Well, folks. It was fun while it lasted.

As you can see, not much has been happening on this blog lately.

There are several reasons for this, but I will only hit on a couple:

First: It's amazing how much can change in a couple of months--both in our personal lives and on the writing front. A couple of us have signed publishing contracts, and so the need to write, edit, market, promote HAD to take preference over this blog and the services we were providing.

Second: Running this blog, critiquing submissions, providing feedback...well, that's a LOT of dang work. We weren't getting paid for this service. We had a concept and we went with it--for free--not realizing how much time it would involve with very little (nothing) in return for our effort.

Third: Probably the biggest factor that made us come to this decision, was the fact that a good portion of the submissions we received just weren't ready. They needed more revision. We were wanting to give out reviews on AMAZING, fully complete, well edited novels. 90% of what we received didn't come close.

So we've shut it down. We've moved on.

If you liked our comments and our posts, you can check us out on our individual blogs:

Angela Scott: www.whimsywritingandreading.weebly.com or @whimsywriting on twitter or http://www.facebook.com/AngelaScottWriter

D.S. Tracy:

Kacey Mark:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Coyboy Up! Finding the Strength in Our Characters

Posted by Ready, Aim, Hook Me at 7:47 AM
I had the great pleasure of attending the Cache County fair and rodeo this weekend. Its probably like any other county fair...The food that always smells better then it tastes. The carnival rides filled with delighted passengers, and the throngs of oddly shaped and decorated people-watching opportunities.

My favorite part of all is the rodeo... well, more specifically the cowboys.

Its easy to cheer for these guys because you see the determination in their face, their walk.

Even the little cowboys and girls have it. From the comfort of my aluminum bench seat, I watched a swarm of six-to-ten-year-olds chasing cows around the ring, trying to catch the bright colored bow attached to the cow's tail. As they tumble and scramble through the dirt, you know these aren't the kids that cry when they fall down and scrape their knee. They get right back up and do it again. Save the scrapes and bruises only to solidify their glory later.

These people are born and bred to be heros.

But back to the cowboys for a moment (I'm sure you don't mind), This is going to sound really bad, but after watching a few successful bronc rides, and tight wranglered butts victory-strut around for several minutes, I found myself hoping that someone somehow would find themselves flying off the saddle.
Why? Because I want them to get hurt? Have a sick obsession with gore? No, no, not at all.

Okay, well, maybe a little. But the bottom line is, I want it to be difficult for them. The entertainment isn't about looking good in the jeans, or the personality. It helps, but after a while it's boring. I want them to triumph but I want them to work at it and face real risk. That's what makes it exciting.

Much like the American cowboy, we need to give our characters opposition that isn't easy to overcome. Sometimes we like our characters so much, we don't want to see them get hurt. You need to push them out there to face their fears before they can develop into characters you really want to root for!

You don't have to turn every character into a cowboy or girl, but I would recommend giving them "cowboy up" moments that makes us admire and respect them.


DoreeAnderson.blogspot.com or Doree.anderson@wordpress.com on August 15, 2011 at 8:27 AM said...

Very good character reminder. If they have life to easy, we don't respect them or want to read about them. And, though I married an old bronco boy, I still like to see the cowboys struttin' their stuff. Thanks

Michael Offutt on August 15, 2011 at 2:26 PM said...

You ARE wrong. It is about looking good in the genes. Trust me...I've stared at some cowboy ass in my time and it's nice.

Sandy L. Rowland on August 15, 2011 at 6:06 PM said...

Nice way to bring writing into this.
I agree. Characters need opposition and pain for us to care.
I need to know they paid a high price and deserve to win.
Then I can enjoy the victory from my soft leather chair, glad I didn't have to fall off the bull.

Love it!

Clancy on August 16, 2011 at 1:49 PM said...

I struggle with giving my characters issues to contend with, so every reminder of how important conflict is to the character's character is much appreciated. Thanks.

Marc Mattaliano on August 18, 2011 at 8:10 AM said...

This is an excellent post and an excellent point. Especially this line right here, "Sometimes we like our characters so much, we don't want to see them get hurt."

One thing I hate (and I apologize if any of you do this) is when an author writes a series of books, all with the subtitle "A So-and-So Novel." Spotlighting the main character THAT much works only when the first book comes out to get people talking about that character. After that, you're basically looking at a line of books on the shelf that features the main character's name on every installment, and no one's stupid enough to write "A So-and-So Novel" and not put So-and-So in it! Thus, anytime that main character gets into serious danger, you've just wasted every droplet of effort and urgency. Your readers aren't sitting there thinking that character could die at any moment, they're thinking, "well, how are they getting out of this sticky situation this time?" Charlane Harris' vampire books all have "A Sookie Stackhouse Novel" on the front. Million bucks? Sookie appears in every book, and in at least a few, her "life is threatened." Well obviously it didn't do much, because she's still alive and kicking 10 books later.

Even if my characters end up realizing they're far more powerful than they themselves originally thought they were, I want my readers to keep that urgency that comes with losing a character they like. Most of the time, I hate when a story is focused on only one person primarily, because the chances of that driving character dying are so slim. It means they're pretty much immune. It's not "if" it's "how," and I don't like that.

Characters need challenge. They need adversity and struggle. I've read and seen stories where the main character is so bloody powerful, there was just no point in anyone taking them on! You can make powerful characters, but at least give them flaws, internal issues to overcome, some kind of curse, make them imperfect, give them something to defeat. Even if the big bad guy is a chump compared to their powers, at least have them struggle to grow. One thing I'm working on now, one of the main characters is built as one of the strongest in the universe, but his internal struggle, while not stopping him from being badass as time rolls on, forces him to rein in his cockiness to an extent and still hovers over him as a challenge he'll find difficult to overcome.

That's desperately important to any story.

Nicole Pyles on August 20, 2011 at 9:15 PM said...

Absolutely right! We want to see characters struggle!! Because most of the time when we face adversity, it isn't easy. It beats us up. We are better in the long run because of what we have learned, but if there was a camera o us, we certainty wouldnt have made it look easy!!

Great reminder!!

Now, I hve an urge to go to a rodeo. Or see a cowboy in great jeans.

! on August 28, 2011 at 8:01 AM said...

The false assumption, of course, is that the men who seem to ride with perfection have no pain and suffering to conflict them. Assuming the conflict MUST result in seeing a character's pain is incorrect and almost a cliched relic of pop psychology. A conflict does NOT always have to be painful. The conflict, globally speaking, is the inherent lesson the protagonist needs to learn. The conflict can be joyful! Additionally, a story can be annoying as heck if the conflict is ever-present. It makes the reader think: "Come on, already! I get it. The guy has a conflict!" Authors who force the conflict into every scene are merely novice writers. Experienced writers allow the conflict to ebb and flow.

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