?

Brian: Thankfully, no. One thing I’ve learned to do is prioritize what is important in my life. I thought being on the road would be it, but it’s not. I try to stick closer to home, though my hours are still long. At least I know I’ll be home at night.

MJ: Well, that pretty much answers the next question; do you get home at respectable times?

Brian: Most nights, Ebony is asleep on the sofa waiting for me to come in the door. I can’t blame her thought, after she’s worked a long day, I’d never ask her to wait up. I try to make up for it as much as possible by planning late night dates or bring her roses.

Ebony: (She laughs)  I never need to waste money on buying Glade Plugins, that’s for sure. I have homemade potpourri everywhere!

MJ: Aww…that’s so sweet. So it sounds as if the classes you guys took helped?

Brian: Most definitely.

Ebony: Yes they did. If we hadn’t taken that step, I’m not sure where we’d be.

MJ: Okay, last question, I’ve been holding on to this one. How long will it be before you start a family of your own?

Ebony: Oh wow…

Brian: (Clears his throat)  To be honest, we haven’t exactly talked about it…

Ebony: With so much time spent working, it’s hard to enough to spend time together, much less raise a child.

MJ: Do you want one?

Ebony and Brian: Yes.

MJ: Then you will find a way to make it work. Well, that’s all the time I have for now. I’ve got writing to do and I’m sure you guys would like to spend your Sunday doing other things than talking to me. Until next time, take care!

####

Alright my friends, now comes the fun part! In honor of the celebration I am having a contest, the  winner will receive an eBook copy of the next novel in the series, Lonely Heart, on release day!!! Follow the link to follow the instructions. Good Luck! (Release date will be announced next month!)

Rafflecopter Giveaway!!!

If you haven’t read the Amazon Bestseller, A Heart Not Easily Broken, buy your copy today! It’s $3.99 and available for Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and on Smashwords. If Paperback is what you prefer, find it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! 

AHNEB FINAL COVER

Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, Interracial Romance

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond-haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.

ONE CLICK for REVIEWS, FREE CHAPTER READS, ALL SALES LINKS!

For more information on The Butterfly Memoirs Series and a sample of the next book, Jadedvisit this link! 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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Interview with Tom King!

Welcome author Tom King! He has a very interesting background he uses to find inspiration for the comic books and novels he writes. Sit down, grab a cup a coffee, and get to know him!

King_FINAL Cover

Welcome, Tom!

What inspired you to write?

I oddly spent my 20s in the CIA working counter-terrorism operations overseas. Like millions of others, I joined up to fight the fight after 9/11 hoping to do some good. When I had my son, I left that life. Having gone through that, I wanted to write about it—about what it was like to be scared and brave, to be in the dirt, trying to dig out; however, for all the obvious reasons, I didn’t want to write about my experience directly, so I wrote about it using super heroes as an allegory for a world of eternal violence struggling for peace. A Once Crowded Sky, a story about a bunch of superheroes who lose their powers, is what came out.

 What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

When I first left the CIA, I became a full time dad, first to my son, then to my son and daughter. As such, I worked during nap times and at night, usually between 12am and 3am. I always tried to write just a page a day, that way after six months you have a first draft and after a year you have a good draft. Now, I have the privilege to support myself full time as a writer—and I still like to work in the middle of night. Usually during the day I take care of marketing matters and all the little distractions.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?’

I put myself in an isolation chamber when I write: lights off, head phones on, music blaring—I want everything but the screen in front of me blocked out. Also, and it’s fairly silly, but when I start writing I try to pretend my keyboard is a piano and I’m just playing the notes to a lovely song. I don’t know why, but this helps.

Are you a pantser or plotter?

 I guess I’m a pantser, though I often live to regret it. My basic process is I come with the world, then the characters, then the general plot—where I want to start, where I want to end. After I have those three elements, I write a little bit, see if I can find a voice that works for the project. When I’ve found the voice, I go back to the plot and pick out maybe half a dozen beats I want to hit, then I write freely to those beats, fixing plot problems as I go. I kick myself every time for not thinking things totally through before writing, but I feel that if I did that, I’d never actually start writing, which would cause me to kick myself with even more force.

 Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?

I believe powerfully in the role and grace of imagination, but for me, all great writing comes from personal experience, from putting part of yourself into your words. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing about, the emotions behind it, the great themes you are exploring, should always connect to your own failures and triumphs.

My first novel is about super heroes, which seems rather far from anything going on in our real world. That said, when I write abut my main character, Pen, struggling to decide if he should fight to save the world or if he should stay home and take care of his wife, I’m drawing on conversations I had during my time in the CIA, exact moments when I had to choose between my job and my family. The superhero situation is extreme and dramatic, but the moments put on paper are the small moments that affected me, that changed me, perhaps for the better, perhaps not.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Master your own grammar. It sounds annoying and stupid (mostly because grammar is annoying and stupid), but the better grip a writer has on all the rules of grammar, the easier it is to just sit down and write. Take two weeks, buy two or three grammar books, and just go through them until you understand the basic rules of when to use a comma, a semi-colon, a colon, etc.

Once you understand the rules, decide for yourself, what will be your grammar: in your writing when will you use a comma, a colon, a semi-colon? Grammar, annoyingly and stupidly and sometimes brilliantly, is subject to the author’s manipulation; but you have to decide how you are going to consistently manipulate it. Once you’ve decided how you will use grammar in your work, the words will come a little faster to the page.

MJ: Great advice! I’m sure there’s a few editors out there who’d love to shake your hand right now!!! 🙂

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

I am traditionally published through Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. I went through the whole traditional process of query letter, agent, publisher, editor. I’m honestly not sure what is the best way to get your stuff out there, but that’s the way I did it.

What are your current projects?

My new novel is a war novel about our current war. It’s the best thing I’ve ever written, and I can’t wait for people to see it. I’m also working on some comic book projects and a few short stories.

Find Tom King at these links!

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Finding Inspiration: Part Three- Characters Close to Home

Building Real Characters: How to Bring Them From the Page and Into Your HeartWriters find inspiration anywhere; at the grocery store, the bank, even the activities of driver sitting next to you at the red light, can get the muse flowing. Then of course there are my favorites: family and friends.

If you have a Facebook account, I’m sure you have seen the pictures posted by someone at least once a month that says: (in a nutshell): BEWARE, I’M A WRITER, ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED IN MY NEXT BOOK.  I was at the bank the other day and had a lively conversation with my banker. Upon completion of my transaction, she asked me, ‘is this going to be in one of your stories?’ I laughed and said quite possibly.

It seems no matter how hard I try; my Muse is always working, always observing and cataloging the statements and actions of others, especially when it comes to my kids.

In the last few weeks, my children have shocked me with their ‘Remember when…’ tales. Being an only child, it never ceases to amaze me what  my four kids get into when they are unsupervised in their bedrooms. First, there was the ‘broken-glow-in-the-dark-stick incident’ that led to fluorescent yellow liquid being splashed over bedroom walls. (According to them, it wore off withing minutes, thus leading to doing it again in order to illuminate the room.  No evidence was left behind. Imagine my horror!!!) Of course a lot of sibling smacks upside the head, and then the sneaking to cut hair or trim their eyebrows disasters that ended with bad results. (Those I knew about, but it still makes me laugh to remember the results.) Funny stories that made my eyebrows shoot into the hemisphere and start to give the ‘you know better’ speech. But then I realized the issues happened months, even years ago. What’s the point?  All that’s left is ‘don’t do it again.’

Once the kids go about their evening activities, my Muse sorts through the information, while not inspiration for my adult characters’ lives, they make great character back story.

***Back Story: Insight into the protagonist nature or history through reflective flashbacks, scenes, or dialogue. This information is used to show how a character will react to certain situations.***

There are various ways to use back story.  Some authors like to use flashback during a scene or as a scene to show an incident that explains the reason for their character’s actions during the course of a story. (Think about the show LOST, whose episodes focused on the back story of a character’s life, decisions, made, and how they related to the present situation). In novels, the most common use is having a character allude to their past through dialogue, thought, or peppered in by the omnipotent voice. (Dialogue is the best way to share this information without slowing down your prose and boring a reader.)

How do you know what your characters back story will be?

By writing character outlines.

If you have  followed my blog, you know a large portion of my writing begins with focusing on deep character development. I love writing characters my readers can relate to either through their own personal experiences or someone they know. Creating well-developed back story can do that. Knowing where your characters have been, what experiences have affected them – good and bad – will give your characters a strong voice that makes them stand out.

Even if it starts from when they were kids.

In a nutshell, a well-developed back story lets you know your characters. Knowing and understanding your characters will explain their motivations. Motivations are what set up a plot. Reactions to plot twists/turns are what provide scenes. Scenes mixed with reactions are what create drama.

Whew!  Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is, but as with all things in life, you get what you put in. Taking the time to sit down and understand your characters will show in your writing. It will help you understand why they interrupt your writing, and no matter how much you want the story to go one way, they hijack your manuscript.

For more on writing character outlines and finding writing inspiration, visit my previous posts:

M.J.’s on Writing- Helpful Advice for Aspiring Authors

MJ

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

Thanks to Carol Fragale of 4 Broad Minds for tagging me for this honor! I have had the privilege and sharing blogs with her and several other talented Women’s Fiction authors on Goodreads.  So…let’s play!

Ten Questions About My Latest  WIP:

Autumn landscape1. What is the working title of your book? Jaded, Book Two of The Butterfly Memoirs (Currently in the hands of my editor.) Release date is March 7, 2013.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from? The story line is based on a secondary character in my first novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, Yasmine Phillips, who is the best friend of the heroine, Ebony Campbell. Though the  novel focuses on Ebony, there are a few chapters where the reader is introduced to Yasmine to show where she is in her life. She’s ambitious, a hard worker, and full of self-confidence, especially when it comes to her relationships with men. She’s all about friends-with-benefit. During the course of the story, she winds up engaged to her main hook up. Everything seems to be working out until Ebony drops a bomb on her happy moment and she discovers her new fiance is not the man she thought he was. Jaded picks up two months later when we find Yasmine still reeling from the heart break of her engagement. Shes decided to give up on relationships of any kind and focus on finding herself.  She’s been working on a business  to start her own small business. Entrepreneurship is nothing new. She’s grown up watching her parents build and maintain their own business, a Bed and Breakfast chain of hotels, since she was in high school. Upon graduating collage, the chain expanded opening a second location. She’s managed the hotel for the past three years. During the course of the novel, Yasmine finds herself in a relationship that has her struggling to decide whether she is ready to open her heart up and give love another chance.

3. What is the genre of this book? Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, Interracial Romance

4. Which actors would you choose to play the characters of the movie rendition? Oh, that’s easy! My male lead would be Columbus Short! He is exactly how I pictured Zachariah Givens while writing. For Yasmine, it would be a mix between Zoe Saldana or Megan Good.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? After heart break leaves Yasmine devastated, she must decide if fighting for love is worth the risk of  losing the woman she’s become.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher? I am Indie published through 5 Prince Publishing.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? I outlined the novel first, but from there it took 29 days to write my rough draft, complete with errors and no edits…about 85,000 words.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I would have to say the first novel in the series, A Heart Not Easily Broken. I have worked hard to develop my own style of storytelling, so I can’t think of anyone to compare it to.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? My stories are based on themes and ‘what if’ scenarios. Jaded deals with several themes: women as entrepreneurs, reaching your goals without the support of family, opening yourself up to love after heartbreak, friends-with-benefits relationships, dealing with sick family members, and knowing when to trust yourself to follow your heart.

10. What else about your book might pique the readers interest? If you’ve read A Heart Not Easily Broken and got to know Yasmine, the truth she learns at the novels end will have you wanting to know what happens to her. As I said before, one moment she’s in her happy place, then without warning her outlook on love will never be the same. You will want to know if and how Yasmine Phillips finds her Happily Ever After.

Whew! That wasn’t too bad!

The three authors I’d like to tag to introduce their Next Big Thing are: Nia Forrester, Candace Shaw, and Sharon C. Cooper!  Enjoy!

MJ

Character Descriptions – Creating a Picture With Words

Fat? Skinny? Tall or Short? What category does your character fit in?

Some of us have over-active imaginations which allow us to ‘see’ what a character looks like. Translating that picture in our heads to paper should be easy, right? Not always. What about when you have several characters floating in and out of scenes throughout the manuscript?

 How do you hammer out each description while ensuring none of them are alike? It takes planning, plain and simple.

One of my favorite things to do is have a working picture chart for each major and minor character for quick reference. I got this idea from a critique partner and I will never write without one again. My favorite place to look for character references are on the Internet, movies, and television. When developing a new character, I already have an idea of their physical attributes, the sound of their voice, and the way their body moves. Finding a picture I can study makes a world of difference when writing a full character description. If you only go by what you imagine, there will be things missing, such as, subtle quirks like the way a character stands, a twitch of the mouth, or that hidden mole. Your eye may not notice at first glance, but after studying a photo, you can add an extra layer of ‘life’ to the character.

Let me demonstrate.

In A Heart Not Easily Broken, there is a chapter where Ebony Campbell, the heroine, has the opportunity to study her future love interest, Brian Young, from a distance. He’s standing in her back yard trimming the grass along the fences edge with a weed whacker and not wearing a shirt.

Here’s the way that scene was written without having a visual reference to refer too (rough draft):

          Brian stood with his weed whacker, swinging it along side the fence. My eyes widened; the man was shirtless. The man had an incredibly strong looking back. His shorts hung off his hips and made his underwear visible, while a damp shirt hung from his belt buckle. Hmm, boxers or briefs? Sweat ran down his back to his shorts. 
          None of that compared to the way he looked when he turned around to one of the guys working with him. His body was free of body fat, with a little hair on his chest. Tight abs shown a ripple of muscles so tight I could barely see his belly button. 
          Brian’s tanned skin reminded me of a Greek statue, he must work outside a lot. His baseball cap was turned backward, hiding the blond curly hair I’d seen at the club. His damp hair hung below its edge, showing off his square facial structure and the angle of his nose. His blue eyes were bright.
          Brian was unbelievably sexy.

Could you visualize what Ebony sees? I’m sure you were able to get a decent idea. Brian’s working outside, he’s sweating, it’s hot, and Ebony’s attracted to him. But how about the version found in the book? (after a  picture reference, a thesaurus, a multitude of edits, rewrites, and an over active imagination!) This is what I finished with:

           Brian stood with his weed whacker, swinging it in a controlled arch along the fence. My eyes widened; the man was shirtless. The man had an incredibly strong looking back. His shorts hung loosely from his hips, exposing the top of his underwear from the weight of the sweat-stained shirt stuffed under his belt. Hmm, boxers or briefs? Sweat ran in heavy rivets down his shoulder blades, trickling to the already damp shorts. 
          None of that compared to the way he looked when he turned around to speak to one of the guys working with him. His long torso, free of unwanted body fat, sported a light sprinkling of blond hair between his pecks. A tight abdomen showed every cut of muscle I’d seen in high school biology textbooks. His abs were tight, his belly button nearly nonexistent. 
          Brian’s bronzed skin reminded me of a Greek statue, a testament of many hours spent working outside. His backward baseball cap hid the thick blond curls I’d seen at the club. The damp ringlets hung below its rim, accentuating his square facial structure and the shape of his nose. His blue eyes seemed to glow from deep within his skin. 
         Brian was unbelievably sexy.


Visual descriptive, right? Both had the same idea, but the second one took the time to describe every single detail Ebony saw. Because of this, the reader is guaranteed to feel one of two things, ‘wow, it’s hot, he’s sweaty, and could use a shower’, or since your deep in Ebony’s POV, your right a long with her thinking the sight of a hard working man tunes her on!

Perfect character descriptions do not usually appear while writing your rough draft. A Heart Not Easily Broken had so many rewrites and drafts I stopped counting at number eight, and believe me, there were still a few after that. But with each scene, I forced myself to take the time to write the descriptions of the characters in as much detail as possible. It didn’t matter who’s POV the description came from.

Since my books are written in first POV, one of the first things I had to learn was how to have a person describe themselves without it sounding clinical.

Here’s an example of Ebony describing herself physically when comparing herself to her best friend, Yasmine:

Not so creative writing (first draft):

          Yasmine’s light colored skin, skinny body, long legs and small breast suited her personality. There were times I wished my body was like hers. It would make shopping for clothes easier. I had a body like my Nana did when she was my age. If I looked at her photo albums, I looked just like her . We both had brown skin, shapely hips, big butts, and large breast. 

Oh man was THAT boring!

Now, here is the book version:

          Yasmine’s high-yellow complexion, slender ballet dancer body, long legs, and B-cups breasts suited her personality.  There were times I wished my body was more like hers, though. It would make shopping for clothes a lot easier. As it was, I had been blessed with the shapely figure my Nana called ‘bootylicious’.  According to her, and her photo albums, I looked just like her when she was my age, with caramel-colored skin, perfectly proportioned hips, a butt that drew major attention, and D-cup breasts, making it hard for a man to look me straight in the eye.

So much better, and (if you are a lady!) can probably visualize yourself as either character, right?

A word of advice: when writing a characters description (especially if being done from first person POV), it’s best to have them compare themselves to others, or stare into the mirror and describe what they do or don’t like, as a suggestion. Having them say, “I have long hair, brown eyes, and dark skin,” is not being creative. “My hair reached the top of my bra strap, my eyes were coals of molten like my mothers. I had her rich coco-colored skin, too,” sounds much better. Okay, I threw that one together, but hopefully you get the point.

So, with visual aid (come on guys and gals, searching for that perfect pic can be fun!), lots of imagination, and the ever handy thesaurus, you can write descriptive scenes, too!

Until next time, WRITE WELL!!!!

MJ

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