Weekend Challenge #23

challengeChoose your profession or a dream job and give a brief scenario of a plot surrounding the job. You can do any genre you would like.

For example: A murder mystery surrounding a bakery. A Chef discovers a rare chocolate. The chef proceeds to use it on the best choice of treats. However, when the rare chocolate is mixed with baking soda, it creates a strong poison.

Advertisements

Moral of the Story

You may not see it right off the bat or even understand what the message is within a story. Sometimes there are no agendas, but other times, a hidden message can be found within the text of many books. There are times that you as the writer don’t realize your own message until you examine your own over all story plot of what you want the reader to get out of the story. A few times, it’s just a warm fuzzy feeling after reading the story, but other times it can be a huge message.

Example:

Harry Potter series: moral of the story is love trumps hate. It was love that saved Harry’s life in the beginning, and it was ultimately love (the power Voldemort didn’t have) that won in the end.

Hunger Games: Many things can be said for the Hunger Games series: love, gluttony, sacrificing one self for the benefit of others (Katniss took her sister’s place, Peta took a beating to give Katniss bread, Gale fed his family and Katniss family while she was in the arena, etc), selfishness and greed on Snow’s part, and so on.

Lord of the Rings: there was a lot of character’s sacrificing their lives for the greater good. But you can also see that bravery and doing what is right no matter your size or skill can still be accomplished. Frodo is often looked at as making the hardest sacrifice for carrying the ring for so long and over coming the evil – but look at Samwise. He, I believe, had the greater sacrifice and bravery. He was only a gardener and yet, he stood by Frodo’s side through the worst of it. He fought Orcs, Shebo, Gollum and even his own temptation of the ring.

Twilight: Another story of love. Don’t judge the person by what they appear (vampire or werewolf) but look inside to see who they really are. Though, Bella is very much enraptured by Edward’s beauty, so that does take away from the moral.

****

Books sometimes don’t need to spell out their morals like the older fairy tale stories do or even make big political statements.

I’m not saying you have to insert a message to your story but there are times you want to leave the readers with something when they turn that last page of the book. You want them to remember your story and have it come back to them as time goes on. Maybe even recommend your book to others. Or at least, I do.

As you can see, my examples above were not just children’s books, but adults read as well. We all need that constant reminder lately that we need to do right.

Subliminal messaging doesn’t have to be the main plot of your story or even the character’s personal growth. But it can be an underlining lesson the character has or sub character(s) have to learn in order to accomplish their journey.

A bit of a closer look for an example:

Think back with Harry Potter – Harry’s best friend Ron Weasley struggled with jealousy. We all saw it as we read through the books, even the movies helps clarify the situation too. But both times when Ron gave into his jealousy, he eventually came back and apologized. We all know that jealousy is wrong, but as humans, we struggle from time to time with it too. J. K. Rowling not only made the character relatable, but also showed that jealousy is wrong and can cause people to make wrong decisions that affect more than one person.

(I’ve been rereading Harry Potter so that is why there is a lot of mentioning of HP in my posts).

****

Just a small suggestion: if you chose to make a political stance in your book, choose your topic wisely. Be ready to make that stand over and over again just in case you are confronted about it. I’ve seen several authors take strong stands in public with politics and they get dragged through the backlash and their work gets ignored. Study the politically issue from all angles, not just your side. And also, the political stance may be popular now, but maybe not ten years from now or fifteen or so. Don’t let your work only be a fleeting moment. Make it stand the test of time so that future historians or language art’s teachers can recommend your work as a subject of study to examine this era of time. Think of Grapes of Wrath or How to Kill a Mocking Bird. Both tell a story with moral lessons, but also make strong political stances.

L. R. Mauck

Okay, Alright, Er, Hm…

Filler words. A writer’s enemy.

Filler words are typically meaningless words used in the middle of a hesitation or pause of conversation. Example: You know, Er, Hmm, Alright, Oh, Okay, etc.

In college, these words were whipped out of me and I’ve grown to detest them. Yes, there are awkward pauses that can fill you with tension to the point of saying something just to break it up – but please don’t use filler words. Move a conversation along to the next topic. It’s a pet peeve of mine.

I call these a writer’s enemy because I believe most writer’s know good groundwork of the written language and filler words don’t belong in good writing. However, to make your writing believable/realistic, those filler words are almost a requirement. Not everyone is going to realize they use such words or have experienced a college class where the professor docks credit if you use them verbally.

In writing, filler words can be used to break up a long paragraph or where a single character is talking for a long period of time. Another character can be inserted as trying to interrupt by using “Okay…”. Just don’t litter your work with them.

Example: The Harry Potter series and the Twilight Saga uses them throughout the books.

The biggest eye-opener I had to filler words was in another college class of mine. The brilliant professor had a tendency to use such words. The picture below was the record of each time he used the filler words. He used 626 words within that 3 hour long singular class setting. And that wasn’t all because I grew tired of counting towards the end. He probably thought that was my best day of note taking.

Photo09232010

As you can see, I grew to despise the word “okay” for that quarter.

L. R. Mauck

Your Hero’s Moment of Weakness

Many of us writers want our hero or main character’s to be inspirational. For them to make a lasting impression in that they will stand the test of time. So, we want them to be strong, intelligent, and attractive individuals. Basically, we want them to be everything we can imagine as the prefect hero. However, if you want the story to be realistic – then you must accept that your character needs to have flaws to be relatable.

I wrote some time back about character flaws. I wanted to expand on the topic and tie it in with your character’s personal journey as well as the roadblocks and climax of the story.

They can still have that personality trait or physical trait that sets them apart, but what if you insert a momentary hitch in their journey as in a moment of self doubt, depression, terror, misunderstanding, or jealousy as they approach the climax of the story. That hero will not be strong, intelligent, and attractive as we all wish, but they will be real.

For example:

Say your character is a great warrior who has a list of achievements longer than they are tall. It is okay to have that same character deal with moments of self doubt – it would be even more intriguing to have those moments of self doubt on the edge of battle or in battle, as if the warrior believes that  any moment they are going to fail and cost their own life. The character is assumed to be brave and strong just because they are a warrior with many battles fought. However, the flaw is self doubt. Another idea for that same scenario is for the brave warrior to face someone they are terrified of.

Say you’re writing a crime novel – have your hero be terrified of a gun because a close friend or family member was killed by a gun shot wound. Have that character have to raise the gun as a matter of life or death – I’ll leave it to you on if they pull the trigger. But having that internal debate and struggle will make them relatable.

To have your character as a perfect individual all the time with a clean emotionless journey will become boring to the readers and your character may seem arrogant and cocky.

A professional example:

Harry Potter (yes, I’m referencing again): in the Deathly Hallow’s when Harry realizes he must die to kill the Horcrux living inside him. There are a few moments when he’s making his way towards the Forbidden Forest that he wants someone to see or stop him. He wants Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Weasleys, and Luna in a wish to see them one last time or them to see him. Neville and then Ginny make actual appearances as he’s leaving, and lastly, his parent’s, Sirius, and Lupin in their ghostly forms. Harry was weak in those moments, but he was strong and brave as well. He didn’t want to die, but yet, he kept moving knowing that he was going to.

L. R. Mauck

Genre’s Part One

pic2Selecting which genre your manuscript falls other is a tricky task. The problem for most stories is that they fall under more than one genre. Knowing which genre your story falls under will aid you when you seek out your agent or editor, and again later when you market it.

So, let’s start with what is a genre. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines genre as “a distinctive type or category esp. of literary composition”. Dumbing it down: a genre is what classification your novel will fall under. Think of when you go into a library or a bookstore – or even a regular department store – the books or goods are divided up into sections. A library or bookstore will have the non-fiction separated from the fiction books, and romance novels separated from the children’s books and so forth.

So, what are the different genres you might ask. Well, there are many and even different categories or sub-categories of the genres. The most basic two genres are the fiction and non-fiction.

Fiction: something (as a story) invented by the imagination (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Non-Fiction: not fiction (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

– Stories based on actual people, places, or events.

A few genres’ that fall under the fiction novels:

  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Romance
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
  • Historical
  • Action and Adventure

A few genres’ that fall under the non-fiction novels:

  • Biographies
  • Magazines
  • Self Help (Handbook/Textbook) / Cookbooks
  • Memoir
  • Essay
  • Journal

Each of these categories have multiple sub-categories (as mentioned above).

As an example:

  • Romance can have regency romance, contemporary, historical, etc.
  • Fantasy has epic, dark, magic realism, high, urban, etc.

There is also the different age group genre’s: Children, Middle School, Young Adult, New Adult, Adult.

I will explore each of these categories in upcoming weeks.

L. R. Mauck

Weekend Challenge #20

challengeTo related with my other post today (What’s in a Name?), I would like this challenge to make you think a bit more.

For your current WIP or a story you are thinking of, chose one of your characters and tell me why you named your character as such. Does their name relate to the story? A physical or personality trait? ect.


My current WIP has a sub-character that will influence the main character throughout the story. I chose to name him “Harrow”. Harrow means to “cause distress to”. He will be a father-like figure to the main character but his own views of the world they live in is of a twisted and hurtful nature. So, his guidance to the main character will cause distress.


Also, I was busy last Friday and away from computers and internet access, so there was no Weekend Challenge #19.