The Seven-Day Book Challenge

Recently, a Facebook friend tagged me on the Seven-Day Book Challenge. I finally got around to it a few weeks ago and “double-teamed” it through FB and Instagram. And then I thought, “Why not share it on the blog, too?”

The rules of the Seven-Day Book Challenge are simple: For seven days, you share a photo or image on Facebook of a different favorite book and nominate another friend to carry on the challenge. There’s no set theme to follow, and you don’t need to write a caption or explanation for why you choose each book. You simply share the photo, tag a friend, and reply to any comments. But for this blog post, I think I’ll “break” one of those rules. 😉

Here are the books I chose for the Seven-Day Book Challenge, and why I picked each one.

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The Creativity Corner: Winter 2017

It feels weird to post a wrap-up of a winter’s worth writing, reading, and other creative happenings on the second day of spring. (This is the new “writing monthly update” series I had mentioned last month, btw.) But the truth is, I’ve procrastinated on this post for a couple weeks now, and not due to lack of time. Instead, I’ve been feeling anything but enthusiastic or confident about writing lately.

(Btw, my latest DIY MFA post went live last week. Something funky happened with the blog post announcement, so click here to read the article at DIY MFA.)

The good news is, I’m now taking steps that can hopefully help me regain that confidence and lead to a better, more productive spring. I’ll touch on that, as well as the progress I’ve made so far with The Novella (my new writing project) and the books I’ve read so far this year. Also, since this is the first Creative Corner, any feedback on the content and/or setup will be greatly appreciated. 🙂
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New DIY MFA Article on Friendship as a Literary Theme, Plus #WesleyWednesday on Twitter

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(NOTE: Due to this week’s DIY MFA post, the weekly blog post will go live on Thursday, November 3rd.)

I’ve been meaning to write a case study on friendship for my DIY MFA column for a while. And why not? Friendship has the power to change people’s lives in amazing ways – in real life, and in the stories we read. In fact, literature has shown us not only the ups and downs of these relationships, but also how they often defy boundaries such as age, race, and gender. And I couldn’t think of two better books to use as examples than Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, because both explore this theme masterfully.

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Who Were the First Five Authors You Read in Your Favorite Genre?

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Looking back on the books and authors that introduced us to our favorite literary genres can be a fun trip down memory lane. That nostalgia can bear even more meaning for writers. Sure, those authors built the foundation for our reading tastes. But if we consider our “relationship” with their work closely, we can also discover how their stories or writing have influenced ours.

Today, let’s discuss the first five authors we read in our favorite literary genre, or the genre we prefer to write in. I’ll go first with my first five fantasy authors (since fantasy is more than just my great literary love), as well as one takeaway from each that has impacted my writing. Then, you can respond by either commenting on this post or writing about it at your own blogs. This isn’t just for fantasy writers, by the way. Book bloggers and avid readers of all genres are welcome to jump in – so, please do!

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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

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

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

The Character Evolution Files, No. 9: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 7 – The Dark Night of the Soul (End of Act II)

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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. 9, which focuses on the Dark Night of the Soul (or the end of Act II).

Characters, like real people, can tolerate internal conflict for only so long. When they reach their breaking point, there is no right solution, but an only solution. In the case of a positive character arc, the protagonist has dealt with all kinds of stress and upheaval while working toward his story goal. And after the Charge, which tugged him back and forth between his false belief and its opposite truth, he’s about to snap. It’s here that he arrives at the darkest hour of his evolution, and realizes he has but one solution for achieving his goal – or else he’ll fail.

Yes, the Dark Night of the Soul is the subject of Character Evolution File No. 9. We’ll cover how the protagonist finally weighs the pros and cons of his false belief and the truth, and how the scene symbolizes the death of the character’s old self. Plus, we’ll visit our example characters once again as they make their most important choice in their respective stories. Continue reading

Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 – 20% Progress Report

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Plus, Five Film Soundtrack Pieces That Are Featured on the WIP’s Novel Playlist

Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, which is now in its third draft. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today, to celebrate 20% completion of Draft #3, here’s the first progress report and a reveal of some of the songs on TKC’s novel playlist.

Yep – it’s update time!

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Well, I haven’t been blowing things up like Matt Damon / Mark Watney was in The Martian… But I’ve reached the 20% mark in editing Draft #3 of The Keeper’s Curse! That means it’s also time to unveil the “revamped” version of the Chronicling The Craft series.

Based on readers’ feedback, I’m splitting each Chronicle into two separate posts. The first one (i.e., this post) will feature a progress report and a few tracks on TKC’s novel playlist. The second post (scheduled for Saturday, May 21st) will focus on tips for the editing process. So, whether you prefer “fun stuff” or “writerly stuff,” you can now choose which one you want to read – or, you can read both posts at different times. 😉

So, how have things been going with Draft #3 so far? Let’s see…
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