Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Five Most Important Things Your Protagonist Must Have

The art of crafting the perfect character is as individual to your genre, plot, and setting, as you are. A drama/action story has a different hero than a sci-fi/fantasy. What the protagonist looks like, his/her personality, the backstory, even the species if your talking about fantasy. So how can a single formula craft a perfect protagonist? How can his or her attributes be narrowed down to five simple things?
Like so:
The five most important things your protagonist must have don't include things like appearance, setting, or species. The reader must find themselves in the hero role. They must imagine their own looks, setting, and frame of being in the character as they read. The five most important aspects of your hero must include the things your reader identifies in their own life.
#1. A wound- Life is hard, Ladies and Gentlemen, anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something. Your reader will always at least empathize, or sympathize with your MC (main character)'s wound. What when wrong? How were they hurt, physically/emotionally/both. Most wounds occur in adolescence, but they can be events that occurred over the life time of the character as well. i.e. abuse, neglect, speech impediment, handicap etc. this leads to...
#2. A belief- This is how the world works...all of the time! Now, its important to point out here that the belief your MC has is false. It is what they believe is true based on their wound, but it is never true all of the time, nor with every person. The MC 'believes it is, which brings on...
#3. A fear. FEAR- us the acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. In the MC's  logical mind they know every elevator, every time it runs does not plummet to the ground maiming the people inside. If that was their wound, or is based on their wound, it doesn't matter what logic says. Their false belief appears real when ever they ride the elevator. It is this juxtaposition between the fear and logic that sends our MC into...
#4. A need or a longing- This is where it gets tricky. Some MC's have an openly stated longing for which nothing is done to accomplish it. MC woke up and complains that life would be wonderful if they could live somewhere sunny. When they walk to their meaningless job, the sun shines and they complain about the heat. This is a stated longing, and a hidden need. Your MC may state a wish for excitement and romance but agree to tea with the stuffy, boring man to which her mother has forced her to be betrothed. An open longing, but no action on the part of the MC. The MC can have both hidden needs, and longings that only emerge later when we come to...
#5. Outward Conflict- Two of the hardest parts of a story to meld together are inward and outward conflict. Too much inward conflict creates heavy narrative and too much outward conflict creates poor character development. However, its the outward conflict that creates openings to include inner conflict. Outward conflict is physical movement your reader can see, hear, touch, smell. It drives the MC to action, pursuit of their need, an opportunity to overcome the fear and create a new belief system to heal their wound. Inner conflict is simply desire. It does not create, overcome, act or heal leaving the protagonist the same, or more pathetic by the end of the story. As your MC acts, the desire for change will develop the personality and connection for the reader, but desire alone. Is a 700 pound man,sitting on the couch,  wishing he was thinner while stuffing his face with candy bars and growing his fat into the cushions.

Now, remember...Often the wound does not occur in the body of your story, it is part of the back story leading to the MC's current state of mind. Sometimes it is stated by the MC  in dialogue, but in many stories the wound is never announced. Take "My best friend's Wedding". the only hint we have at her wound is a statement she makes about breaking up with her best friend six years earlier. She says "I got restless, (afraid), broke up and cried for like the third time in my life."
What happened to her that she only cried three times in 22 years? that's her wound.
In "Shrek", we see his "Keep out" signs and his act. "You better run, big scary ogre." His wound is the way people have treated him because he's an Ogre, although it's never said in so many words.
 Go read your favorite books or watch your favorite movies and see if you can find these attributes in the production. It will show you how to develop them in your novels. What ever your story, setting, characters or genre, your protagonist is the person your reader will connect with, become obsessed with and follow through the story. By Using the five most important attributes your hero must have to sculpt your work, You can write a story about anything.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Picture Book Review: Quincy and Buck

 When I was a kid I lived next to an empty field where my neighbors kept their horses. My favorite times were feeding, petting, and riding Applesauce and Apricot. Yes, I grew up where we had orchards.
I have always loved the beauty, intelligence, and grace of horses. I rode as a teenager with a friend of mine up and down The Virgin River, and with my foster kids on a ranch. It is a love I have wished my kids had, but hasn't been of much interest to them.
In Quincy and Buck, a picture book for 5-7 year old's, I was reminded of my love for the animals and the influence books can have on kids' interest in things.
A good friend of mine described the pictures in this book. The life-like animations of the horses, the colorful scenery, and the expressions of the horses. Yes animals have expressions and these horses conveyed the lessons the author was telling her readers about. The link between the horses and the real life trials of kids was well-done while teaching kids a little more about horses. Quincy's fears as well as his triumphs were clear through the telling of the story.
If you have a love of animals and want your kids to share it with you, "Quincy and Buck" is a great story.
Author Camille Matthews and Illustrator Michelle Black, Creators of the Quincy The children’s books,  follow Quincy as he navigates challenges that kids will find familiar.  Quincy often has self-doubts but his willingness to get out in the world and learn new things makes each of his adventures an exciting journey.

Camille Matthews and Michelle Black are equestrians and have done just about everything with horses; but they agree that the creation of the Quincy the Horse Books for kids is their favorite project.

The real Quincy who inspired the stories is an American quarter horse. He lives with Camille and does equine therapy at Pathfinder Farm near Reading PA. In Quincy’s third adventure, Quincy and Buck, Quincy tries to overcome his fears about “surprises waiting for horses out on the trail” by going on his first
trail ride. Quincy’s main concern is the wild animals he might meet but the real challenge turns out to be another horse.
Buck, the horse he hopes will be his trail buddy and guide him, turns out to be a bully who is dangerous!Quincy learns some important things about dealing with a bully.

Important details about this book are-
Age Range: 5 - 7 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten - 2
Series: Quincy the Horse Books
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Pathfinder Equine Publications (March 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981924042
ISBN-13: 978-09819240455
And as an added bonus...Here is the book trailer

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Writing Blind - The Writing Mama Show with Host Virginia S Grenier

The Writing Mama show is on every Monday and is hosted by Mom's Choice and Award-winning Author Virginia S Grenier, who is joined weekly by guest authors
to talk about the publishing and writing industry. Grenier, with her guests, hope to not only share their love of the written word, but also tips on writing,
what makes a good book and much more.

This week Grenier has invited Romance Author and Writing Blind Blogger Traci McDonald to join her as co-host, along with some amazing authors who are not
only talented but also blind. McDonald, a blind author herself has been an inspriation to many, including host Virginia S Grenier. Learn more about Traci
McDonald and Writing Blind on
her blog

One of their guests today is Abbie Johnson Taylor, president of Behind Our Eyes and author of a romance novel, "We Shall Overcome" and a poetry collection,
"How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver." Her work has appeared in Serendipity Poets Journal, Emerging Voices,
and Magnets and Ladders. Her Poetry chapbook, "That’s Life: New and Selected Poems" will be published by Finishing Line Press. Please visit her Website

Other guest authors include Bruce Atchison, Bobbi La Chance and Donna Grommen.

Bruce Atchison is a legally-blind Canadian freelance writer with articles published in a variety of magazines. He has also authored three paperbacks. "When
a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies" is a memoir of the surprising facts he discovered about house rabbits. "Deliverance from Jericho:
Six Years in a Blind School" is his recollection of being sent five hundred miles from home for months at a stretch. "How I was Razed: A Journey from Cultism
to Christianity" shows how God led Atchison out of a legalistic house church. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter. He also posts regularly on

Bobbi LaChance was raised on the West Coast, moving to Portland, Maine in 1975. Her dreams were to become a Maine Author, setting high goals for herself
and journey in writing. She came full circle when she published her first contemporary romance, "Wishes" which was published in 2009 and followed by "Cobwebs"
in 2011, along with "The Journey" in 2013. She is presently working on a new book and is a member of the romance Writers of America and past President
of Behind Our Eyes.

Native Texans and long time Magnolia residents, Donna Grahmann and her husband, David, share their acreage with a small ark of assorted, four legged critters.
Even after Donna’s eye sight began to fail, she continued to be competitive on her bay Quarter Horse, Rebel, as well as in sheepdog trials with her Border
Collies, Scotti and Clyde.     Numerous competitions have lead them to winning the Texas State Championship in pole bending, to a Top Ten placement in
stake race at the Quarter Horse World Finals, and then, onto their Top Ten finish in barrels at the Quarter Horse Congress, which boosted the entire Texas
team to a sixth place finish. Donna, teamed with each of her dogs, also placed second in the Texas Sheepdog Finals. Never less than an arm’s reach away,
her faithful guide dog, Huey, has guided Donna through the crowds of spectators, as she cheers on David and his dogs at sheepdog trials.        2010 introduced
her to the national writing group, Behind Our Eyes Inc, in which Donna has served as Secretary since 2012. Her poems and short stories have appeared in
their online magazine,   Magnets and Ladders, as well as in the publication of the 2013 anthology, Behind Our Eyes: A Second Look. Her short story, Dependable
Pal, which was included in the 2013 anthology, was also selected as a Top Ten finalist in the Pen 2 Paper writing competition.   Contact Donna at the following
address:  Click the title,  Behind Our Eyes: A Second Look, to visit the book trailer.

Learn more about the host and our network at

Read articles, discover books and much more on
our blog

Keep up to date with The World of Ink Network at our
Facebook fan page

Listen to the show live or later as a podcast at

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Shut Your Mouth-Your Genre Is Showing

I was doing some research on Memoirs, just because I was curious how a nobody writes their personal story and people want to read it. If I had the clout or celebrity of Michael Crieghton, or John Grisham, maybe, but not plain old me. What I found actually had little to do with clout and everything to do with the genre where your author's voice has the most strength.<I know a lot of fiction writers, but I also know a historical writer whose been nominated for a Pulitzer prize. A woman writing a memoir to teach the world about mental disease and the role physical abuse plays, and a Super-Mom who writes and publishes her own children's books.<My curiosity became peaked with our differences as far as genre are concerned, and our similarities as far as our writing is concerned. Why do some author's speak to Young Adults? Middle Grade Readers? Adults? or Children?How do we find our "voice?
I asked a middle grade writer, a young adult writer, and a new adult writer the former question. How did you decide who to write for? Here's their answers-
Middle Grade: Cheryl Carpinello, author of The Young Knight's of The Round Table series.
"Growing up, I remember this as a time when I devoured books. I would go through a book a day. I borrowed from the public library all the time. It wasn't uncommon for me to read a book in a day! Frequently, I re-read the books if it wasn't time to go back to the library (I went once a week.). I asked for books at Christmas and on my birthday. Books were my souvenirs from a vacation.After I became a high school English teacher, I encountered many students who didn't like to read. Over the years, I realized that those students either />had problems reading in elementary school, or couldn't find a topic/subject that sparked their imagination. During this same time, I taught the Legend of King Arthur. The students loved this unit. Some who hadn't read anything I assigned became excited about Arthur and started reading. Some of my other non-readers still didn't read, but found the summaries of the works we were reading and read those so that they could participate in the discussions.
A couple of years before I retired from teaching, I decided to write Arthurian Tales for ages 8-13. My hope is to hook those reluctant readers, as I call them, and get them excited about reading."<br /><br /><br /> Young Knights of the Round Table: The King's Ransom - Read Now - On the Eve of Legend Read Now -
Young Adult:Alyssa Shrout, contributing Author to
"When I was a teenager, I enjoyed reading, but found some of the required classics to be tedious to read (who doesn't?). However, when I discovered the YA genre (still a pretty new genre at the time), I was hooked on reading. I voraciously devoured every book I could get my hands on, from Harry Potter to Tuck Everlasting to anything Lois Lowry wrote. I'd finally felt that I'd found my niche, my connection to the world, through the YA voice. It wasn't until I was in my twenties, though, when I was STILL reading YA that I dared to consider writing in the same genre. There were too many YA books that had changed my perception of the world, and writing couldn't be so hard, could it?  I still remember my first attempted book. It was about a girl who kept eluding Death (who was a man). I mostly wrote random scenes in a semi-chronological order because I had no idea how to plot. When I realized how boring my story was, I got discouraged and stopped writing for a while. Then I heard the whispers of two characters...Devi and Silas. I spent some time getting to know them in my head until I couldn't stop myself from getting up early in the morning before my toddler woke up and writing their conversations and story down. It's a story that's evolved over the past six years into something better than I thought it could ever be when I started.
Even though I enjoy reading books written in the adult market, it's YA that I frequently return to reading. It could be that, at heart, I don't feel I've aged a day past 17 years old. Or maybe it's because, as a teenager, it feels as though the world is wide open and thrumming with infinite possibilities of what to do, who to be, where to go. Whatever the reason, time and again, the characters that call to me are most often in the YA age range, so I gravitate to this genre most." or look for her upcoming novels on goodreads.
New Adult: Traci McDonald, author of Killing Casanova
"Yes...this one is me. Partly because this genre is new and when I started writing I didn't know where my voice belonged. The truth is I still don't. I've been told I write for the 18-28 age range but not in the last part of college/first day of the rest of my life way that NA is known for. I've been categorized as Chick-lit. women's fiction, and adult romance/suspense. Maybe all of that means I don't have a genre. I write characters in their early to mid twenties because this was a powerful, life changing time for me. I went through college, Nannying in New York, severe health problems, and a spiritual awakening that included the loss of my eyesight and the discovery of my true self. Your twenties are a magical, miraculous time as well as being terrifying, terrible, and heartbreaking. Teen aged characters, for me, were too immature to "know" anything. Although I read a lot of YA and thouroughly enjoy it. Probably because I wish I'd been a wise, mature teenager, like the characters in the books. I don't write for people above thirty because I enjoy writing about the experience of falling in love. Since I did that when I was twenty five, I don't have the expertise to know about it from a mature perspective. The world is a teeming tide pool of love, laughter, and experience when you're in your twenties. Writing for this genre feels limitless in possability.", twitter tracimcauthor, or on
So if you're looking for the genre where you might find your voice, discovering the period of time in your life when you had the best experiences with life, with books, or with learning to love to read, you might just find your voice. Before you know it your genre will be showing.