8 Key Female Archetypes to Consider for Your Novel

WritersWednesday

I found two awesome articles about Archetypes on C.S. Lakin’s blog and with her permission am sharing them for all you lovely people to see! Thank you so much C.S. for your insight and great resource! Here is the second article!

8 Key Female Archetypes to Consider for Your Novel

Last week we took a look at a number of diverse male archetypes that might inspire the characters in your fiction. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the female archetypes.

Archetypes can spark great ideas for characters because they are classic “types.” While one character might wear a particular archetypal “mask” throughout a story, sometimes characters will switch masks, depending on the situation and relationship involved.

You may think that fashioning a character to match all the qualities of a particular archetype might be like stereotyping, but that’s not necessarily so.  Within a “type,” there is room for much originality in personality and traits.

The idea here, when borrowing archetypal characteristics, is to look at the purpose as it relates to your premise, protagonist’s goal, and themes of your story.

We want to populate our novels with a diverse cast of characters, all of whom have a specific—purposeful—role to play. It may feel like generalization to turn an ally character into a Magi or Mentor archetype, but try to look at the markers of these types and see who might embody them and when and why and how.

I mentioned in a prior post that as I fleshed out my idea for my new novel that I just released, Colorado Dream, I’d already worked out who my hero and heroine already were—what personalities they’d have and what things were important to them.

After I’d done that important work (so that my characters would be just right for my premise), I researched archetypes to see just which ones might fit best. All in order to get deeper insights and spark plot and conflict ideas.

I found that my hero, Brett Hendricks was a perfect representation of The Protector (described in last week’s post). And it wasn’t hard to come up with the best archetype for my heroine, Angela, an aspiring musician.

Just knowing music was the center of her life made it easy to link her to the Mystic, who has a rich internal world, is extremely sensitive, and can feel the emotions of others.

The Mystic fears not having a place in the world, doesn’t want to depend on others, and covets her privacy and solitude. She needs to connect with something greater than herself.

Choosing this archetype for Angela promised much conflict, for Brett, as a Protector, would clash in many ways with his focus on his physicality, heedless to danger, and lack of creativity.

The challenge for me (as always, and one I love) was to find common ground between two seemingly unalike characters. When it comes to writing romance, to me, the trick is to make the hero and heroine as different as possible in many ways, but find common ground. Usually this is tied in with past trauma, and the big “fear” each has, as well as core need, is the same.

With my characters, both have abusive, domineering fathers. They both know what it’s like to yearn for parental love and instead get a slap instead of encouragement. They are both passionate about their gifts, and they see and respect the passion they see in the other.

So I hope you’re starting to whirl with ideas for your characters as you read these posts on archetypes. Let’s now take a look at the 8 key female archetypes.

8 Female Archetypes

1) The Seducer (Aphrodite): She cares about men, but loves being in control. This type rarely has true female friends. Women are competition. She is all about her body and appearance. She fears losing her beauty, being passed over. She is motivated by wanting to experience life sensually, to the full. She isn’t always “bad.” She can embody the powerful attractive woman who is seeking true love, but an extreme of this archetype can be a very vicious, backstabbing, manipulative woman.

2) The Amazon (Artemis): This type is the outdoors gal. She, in contrast to the Seducer, loves the company of her female friends. She is supportive of women and children, sometimes a feminist, one who stands up for causes, likes being self-sufficient. In extreme, this type can be headstrong, pushy, want instant gratification with no regard for others’ needs. She might be reckless, easily enraged, stubborn, or boastful.

3) The Father’s Daughter (Athena): This woman aligns herself with powerful men and supports them. She yearns for male approval and wants to be accepted into their circle. She values work, dresses professionally, is smart, but often can’t see or accept her female side (which she might consider weakness). She fears loss of control and might feel trapped in relationships. In extreme, she’s wholly self-centered, caring only about her needs and advancement, and because of that might lie, cheat, or destroy another to get to her goal.

4) The Nurturer (Demeter): As the name implies, she’s all about caring about others, often to her own detriment. She might work for children, charities, rarely considering her own needs. She’s a good listener and is generous. She fears losing those she cares for, and she just wants to be loved and have a sense of belonging. In extreme, this type might be passive-aggressive, angrily codependent, manipulative to appear unselfish and nurturing. The over-controlling mother.

5) The Matriarch (Hera): Being a wife is her life, and everything she does is to please her husband and family. Family is everything. She might be highly controlling of her “empire,” and enjoys entertaining to a fault. He biggest fear is losing her husband or children, or losing their love. She fears being alone in the world, being abandoned. In the extreme, this character type might become suicidal, threatening, paranoid, doing everything to save face—even destroy her family—in order to keep up appearances.

6) The Mystic (Hestia): The Mystic likes to be alone, and often doesn’t want to marry or have a family. She is very sensitive, creative, and fears constriction on her freedom and creativity. She longs to connect with something greater than herself. She is spiritual and fears not having time to be alone and pursue her creativity. She’s motivated by a need for balance and order in her life, and she’s sensitive to the plight of others, but she tends to live in a dream world. In the extreme, she is a loner or sociopath, is socially inept, afraid to take risks or make friends, feels so inadequate that she tries to please everyone around her.

7) The Female Messiah (Isis): This type of character is concerned about the plight of women and all living things. She wants to help others grow spiritually, find their path, be healed in body and soul. She fears being persecuted or misunderstood. She’s motivated by a sense of purpose, and in extreme, she’s dogmatic and unbendable, heartless at times, pushes others and punishes them.

8) The Maiden (Persephone): This type of woman cares about fun, not worrying about daily affairs. She feels carefree and invulnerable to trouble, and her self-confidence rubs off on others. She’s the party girl, regardless of her age, and hasn’t grown up. But she can have a big heart and helps others. She’s your BFF that stands by your side. She likes to meet new people and she takes care of her mother. She fears being trapped in a job or relationship, and she doesn’t want to appear naïve. She’s motivated by a need for safety and being different, and in the extreme, she might oppose authority (rebellious teen), get depressed, act out with bad behavior, and can’t seem to love anyone.

A Seducer might charm people to get her way. She might be a cool, calculating nemesis or a siren who entices.

The Amazon might be your boss, someone trying to climb the ladder, a confident and dynamic woman who seems to take charge and achieves big goals.

The Father’s Daughter might be a fun, loyal friend, team player, the one who sticks by your side and tells everyone else where they can go. She might be the girl next door or a coworker.

The Nurturer is ever the optimistic, telling you that you can do it. She might be the trend-setter, impulsive (let’s stop moping and go shopping!), and is often funny.

The Matriarch, controlled and clever, is analytical, detail-oriented, and often rigid in her manner and beliefs. She can be a know-it-all or a bookworm, a perfectionist that can drive you crazy.

The Mystic is sensitive and gentle. She might be that quiet, trusting, encouraging friend or someone who is just plain innocent and naïve.

The Female Messiah fights for your cause, meets her commitments. She is the stubborn sister or friend who is determined, quick-tempered, and says it like it is. She will tell you what you need to do in no uncertain terms.

The Maiden is the woman who brings peace and calm to a crazy situation. She is all about making peace, helping others get along. She inspires by her example of being capable, optimistic, and selfless. She might be a caregiver or a teacher.

Do any of these types sound like your characters? Can you find a place in your novel for a few of these female archetypes to make your story richer and push your conflict higher? Which type do you especially like?

A Look at 8 Key Male Archetypes for Your Novel

WritersWednesday

I found two awesome articles about Archetypes on C.S. Lakin’s blog and with her permission am sharing them for all you lovely people to see! Thank you so much C.S. for your insight and great resource! Here is the first article!

A Look at 8 Key Male Archetypes for Your Novel

While we don’t want to create cookie-cutter stereotyped characters, learning about archetypes can be tremendously helpful in character development. We’ve been talking about archetypes over the last week, so if you’ve missed some of these posts, start with this one.

The idea here is to find a type and go from there. Archetypes are all about personality and motivation, and by bringing in some of the traditional, established characteristics of specific archetypes, you can craft believable characters.

As I’ve mentioned in many posts, your novel or play or short story needs a cast of characters, unless your plot is about one person alone in the world (or some world).

These characters play various roles, and while the basic roles are ally, enemy(nemesis or antagonist), and lover, there is much more to consider than these general descriptions.

Some look at Greek gods as archetypes that can be utilized in character development, and if you modernize the qualities of these gods, you can see how you might transfer those over to your novel.

8 Basic Types for Male Characters

Let’s take a look at eight male character types, and as you read through them, think of how these types might possibly fit into your story. Don’t just pick a type because it’s interesting. Every character needs to serve the interests of your plot.

1) The Protector (Ares): He is all about being physical, spontaneous, impulsive. He will act first and think later. He wants to win, and he’s fiercely protective. He fears being constricted, bored, having to use his mind over body. He’s motivated by survival, and the extreme of this character can be violent, yearning to fight, with a poor self-image and bad temper.

2) The Businessman (Apollo): He is entrenched in his career, planning his life, competing, success. He fears failure in the workplace and getting too intimate. He keeps his emotional distance, afraid of rejection. He’s motivated by a need to succeed and a drive to compete. The extreme of this character tends to feel betrayed, wants revenge, is viciously competitive, and uses people.

3) The Recluse (Hades): The name tells all. He wants to be left alone, shuns others. He’s afraid of crowds, his emotions, of spinning out of control. His motivation springs from his need to understand himself and his world. In extreme, this type of man is antisocial, psychotic, terrified of rejection, intimidating, and shuns all affectionate relationships.

4) The Fool (Hermes): This character is a free spirit, seeking freedom, reckless adventures, often an eternal child (Puer Aeternas). He can also be very positive in his childlike, accepting ways. He fears losing his freedom, getting bored, being committed to relationships or deals. His motivation stems from the need to know and the desire to try everything. The extreme of this character is seen in the con man, one who hates authority, is self-absorbed, disregards law and propriety, lacks empathy.

5) The Lady’s Man (Dionysus): He’s all about sex, romance, flirting, pleasure. Physical satiation above all else. He fears losing appeal, losing his youth and virility, and avoids commitment or feeling trapped. He’s motivated by a deep need for love and acceptance, or a drive to win or seek fleeting pleasures to give him a sense of fulfillment. The extreme of this character can be possessive, abusive, disloyal, explosive.

6) The Messiah (Osiris): The male face of this archetype is all about being male, the power of the male personality, and the male psyche. He is concerned with healing the soul more than the body. He fears failure of his quest or purpose, being misunderstood or not taken seriously. He’s motivated by his desire to help others, sacrifice himself for the greater good. He’s driven by great purpose or vision and willing to battle whoever stands in his way. The extreme of this character is harshly critical of others who oppose his views, overly passionate so that he breaks others’ spirits and egos. He feels he is always right and all should believe the way he believes, and those who don’t, he punishes.

7) The Artist (Poseidon): He cares about his creativity, expressing his emotions. He worries what others think of him and wants to be treated fairly. He tries to appear he’s in control and is strong, though he often suffers self-doubt. He’s motivated by a drive to be admired, to be important, to stand out from the crowd. The extreme of this character is deceitful, manipulative, playing games with people’s hearts, reckless and angry, without boundaries and easily enraged. He’ll also hold a grudge forever.

8) The King (Zeus): He rules his kingdom—those in his life. He longs to be admired and in charge, respected, even worshipped. He wants to be the best of the best and pushes himself to get there. He fears competition—that someone will rise above him—someone younger, faster, stronger. He’s motivated by a strong need for approval and recognition and power. The extreme of this character is domineering, arrogant, oppressive, harsh, and often humiliates others.

Taking the Types a Step Further

What could you do with a Protector type? I mentioned last week how my hero in my new novel, Colorado Dream, is a perfect protector. He’s a kind of bad boy, walking on the wild side. This type might be very charismatic, volatile.

A Businessman type could be a leader of a bank, an Army platoon, a think tank. He might be a workaholic. He might be the guy who makes great decisions, motivates others, takes on responsibility.

The Recluse could be a troubled coworker. Or a serial killer. He might be the outcast in a classroom, tormented, brooding. A great “red herring” character who all tend to blame.

The Fool could also be a strong, quiet good friend who advises. Who’s faithful and supportive, doesn’t cause waves and is unassertive. He could be Mr. Nice Guy or the listening ear at work.

The Lady’s Man is a charmer, smooth talker. He might get so lost in his fantasies, his “real life” is falling apart. Some other possible characteristics are his flair for drama, his enthusiasm, ability to manipulate.

The Messiah might be a knowledgeable professor or scientist that has the answers. He might be a computer nerd who is neurotic about getting all the answers. He can be amazingly creative but stubborn and inflexible. He could be picky, hating change or anything that disrupts his life.

The Artist is the guy in the room who adds the spark. He’s adventurous, fun-loving, craving excitement, and can be wholly unreliable and foolhardy. You see in him the daredevil or the explorer. He can spur on your protagonist to make a scary choice, or he can be an antagonist that leads your hero into trouble.

The King might be your hero, idealistic, a champion, acting with honor. Or he might be your heroine’s love interest or a character who noble ideals and principles inspires your hero. He might be the avenger of wrongs or the knight in shining armor.

Supporting Friends

Other archetypal roles can be found in The Magi (the voice of wisdom, the one who helps empower your hero), the Mentor (who freely offers good advice and wants to come alongside your hero), and the Best Friend or Lover.

Think about all the male characters, major and minor, you have in your novel. See how these various traits might enrich them and create conflict. You might need to add a few more characters in there, to create a wider palette of character dynamics.

What archetype intrigues you the most? Which one best fits your primary male character in your story, and which particular characteristic do you like in him? (And can you sing the Underdog theme?)

Waiting out the Wall – Writers Wednesday

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Waiting Out the Wall

Many of you know that I am a prolific writer. I write daily, sometimes up to 10,000 words a day. I love writing and it loves me. Until, it doesn’t.

I’ve been writing for about six years. I wrote my first book Dead Awakenings at 150,000 words in 30 days. The next month I wrote another book, also at 150,000 words. The third month I wrote Reign of the Vampires at right around 120,000 words. It was amazing. Splendid. And I was on top of the world! I didn’t write any more books until two and a half years ago. In two and a half years I’ve written a dozen books and published ten of them so far. I was told volume was the name of the game. If I wanted to get my name out there I need to write and write and write some more. So I did.

Along the way I had a writer’s block. Nothing big, small ones. Cute little writer’s blocks that I want to name and put on my shelf. I’d take a week off and then be fine. I’d read a few tips here and there and bam! I was back in the game.

Until a month ago.

A month ago I had a major meltdown. A meltdown like none I’ve had in over eighteen years. It was bad. Really bad. And I finally asked myself. What the hell are you doing? Why are you doing all this? What is the goal? And that’s where it started. My first REAL Writer’s Block ever. A hairy ten foot spider of a writer’s block that I didn’t want to touch let alone put on a shelf and care for.

It was like being stranded in the middle of the ocean of words that wouldn’t come together and form beautiful prose anymore.

 

At first I remembered how comfortable I’d been just days before. Sailing on a cruise ship in this gigantic ocean of words. Partying with all my writer friends and chatting about my WIP, and characters, and putting beautiful words on pages. Only to wake up abandoned on a life raft with limited rations, not a soul in sight and words not only no longer in my mind, but no longer in the ocean that surrounded me either. Nothing. There was just… dark ominous water threatening to swallow me down.

So what did I do? I lay in the bottom of my boat till I hit shore and then I started reading articles about writer’s block and how to get rid of it. Try “What If” Questions. Try writing a character sheet. Move on to a different project. Write through it because the first draft will be crap anyway. But every single thing I read had a common theme: Keep Working.

Now I had friends. My wonderful writer friends whom I love and cherish and they said, “When I get blocked it’s because I deviate too much from my plot.” Well, that’s true, for them, but I’m not a heavy plotter. I can’t be. My characters freak out when I tell them what to do and then they throw a tantrum and stop talking to me. So, what’s a Plotzer type of girl to do when all the advice she’s being given makes her brain throb and the hamster on the wheel in her head pass out?

You stop. That’s right. You stop. Not an hour stop. Or a day stop. Or even a week stop. You take a full stop. A month. Two months. However long you and your body need. You don’t even try. Don’t open your word document and stare at it. Don’t read your Facebook feed full of what all your writer friends are working on. You don’t read books in your genre and analyze them. Don’t promote or market anything! You just stop. You pretend you aren’t an author. You do all those things that never get done because you write so much.

You do the laundry and cook real meals. You go to sleep early and sleep through the night. You go to the store or the mall and walk around and enjoy just being there. You take your kids to violin and parkour and fencing and dance and you don’t take your computer so you can write while you wait. You binge watch every show you haven’t seen in over a year. You talk to friends that aren’t writers and go to lunch with them to hear about normal people. You clean your house and organize the spare bedroom and take the time to be a regular person again.

Yes, it’s true that for the first few days your writer’s brain will fight this change. Tell you that you need to write. You have crap to get done. Ignore it. Drown it out with doing those other things that help you remember who you are. Within a week or so you’ll find that everything inside quiets down and you’ll start to breathe again. You might get an idea or two in this time. Jot them down but nothing more. Don’t write. Don’t plot. Just make a note so you have it for later.

Then, when you’re in those quiet moments, you think about what the heck started it all. Were you pressuring yourself to get it done? Were you pressuring yourself that it wasn’t good enough? Were you too focused on selling more than your friends? Were you upset that someone didn’t invite you to a party or that you got a 2 star review? Most likely you will find that what started it all was pressure. Stress will shut down your creativity faster than being run over by a truck. You can at least get some good sensory descriptions and plot ideas from being run over by a truck. But with stress, not so much.

Then when you’re ready, think about your characters a bit. Not a lot. Just a little. Think about where you left them and what they’re doing. Maybe pull out something you need to edit and edit it. Slow. No pressure to be amazing, just reliving it and making it better here and there. Pick up a book in genres you DO NOT write in. (That is key!!) For me it’s non-fiction. Read them. Learn from them. Have fun with them. Maybe write a blog post. Or an article for a newsletter. Try your had at a short story. Very short. Two thousand words or less. Again, the name of the game is No Pressure. Something light and fun just to see where it goes. Do a daily writing prompt and turn it into a thousand word flash fiction for your blog. No commitment. You are a free agent here!

And then when you think you’re ready to start writing again, to dive back into that monster of a novel you’re writing, Don’t. Don’t do it. You aren’t ready.

Take a few more days. Do more things. Go to a play or your son’s soccer game. Make cookies for your neighbors. And just take time to remember who you were before you started calling yourself an author. Let yourself be.

I know you’re asking, okay, so when do I start writing again? The answer is, when holding back will kill you. When that feeling that if you don’t get the screaming characters in your head to shut up that you might put an icepick through your temple. That’s when you write. When the need is so overwhelming that you can no longer hold back that sea of words that has finally come back to you and is ready to help you back onto your cruise ship. That’s when you begin again.

But what if you can’t wait it out? What if you’re on a deadline? Then what do you do? You take as much time as you can and then you start slowly. Do the small things above. Think of your characters in your book. Do character sheets and maybe go on Pinterest and look for inspiration. Make a board for your characters. Do a small writing prompt and pop your characters into it. It doesn’t have to be a scene you will use in your book, but it can be a scene you could use as promo or a freebie in your newsletter. Ultimately, if you are on a deadline you can’t wait forever and sometimes what you’ll need to do most after taking your break is forcing yourself to sit down and write again. After you’ve taken sufficient time out, you need to recommit and dedicate yourself to your writing again. Go back and read the last book in the series. Re-read the chapters you’ve already written. Remind yourself why you loved these characters so much.

But first, give yourself time to heal and to be. And when you are ready, go into it for the love of writing. The love of wanting to just write and create and have fun. For you. Not to get a contract or an agent. Not to fulfill a contract in place or to submit to an anthology. Not to make a million dollars.

Write because if you don’t, your characters will murder you in your sleep.

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books with a Bite

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Editors & Critique Partners & Beta Readers Oh My! Writers Wednesday

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Hey Everyone!  So there are many things you need to do for your book once you finish it. Now I know that your first draft is amazing. It’s perfect and doesn’t need to be touched but let’s think for a minute that maybe it does. Let’s think that maybe it could be made stronger, nipped, tucked and polished a bit. 

 

A lot of authors make the mistake of trying to get their work out too quick. They query twenty agents and get standard form rejections. Then they move to publishers and get a dozen rejections and think, oh well, I’ll just self publish it. When what they should be doing is taking a step back to figure out why they are being rejected.

 

So here is a quote from Ernest Hemingway:

The first draft of anything is crap! 

 

Now I don’t necessarily agree with him. Not all of it is crap. Some of it is good. But never is it great. And never is it publishable. It takes time and editing to get it great and make it publishable. So what do you do? How do you know how what to do to make it better?

 

People are often surprised to hear how many times I edit a piece before giving it to an editor. So here is my process.

 

I write a draft. It usually takes about a month to write it. Then I let it sit and marinate. After that I edit it all the way through about two to three times. From there I go through my editing checklist and clean up the book. After that I send it out to get critiqued. 

 

Stage One – Critique Partners

You need one amazing or two awesome critique partners to look over your book and tell you exactly what they think. Not your mom or your best friend or your husband – Unless they are a published author. But people who know what they are doing and will tell you the total truth. They should tell you any character, plot, pacing, grammatical and typo issues. They should tell you what they like and do not like. They should kick your butt and tell you everything that is wrong with your book along with what is right. And you should not take it personally. They are trying to help you. They want you to succeed. 

 

Stage Two – You Edit

After you get those critiques back you edit it again with your partners’ notes. You don’t have to take all of their notes but you do need to at least keep an open mind to them. After you have edited the story again, you are almost done. You may feel at this point you’re done. That it is as good as it is going to get. But hold on.

 

Stage Three A – Editor 

At this point you may decide to hire a freelance editor to look at it. There are different kinds of editors so make sure you get the right one. A developmental editor will look at your overall story and plot and characters and tell you any problems. Copy Editors look for grammatical, plot, typo and other kinds of problems. Smaller than the big story or plot. Proofreaders simply look for typo and grammatical errors, that’s all. I suggest you get recommendations for editors instead of just picking one from the internet. Also most editors will do a free sample so they can see your writing and you can see their style. Always get a free sample. Look at their credentials and any recommendations they may have. There are a lot of people who call themselves editors that shouldn’t be. Be proactive in your search and make sure you find a good fit for you. What might work for your friend may not be what you need.

 

Stage Three B – Beta Readers

If you choose to skip paying an editor then you go to Beta Readers. Beta Readers are different than Critique partners. Your beta readers will give you their overall impressions of the book. Did they like it? Did they not? Where there characters they didn’t like or inconsistencies you missed. They will also grab any last typos for you. I usually have a minimum of 3 beta readers because 3 sets of eyes are better than one at this stage.

 

Stage Four – You Edit

This is it. Your last pass. You go through it and edit all the things your beta readers caught. Then maybe you go through it another time. Or maybe you want to never look at it again and you set it aside. 

 

So now are you done? Nope. Now you write a Logline, Tagline, Blurb and Synopsis. Then you polish the heck out of those. And when that is done, then you have a package ready to go. 

 

Now you notice I didn’t mention critique groups. Those are great but they are no longer in my process because I write too fast and they move to slow. Writer’s groups are a wonderful tool if you get into one with the following criteria. 1) There are published writers in the group. 2) The people are there to do more than just get your approval 3) They know how to critique.

Critique groups can be very helpful but beware because everyone has their own ideas as to what you should do with your story. You may end up with six conflicting ideas as to what you need to work on. But here is a piece of advice I got that I apply to all critiques and why I always use 2-3 people for everything. 

 

“If two or more people say you’re drunk. You’re Drunk! Sit Down!”

 

What that means is, if two or more people are telling you that you have the same problem with your work, you really should look at it because it’s probably a problem. If one person says it, then think about it and see if you agree. If two or more tell you, then it might have merit. If two people tell you your character has no arc, then they probably don’t. If they tell you that you could do away with a scene, you probably can. People will always have different opinions and they won’t always agree with you, it’s up to you to pick and choose what you want to listen to. But if you go with a publisher, in the end, they will probably have the last say.

 

So what about you? What’s your process after you finish a book?

Is Research Necessary? – Writers Wednesday

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Is Research Necessary?

Welcome to Writers Wednesday!

When I think of doing research the first thing that springs to mind is a historical novel. But I have learn in writing a dystopian series as well as sci-fi that research can be necessary for just about anything you write.

You hear people say all the time, “write what you know.” But what if you want to write about a sword wielding vampire? Are you a sword wielding vampire? Maybe, but probably not. So how do you write about them?

Or how about the fact that you live in Massachusetts and you want to write about Montana, but you’ve never even been to Montana. How do you do that? Or what if you want to write about a Hollywood Starlet or BDSM or Norse Gods?

The answer is simple. Research.

You have to do research in just about every book you write, unless you are writing exactly what you know. I live in California and even I had to do a few minutes of research when I wanted my characters to meet in downtown Los Angeles. I drive to downtown on a weekly basis. But I don’t drive from the 10 to Hollywood Blvd in rush hour all the time. So I had to research how long that would take. Research is inherent to your writing unless you are making everything up yourself.

So if you are going to research where do you start? How far do you go? How much do you use? When do you stop?

Well, how do you know if you need to research? If you don’t know something, you need to research it. That is, if you want to be accurate. If you don’t know the name of the Chinese dynasty from the third century, find out. If you don’t know the proper street names of the business district in Chicago, research it. If you don’t know the difference between a parry and a thrust in a sword fight, find out.

Yes, there are times you can try to fudge it, but unless you are creating your own world then I don’t recommend it. And you can never fudge it in a historical. They will crucify you. Same with science in a hard core Sci-Fi novel. Don’t even try.

So, now we know we need to research, the question is: Where do we go for the info? Yes, the internet is certainly easy to access and there are thousands of websites to choose from, but you need to vet your sources to make sure they are correct. Just because you google it doesn’t mean it’s true.

When I wanted to incorporate Tesla into one of my stories I first read about him on the internet. Then I went to the library and checked out half a dozen books on him. A library is a great place to get information. Google professors who know about what you are looking up and ask them. Ask on your RWA boards for help. There are dozens of places you can go for help if you just look.

But you need to be careful. I know many authors who research for years and never get their novel finished because of it. Sometimes it is hard to remember that research is there to help you with your novel. Not to become your primary focus.

Lastly, how much do you use in your novel? That’s up to you but I would say for all of the research you do you probably won’t use a tenth of it. And that’s okay. It’s you as an author who needs to know it.

For me, I need to know how to swordplay for my Fairelle series. I have done extensive research on weapons and fencing and battles and injuries and armor. Now you won’t learn about the armor my hero puts on, or how he ties every tie or the buckles he can’t reach that his manservant has to help him with. But you will read my fight scenes and see how realistic they are. You’ll read about the swords they use and not think, “There’s no way she could lift that.” When my guys get injured, it’s realistic. All because of my research. You won’t know why it’s so real, you’ll just know that it isn’t fake.

And that’s what we are going for as a writer and why we do our research. To suspend disbelief in our readers. Anything less with pull them out of the story and possibly write a scathing review about how poorly it was written.

Personally, research is not my favorite thing to do, but I do it to be better. I do it to write better and I do it for my characters. Because in the end, they will kick my butt if I make them look bad.

So tell me some of the most fun things you’ve ever researched for a book? This last week I researched baby names meaning: Devil, Demon, Malevolent, Poisonous, Evil.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, It’s Contest Season – Writers Wednesday

WritersWednesday

Welcome back to Writers Wednesday! You know I started out not caring for blogging but over the last few months as I have started publishing the Writers Wednesday posts, I’ve really found that I enjoy talking about writing a bit. So I hope you are getting something out of my posts as much as I am enjoying writing them.

Well this week I want to talk about contests. As I worked on my last newsletter as the Editor of the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter of RWA I went and looked up on RWA’s website for contests to list and found tons. Tons of contests being offered from cheap to expensive. Probably over thirty to forty contests being offered between now and the end of March. And those are just RWA contests.

Magic book

So when you’re looking at and thinking about contests, what should you look for and why should you do it and what should you be wary of? There are many factors that go into entering a contest and with so many choices there are some things to think about before you put money out there for them.

You enter because you want constructive feedback from industry professionals about your work. This is a good thing! If you make it to the final round agents and editors will most likely be the judge and even if you don’t win you could make some good connections or you could get some great feedback on how to make your book stronger.

  • You enter because you want someone to edit your book for you for free. This is not good. No one will edit your book. They may give you a few things to work on, but they won’t edit it. And most contests only read the first 10-30 pages anyway.
  • You enter so you can impress people with your win and get attention. Again, not a great reason. When agents and editors look at your wins they want to know what contest you won. If you win the Rita, or the Golden Heart, they will take a serious look at you. If you win the Idaho Sweet Potato Jingle award, not so much.
  • Maybe you have been dying to have an agent or editor look at your book and you can’t get their attention but they are one of the finalist judges. That’s a good way to go to get their input before you query.

When looking for a contest to enter there are also things you should look out for because there are a lot of companies out there just looking to make some money and they aren’t looking to help you as an author.

  • Did they solicit you? Run the other way. Companies that come to you and ask you to enter are looking to take your money, hands down.
  • Do they cost more than 50.00 to enter? Run away. Some contests cost 100.00 or more to enter. That’s just ridiculous. They are trying to make money off you. It’s a rip off. Also if they give you a bulk discount if you enter more than one book, also a scam.
  • How man categories do they have? If they are judging more genres than Amazon has, then it’s a scam. Good contests will have a limit to their genres and they will focus around a certain criteria. Maybe the first kissing scene. Maybe the opening of the book. Maybe the introduction to your hero. Or maybe the book as a whole. Good contests are focused.
  • If they won’t tell you who the judges are or their judges aren’t professionals in the industry, I wouldn’t recommend it. Anyone can call themselves a judge, but just like speakers at conferences, what makes them qualified? Make sure the company that is putting on the contest is disclosing all information. They should have the judges lines up for the final round and you should be able to look up those judges to make sure they are reputable.
  • How do you win the contest? Do you get as many of your friends and family to vote for you as possible or are you actually judged by people who read your work and do not know you. There are lots of popularity contests, and that’s fine, but just know what they are. They are different than actual judged contests.
  • What do you get if you win? A trophy? Money? A certificate? Nothing? Reputable contests will give you something if you win. If they don’t, again, beware.

So, should you enter contests? It depends. But one thing you need to keep in mind is, no matter how good or reputable the contest is, you are going to get varying opinions on your work. You will get initial round of 3 judges who will tell you what they think about your work. Sometimes they will say the same thing, sometimes they will say completely different things. Then you will get two or three final round judges who will do the same thing. One may love it, two may not. It just depends. And you have to decide, just like a writer’s group or critique partners, if you agree with what is said, or if you think it is just one person’s opinion and nothing more. Contests are a great way to get feedback. They are also a great way to confuse the heck out of you if you don’t know how to interpret what they are telling you.

But I caution you. 30.00 + 20.00 + 40.00 + 25.00 adds up fast! So be careful of how much you are spending and what you are getting for the money. Contests can also become addictive. If you start winning then you enter everything to try and collect as many wins as you can and you never actually do anything with the book that’s not a good thing. The object of writing a book is to get it out there. There are plenty of contests that can be entered with already published works. Plus all the time you spend searching out and applying for contests is time taken away from actual writing. And you want to limit that as much as possible.

Lastly, be aware of the rules of contests. Some are for published, some unpublished. Some you can publish your book but not until the end of the contest. Some you can publish but not before the final round starts. They all have formatting they require. They all have rules on when, how and who to send to. Make sure you follow those rules to the letter because a lot of contests will disqualify you and not refund you money if you do it wrong.

So, have you entered any contests? What did you think?

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books with a Bite

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Showing Your Villains a little Love! – Writers Wednesday

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Showing Your Villains a little Love!

How many times have you read a book, seen a movie or watched a TV Show and loved or absolutely hated the Villain? There is nothing better than a well played, well fleshed out villain who isn’t a cardboard cutout of what evil is supposed to look like. I’ve rooted for the villains since Dracula came along. Darth Vader is my father!

As writers our villain is as important as our hero and heroine. Their story, whether told or not, is also as important.

So what makes a good villain? One that you can identify with and root for? Is it someone who resembles your junior high PE teacher? Or maybe the one who acts just like the undeserving jerk who stole your girl friend in high school? There are a lot of things that can make you love or hate a villain, but the biggest one is that they aren’t evil. They’re humanized.

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One of the villains that I rooted for the most was Sweeney Todd. You say he isn’t the villain? Really? He murders people, cuts them up and makes them into pies. Sound like a good guy to you? Not so much. But let’s look at how he got to that place. His wife was taken from him, he was thrown into jail under false charges and then he finds out his wife was raped and died and his daughter is being raised by the man behind it all. All those things that happened to him, make him so sympathetic that as he’s killing people you are gleefully cheering him on! Sympathy or empathy for the villain is a great way to make people love them.

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Another of my favorites is Loki. Sigh…Loki! He’s the brother of Thor. Always second best and second fiddle to his big brother with the golden hair. Yet we find out that he’s actually adopted. And not just adopted, but adopted from the one race that he’s been taught to hate and loathe his entire life. That sucks. And it makes you feel for him. He no longer has a sense of identity. Does he do terrible things, yeah, he does. But he has one of the best senses of humor I’ve ever seen. And when push comes to shove, he does the right thing–most of the time. Not always, but when it counts. On top of that, did you see the scene when he found out his mom was dead. I cried. He was devastate. He loved his mother more than anything. That right there humanizes him and makes us love him.

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How about Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones? There is a despicable man! Incest, murder, attempted murder of a child. You name it. Yet, after a dreadful injury he forms an unlikely friendship with Lady Breann. He protects her virtue, saves her life and then gives her one of the most precious things he owns. How can you not love a man like that? You know they’ve done horrible things, but deep down, he’s not a bad person. What about the Hound? He protects, Arya Stark.

So what are some things you need to make a great villain? Well, we’ve already talked about humanizing them. Every villain had a mother who loved them at one time. They have kids, maybe a spouse, people who don’t realize what monsters they are. They care for those people. Love those people. And would do anything to protect those people. Or dog, some villains just really love their dogs. Like Woody Harellson from Seven Psychopaths.

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Remember, most villains don’t see themselves as villains. They think they are doing a good thing. Take Wilson Fisk, Kingpin, from Netflix Daredevil series. Wilson Fisk thought he was trying to make Hell’s Kitchen a better place. But he was actually the reign of terror in that city. Displacing old ladies, killing people who got in his way. He was the villain.

Now does that mean you can’t just have a totally sadistic twisted villain who enjoys being mean? Nope, not at all! Cough, cough–Umbridge from Harry Potter and Marie Lalaurie from American Horror Story Coven. Sadistic, twisted and loving to inflict pain. But what did they cover it up with? Smiles, jokes, pink and kittens and parties. Those are some seriously developed villains. Dumpy, unassuming, small voices, yet two of the craziest witches I’ve ever seen made into characters!

Humanizing a villain makes them real, tangible, not just a character. Give a glimpse of those intimate moments when they think no one is looking and they do something nice, caring, loving. Having an evil villain or even one who thinks that they are doing bad things for the greater good, is great, but giving us a villain we are torn about, now that is a great character!

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books with a Bite

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5 Things to do Before Your Book Publishes! – Writers Wednesday

WritersWednesday

5 Things to do Before Your Book Publishes!

Welcome to the Fourth part of my series on Self publishing.If you missed the first blog post in this series you can find it HERE,
The Second is HERE, The Third is HERE.

So we discussed a few things to look out for when self publishing. And five things you need to do for yourself as an author before publishing. Now I’m going to tell you Five Things your book needs before you publish it.

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1)A Newsletter – A newsletter list is your best friend. The people on it WANT to hear what you are saying and doing. Unlike paid ads where you never know what you are going to get, these people went through the trouble of signing up. There’s a reason and those contacts are invaluable! When you set up a newsletter give people something free. A short story or article or something to help them get to know you and your writing style and to get them hooked. Then send one out every month to two months. Any longer and people might forget they signed up.

2)A Media Kit – Media kits for you and your books are also a must have. They make life so much easier when it’s time to send things out for promo. In your media kit, if it’s about you have your bio, headshot and accomplishments as well as a possible writing sample as be sure to include all your social media links for people to contact you at. If it’s for a book have the cover, ISBN, length and genre of book, links, expert (both long and short), blurb, your bio and headshot. Also include teaser graphics for them to put up. Put it all in a word doc and pdf. You never know which people will want.

3)ARCs – Get them out there! You need people to review your book. In the first week of release you need 15-20 reviews. It will help push your book up through the ranks. Ask bloggers, friends, street team members, reviewers to read and review your book. You will need to have it in different formats for people who read on kindle or nook. Instafreebie is a great website to use for this because people have to add their information to get a free copy. This is great for avoiding pirating and to get contact information to add to your newsletter.

4)Street Team – You need one. A street team is a dedicated group of followers that love your work and want to help spread the word about it. Start gathering street team members early so you can have people help you with promoting your book. Provide them with ARCs and teasers and links and ask them to post them on Facebook groups and pages.

5)Ads and Marketing – You need to market. Why? Because if you don’t no one will. There are lots of free promo sites out there that will blast out your book if it’s free or .99 for the first week. Find them. Use them. If you are going to spend money on ads and marketing, do your research and make sure that you are using people and places that will actually help you grow your fan base and sell books. Do NOT spend 2 weeks straight blasting on your Facebook page that you are SELLING A BOOK! Or on Twitter. People will Not appreciate it. Yes, find Facebook groups to promo in. Yes, you can even buy Facebook ads. But be knowledgeable about who you are using. Some blog tour companies are amazing and will work hard for you, others will take your money. Be sure to get referrals and use them.

Marketing your book should start 3-6 months before release. Cover releases, excerpts, extra tidbits and information, deleted scenes and teasers. All of them can be used to help get the word out there about your book. But it must be done in advance. If you wait till it’s released, your’e already doomed.

So what do you think? What are some things that you have done before release that I didn’t mention?

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Book with a Bite

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5 Things I Learned about Self Publishing the Hard Way – Writers Wednesday

WritersWednesday

5 Things I Learned about Self Publishing the Hard Way!

This is the third in my series on Self Publishing. If you missed the first blog post in this series you can find it HERE! And the Second is HERE!

So this week I want to give you a few tips on things that I learned the hard way when I started self publishing.

I started out 2 years ago with a small indie publisher with my book Dead Awakenings and then moved on and sold my series The Society, to Kensington. But soon realized that the only way for me to release 3 or more books a year in a series was for me to publish them myself.

My series, Fairelle is slated to be 8 books and a handful of novellas with possibly a short story or two as well. If I went to a traditional publisher I’d be writing that series for ten years or more; and with over fifty book ideas in my brain, I couldn’t wait that long.

So, I started reading what I could find on self publishing and what I needed to know and I became a wealth of information. Even so, with all the information out there, there were a few things that no one talked about that I think need to be. Things that can kill you if you don’t do them, or can at least take you a lot of time.

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1) Editing is going to take you ten times as long as writing.

If you are going to self publish you need a professional editor, at least two critique partners that are great and a handful of beta readers. It isn’t enough to edit yourself or have your mom edit for you, unless she is an amazing published author. You need a professional editor to look at your work with an objective eye and tell you what is wrong with it, even though you may not like it. But before you do that though, you need to edit the book at least a couple times yourself and then have two amazing critique partners look at it for you. People you trust who have been published. Then after they’ve edited it, you need to edit it at least one or two times more. I tend to edit my self published works a minimum of seven times. Then you need beta readers who will go through it with a fine toothed comb and find all the mistakes grammatically and typos. This can take anywhere from two to four months. Possibly more. Do not skimp out on this or you’ll pay for it in reviews. Don’t go into this thinking that you’ll be in and out in two months. There is a reason that publishing usually takes six months. So be sure to have many stories to work on so you are consistently rolling them out several times a year.

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2) Format only if you REALLY know how!

Do you have Scrivener? No? Then pay someone to format your book for you. Seriously. I mean it. I am not joking! Formatting your book can take a lot of time if you don’t know how. And I mean, REALLY know how. You are better to pay 25.00 to Marie Force’s Formatting Fairies (No I am no affiliated with them at all) to format the darn thing for you.

However, if you have Scrivener, it’s super easy. So, get Scrivener. And then go on youtube and watch a few videos and you’ll be set. I used to pay Marie Force. Then I got Scrivener and now I do it myself because Scrivener makes it so easy. But before I did, I spent two months trying to format my first book. And in the end, I paid Marie.

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3) Using Draft 2 Digital is a lifesaver in the beginning!

(Again, I’m not affiliated with them)

So again, you can upload your book yourself to Amazon, BN, Itunes, Kobo, ARE and every other outlet on the planet and it might take you a month to do it all. Why? Because each system is different and each system has different errors and each system wants you to upload something in a different format, size, style, but really? Why bother?

You can upload to D2D and they take a small percentage and then click all the outlets (except ARE) and Bam! You’re done! They take care of everything. You don’t have to worry about if payments came in for this outlet or that outlet. You don’t have to fill out a million tax forms. If you want to lower a price you do it in one place, not every one individually. Yes, you could use Smashwords instead of D2D, but Smashwords and I have a hate/hate relationship. I never once got my books to go through their system correctly even when paying a professional and I find their customer service to be non-existent!

So for the beginning, starting out, I suggest you use a service like D2D and save yourself a lot of time. I still make more with them taking out their percentages than I do on Amazon, by far.

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4) It’s all up to you!

That is the good and the bad of it. You can set your own price. When you release. How long the book is. What you put in it. How you market it. It’s all your choice. But ultimately, it’s all on your shoulders as well.

Do you know what to price it at? Have you studied to see what price point is selling best? Do you know which months are the worst for a release? The best? Do you know the typical word count for your genre or what people expect from certain genres? Do you know bloggers? Or Marketers? Where to market and spend your money? Do you know what keywords to use? All of that can be a big burden and you need to learn it before you release, not after.

5) A Million people are doing it. Do you stand out?

I wish someone had told me how hard it was to stand out in a marketplace where there are over a million books a year being self published. The good, the bad, the ugly, it doesn’t matter. When you are self publishing you are competing not only against the other self pubs but the traditionals as well that are getting a lot more marketing dollars than you are. You have to find your niche what makes you stand apart and use it. I’m teaching three classes at Savvy this next year about these very things.

Self publishing can be fun and tremendously rewarding. But you have to go into it with your eyes open, otherwise you will drown. Best of luck! Feel free to ask any questions you might have!

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books with a Bite

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5 things an Author Needs to do Before Publishing! – Writers Wednesday

WritersWednesday

5 things an Author Needs to do – (as an Author) – Before Publishing!

This is the second of a series of posts on Self Publishing! Be sure to follow my blog for more in this series. If you didn’t see the first post, look HERE!

If you’re reading this then I will guess that you’ve either written a book, are in the process of writing one, or are thinking of writing one. In any case, Congrats! Welcome to the club! Writing a novel is one of the hardest and most rewarding things you can do. It takes countless hours of imagination, patience and perseverance. And in the end you get to hold and cradle your computer and sing it sweet songs and promise that soon the entire world will hear the words written on it and it will be glorious!

But – Before you get out there and start querying every single agent and publisher on the planet there are a few things you need to do. These five things have nothing what so ever to do with your manuscript. These things are purely for you! The author. You need to work on you. Your brand, your name.

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1) Get a Website!

Get a website. One with your name as the domain name. And get it without a blogspot or .wix attached to it. You need to shell out a few bucks and get your name and only your name as your website. Why? Because it shows that you are professional and serious about the business. But getting your domain name isn’t good enough. You now need a professional looking site. It really is pretty easy to do in WordPress. Not good at website stuff? Do what I do, go to Youtube and look for tutorials! But if you just can’t do it, find a friend or hire someone. You’re putting yourself out there and want people to take you seriously, so you have to look serious. And within your website be sure to setup a newsletter form.

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2) Get a Professional Headshot!

My kids are in the entertainment industry as actors and I can’t tell you how invaluable professional headshots are. They make all the difference. When I have people coming into the industry asking me for tips on how to get started I always tell them to get good headshots. Now good does not equal expensive – it just equals good. I’ve found great photographers for a couple hundred bucks. And you can use that photo for your professional photo for the rest of your life if you want. So invest! A fun one for your website. A good one for the back of books. But again, if you want to be taken seriously, you need to look professional. Save the fun snapchat shots for your Facebook page.

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3) Setup a GoodReads and Amazon Author Page.

You may not have anything to put on there yet, and that’s okay. But you need to become familiar with they systems and get yourself in there. Put up your photo. Write a blurb about yourself. Just get a presence. Get started. Get yourself out there.

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4) Setup a Facebook Page and Twitter Account.

Believe it or not Agents and Publishers do look at this stuff. They want to see if you are getting out there. They want to see if you have a presence and a following. They want to know that you aren’t going to just leave all the marketing up to them while you sit behind your computer screen and wait for the money to roll in. You need to show them that you are willing to put in more work and effort to ensure not only that your book is successful, but that you as a writer are successful in the long run. And not just a personal Facebook account but an actual page for you as an author.

Multi-Ethnic Group of People Planning Ideas

5) Get involved.

If you are reading this then chances are you are a member of RWA and several chapters. Great! Awesome! That’s exactly what you need to do. You need to be a part of writing organizations. Volunteer. Get to know people. Form friendships. Make connections. Get on Yahoo Groups for writers. Join Facebook groups for writers. Find your Tribe! Your people. The ones you can rely on and be supportive of. Those people will be invaluable to you in the future as critique partners, friends and partners in crime. Lastly, get involved with anthologies and book sets with good, reputable people. Submit to magazine calls. Get your name out there and get involved!

Writing is a tough business that gets tougher every year. You have to be prepared to succeed – And not just by having an amazing book! Are you ready?

Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books with a Bite

Are you a member of my newsletter? Join HERE for a FREE E-book!