Character Development, Writerly Tips

Tell don’t show…wait what? When is this tool appropriate to keep your readers engaged?

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Showing and not telling your audience information is extremely important because you want to keep your reader interested? Why? Other than the obvious, the point is to get the reader interactively trying to constantly deduce what is happening, what is going to happen and how they feel about it. This is what engagement means here and it is the life blood to the writing craft. Engagement means reading…and reading means a whole host of things. Reading means learning, buying more books, self betterment, self awareness, feel good moments, and escapism. Reading means expanding the moments and thoughts which push wide open the curtains of your mind for a better day, week, month etc. It is important that in taking people on a journey, you know how to do it well. We are talking about show vs. tell and it’s inverse today, to completely understand this tool.

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K.M. Weiland is an award-winning and internationally published author of the bestselling Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction and mentors other authors.

She wrote a blogpost called Three Places Where You Should Tell Instead of Show , 

Here she lists, Summarizing Information the readers already know, avoiding tedious information and similarly skipping “Filler,” events.

1. Summarizing Information Readers Already Know…

According to Weiland, in Reverse of the Medal, Patrick O’Brian neatly summarizes information to which readers are already aware. The relaying of these facts from one character to another is vital to the story, but O’Brian knows his readers have no need of hearing it twice—so he summarized. This is when telling is essential, to keep your reader engaged.

*An important thing to note here, is that the summary should still be done in an interesting way through dialogue. Avoid large chunks of exposition this way. Expository paragraphs are boring to read and when you are revising, if you find yourself skipping or avoiding reading large chunks of text, you may have an expository chunk of information. Liven it up and tell us the info through the characters by also revealing a bit more about the character when they are telling it. For example word choice is important here. If the character decides to say that someone was “Woke,” you may be inclined to see them in the present times and get a sense of their grasp of pop culture and perhaps deduce their age. The point? “Tell,”  us info while texturing and layering with word choice.

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2. Avoiding Tedious Information
K.M. Weiland says that O’Brian spares his readers the potentially tedious and non-vital scene of a ship auction by skipping directly to what’s important: the outcome of the sale.

This is an excellent point, because I don’t want to sit through a ship auction. This seems obvious, but I have written extremely boring scenes in my first drafts because I am telling myself the details, especially the emotional details of what happened. This will be cut later, and can be an important part of fleshing out a character. It’s ok to do this, if this is an example of your crafting your story, but be cognizant of what you are doing to keep things fresh, the story moving and the readers engaged.

3. Skipping “Filler” Events
A journey can be an important thing to witness and to experience with the characters if the character is overcoming something through the act of journeying, but K.M. Weiland makes the important distinction, again using O’Brian’s novel. She mentions that he excludes the unnecessary and often boring “filler” material by summarizing the characters’ journey from one location to another. Cut out the details of getting from point A to point B and just tell us what happened. If this information, the experience of the travel isn’t essential to the plot, cut it. Tell us through dialogue how the character got there and move on. Traveling is hard and tedious sometimes…save us experiencing the flight delays and the bad airline food if we don’t need to choke it down to move the story forward.

Show Vs. Tell, the bones of the writerly advice

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According to Jerry Jenkins who is the author of more than 190 books, and has sold more than 70 million copies, including the bestselling Left Behind series. He talks a little about the importance of showing rather than telling. When you tell rather than show, you simply inform your reader of information rather than allowing them to deduce anything, and this is key because engagement of the reader is the ultimate point.

You might report that a character is “tall,” or “angry,” or “cold,” or “tired.”

That’s telling.

Showing would paint a picture the reader could see in her mind’s eye.

If your character is tall, your reader can deduce that because you mention others looking up when they talk with him. Or he has to duck to get through a door. Or when posing for a photo, he has to bend his knees to keep his head in proximity of others.

Mr. Jenkins also says that rather than telling that your character is angry, show it by describing his face flushing, his throat tightening, his voice rising, his slamming a fist on the table. When you show, you don’t have to tell.

Cold? Don’t tell us; show us. Your character pulls her collar up, tightens her scarf, shoves her hands deep into her pockets, turns her face away from the biting wind.

Tired? He can yawn, groan, stretch. His eyes can look puffy. His shoulders could slump. Another character might say, “Didn’t you sleep last night? You look shot.”

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Show, Don’t Tell Examples according to Jerry Jenkins

Telling: When they embraced she could tell he had been smoking and was scared.

Showing: When she wrapped her arms around him, the sweet staleness of tobacco enveloped her, and he was shivering.

Telling: The temperature fell and the ice reflected the sun.

Showing: Bill’s nose burned in the frigid air, and he squinted against the sun

reflecting off the street.

Telling: Suzie was blind.

Showing: Suzie felt for the bench with a white cane.

Telling: It was late fall.

Showing: Leaves crunched beneath his feet.

Telling: She was a plumber and asked where the bathroom was.

Showing: She wore coveralls carried a plunger and metal toolbox, and wrenches of various sizes hung from a leather belt around her waist. “Point me to the head,” she said.

Telling: I had a great conversation with Tim over dinner and loved hearing his stories.

Showing: I barely touched my food, riveted by Tim. “Let me tell you another story,” he said.

If you find this article fun, interesting and informative, let me know in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!

 

Mythological Creature Archive, Writerly Tips

Character Development; pushing your beasts interior and exterior life to reach their fullest potential- 📚#mythicalcreaturearchive

 

 

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There may be some of you out there at the beginning of your writerly journey, thinking, “I have so many questions,” this is natural, and is one of the things that makes us writerly in the first place. We question, we have wonder and we look for the answers.

In the beginning, of my own writing process, I found myself asking questions about traditional publishing for example and a simple Google search produced amazing, glittering, very special results. I was introduced to Jane Friedman.

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Jane writes for Publishers Weekly, has developed a writing resource for writers called The Business of Being a Writer, and gives talks, teaches classes and has this amazing and very helpful Blog. She’s smart, well informed and very successful. I recommend her work and trust what she says. Now, I want to talk a bit about Character Development today and I wanted to access the point that she makes below using John Thornton Williams advice. I love this, and I think it gives beautiful entry into HOW you get into the character’s personal space, in their head and enter into a working, 5 senses view of their life. If YOU can see and feel it developing, your readership will too.

Jane says, “One of the most important goals of any fiction writer is getting the reader to connect on an emotional level with the story’s characters, but how do you accomplish this without being clumsy—without saying, directly, “Joe felt so upset he wanted to die,” which takes you right into the heart of cliché? John Thornton Williams offers this suggestion:

     “[Take] into consideration how a certain character would experience a particular setting or image based on his/her emotional state. Something as simple as a car parked on the street surely looks different to a lottery winner than to someone who just got evicted. In other words, indirection of image is a way to take abstract emotions and project them onto something concrete. Doing so creates the potential to explore interiority at a greater depth than what’s afforded by mere exposition.””

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According to another invaluable resource about characterization, tvtropes.org,  character development is, by definition, the change in characterization of a Dynamic Character, who changes over the course of a narrative. At its core, it shows a character changing. Most narrative fiction in any media will feature some display of this.
tvtropes.org goes on to say that while the definition of “good” and “bad” character development is subjective, it’s generally agreed that good character development is believable and rounds out a well-written character. Bad character development leads to the feeling that someone is manipulating the events to their own whims, or even reduces the character’s believability.
There are many sub-tropes to discuss, some of which include:

  • The Coming-of-Age Story is centered around this afore mentioned trope in the context of growing up.
  • Darker and Edgier and Lighter and Softer can either deepen a character or round out unnecessary roughness. They can also turn them into a pile of mush or make them an unsympathetic jerk.
  • Badass Decay can soften a previously harsh character. Or it can ruin an awesome character.
  • Flanderization is when a character has a quirk or personality trait that slowly becomes their only defining characteristic.
  • The Heel–Face Turn, Face–Heel Turn and Morality Adjustment tropes rely on character development to make this a believable turn of events.
  • Hidden Depths has a character develop in unexpected directions. It can also describe a Flat Character turning into a Rounded Character.
  • Out-of-Character Moment may be a positive or negative example, generally steering a character in new directions without wholesale Character Derailment.
  • A Character Check can help steer a character who developed too far from their original character back into being themselves, or remind the audience that they still are the same person they used to be no matter how much they’ve changed. When combat factors into their development, then they Took a Level in Badass.
  • A Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot is a specific form of character development where the character learns a lesson and takes a level in kindness.
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These are hardly the only examples. The Evil Twin of Character Development is Character Derailment. Beware of this trope. To see the opposite of this trope, see Static Character. See also Flat Character and Rounded Character. Compare Hidden Depths, where something is revealed that was true all along, but would not have been visible before.

Check out this character development list, The Ultimate Character Questionnaire, by http://www.novel-software.com. It goes a bit more in depth, in the personality development section than I have seen in general character development lists. Check it out here. Good luck guys. I hope you create some amazing characters!

 

If you find this article fun, interesting and informative. If you decide to use this exercise -let me know how it went in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!

 

 

Awards, Mythological Creature Archive

The ‘Cryptid Cora’ Blogger Award- Nominations-📚

What is this Blogger Award about?

The ‘Cryptid Cora’ Blogger Award is a peer recognition ‘nod of excellence,’ and exercise…executed by writerly bloggers to other writerly bloggers who are creative, positive and inspiring…while also very busy doing their due diligence in blasting cryptozoological characters towards the greater blogging community. These writers who are nominated, shoot straight into our imaginations and into our hearts. The purpose of this award is for idea generating, inspiration and friendship building. I’m a fantasy writer, and so I found this exercise very useful, and hopefully you will too.

Once nominated (and if you accept the ‘award’), bloggers are required to:

1) Write a post in which they thank the blogger for nominating them and link back to their blog. Nominate them via Twitter using hashtag #CryptidCora, too with a link to your post…if they use social media.

2) Answer 13 questions asked by the person who nominated you. The questions should be about an unusual cryptid found in an obscure book or on a run-of-the-mill folklore site… whatever…Wikipedia is useful here too, of course. Remember to source the best you can. Creatures from long lost cultures are a plus! Please include pictures of the creatures and be sure to photo credit the images as well.

3) ‘Pay’ your good creature ideas forward by nominating 5 other blogs specifically with Cryptozoological themes or writing themes. Writing bloggers or cryptid loving blogs will benefit from this exercise the most, it seems. Gamers, programmers and illustrators too. Heck, visual artists…you get the idea. Also, if you receive a nomination, it means that your nominator loves what you are doing and that is a really cool thing. Congratulations! Be proud!

4) Give your bloggers of choice, 13 questions to answer…you can recycle the same ones that I used, if you wish, it’s the easiest and most uniform way to organize this mass of information that will be coming in. All cryptids are public domain and are for idea generating as this is the point of the exercise. Your cryptid WILL BE ADDED TO THE MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURE ARCHIVE by AR Jung. Don’t post a precious, secret cryptid that will appear on your upcoming comic strip or in your award winning screenplay to us….someone viewing this material could very well be inspired to write a short story or develop a protagonist off of this exercise…for their very own upcoming award winning debut novel! So be smart about the character you choose to showcase. I will be talking about a Sumerian Demon as my cryptid here today. It’s Halloween, what can I say?

5) Notify your nominees, through the contact page on their blogs… display the rules as well as The “Cryptid Cora’ Award logo in your new post. Remember, this is suppose to be fun! This is suppose to be thought provoking. 🙂 The BEST entries will be eligible (with the authors permission, of course) for publication in a #CryptidCora anthology.

Happy Halloween 2018! Please use hashtag #CryptidCora in your blog title, so that we all can easily find your creature for continued inspiration long past Halloween. #CryptidCora will nominate 5 new bloggers each month to keep things moving. Consider Cora your spark…your short term muse…that push you needed to get to writing again. She’s elusive… you need to feed and coax her out…she’s that beautiful thing we call imagination and that’s why we love him/ her/ it/ them, so.The Questions

Mythological Creature Archive

Mythical Creature, ‘the Alp-luachra,’ a tapeworm like, ‘food stealer,’ from Celtic Mythology and writing prompt

 

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According to abookofcreatures, these fairies are far removed from the cleaned up and sanitized Victorian ideal we are used to.

In the world of cryptozoology, there exist both beautiful fairies, but also ugly fairies, which can be cruel, vile, and parasitic.

The Alp-luachra are one of these.

Native to Ireland, where it can be found all across the island, the alp-luachra is a small, newt-like creature not unlike Ireland’s native smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris).

Any similarities with the non-cryptid counterpart end here, however. The smooth newt is a harmless inhabitant of local ponds, while the Alp-luachra lives off “the Pith or Quintessence of what the Man eats,” as Robert Kirk puts it in Secret Commonwealth of Fairies.

Infestation is simple enough. Anyone asleep outdoors is at risk. Especially those asleep near the water’s edge. Alp-luachras slip into the open mouths of sleepers, and from there work their way into the stomach. The entire process is painless, and hosts are never aware of their slimy new occupants. That is, until the symptoms manifest themselves: pain in their sides as the alp-luachras make themselves comfortable, and increasing, insatiable hunger. The alp-luachras eat the food ingested by their hosts, growing larger inside them until their wriggling becomes unbearable; meanwhile, their hosts waste away, becoming gaunt and emaciated.

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In the span of a few years, the unfortunate victim eventually dies of starvation, and the alp-luachras move out to find new victims.
As the alp-luachra’s metaphysical state prevents it from being seen by physicians, it must be tricked into leaving the body by other means. Inhaling the strong fragrance of savory food can coax them to come out, as can eating very salty food. Once outside the body, the alp-luachra can be licked to cure burns, if you can find a way to catch it! This will be very difficult since they are hard to see even to those with a trained magical eye.

According to warriorsofmyth, the Alp-Luachra is entirely invisible. Invisible on all spectrums, and involuntarily so. It has no true physical appearance. In addition, it is capable of rendering the mouth and gullet totally numb, so as to make resisting it even harder.
And once it’s safely down in one’s gut, it can breathe easily, capable of resisting the stomach’s acidic fluids with no difficulty or harm to itself. Not to mention, due to its feeding on the greater portion of what its host intakes, it is an excellent agent of weight loss in bigger beings, and or preventing weight gain in smaller beings.

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In Douglas Hyde’s collection of folk tales, Beside the Fire, a farmer, who was starving from an Alp-luachra, was eventually rid of the fairy. He was instructed to eat large amounts of salted meat and, when he could eat no more, lie still with his mouth open just above the surface of a stream. After having been driven to thirst by the salt, the offspring of the Alp-luachra, and eventually the Alp-luachra mother herself, jumped into the water. Hence, to rid one’s self of an Alp-Luachra, one should eat a large quantity of salt beef, without drinking anything, and then lay by a running stream with mouth wide open; after a long wait, the Alp-Luachra will become thirsty, and will jump into the stream to drink.

 

Writing Prompt

You are a exterminator in the magical realm and the Alp-luachra have been a notoriously elusive species for your crew for centuries. You have the desire to be the best in your field and set out to develop a salt/ host rehydration pill in your private laboratory. It is sterile there and you have a gaggle of Alp-luachra taken from the bodies of the victims, which you have taken care of for scientific testing purposes. This is a heinous beast, you would never keep them thriving if it wasn’t for the research. The Alp-luachra is a small creature but mighty and the infestations have grown so common, and so pervasive that you decide it is time to release your remedy to the masses. You have a pharmaceutical company that you have partnered with and are ready for launch, but on this cloudy, overcast day in October…your pills are missing…all of them.

Who doesn’t want the Alp-luachra to be eradicated? Who is behind this evil plot to ruin you professionally?

If you find this article fun and interesting and you decide to expand on this story -let me know how it continues in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!

 

 

 

Mythological Creature Archive

Mythological Creature, ‘the Aloja,’ a sometimes benevolent, female shapeshifter, from Catalonia- with writing prompt

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In Catalan mythology, an Aloja, also known as a dona d’aigua, a goja or a paitida…is a female cryptid, living in places of fresh water. These “water-women” are said to be able to shapeshift into blackbirds.

According to the legend found on Wikivisually,  these women are not immortal, but can live for thousands of years, retaining their youth.

Water-women symbolize the fertility and the life-giving virtues of water. They are said to possess oneiric beauty.

They appear as small and innocent women, with a high self-esteem and sometimes very prideful of their beauty. They are good women and try to bring wealth and well-being to the areas they live in. Water-women are nocturnal; have shimmering gold or red hair, and emerald or deep blue eyes. They wear fine, rich clothes; and enjoy viewing their reflections in lakes on full-moon nights. Some of them are said to have beautiful wings of various colors. Many are said to carry magic wands carved from hazel, which is considered to be the only wood capable of casting spells. ✨

 

There are many legends about romance and marriage between water-women and humans; in order to marry a water-woman, a human must agree to the water-woman’s conditions. Often, one of the conditions is that the husband cannot reveal that his wife is an Aloja. If he does, the water-woman leaves him and disappears with his fortune. However, it is also said that the water-woman will still comb her children’s hair and dress them every morning.
Aloja are purported to knowingly avoid any relations with humans, though this is not always possible.

When contact with humans does occur, it often turns out ill for the humans. It is said that the lakes where the Aloja bathe, can boil in anger if a stranger enters there. In Majorca, the most famous water-woman is known as Maria Enganxa.

According to tradition, she lives inside all of the wells and cisterns and takes all of the children that pass near them with her hook. She is not a kind Aloja.
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Writing Prompt

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Catalan myths and legends are passed down for generations, of course, as part of that region’s popular culture. In Catalonia those characters that are invoked to induce fear in children for practical purposes, for example to avoid speaking to strangers or leaving home alone are called Espantamainades (Espantachiquillos).

At the anthropological level, sometimes these are manifestations of the fears of the unknown and inexplicable in nature. Some are local representations related to those figures also existing in other cultures, such as witches, Goblins and the bogeyman. Others are purely local variations, such as Marraco the peasant and the Dips.

The Aloja is a local representation. She can be a “good guy,” or a “bad guy,” but always is beautiful, vain and territorial.

Your writing prompt is this, you are in Majorca, or Mallorca, which is the largest island in the Balearic Islands, and are part of Spain; located in the Mediterranean.
The capital of the island, Palma, is also the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. The Balearic Islands have been an autonomous region of Spain since 1983.

You find yourself on a hike, past a lovely freshwater lake. It’s picturesque, with black water birds flying in a circular pattern, just inches above the water. You stop to watch their dancing. Suddenly they shapeshift into many Alojes and seem to be fighting amongst themselves. You hear the most beautiful, alpha Aloja say;

“I’ve had enough of your clumsiness, you are not to leave here again, because I can’t trust your judgement.”

…and then you see him…a love struck human man, with a camera around his neck…a journalist type. His face is set in a way that makes him seem years younger than he probably is. He looks forlorn…and then sullen as the group of women continue to ignore him. He leaves and you continue watching. The Aloja who is seemingly in trouble…for reasons that are unimaginable, is put into a bird cage and hung high in a tree…you watch in wonder as the caged black bird flaps it’s beautiful wings…trying to free itself of the cage.

What did she do, and who is the human man, who is so sullen?

You get the impression, that the Aloja is in severe danger…but why? Your skin prickles and you see the alpha pointing her hazel wand at the caged bird. What happens next?

If you find this article fun and interesting and you decide to expand on this story -let me know how it continues in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!