Monday, May 23, 2011

Moving Forward

Character development is one of the most important steps in writing a good book. If your characters are not well-rounded and believable your readers will not buy into the story you are trying to tell them. Your audience needs to feel as if there is a past and a future for the characters you are writing so that they are real to them and help them invest in the story.

When you are developing a character an author very often does know much more about them than what appears on the page. The trick is in writing it so that what has come before the reader is introduced to this man or woman is sitting there, waiting to be discovered as the storyline unfolds. You do this by showing how your character reacts to different situations and people as they go through the story. The drama of the story allows you to do this, to show who this person is. And hopefully your readers will come along the journey with you, interested in finding out just what it is that makes this character tick.

In addition to all the steps in character development there also needs to be forward movement with your characters, particularly in writing a series. As a character “ages” throughout a book or, even more so, in a series, you need to be able to see that there has been some growth or change of some kind. If your character(s) stay the same book after book they grow stagnant.

There are a lot of ways to do this. You can bring or remove characters from their world. Have them face various crises in their lives, personal and professional. One character that comes to mind as an example of this is Marcia Muller’s detective Sharon McCone series. Her character started out working for a small legal co-op. She briefly dated a police detective. The co-op grew, she gained an assistant and dated a radio DJ. She broke away from the co-op and went out on her own, met a new man on one of her cases and became involved with him. She learned how to fly and began hiring more people for her agency, and faced situations with her family and her own health.

In other words, Muller’s character has done anything and everything but remain inert. The first Sharon McCone book was published in 1977, and 28 books and all these years later this series is a fresh and vibrant and alive -- more so even --than when it began.

I’m writing the second in my cozy mystery series, and this is uppermost in my mind. I want my characters to live and breathe and, like real life, change, grow and move forward through their lives. As writers I hope we all do.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A New Short Story

I've published a new short story! The Book Club is only available at and is FREE! 

A group of women meet every month to discuss a book, until one summer evening when the monotony of it all inspires them to try something new ... with some interesting results.

Click here to go download it and get it for your e-readers, PCs or laptops. You can download the Kindle software for your PCs and laptops free of charge at, or you can download it as a text file or PDF if you wish to read it that way.

I hope you will take the time to read it and post a review on Smashwords if you like.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Something to Think About

My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter. 
~Thomas Helm

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Playing Tag

How important are tags on your books on websites that are selling them? Apparently they are extremely important. The more tags you have on your books the more opportunities readers have of finding you. If your book is set in New Orleans and someone is looking for books in that city, than a tag will allow them to find it. If you write a book about a homicide detective, the same thing applies. Every aspect of your book that might draw a reader to it deserves a tag to help them get there.

But how do you determine which tags to put out there for your books? My feeling is to go over your book and decide which parts of it you would use to describe your story. It is about a baker or a plumber. Well those tags would be obvious. But the setting, the subject, the genre, the sub-genre, the characters ... there are seemingly endless ways to tag your book.

Can you overdo it? I’m not sure. Being new to this myself I would say no, you probably can’t. You want readers to find you and who knows what they may search for? If you have it out there then if they do type in something the chances improve for you that they can find you if you have more tags for the search to discover you. But I don’t really know.

I would guess that the thing to do is to add the tags and see what the results are. After all, what have you got to lose?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Something to Think About

"A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face.  It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy."   ~Edward P. Morgan