Submitting

Submitting Your Material to Publishers,
Magazines and Books

The submission process is one of the most important elements of publishing that you must understand well, or your material will always be rejected, mainly because you’re not following the correct process.

What is the typical submission process? It has several steps:
1. A query letter is sent to a magazine or book publisher.
2. The letter comes back with a “yes” or a “no.” If “yes,” you send the editor the manuscript or book proposal with a cover letter addressed to that editor.
3. Your submission has the correct formatting and details as well as a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope). You give them what they asked for, which may not be what you queried them for – i.e., they tweaked your proposal a bit to tailor it to their market. Also, never send your material – stapled together, on scented paper, in unusual fonts (use only Times, Times New Roman, Courier, Palatino, etc.), on colored paper, with flashy come-ons(a singing telegram), etc. These are signs of an amateur.
4. Your submission comes back with a “yes,” “maybe” or a “no.” If a “yes,” you make any changes they want and resubmit. If a “maybe,” they probably want to see more or see you make some changes before they accept. If “no,” sorry. Send out again.
5. If they accept, depending on whether they pay “on acceptance” or “on publication,” you will receive your check.

TO BE CONTINUED

A Closer Look
Some of these details may befuddle you. Let’s look at several parts more in depth:

1. Your query letter should contain several things: a paragraph about your article with a hook. A second paragraph with more details about the article (outline, points, etc.), a third paragraph containing your “bio,” which lists information about you pertinent to the article or book proposal (i.e., that you’re an expert in the subject matter or something like that), and a paragraph asking if they’d like to see the article. One page, no more.

2. You can send an SASE for the whole manuscript (which should have the right amount in stamps) or just for the return letter(with a $0.37 stamp). In the latter case, they can trash the manuscript and you don’t have to worry about getting the whole thing back (which makes sense because it may cost more to mail it back than for you to copy a new one for another submission).

3. Format: article format on reverse side. Book proposal format – see section on book proposals.

4. SASP – this assures you that your manuscript arrived a live and well. Not necessary, though.

5. Being paid “on acceptance” is the best way to go. It means you will be paid when the publisher accepts the article, not when they publish it, which is what “on publication” means, and may be much later.

TO BE CONTINUED

Questions:
1. What about simultaneous or multiple submissions? This means sending out copies of one article or book proposal to multiple publishers.
A. With a magazine article. If it’s a first rights article, it’s best to query simultaneously but to submit the actual article to only one editor at a time.
B. With reprint or “second” rights, you can send out as many as you want at any time, but don’t send it to competing markets at the same time.
C. With a book proposal, it’s best to submit simultaneously unless an editor asks for an “exclusive look.” If so, give them a certain amount of time to look at it – i.e., “I will give you an exclusive look for one month,” etc. After that, continue to send it out simultaneously.

2. What if two publishers ask for the same article?
The best thing to do is to send it to the best or highest-paying market first. Then if the first one rejects it, you can send it to the second with no problem. In my experience, it’s very rare for more than one magazine publisher to want the same article at the same time.
With book publishers, most editors assume you’re submitting simultaneously, so it doesn’t matter.

3. Should I tell the editor I’m submitting simultaneously?
In magazine publishing, that’s wise. It may motivate them to move faster on it.
In book publishing, it doesn’t matter. You can tell them, but you don’t have to. Most editors consider a simultaneous submission the norm. The only time you need to not submit simultaneously is when a book publisher (or even an agent) asks for an exclusive look.

4. What if a publisher doesn’t take unsolicited manuscripts?
This doesn’t usually apply to queries. Most publishers will look at queries. If you send a query and they come back with a “yes,” then it’s a solicited manuscript and gets you over that hurdle.

5. Are there any no-no’s about this that I should be aware of?
* Always give the editor what they ask for, even if it’s a little different from what you queried.
* Always follow proper format. Probably half of rejections are rejected because of improper format.
* Always assume a “yes” means genuine interest; no editor says yes just to be nice.
* Take rejections with a grain of salt. There are many reasons for rejections, so keep on sending in or rewrite it, and then send it out again.
* Don’t give up. If you believe in what you’re writing, someone else will too, eventually.
Proper Format for a magazine article(next page):

Assignment: Come up with 1-3 ideas for a specific magazine (name it), and then write two or three sentences fleshing out the article in the same way you would explain it to an editor as in the second paragraph of a query letter.

Mark Littleton
3706 NE Shady Lane Drive
Gladstone MO 64119
816-459-8016
mlittleton@earthlink.net

Title of Article or Story

By

Mark Littleton

I am a writer . . .

Creating Great Characters

Creating Great Characters
In both nonfiction and fiction, character is the essence of the story. If your readers don’t like your heroes and heroines, they will not continue to read about them. And if they don’t hate your villains, they won’t find them compelling. How do you create powerful, compelling characters? It’s more than the sum of some characteristics, or character traits. A character has to be “well-rounded,” possessing both positive and negative traits to make him or her seem “real.”
On the other hand, a character in fiction may not be at all attractive in reality. Imagine making a friendship with Hannibal Lecter. Yet, viewers find his character fascinating — on screen, but not in reality.
The main problem with character is that we don’t try hard enough to create a well-rounded, compelling character. We think too “on surface.”
Here are several ways to create well-rounded characters:

1. They have clear positive traits and characteristics.
Think of Rhett Butler. He is tough, courageous, hard-driving, going after what he wants. He also has a great sense of humor and a self-deprecating quality that makes him endearing.

2. They have clear negative traits.
To take Rhett Butler again, we also know that he is sneaky, completely out for himself, a philanderer, and holds just about everyone in contempt. He is rounded because he brings this whole mix into every scene he inhabits, and yet we still like him, partly because he is such a rogue and yet a gentleman.

3. Put the character into situations where he or she can reveal a particular characteristic.
When Rhett realizes he’ll never get Scarlett unless he acts fast and offers her marriage, he chooses those actions over his SOP of being footloose and fancy free. When we see him with Bonnie, we see his tender side. In trying to “spoil” Scarlett, we see him willing to do anything to please her.

4. Put the character into relationship. Make him act on the basis of what others are doing to him and with him.
Rhett knows that Scarlett is in love with Ashley, but he remains patient, believing that his love will overcome.

5. Have your character do heroic things to develop empathy and sympathy in the reader.
Rhett, after Atlanta is attacked, helps Scarlett and Melanie escape with the new baby. But when he’s gotten them nearly to Tara, he decides to go off and fight in the last battle of the Civil War. His sense of honor comes out and he realizes that it will not play well if he’s looked upon only as an opportunist.

6. Have a villain do dastardly things that makes you hate him and want him to lose.
Hannibal Lecter eats people. He’s fascinating, but we certainly don’t want him to succeed at what he does best.
Mitch McDeere’s enemies in The Firm, the Morolto family and so on, tend to be almost cardboard in their evil, and we love to hate them. Grisham might have done better to make them a bit more rounded.
Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones stories fights off many evil people. In each, his enemies are usually almost dashing, gentlemanly and calm in their evil impulses. They steal the treasures that Indiana so wants to preserve. They try to kill, maim, or destroy those who oppose them, and particularly Indiana Jones. These characters seem more well-rounded than others.

7. Have your characters show wit, or compassion, or some good trait at a critical moment.
Remember how the Godfather in The Godfather helped people in trouble, always promising them he would probably call on them to return the favor sometime? His, “We’ll make a deal they can’t refuse,” is a classic line and we root for him to succeed. However, when Michael Corleone starts killing off members of his family, he becomes sinister and evil and we cease to root for him.

8. Give your character weaknesses that the villain can exploit against him or her, so that it looks like all is lost.
Sonny Corleone in The Godfather loves his sister and will do anything to help her. When her husband beats her up, Sonny runs to comfort her and also threaten the bully. But Sonny’s enemies use this against him when the husband goes home, beats up the sister and Sonny rushes to her side, only to be gunned down in his car at a toll plaza.
Michael Corleone takes over the family and has tremendous loyalty. But his loyalty to the family is so great that he cannot understand family members who sell out for money or position, and he has them killed, only to destroy his own life.

9. Give you villain traits to correspond to your hero or heroine so that where he is strong, your hero is vulnerable.
In The Fugitive, Harrison Ford demonstrates a tenacity in trying to solve the crime against his wife that is echoed in Tommy Lee Jones’ U.S. Marshall who goes after Ford with the same kind of tenacity. In the end, though, the real villain – the man with only one arm, is caught, and Tommy Lee Jones turns out to have a heart, which gives his character a beautiful twist in the story.

10. Have the character’s traits lead to consequences in the course of your story. Have his weakness lead him into trouble. Have trouble bring out his strength so that he triumphs.
Superman falls for Lois Lane, and he will do anything to help her. But when the whole world is in trouble, and Lois Lane’s life is also on the line, Superman’s first instinct is to save the world. When he loses Lois, he finds new strength in being able to turn back time.
Scarlett O’Hara’s weakness is her love for the unattainable Ashley Wilkes. This weakness leads her into endless trouble but also brings out her resourcefulness. When Melanie Wilkes dies and Ashley is free, Scarlett realizes the truth, and her resourcefulness and determination jump in to make her go after Rhett one more time.

Character makes fiction come alive. Without good characters, plot becomes little more than action without substance. We’ve all seen movies and read books where the characters, because they lack rounding and substance do not draw out interest, despite being thrown into all kinds of hair-raising action. Round out your characters and you will find that readers will come back time and time again to read about them.

How to Get Through a Whole Book

HOW DO YOU GET THROUGH A WHOLE BOOK?

A man was walking along a California beach and stumbled across an old lamp. He picked it up and rubbed it and out popped a genie. The genie said, “OK, OK. You released me from the lamp, blah blah blah. This is the fourth time this month and I’m getting a little sick of these wishes so you can forget about three. You only get one wish!” The man sat and thought about it for a while and said, “I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii but I’m scared to fly and I get very seasick. Could you build me a bridge to Hawaii so I can drive over there to visit?” The genie laughed and said, “That’s impossible. Think of the logistics of that! How would the supports ever reach the bottom of the Pacific? Think of how much concrete… how much steel!! No, think of another wish.”

The man said OK and tried to think of a really good wish. Finally, he said, “I’ve been married and divorced four times. My wives always said that I don’t care and that I’m insensitive. So, I wish that I could understand women…. know how they feel inside and what they’re thinking when they give me the silent treatment…. know why they’re crying… know what they really want when they say ‘nothing’…. know how to make them truly happy….”

The genie said, “You want that bridge two lanes or four?”

1A. A Good idea.
Examples:
Falling Stars Over Mexico
Death Trip
Get –a Clue Devotoins
Big Bad God of the Bible.

2A. Outline, ideas, putting things on paper.
Just playing around. Trying to find the right formula.
End of the World as We Know It
Sports Heroes.

3A. Write a chapter.
Fiction: Get a feel for characters, conflict, plot.
Moonlighting
Nonfiction: Get a feel for the core issue.
End of the World

4A. Try it out on readers.
Critique group; fanstory.com.
Friends and others.

5A. Write a few more chapters.
Keep focused.

A little boy wrote this about the pig: “Pigs are very queer animals. The pig has its uses. Our dog don’t like pigs. His name is Nero. Our teacher read a piece one day about a wicked king named Nero. I like good men. My papa is an awful good man. Men are very useful. They have a great many uses which I can’t stop to tell them all. That is all I can say about the pig.”

On the other hand, I once read about a young lady who took a science course in high school and was given a quiz. The question was, “Define a bolt and nut and explain the difference, if any.”
She wrote: “A bolt is a thing like a stick of hard metal such as iron with a square bunch on one end and a lot of scratching wound around the other end. A nut is similar to the bolt only just the opposite being a hole in a little chunk of iron sawed off short with wrinkles around the inside of the hole.”
She received an “A”.

Rights in Publishing

Many writers are confused today about what their rights are in relation to the manuscripts they’ve written. They want to know:
What are my rights?
What am I giving to the publisher?
Am I giving away too much?
What can I expect when I sign a contract?
Do I need to get a copyright for my manuscripts?

This paper will answer all these questions.

Selling Rights to Your Work

When you sell an article or book to a publisher, normally you will be issued some kind of contract which spells out exactly what “rights” you’re selling to them. You must be careful what you do sell, as it will determine whether you can ever have the article or book republished, reprinted, or anything else.

Rights may be divided into two categories: magazine rights, and book rights. Let’s look at each individually.

Magazine Rights

These are fairly simple. There are several categories of rights that you can sell to a magazine. They are:
1. First Rights. This gives the magazine the right to publish your article once for the first time anywhere. That means you haven’t sold the same article to someone else, or that it hasn’t appeared in its present form anywhere else.
2. Second Rights or Reprint Rights. After an article has been published for the first time, you can sell reprint rights as many times as you wish to any and all publishers.
3. Exclusive Rights. This usually means that the magazine has the exclusive right to publish your article in all its venues (translations of the magazine for other countries, electronic versions under the publisher’s wing, etc.). However, it usually means they can only publish your article once in each of these places.
4. All Rights. You’re selling the right to publish your article as many times as they wish, until they decide to give the rights back to you.
In most cases, you want to sell First Rights, if it’s the first time the article is published, or Reprint Rights, if it’s already been published before. Avoid All Rights whenever possible, although you can usually request the rights to the article returned to you after a period of time following first publication. Ultimately, though, none of these kinds of rights are forbidding, especially if a magazine is paying you something for the right to publish your article. Take the money and run.

Book Rights
Rights in book publishing are much more complicated. Normally, you will get a contract that spells out all the different rights you can sell to a publisher. These include:
1. The “sole and exclusive” right to publish in North America for the first time anywhere. This is usually an across-the-board right for publishing your book in hardback, trade paperback or mass paperback for the first time anywhere.
2. Paperback rights. If your book is first published in hardback, you may sell paperback rights to another publisher after the book has been in print for a reasonable period of time. These are usually sold at the same time as #1 above.
3. Audio rights. The right to publish in audio form.
4. Dramatic or Movie rights. The right to sell your book to a film company as an option, or for development.
5. Electronic rights. The right to publish and sell your book in electronic form, e-books, etc.
6. Foreign rights. Publishing in a foreign country with translation. In this case, the publisher is not connected to the original publisher.
7. Subsidiary Rights. These include rights to publication with publishers that have a specific relationship to the original publisher, i.e., foreign arms of the publishing company, etc.
8. Other rights. These include having the book appear in serial form in a magazine, reprints in magazines, book club rights, direct sales, anthologies, workbooks, special editions, abridgements, syndicates, CD-Rom, and so on.
All of these rights are negotiable. Normally, an agent will retain some rights which he thinks he can sell – like movie rights, foreign rights, paperback, etc. But if he has no means to sell these rights, it might be best to let the publisher retain them and split the proceeds with you, 50-50. Remember, if a publisher retains any rights, they will pursue channels of publication for you and you won’t have to do anything, except reap the profits.

Some Things to Consider
* The publisher will usually try to retain most rights, but you can negotiate away those rights you think you or your agent can sell or exercise.
* If a publisher is willing to pay up front for certain rights, it’s usually best to take the money and run.
* If you’re unclear about a contract in any way, talk to a writer who has signed contracts, a literary agent, or a publishing lawyer. Don’t give away rights just because the publisher wants them.
*Every publisher is out for itself first, so remember that any contract is going to be in their favor, not yours, until you begin negotiating.
* The copyright may be in your name, but it’s who owns the rights who gets the money.
* When a book goes out of print, the rights usually return to you after a 3-6 month waiting period. You can then sell your book’s rights to other publishers.
* Everything is negotiable. A publisher who won’t negotiate will soon be out of business.
* The best time to get an agent interested in you as an author is when you’re offered a contract by a bonafide royalty publisher.

CHaracterization

Creating Great Characters

In both nonfiction and fiction, character is the essence of the story. If your readers don’t like your heroes and heroines, they will not continue to read about them. And if they don’t hate your villains, they won’t find them compelling. How do you create powerful, compelling characters? It’s more than the sum of some characteristics, or character traits. A character has to be “well-rounded,” possessing both positive and negative traits to make him or her seem “real.”

On the other hand, a character in fiction may not be at all attractive in reality. Imagine making a friendship with Hannibal Lecter. Yet, viewers find his character fascinating — on screen, but not in reality.

The main problem with character is that we don’t try hard enough to create a well-rounded, compelling character. We think too “on surface.”

Here are several ways to create well-rounded characters:

1. They have clear positive traits and characteristics.

Think of Rhett Butler. He is tough, courageous, hard-driving, going after what he wants. He also has a great sense of humor and a self-deprecating quality that makes him endearing.

2. They have clear negative traits.

To take Rhett Butler again, we also know that he is sneaky, completely out for himself, a philanderer, and holds just about everyone in contempt. He is rounded because he brings this whole mix into every scene he inhabits, and yet we still like him, partly because he is such a rogue and yet a gentleman.

3. Put the character into situations where he or she can reveal a particular characteristic.

When Rhett realizes he’ll never get Scarlett unless he acts fast and offers her marriage, he chooses those actions over his SOP of being footloose and fancy free. When we see him with Bonnie, we see his tender side. In trying to “spoil” Scarlett, we see him willing to do anything to please her.

4. Put the character into relationship. Make him act on the basis of what others are doing to him and with him.

Rhett knows that Scarlett is in love with Ashley, but he remains patient, believing that his love will overcome.

5. Have your character do heroic things to develop empathy and sympathy in the reader.

Rhett, after Atlanta is attacked, helps Scarlett and Melanie escape with the new baby. But when he’s gotten them nearly to Tara, he decides to go off and fight in the last battle of the Civil War. His sense of honor comes out and he realizes that it will not play well if he’s looked upon only as an opportunist.

6. Have a villain do dastardly things that makes you hate him and want him to lose.

Hannibal Lecter eats people. He’s fascinating, but we certainly don’t want him to succeed at what he does best.

Mitch McDeere’s enemies in The Firm, the Morolto family and so on, tend to be almost cardboard in their evil, and we love to hate them. Grisham might have done better to make them a bit more rounded.

Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones stories fights off many evil people. In each, his enemies are usually almost dashing, gentlemanly and calm in their evil impulses. They steal the treasures that Indiana so wants to preserve. They try to kill, maim, or destroy those who oppose them, and particularly Indiana Jones. These characters seem more well-rounded than others.

7. Have your characters show wit, or compassion, or some good trait at a critical moment.

Remember how the Godfather in The Godfather helped people in trouble, always promising them he would probably call on them to return the favor sometime? His, “We’ll make a deal they can’t refuse,” is a classic line and we root for him to succeed. However, when Michael Corleone starts killing off members of his family, he becomes sinister and evil and we cease to root for him.

8. Give your character weaknesses that the villain can exploit against him or her, so that it looks like all is lost.

Sonny Corleone in The Godfather loves his sister and will do anything to help her. When her husband beats her up, Sonny runs to comfort her and also threaten the bully. But Sonny’s enemies use this against him when the husband goes home, beats up the sister and Sonny rushes to her side, only to be gunned down in his car at a toll plaza.
Michael Corleone takes over the family and has tremendous loyalty. But his loyalty to the family is so great that he cannot understand family members who sell out for money or position, and he has them killed, only to destroy his own life.

9. Give you villain traits to correspond to your hero or heroine so that where he is strong, your hero is vulnerable.
In The Fugitive, Harrison Ford demonstrates a tenacity in trying to solve the crime against his wife that is echoed in Tommy Lee Jones’ U.S. Marshall who goes after Ford with the same kind of tenacity. In the end, though, the real villain – the man with only one arm, is caught, and Tommy Lee Jones turns out to have a heart, which gives his character a beautiful twist in the story.

10. Have the character’s traits lead to consequences in the course of your story. Have his weakness lead him into trouble. Have trouble bring out his strength so that he triumphs.
Superman falls for Lois Lane, and he will do anything to help her. But when the whole world is in trouble, and Lois Lane’s life is also on the line, Superman’s first instinct is to save the world. When he loses Lois, he finds new strength in being able to turn back time.
Scarlett O’Hara’s weakness is her love for the unattainable Ashley Wilkes. This weakness leads her into endless trouble but also brings out her resourcefulness. When Melanie Wilkes dies and Ashley is free, Scarlett realizes the truth, and her resourcefulness and determination jump in to make her go after Rhett one more time.

Character makes fiction come alive. Without good characters, plot becomes little more than action without substance. We’ve all seen movies and read books where the characters, because they lack rounding and substance do not draw out interest, despite being thrown into all kinds of hair-raising action. Round out your characters and you will find that readers will come back time and time again to read about them.

TO BE CONTINUED

POV

Point of View and Characterization Technique
Making Your Writing Compelling on Every Page

Guide for Aspiring and Professional Novelists

by

Mark R. Littleton

Price: $8.00

WINSUN Ministries
3706 NE Shady Lane Drive
Gladstone MO 64119
816-459-8016, Phone or Fax
Email: mlittleton@earthlink.net

Point of View

Grasping the concept of point of view is one of the most difficult for writers. Many make the mistake of thinking it’s not important, and then in their writing they break all the rules just thinking they’re telling a good story. In effect, though, they’re confusing their readers.

You can best understand point of view by thinking of it as relating to whose mind and eyes the story is unfolding through. For instance, if Mike is the POV (point of view) character, then everything that happens in your story must happen through his mind, eyes, hearing, etc. He can’t hear something off stage or page. He can’t see things that are out of his range or knowledge. He can only see, hear, feel and think events, people and situations that are present to him at the time of the story.

For instance, take this sequence:

Mike stood at the door and knocked. When Myra opened it, he smiled and said, “I’ve come to pleasure you, my dear.”

Myra grinned. She studied him up and down and then licked her lips, thinking, This will be fun.

This is a slip in POV. We start off in Mike’s head, but in the second paragraph, we move to Myra’s head. This is a no-no. Generally, even though you may tell your story through several different people’s points of view, you should stick with one person’s POV per scene. Don’t switch in the middle.

There are several different kinds of POV:

1. First person. The story is told from the “I” standpoint. The narrator tells the story from his viewpoint.

I sat in the chair smoking a pipe, not really thinking about much of anything, when this rocketship landed in my yard. Being a friendly type, I stood, held out my hand Indian fashion, and said, “Do you come in peace?”

A thing with a green head looking a bit like Shrek, stuck his head out, jabbered to someone behind him, then held out a ray gun.

Everything comes through the “I” POV. The person telling the story can’t know anything that others think, see or feel unless they tell him outright.

2. Third person, single POV. The story is told through the eyes of one person, but at a distance from the narrator. Everything in the story comes through this person’s mind and eyes, just like in first person, except the story is in third person.

Example: Bill ate the dump cake for breakfast. At lunch, he consumed a dozen cupcakes with white icing, a bag of Oreos, and an apple pie. By dinner, he was ravenous again and laid into the leftover wedding cake.

Bill did have a sweet tooth. At midnight, he opened the refrigerator and drew out three half-gallon canisters of ice cream. Setting them side by side, he dipped first into the Scrumptious Peanut Butter Battle, then tried the Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Nuts, and finally savored the Cherry Chocolate Chunk Surprise. After consuming nearly a whole half-gallon himself, he placed the boxes back into the refrigerator.

On the way back to his bedroom, he dropped dead of a massive heart attack.

Everything here comes through Bill’s eyes. No one else’s thoughts or ideas enter.

TO BE CONTINUED

3. Third person, multiple POV. This is the same as 2 above, except that the story is told through the eyes of several characters, with usually only one character’s POV per scene. As scenes switch, other characters’ POV can enter the stage, but generally it’s wise to stick with one character’s POV per scene.

4. Second person POV. This is very unusual, but there are a few notable novels written in this style like Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInierny. Here everything comes through the “you” character. It usually doesn’t work, but in the above case, it was hailed as a breakthough. It goes like this:

You step into the room. Everything looks as you left it, but something is missing. You soon realize it’s your blender. The blender has been stolen. But by who?

You go to the window and look down. At that moment, you see the culprit running down the street with your blender, drinking a Margarita from it as he ran.

You’re outraged and you call the police, but they don’t care. They have murders to solve, rapes, bank jobs. What’s a little blender to them? It’s everything to you. You inherited from your great-grandmother. But they still don’t care, because they’re all fools. The whole world is nothing but fools, you muse. Then you head out into the night, looking for a bar where you’ll have to drink inferior Margaritas, but they will warm your heart.

This is tough to do through a whole book and still maintain interest for the reader.

5. Omniscient POV. This POV is coming back into vogue. In it, the narrator knows all that is going on in every person’s mind and heart. As he/she tells the story, he can dip into anyone’s thoughts at any time.

Jason wanted the woman badly, but Darlene felt disgusted at the sight of him. Lorna, on the other hand, wanted to grab the man and hie him off to bed immediately. Carl, standing by, wondered why such lust appeared in Lorna’s eyes for this bum Jason when it should have been for him.

This is also difficult to pull off in a long story. The advantage is that you can tell everyone’s story at the same time. The disadvantage is that everything becomes muddled and confused and the reader grows bored. There is no suspense.

TO BE CONTINUED

EXAMPLE:

Here are two pages from the same work in progress of mine. Read them both and determine which one steps out of POV and gets into the heads of different characters, where and how. Then look at the correct example and see how it should have been done.

FROM: Moonlit Now and Then P.I. Agency

The couple walked down toward their ride with easy dialogue that ranged from the latest government craziness to the value of the Morgan silver dollar, which Bunker had stocked away in the thousands. They spotted the car thief at the same time. He fished with a professional car-jacking Slim-Jim on the driver’s side.

“What are you doing with our car?” Pem shouted as she stalked up to him, her spike heels clicking on the pavement. (WE’RE IN PEM’S POV).

Thinking she should scare them away, the woman pulled a pistol. “Open it up or I drill ya.” (NOW IN CAR-JACKER’S POV. HOW? TEXT SAYS SHE WAS “THINKING” something, which we can’t know).

Immediately, Pem saw she was a he, though he wore a woman’s housedress, and had his head in curlers – he looked for all the world like some totaled woman out hitting Wal-Mart for sales of the latest in generic biscuits and gravy.

Bunker put down his grocery bags on top of the trunk and reached into his pocket, hoping the knife was still there.(NOW IN BUNKER’S POV WITH HIM THINKING). “I have a penknife,” he said, digging down. “I don’t think the gun is real. It’s a water pistol.” People in the lot stopped to see what was happening.

The cross-dressing thief looked from Pem to Bunker and back, wishing he could go somewhere else. (BACK TO CAR THIEF WITH “WISHING”). “Is he kidding? It’s a real gun.”

“We don’t care,” Pem said, her hands on her hips. “We have a knife.”

The thief’s eyes popped and he lifted the gun to shoot it. More onlookers than he could ever have wanted ducked, some attracted by the idea of a robbery. (SWITCH TO ONLOOKERS WITH “ATTRACTED). Then he looked at the gun closely. Slowly, he put it down and stowed it in a pocket.

“Fine. It’s a water pistol. So?”

“The point is do you want to be arrested, sent to jail, and have to live with a pet rat for the rest of your life? Who doesn’t even brush his teeth?” Pem asked further.

“Sounds better than my life now.” He felt an itch in his neck and scratched it. (SWITCH: HE “FEELS” SOMETHING PEM CAN’T KNOW).

Pem sighed. “Why are you wearing a dress?”

He turned and expelled the words feeling more and more exasperated. (PEM CAN’T KNOW HE’S FEELING THIS). “Can’t you see I’m trying to steal a car here?”

“Not for long.”

He glared at her. “Maybe I want to go to jail, lady. Did you ever consider that?”

Pem stared at him incredulously. “You know, I knew when I first saw you that you were in need of serious counseling. But not the kind where they have to keep you in a straight-jacket.”

He turned back to his work.

Pem lifted her pocketbook and gave it a whirl like a bolo. “This purse has about five pounds of change in it. I’m as deadly as David was with Goliath. I’d advise you to stop trying to steal our car.”

CORRECT VERSION:

The couple walked down toward their ride with easy dialogue that ranged from the latest government craziness to the value of the Morgan silver dollar, which Bunker had stocked away in the thousands. They spotted the car thief at the same time. He fished with a professional car-jacking Slim-Jim on the driver’s side.

“What are you doing with our car?” Pem shouted as she stalked up to him, her spike heels clicking on the pavement.

The woman pulled a pistol. “Open it up or I drill ya.”

Immediately, Pem saw she was a he, though he wore a woman’s housedress, and had his head in curlers – he looked for all the world like some totaled woman out hitting Wal-Mart for sales of the latest in generic biscuits and gravy.

Bunker put down his grocery bags on top of the trunk and reached into his pocket. “I have a penknife,” he said, digging down. “I don’t think the gun is real. It’s a water pistol.” People in the lot stopped to see what was happening.

The cross-dressing thief looked from Pem to Bunker and back. “Is he kidding? It’s a real gun.”

“We don’t care,” Pem said, her hands on her hips. “We have a knife.”
The thief’s eyes popped and he lifted the gun to shoot it. More onlookers than he could ever have wanted ducked. Then he looked at the gun closely. Slowly, he put it down and stowed it in a pocket.

“Fine. It’s a water pistol. So?”

“The point is do you want to be arrested, sent to jail, and have to live with a pet rat for the rest of your life? Who doesn’t even brush his teeth?” Pem asked further.

“Sounds better than my life now.”

Pem sighed. “Why are you wearing a dress?”

He turned and expelled the words with exasperation. “Can’t you see I’m trying to steal a car here?”

“Not for long.”

He glared at her. “Maybe I want to go to jail, lady. Did you ever consider that?”

Pem stared at him incredulously. “You know, I knew when I first saw you that you were in need of serious counseling. But not the kind where they have to keep you in a straight-jacket.”

He turned back to his work.

Do you see the differences? The first version moves POV from person to person incorrectly. The second is all in Pem’s POV.
Assignment:
Write a paragraph from one of these types of POV. Tell us whose POV you’re writing through before you read.

Creating Great Characters
In both nonfiction and fiction, character is the essence of the story. If your readers don’t like your heroes and heroines, they will not continue to read about them. And if they don’t hate your villains, they won’t find them compelling. How do you create powerful, compelling characters? It’s more than the sum of some characteristics, or character traits. A character has to be “well-rounded,” possessing both positive and negative traits to make him or her seem “real.”
On the other hand, a character in fiction may not be at all attractive in reality. Imagine making a friendship with Hannibal Lecter. Yet, viewers find his character fascinating — on screen, but not in reality.
The main problem with character is that we don’t try hard enough to create a well-rounded, compelling character. We think too “on surface.”
Here are several ways to create well-rounded characters:

1. They have clear positive traits and characteristics.
Think of Rhett Butler. He is tough, courageous, hard-driving, going after what he wants. He also has a great sense of humor and a self-deprecating quality that makes him endearing.

2. They have clear negative traits.
To take Rhett Butler again, we also know that he is sneaky, completely out for himself, a philanderer, and holds just about everyone in contempt. He is rounded because he brings this whole mix into every scene he inhabits, and yet we still like him, partly because he is such a rogue and yet a gentleman.

3. Put the character into situations where he or she can reveal a particular characteristic.
When Rhett realizes he’ll never get Scarlett unless he acts fast and offers her marriage, he chooses those actions over his SOP of being footloose and fancy free. When we see him with Bonnie, we see his tender side. In trying to “spoil” Scarlett, we see him willing to do anything to please her.

4. Put the character into relationship. Make him act on the basis of what others are doing to him and with him.
Rhett knows that Scarlett is in love with Ashley, but he remains patient, believing that his love will overcome.

5. Have your character do heroic things to develop empathy and sympathy in the reader.
Rhett, after Atlanta is attacked, helps Scarlett and Melanie escape with the new baby. But when he’s gotten them nearly to Tara, he decides to go off and fight in the last battle of the Civil War. His sense of honor comes out and he realizes that it will not play well if he’s looked upon only as an opportunist.

6. Have a villain do dastardly things that makes you hate him and want him to lose.
Hannibal Lecter eats people. He’s fascinating, but we certainly don’t want him to succeed at what he does best.
Mitch McDeere’s enemies in The Firm, the Morolto family and so on, tend to be almost cardboard in their evil, and we love to hate them. Grisham might have done better to make them a bit more rounded.
Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones stories fights off many evil people. In each, his enemies are usually almost dashing, gentlemanly and calm in their evil impulses. They steal the treasures that Indiana so wants to preserve. They try to kill, maim, or destroy those who oppose them, and particularly Indiana Jones. These characters seem more well-rounded than others.

7. Have your characters show wit, or compassion, or some good trait at a critical moment.
Remember how the Godfather in The Godfather helped people in trouble, always promising them he would probably call on them to return the favor sometime? His, “We’ll make a deal they can’t refuse,” is a classic line and we root for him to succeed. However, when Michael Corleone starts killing off members of his family, he becomes sinister and evil and we cease to root for him.

8. Give your character weaknesses that the villain can exploit against him or her, so that it looks like all is lost.
Sonny Corleone in The Godfather loves his sister and will do anything to help her. When her husband beats her up, Sonny runs to comfort her and also threaten the bully. But Sonny’s enemies use this against him when the husband goes home, beats up the sister and Sonny rushes to her side, only to be gunned down in his car at a toll plaza.
Michael Corleone takes over the family and has tremendous loyalty. But his loyalty to the family is so great that he cannot understand family members who sell out for money or position, and he has them killed, only to destroy his own life.

9. Give you villain traits to correspond to your hero or heroine so that where he is strong, your hero is vulnerable.
In The Fugitive, Harrison Ford demonstrates a tenacity in trying to solve the crime against his wife that is echoed in Tommy Lee Jones’ U.S. Marshall who goes after Ford with the same kind of tenacity. In the end, though, the real villain – the man with only one arm, is caught, and Tommy Lee Jones turns out to have a heart, which gives his character a beautiful twist in the story.

10. Have the character’s traits lead to consequences in the course of your story. Have his weakness lead him into trouble. Have trouble bring out his strength so that he triumphs.
Superman falls for Lois Lane, and he will do anything to help her. But when the whole world is in trouble, and Lois Lane’s life is also on the line, Superman’s first instinct is to save the world. When he loses Lois, he finds new strength in being able to turn back time.
Scarlett O’Hara’s weakness is her love for the unattainable Ashley Wilkes. This weakness leads her into endless trouble but also brings out her resourcefulness. When Melanie Wilkes dies and Ashley is free, Scarlett realizes the truth, and her resourcefulness and determination jump in to make her go after Rhett one more time.

Character makes fiction come alive. Without good characters, plot becomes little more than action without substance. We’ve all seen movies and read books where the characters, because they lack rounding and substance do not draw out interest, despite being thrown into all kinds of hair-raising action. Round out your characters and you will find that readers will come back time and time again to read about them.

Look at the same passage used in POV above and point out the ways that characterization is shown in the following passage. Look at the notes.

The couple walked down toward their ride with easy dialogue that ranged from the latest government craziness to the value of the Morgan silver dollar, which Bunker had stocked away in the thousands. (SHOWS THEY’RE POLITICAL AND INVESTMENT-ORIENTED). They spotted the car thief at the same time. He fished with a professional car-jacking Slim-Jim on the driver’s side. (SHOWS THEY KNEW IMMEDIATELY WHAT HE WAS DOING. THEY’RE WELL-EDUCATED, UP WITH THE TIMES PEOPLE).
“What are you doing with our car?” Pem shouted as she stalked up to him, her spike heels clicking on the pavement. (SHE’S STYLISH AND NOT AFRAID TO CONFRONT).
The woman pulled a pistol. “Open it up or I drill ya.” (SHE’S DANGEROUS).
Immediately, Pem saw she was a he, though he wore a woman’s housedress, and had his head in curlers – he looked for all the world like some totaled woman out hitting Wal-Mart for sales of the latest in generic biscuits and gravy. (SHOWS HE’S HURTING, IN BAD FINANCIAL SHAPE, AND FAIRLY STUPID).
Bunker put down his grocery bags on top of the trunk and reached into his pocket. “I have a penknife,” he said, digging down. “I don’t think the gun is real. It’s a water pistol.” People in the lot stopped to see what was happening. (HE CARRIES A PENKNIFE – IS PREPARED).
The cross-dressing thief looked from Pem to Bunker and back. “Is he kidding? It’s a real gun.” (A LIAR).
“We don’t care,” Pem said, her hands on her hips. “We have a knife.” (SHE’S TOUGH AND UNAFRAID; ALSO HUMOROUS).
The thief’s eyes popped and he lifted the gun to shoot it. More onlookers than he could ever have wanted ducked. Then he looked at the gun closely. Slowly, he put it down and stowed it in a pocket. (NOT A THINKER).
“Fine. It’s a water pistol. So?”
“The point is do you want to be arrested, sent to jail, and have to live with a pet rat for the rest of your life? Who doesn’t even brush his teeth?” Pem asked further. (INTERESTING DETAIL ABOUT HYGIENE AND WHAT SHE WOULD FIND DISGUSTING).
“Sounds better than my life now.”
Pem sighed. “Why are you wearing a dress?”
He turned and expelled the words with exasperation. “Can’t you see I’m trying to steal a car here?” (DUMB AND EXASPERATED).
“Not for long.”
He glared at her. “Maybe I want to go to jail, lady. Did you ever consider that?” (DESPERATION).
Pem stared at him incredulously. “You know, I knew when I first saw you that you were in need of serious counseling. But not the kind where they have to keep you in a straight-jacket.” (SHE SEES JUST HOW CRAZY HE IS).
He turned back to his work. (SINGLE-MINDED).
Pem lifted her pocketbook and gave it a whirl like a bolo. “This purse has about five pounds of change in it. I’m as deadly as David was with Goliath. I’d advise you to stop trying to steal our car.” (RESOURCEFUL).
People plodded along in the parking lot, but more stopped when they saw what was happening. One woman said, “I’ve got 9-1-1.”
Another pulled a real gun. “Let’s go at it, jerkweed.”
Soon about thirty people stood around, far more menacing than the car-jacker. He stared, then rattled the Slim-Jim. He said, “You don’t scare me, woman.” (TRIES TO BE TOUGH, NOT DOING IT).
Bunker said over her shoulder with the penknife is his hand, “She scares me and I’m her husband.” (HUMOR, TRYING TO LIGHTEN THE SITUATION UP).
Pem gave him a squinty-eyed pirate look, then turned back to the thug. “You want to feel the wrath of the Purse-Popper?” (HUMOR, A SENSE OF PURPOSE).

Do you see how these elements make the people more interesting and real to the reader?

Assignment:
Write a passage from one of your stories and go through and analyze what you have written that shows flashes of character.

TO CONTINUE:

This book will soon appear on Amazon.com.

Critiquing Others’ Writing

How to Make Writing Happen in Your Area
How can you and I build up the writer’s audience? Here are some suggestions.
1. Go to readings and events.
Your city will sponsor some events each year where writers, poets and performers will be offered the chance to read their material. Go to these events. Support other writers in their work, even if you’re not going to read yourself. As more writers become aware of places and times when they can read, they’ll participate and possibly begin a small revival.
2. Support other writers.
When a writer comes to town to read, attend the event. Buy some of his/her books. Read their work. Talk about them to others in your writer’s group. When you build up others, you will also be built up. As the Bible says, “He who waters will himself be watered.”
3. Sponsor your own event.
Consider sponsoring your own event at a local bookstore or restaurant. Advertise it to your writing friends, or just to people who enjoy writing. Make a night of it.
4. Start a writer’s group, critiquing and reading.
When you have the names of other writers, build an e-mail or regular mailing list. Ask if they’d like to be a part of a group. I lead a group of writers, including writers, at Barnes and Noble on Barry Road. Frequently, people bring writing to share and it’s fun.
5. Create a newsletter.
Think about creating your own newsletter that publishes writing. It’s not hard and you could easily build up a mailing list.
6. Plug into writer’s groups.
Among the many in the area, consider:
* Writer’s Place — 816-753-1090
* Local bookstores – talk to owners
* HACWN – Heart of America Christian Writer’s Network – marklitt@aol.com, 816-459-8016
* At your church
7. Buy books of poetry, writing, and essays and read them.
Share favorite writing with others, even those who aren’t into writing. Letting others know about your interests will get others interested.
8. Talk about writing whenever you get a chance.
Share your favorite material, encourage others to try a book you’ve discovered, get into it.

Getting Into a Critique Group
Critique groups are one of the best ways to build on your interest in writing, find a place to read your material regularly, and get immediate, helpful feedback on it. A critique group can:
* Help you see what’s good about your work, as well as what’s bad.
* Give you ideas about how to make a piece better.
* A source of networking to learn about others in the city who are into writing
* Lead you to sources for publication.

How to Critique
* Be positive. Try to find the good as well as the bad. Don’t tear down, but constructively encourage.
* Be specific. Don’t just make general comments. Try to point out where a problem lies, or what can be done about a line or some riff that the writer has gone off on.
* Encourage. Let the author know that you see progress in their work, if you do, and what things you can praise them about in their writing
* Never get nasty or personal. Talk about the writing on its own merits, not the person behind the writing Never get personal about something, even if you don’t much like the person who wrote what you’re critiquing.
* Don’t critique the message as much as the way the message is given. If the writer gets religious, political, or spouts opinions that you don’t much like, that’s all right. We live in a free speech world. But in critiquing, you’re concerned about the writing, not the message. Don’t get into an argument over what someone else believes.
* Be clear in what you’re saying. If possible, point to specific lines or words that you think are out of order. Don’t just mumble out an opinion about whether the poem is good or not.
* Think: is this publishable? The main thing a writer needs to know is if his/her work is publishable and where. Try to give him/her that direction, if possible.

How to Receive a Critique
* Don’t defend your work, or explain yourself in long diatribes. Let the writerry speak for itself. If the poem doesn’t say what you want it to say, then it’s the poem’s fault, not your explanation’s.
* Strive to silently listen to what others have to say. It’s often best not to say anything while others are critiquing. This way you will hear them out, and not just listen to your internal defenses.
* Take what is good and use it; leave everything else. Critiquers aren’t always right, and you will have to be discerning. Do you think what they say is true, correct, helpful? If so, then use it. Otherwise, discard and forget it.
* Never take it personally. Most critiquers just want to help you. Accept it that way, and all will be well.
* Learn from your mistakes. After a critique, analyze: How was your response? Did you learn anything worth applying?

TO BE CONTINUED