Thursday, June 30, 2011

Characters You Love

I just returned from vacation (notice the post on Thursday this week instead of Wednesday).  While I was gone I had the chance to read a few YA and MG books.  One of those was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

There's a lot that could be said about The Hunger Games.  I'm going to focus on characters.  Before I read the book I knew everything (okay, almost everything) that happened in the story.  I knew the characters, plot, and even the ending.  Still, I was glued to the book.  Why?  Two reasons: the characters and the pace.  This post is about characters. 

I absolutely fell in love with Katniss and Peeta.  Days after I read their story I have found myself thinking about them.  I've also thought about what made them memorable.  Here's a short list of the characteristics I think made them so addictive: 

* Believable.  Need I say more?
* Heroic.  Both Katniss and Peeta saved people in the story.  Each time, their heroism came with personal peril.
* Fallible.  They both made dumb choices.  As I read it I cringed and thought, "No, don't do/say that!"  But if they hadn't, their characters would have been less believable and the story less riveting. 
* Show Real Emotions.  If I were Katniss, I would feel a lot.  In fact, I'd be an emotional roller-coaster.  Collins did a great job showing those emotions and showing how Katniss tried to hide them.
* Timeless Interactions.  Friendship, love, hate, dependence, and those people that just make you want to hit them.  It doesn't matter if the story takes place centuries in the future or in a New York high school.  These interactions are relationships that everyone can relate to because everyone feels them.

What do you think makes characters so real you have to read their stories?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


File:Yesnaby01.jpgCliffhangers have been a part of the story-teller's toolbag long before the first bards wanted to keep their listeners hooked.  When I read a book, though, I don't like cliffhangers.

I don't like cliffhangers at the end of a book or movie series...especially if the book or movie series fails to wrap up the main story in the book or movie.

They're not so bad if the story ends, and the cliffhanger points to a new, related story.

I actually appreciate cliffhangers at the end of a chapter--even if the story is not neatly wrapped up.  I like being so drawn into a book that I have to read the next chapter.  That's fun.  I don't like reading a whole book and feeling like I didn't finish the story.

Can you tell I've encountered a few cliffhangers recently?   Do you like cliffhangers?  Do you have any favorites?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Blogging Awards

Last week, Mgudlewski gave me two awards, and this week I am happy to pass them on!

Thank you so much!  I am truly flattered!  

In receiving the awards, you're asked to tell seven random things about yourself, then give the awards to five deserving bloggers and let them know.

Here are seven random things about me:

1.  I am far better at Ping Pong than Basketball, though I enjoy both.

2.  I have visited all the western states (United States), but none of the Eastern, unless you count Minnesota and Louisiana.  

3.  I like to get a necklace when I travel to a new country.  One of my favorites is an opal my husband bought me from Lightning Ridge in Australia.  We were just friends when we traveled there with a study abroad group from college, but he bought it with the intention of giving it to his future wife.  About two years later he gave it to me.  We're still best friends, and I think he is the most handsome, romantic, creative man on Earth!

4.  I absolutely love Butterscotch Cookies.  I have a fabulous recipe for Butterscotch Bars that uses wheat flour and butterscotch chips and brown sugar.  Mmmmm....I might need to go get one right now!

5.  I enjoy mowing our lawn.  I especially enjoy it if I have time to trim the edges.  

6.  I want to learn to play the guitar and speak Spanish.

7.  Today I climbed a mountain, did some dishes, played at a park, ate some oatmeal, and read most of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  The Lightning Thief came highly recommended by a 14-year old whose opinion I value.

Now I'll pass the awards on to some bloggers I like.  While I could easily share over a dozen, the rules say only five!  These five are wonderful ladies, and I truly enjoy reading their posts!  


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Define: Writer

Circle the best choice.

A writer is someone who:

A. loves to write.
B. writes stuff that other people love to read.
C. has work that has been purchased by a publisher.
D. is paid to write by an employer.
E. makes a living by writing.
F.  has written a book.
G. has had a book published.
H. has had more than three books published.
I.  other.  _____________________

During the last four years I have bounced around from one of the above definitions to another.  Why can't I settle on one idea?  Each definition carries enormous implications.  As soon as I begin to settle, I feel the need to change my mind.

What do you think?  I'm beginning to think there is no right answer.  If you want to be a writer, then be one.  If you feel you are a writer, you are.  So, say so!  

"I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world."  --Walt Whitman

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Writers, How Well Do You Know Your Audience?

I've been thinking a lot about audience lately, and I encourage you to try this little exercise.  It's fun!  It really helped me connect for a moment with my audience.

What is important to your audience?  Think of 20 things that matter to your audience.  You don't have to include the things on this list in your writing, but it's vital to be aware of such relevant issues.

I made a list of things that are important to young children.  Really, I could list over 100 things that are important to them!  However, in an effort to be kind to you (my intended audience for this blog!), I am only listing 20.

What is important to young children?
  • dinosaurs
  • playing in the dirt
  • having milk at lunch
  • reading books
  • Every. Step. Of. A. Bedtime. Routine.
  • chocolate
  • being a big kid
  • getting to decide
  • special baby dolls
  • dressing up
  • the right bowl at breakfast time and the right color of cup at lunch
  • right now (time)
  • getting to the bathroom on time
  • a predictable day
  • getting a turn
  • painting
  • splashing with water
  • hugs
  • digging
  • humor

It turns out I have a lot in common with young children.

What about you?  How often do you think about your audience?  How much do you know about your audience?  Would you fit in with your audience?