Tuesday, September 25, 2012

“Building Your Storyline”

Part 3 – Building Your Characters


Romeo & Juliet. Bert & Ernie. Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs. What do all these characters have in common? They were all the product of someone’s thoughtful imagination.

When reading a good book, (a really good book) it is easy to fall in love with the hero and heroine. I find myself pulling for them as they encounter life’s lessons and cry with them as the world around them falls apart. And of course, the story would not be written right if not for the happy ending that brings two different people together.

Building characters people will love and can relate to is a job in itself. You are molding two (or more) fictional lives and creating personalities set apart from each other.

How do you create such characters? First, establish a time period. Once you know what year your story is taking place it is easier to begin shaping lives. I write historicals set in the World War II era, thus every character I bring to life must have a name, personality, dress, and likes of the 1940’s.

Choosing a name:

This is my favorite part. I love the name choosing process. A name can reflect personality, whether sweet and tender or gruff and grungy. Since my novels are of a 1940’s element, I print out baby names of the 20’s. (This can be searched from any web site or in any baby name book on the shelves) My characters would have been born in the 20’s so it is important I find names suitable for the time period.

Choosing an appearance:

Before even choosing a name, most writers already know what their characters are going to look like. It’s almost instinctive. Sometimes their appearance will also reflect a personality type. Or to keep the reader interested, the appearance does not at all match the disposition of the character. Using a differing guise for each fictional individual adds depth and keeps the reader turning pages.

The personality type:

There are a few different ways to ‘get to know’ the people you will be spending a lot of time with. Be sure to learn as much about your characters as you can.

Being a member of American Christian Fiction Writers has helped me learn the many methods of developing characters.  Some writers actually use a personality test on their characters. Other writers document and mimic a person whom he/she admires. My favorite method, however, comes from a woman whom I have come to respect. She is writer, Valerie Comer.

In her blog from April 13, 2012, Valerie invites writers to ‘interview’ their characters. Questions anywhere from careers and dwelling place to deep personal issues that a character may be dealing with. I found her piece on character interviews very helpful and have adopted it for my writing.

I invite you to visit Valerie Comer’s blog at:

be sure to check out her books as well!

Above all, have fun in your writing. Do not let it stress you out or allow you to become frustrated. Take your time and enjoy the process. God Bless!



Did You Know?

Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” debuted on radio November 11, 1939, Armistice  Day, with the infallible Kate Smith belting out the patriotic tune.

Monday, September 24, 2012

“Building Your Story”

Part 2 – Are you a SOTP writer?

Right now I’m sure you asking the question, “What is an SOTP?”

The first time I heard this term I can honestly say I was lost. The best way to explain this is to paint a picture:

Maybe it’s a beautiful setting that inspires you. Or maybe a character you find intriguing. If it’s not one of these two things, then it is most likely an incredible story/plot just waiting to burst at the seams…and you’re in control of where it is headed!

Without referring to an outline, you just start typing. Anything that pops into your mind comes to life on the pages in front of you. Before you know it, a story has been created.

Now to answer the question: If this is you, you may be a Seat Of The Pants writer. Or SOTP. Whether you are a SOTP or a writer who requires an outline, neither method is wrong. Every writer is different. Every writer has one thing that works for him/her. To see where you fit in, try both. Explore different blogs, and websites…and keep writing.

The mind of a writer is an exceptional entity. Everything our eyes and ears take in are locked away in our fictional imaginations; unlocking itself at that moment when our dreams become a reality. When our dreams are put to paper, we don’t just tell the tale, we live them. God Bless!



Did You Know?

Irving Berlin’s patriotic hit, “God Bless America” was originally written in 1918? The piece would not be heard for another 21 years!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

**Book Review Friday**

It’s the unofficial start to the weekend! Are you looking for a good book to read? Each Friday I will post a new review on novels I have recently read. Please be sure to check them out!

   Today’s Book Review: “This Fine Life” by Eva Marie Everson

Although not set during World War II, Eva Marie Everson does take you back in time to the 1960’s and into the lives of two people who are aristocratically polar opposites.

Mariette Putnam’s life after boarding school is being fashioned by the aspirations of her parents. Uncertain where she wants her own life to lead, she tries to find her own way. But before she can make up her mind, the handsome Thayne Scott sweeps her off her feet.

Knowing her parents would disapprove of her evolving relationship with Thayne, Mariette deceives her mother and father and elopes.

Broken relationships, blinded eyes, and harsh realities of life threaten the newlywed’s bond.

I’m sure you will receive a blessing as you walk through the pains of coarse relationships and the mending that brings healing to these characters.

I found this book gripping because it was so true to life and true to early difficulties in marriage. The characters and story were very relatable and I’m sure you will grow to love them as I did!   

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

“Building Your Story”

Part 1 – Using an Outline

Now that we have chosen a genre and found our inspiration, it is time to build the story. Today, I’m beginning a series on building a firm storyline. Be sure to check in each day as I bring up new topics on this subject.


There are so many different ways to design and construct a storyline. No one way is considered the ‘right’ way. Instead, a writer needs to find the tool that works for him/her. And there are many. Today we will start with the first—

Do you need organization? Then you will find it easier to construct your storyline by using an outline. With an outline, it is easy to keep track of where you left off or remembering small details that could otherwise slip your mind.

Here’s an example what my outlines look like:


1.    Alyssa’s introduction

A.   Waiting tables at the local cafĂ©

B.   Alyssa’s appearance details

C.   Counting tips and leaving for the night

D.   Alyssa’s home details and way of living


2.    Jonathan’s Introduction

A.   Pitching for the baseball game

B.   Winning another game

C.   The celebration

D.   Coming Home


I use each new number point as a new chapter. Each letter point is a new page break. If I want to further the detail, so I do not forget an important event, I add further points using a., b., c….etc.

Take your time on the outline, and if need be, you can always go back and change it. Building strong characters, backgrounds, and plot should not have a time limit. Play with it, work it out in your mind. Where do you want your story to start? Where do you want it to end? What course will your characters take to get to their end goal? And also, what is the message you want to portray?

Don’t settle for anything less than what you consider perfect.