We are nearing the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, and one of the things I put on my 2015 goals list was to support the creation of quality Latin American characters.
Today, I’m tackling three common stereotypes and misconceptions.
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Join us in welcoming guest blogger, Hannah Givens. We met Hannah through another mutual blogger friend over a year ago and we fell in love with her super intelligent and pop culture rich blog,Things Matter. We asked her here today to talk about an important and seldom addressed topic: how to write sensitive and realistic lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters.This is a subject we knew almost nothing about, but we wanted to know more, and thought our readers would too.
Please give a warm Write On Sisters welcome to Hannah!
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Frenemies are the staple for conflict-packed stories. It’s a relationship dynamic that runs the gambit of emotions. It’s the subtle barbs of a disgruntled coworker. It’s the lingering sad but quietly malevolent vibe of a jilted ex-lover. And it’s the deliberate backstabbing of a fair-weather friend.
Frenemies of every kind are particularly popular in teen character creation, but they’re nothing new to writers. Jane Austen played off the dynamic notion of an enemy masquerading as a friend in several of her novels. Just think of the complicated relationship between Isabella Thorpe and Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey.
How do people with common interests, who run in the same work and/or social circles, manage to cross the line?
Well, it usually begins with some level of self-interest. The corresponding behaviors range from the annoying to the pathological. This type of character plays a major roll in the project I’m working on this fall. My lead character, Jade, is a frienemie to her ex-boyfriend’s new girl with disastrous results for everyone.
Here are some of the character categories where you often find a frenemy lurking:
Me, Myself and I Friend:
This frenemy just has no real interest in others. Their world view has room for one star in the sky and they are it! It’s not so much that they want to hurt others, it’s just that others aren’t as smart, as dedicated, as driven, or as worthy of success as they are. They are single-minded and hard working; they win small and large contests with all the commitment of a world class athlete.
Personal Motto: Good things come to those who hunt them down and kill them with a big stick.
The Roller Coaster of Doom Friend:
They’re up, they’re down, and they’re lost. They’re looking for others to pity them, clutch their hands in support, and show them the way. Of course, once directed to a suitable path, they will still go the other way and cause chaos. This frenemy’s prickly and unpredictable nature means they require constant attention.
Personal Motto: What have you done for me lately?
Green Meanie Friend:
Jealousy’s glow is an ugly shade on anyone, but this frenemy is sporting some shamrock colored karma that demands some redecorating. At the core of envy is low self-esteem and a dose of greed. They want the other person’s success so badly they can taste it. And they resent and denigrate their friend’s accolades with growing malcontent. The Green Meanie doesn’t understand why success proves so elusive, unless their friends are sabotaging them. Paranoia and conspiracy theories are the Green Meanie’s true BFFs.
Personal Motto: Blowing out another person’s candle will make mine brighter.
Humans Are Stepping Stones Friend:
The path to success is paved with the discarded hulls of others. These frenemies are the first to wrangle an invitation to the party and the last to help with the clean up. They are often charming, attractive and know how to work any social situations like a public relations pro. They gravitate toward money and power, always realigning themselves with new friends for maximum gain.
Personal Motto: Life is a journey, and I arrive first and in style.
Most Valuable Player Friend:
Walking in the spotlight feels good, and it’s okay if a little light bleeds ever so gently onto others and long as the MVP hogs the focal point. MVP don’t mind if friends own a much smaller spotlight or if they’re successful in another area of the shared social web. But friends should never go head -to-head with the MVP on home turf, it will not end well.
Personal Motto: I play to annihilate, because he/she who dies with the most trophies, press clippings, and awards wins.
Love Lunatic Friend:
Stupid in the name of love, friends fall by the wayside when the object of this frenemy’s affections beckons. Likewise, their love is always the one true affection, whereas their friends get mocked for their silly crushes. No one can equal the scope of the Love Lunatic’s passion, save Romeo and Juliet of course. That pair is ideal in all things. This frenemy will only return to the fold once love has gone awry. In lost love’s melancholy stage, they will demand everyone’s full attention, until the next true love comes along.
Personal Motto: Love triumphs all, until it doesn’t!
The Grand Schemer Friend:
This frenemy knows just what they’re doing. They’ve learned the art of how befriend and betray at Machiavelli’s knee. They get close fast and study their prey from every angle. When they strike, it is without warning and for maximum suffering. If they are really good at being bad, they might even convince the injured party to apologize.
Personal Motto: Sometimes you need to lose a battle to win the war.
Young adult fiction is positively bursting with frenemies. Using many means (gossip, slander, blackmail), these characters advance their campaigns of self-promotion at any cost. Throwing in a frenemy character never fails to create some extra tension in a group.
Have you ever written a frenemy relationship? If so please share your experience.
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Today we bring you a guest post from one of our newer blogging friends, Shawn Griffith. Shawn runs a blog called Down Home Thoughts, and his site is packed with old-fashioned wit and wisdom. He’s on WriteOnSisters to talk about character, a topic near and dear to his heart. In fact he’s conducting a survey on character over at his blog. Make sure you head over there next and lend him your own down home thoughts on what character means to you.
Shawn Griffith currently has two writing projects underway. One is a non-fiction work about the importance of understanding, identifying, and promoting good character development in ourselves and those we influence. The other is a work of science fiction and is in the formative stages. You can find out more about Shawn by visiting his blog Down Home Thoughts. It is a collection of wisdom, character and common sense thoughts passed along from his parents, grandparents and others, with a dash of stories, photos, book reviews and other writings.
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Earlier this year I wrote a post about Internal Conflict based on a character’s flaws, fears and morality. Like External Conflict, Internal Conflict can be numerous and varied. The only rule is it all must get in the way of the hero achieving his/her goal. If it doesn’t, you don’t have conflict, just baggage.
And then there is what I call the Prime Inner Conflict. This is a want or desire that doesn’t just conflict with the protagonist’s goal, it competes with it. The protagonist can have one or the other, but not both. Put simply, if the hero achieves his goal, he won’t get his inner desire; and if the hero gets his inner desire, he won’t achieve his goal.
For example, in THE HUNGER GAMES, Katniss’s main goal is to win The Games so that she survives and can continue looking after her family. However, she also wants Peeta to survive. This is a huge Inner Conflict because only one tribute will be alive at the end. Katniss wants it to be her, but also wants it to be Peeta. It cannot be both of them. These two conflicting wants torment her the entire book. And readers can’t put the novel down because they have to find out how Katniss will choose between her life and Peeta’s! Such a compelling conundrum!
So armed with that knowledge, I started developing the heroine for my latest WIP… but I struggled to create her Prime Inner Conflict. I laboured over it so much that I began to question whether it was really necessary. If it was so hard, maybe my story didn’t need it! After all, everyone kept telling me that I didn’t need to write the next Hunger Games. Plus, my protagonist really, really, really wanted to achieve her goal! I couldn’t imagine there was anything else she’d want that much, let alone something that would make her consider giving up her goal. My character is very determined and principled – admirable qualities. Did she really need an inner conflict that would make her all self-doubty? Besides, there are lots of stories where the hero has an external goal and wants that external goal above all else. Right?
Then, serendipitously, I read a book where the heroine had no Prime Inner Conflict. She had Internal Conflict (Should she trust that boy? Should she help that girl?), but nothing ever dissuaded her from pursuing her main goal. For the first 50 pages this was fine, the story was exciting, the stakes were super high, and I was engaged in the heroine’s plight, and then… I got bored. Why? What had changed? Nothing, and that was the problem. The character’s goal was so one-note that I became frustrated with her. Didn’t she care about anything else? Why couldn’t she see that the world wasn’t black and white? And that’s when it hit me, why Prime Inner Conflict is so important – it’s real. Life isn’t simple, it’s not cut and dry, it’s messy and complicated. Characters who don’t wrestle with life’s inner conflicts (as we all do) feel fake and are harder to connect to and root for.
Clearly, I needed to discover my heroine’s Prime Inner Conflict, stat!
And I did. It was hard. It took a lot of soul searching. But I finally came up with something that felt real. And my story will be much better for it.
How do you develop your characters? Do you struggle with their Inner Conflict?
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Today we’ve invited back one of our favorite fellow bloggers, Natacha Guyot. I met Natacha over a year ago and I just adore her upbeat attitude and can-do spirit. She publishes books in her native French and in English, and this year has created an impressive list of publications in fiction and nonfiction. More on that below in her bio.
Please give her a warm Write On Sister welcome!
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