New DIY MFA Article on Themes in a Book Series

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Who doesn’t love a good book series? If the first installment draws me in, I can’t help but continue on with the next book, and the next, revisiting characters that have become old friends,  getting lost in their world and predicaments, and (in some cases) connecting with their themes. Which got me thinking: How do literary themes present themselves in a series? You can find the answers to that question, as well as what writers should consider when it comes to “serial themes,” at my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul article at DIY MFA.

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Using Archetypes to Learn More About You and Your Characters

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One of my favorite blog series is Ariel Hudnall’s Archetypes in Literature, a collection of essays on the archetypes conceived by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and examples of each in literature, film, and television. I can’t remember if what followed next happened in a comment one of her Archetype posts, or in a side conversation on my blog… But she introduced me to Archetypes.com, which features a quiz that helps visitors discover their unique blend of archetypes.

So, I took the quiz. And as soon as I got my answers, the “writerly” wheels started turning in my head. 😉

You see, archetypes can help us understand our own behavior patterns as well as those of our characters. It’s sort of like taking an MBTI test as your protagonist to see where she might fall on that spectrum. So, how can you use archetypes to learn more (or confirm what you already know) about yourself and your characters? Plus, how accurate are the quiz’s results? You might be pleasantly surprised.

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The Character Evolution Files, No. 13: Answers to Lingering Questions About the Journey Through the Character Arc

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we look back on our Journey Through the Character Arc with File No. 13, which answers questions we might have and that readers have posed during the series.

Analyzing the components of character evolution is no easy task. So is using those components to craft a protagonist’s path of growth through an original story. Thanks to our recent Journey Through the Character Arc series, which focused on 10 stages for developing a positive arc, we’re now equipped with a step-by-step process and targeted questions that can help us develop such a path that’s logical and compelling. But have Files No. 3 through 12 answered all of our questions about character arcs? Probably not.

So, for File No. 13, we’ll explore some of those questions. For example, can the order of the 10 arc stages be rearranged? How closely should those stages align with a story’s plot structure, or with the percentage milestones or lengths recommended in each post? Plus, if you found each arc stage’s questionnaire beneficial, check out the final section for a special worksheet announcement! Continue reading

The Character Evolution Files, No. 12: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 10 – The Emergence (Resolution)

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we conclude our journey through the stages of the character arc with File No. 12, which focuses on the Emergence (or the Resolution).

Today we reach the end of our journey through a positive character arc. And while some writers prefer to end a story immediately after the Moment of Truth / Climax (Stage 9), doing so doesn’t always give readers the sense of closure they desire. Nor does it allow the protagonist to show final proof that she’s fully committed to the truth that undermined her false belief. That’s where the final stage of character evolution, the Emergence (a.k.a. the Resolution), comes in.

So, let’s give the Emergence its time to shine in Character Evolution File No. 12. We’ll learn how it reflects the protagonist’s changed self compared to the Trigger / Inciting Incident (Stage 1) and the Comfort Zone / Act I (Stage 2), and discover why it’s more abstract in some ways that other arc stages. We’ll also check in with our example characters one last time to see how they’ve begun to live according to their truth. Continue reading

Beautiful People, Vol. 18: What Does Nomaro (Future Novella Protagonist) Look Like?

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Beautiful People is a monthly blog meme hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. Every month they pose 10 questions for writers to answer about their writing and give readers the opportunity to learn more about the writer’s characters.

This month’s Beautiful People topic (describing a character’s appearance) threw me off a little. I was hoping to cover another supporting character from my WIP The Keeper’s Curse, but when Cait and Sky revealed their questions, I couldn’t think of anyone right away. But there’s always a certain protagonist from the novella I’m planning to write when TKC’s with beta-readers…

So, if you liked learning about Nomaro during last year’s Beautiful Books post or his first BP post back in March, you’ll be pleased with this month’s subject again. 😉 Ready?

(Visit the Beautiful People category page to catch up on past BP posts.)

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Why Creativity is Essential For All Genres (A Guest Post by Leanne Sowul)

 

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Today I’m thrilled to have one of my DIY MFA colleagues here for a guest post! Leanne Sowul is a historical fiction writer, music teacher, and the insightful mind behind DIY MFA’s “Be Well, Write Well,” which offers tips and wisdom for writers on maintaining a healthy well-being. She’s also an advocate for cultivating creativity in our lives and recently launched her new project, The Creativity Perspective, to explore this further. I invited Leanne to write about the importance of creativity in writing, and this is what she had to say.

When I first decided to write a novel, I wasn’t sure what genre I wanted to specialize in. I read widely, so I had interest in writing many different things, but I was intimidated by working in the sci-fi, fantasy, or mystery genres because I thought they required a higher level of creativity. Building a world from scratch, or crafting a suspenseful crime, felt beyond me. I wanted to choose a genre that had some rules I could follow; a creativity “support,” if you will.

I have a longtime love for history, so I decided to write historical fiction. I figured I could use historical facts to hang my story on, and felt comforted by the element of nonfiction in my fiction to keep me on track with my story. I thought it was the perfect solution. Oh, how little I knew back then! I didn’t understand I was making the enormous decision of my novel’s genre based partly on fear and partly on an incorrect assumption.

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The Character Evolution Files, No. 11: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 9 – The Moment of Truth (Climax)

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we continue our journey through the stages of the character arc with File No. 11, which focuses on the Moment of Truth (or the Climax).

Every previous stage of character evolution, from the Trigger / Inciting Incident (Stage 1) to the Aftermath / Act III, First Half (Stage 8), has led to this one. The protagonist must now take the truth he has accepted in place of his false belief and apply it to his final confrontation with the antagonistic force(s). The trick is, he can’t merely show what he’s learned through dialogue or thoughts. Instead, he must demonstrate it through action so that other characters and the reader can see he has changed for the better. This scene (or sequence of scenes) is the Moment of Truth, the climax of the protagonist’s arc.

This second-to-last stage in the Journey Through the Character Arc is our focus for Character Evolution File No. 11. We’ll examine how the Moment of Truth attempts to rock the protagonist’s faith in his new truth, and how this stage’s outcome doesn’t always give the protagonist everything he wants. We’ll also revisit our two example characters and learn how they take the final steps toward commitment to their newfound truths. Continue reading

Beautiful People, Vol. 17: Drasten Kolsteg from “The Keeper’s Curse”

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Beautiful People is a monthly blog meme hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. Every month they pose 10 questions for writers to answer about their writing and give readers the opportunity to learn more about the writer’s characters.

Drasten’s name might sound familiar if you’ve been following my Beautiful People posts for a while. He was featured in last year’s Siblings Edition with his brother Aurek, and was mentioned quite a bit in Aurek’s character interview this past March. But he hasn’t had a solo post yet; and now that I’m focusing on the supporting characters for my WIP The Keeper’s Curse for this series, this month seems like a good time to give him one.

Some quick facts about Drasten: He’s a 19-year-old Mountain Man, with dark brown eyes, long dirty blond hair, and a short beard. He also shares the title of Lord of the Mountain Folk’s Sumanhi Clan with Aurek, and has joined his brother in a mission to retrieve lost relics that once belonged to their people. (The mission serves as TKC’s external plot.) So, let’s see what kind of dirt we can dig up on Drasten.

(Visit the Beautiful People category page to catch up on past BP posts.)

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The Character Evolution Files, No. 10: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 8 – The Aftermath (Act III, First Half)

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we continue our journey through the stages of the character arc with File No. 10, which focuses on the Aftermath (or the first half of Act III).

After writing a story’s Dark Night of the Soul, we might be tempted to rush straight to the climax. That, however, doesn’t give the protagonist time to adjust to her paradigm shift. She needs time to reconcile herself with her rejection of her false belief and to form a plan for confronting the antagonistic force(s) and reaching her story goal. Her past arc stages proved that she can’t simply charge forward and get positive results. She needs to have an idea of what she’s doing – and it begins by exhibiting her growth in small ways.

This often overlooked stage of character evolution is called the Aftermath, and is the subject of Character Evolution File No. 10. We’ll study how, during a positive character arc, the protagonist deals with the consequences of her Dark Night decision and prepares for the finale. And, we’ll see what happens when our two example characters move further away from their growth-inhibiting lies and closer to their empowering truths. Continue reading

Beautiful People, Vol. 16: Uncle Lusan from “The Keeper’s Curse”

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Beautiful People is a monthly blog meme hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. Every month they pose 10 questions for writers to answer about their writing and give readers the opportunity to learn more about the writer’s characters.

Lately I’ve been expanding my character profiles for some of the supporting characters in my WIP, The Keeper’s Curse. One of those profiles is for Uncle Lusan, a minor character in TKC and the uncle of my protagonist Eva (and the husband of last month’s BP focus Aunt Maji). For some reason, I never felt like I knew him as well as I should, so I was hoping this month’s questions would help. (And also because June is the month for Father’s Day, and Lusan’s a father figure to Eva. *wink* ) Luckily, this month’s questionnaire was perfect for him – although it’s the Childhood Edition, so all of the questions are geared toward his childhood. (*lol*)

Regardless, here are some quick facts about Uncle Lusan: He’s a 45-year-old winged Feiri, with pale blue eyes and long, black hair with blonde streaks that are going gray. But, again, this post will focus on Lusan when he was a boy. Ready?

(Visit the Beautiful People category page to catch up on past BP posts.)

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