by Camela Thompson
My dog has a funny quirk. Her ingrained hatred for squirrels doesn't make her unusual. She runs around the house barking her head off and charging windows. Plenty of dogs do that. What makes her odd is that she gets so frenzied that she retreats to a dark bathroom and puts herself in a time out. An hour will go by before I open the door and find her napping on the rug. In all of my years in the company of dogs, she is the only one I've met who elects to go into sensory depravation after a good freak out.
My gremlin is weird. It's why it works.
Sometimes emotions run too high and it's best to walk away for a while. After all of the terrible things on the news, I did something similar. I turned off social media as much as possible and hid in my house this weekend. I focused on my book. Creative arts are healing and I often turn to writing or painting when faced with emotional pain. But even an introvert needs a community. The one exception to my shut-in weekend was a meet up with some fellow authors, and it helped remind me that there are some pretty awesome people in this world.
Michael G. Munz and Tiffany Pitts are as hilarious
on paper as they are in person. Respect the lightsabers.
I've said it many times: Writing seems like a solitary activity, but a community is needed for a book to come to life. Other writers know what it's like to spend hundreds of hours on a project only to face criticism and rejection. External critique is bad enough, but many of us fight insecurities about our work that make the worst reviews look tame. I'm lucky enough to have found friends through workshops, classes, meet ups, and a publisher. We encourage one another, share expertise, and whine a bit, but we each have strengths that compliment someone else in the group. Some of us know a little about social media or technology, some of us are good at pitching, and others aren't chickens about talking to people in person. The biggest benefit is the encouragement we give and receive because it can mean the difference between someone giving up and continuing.
Here are a few of the places I've been fortunate enough to meet people in the writing community:
This is a pretty obvious suggestion, but I specifically recommend signing up for interactive sessions. Even if you aren't pitching, sign up for a pitch building workshop and help another author hone their pitch. Volunteer to listen to people's log lines and offer constructive critique. Always bring business cards (there are affordable options online). Exchange them with people in your area who seem like a good fit for your group. Hand out cards to people who write in your genre and start networking.
Community College Classes
Even if you have an MBA, continuing education classes have a lot to offer. While you may know everything about grammar and story structure, there are other topics such as marketing for authors (even traditionally published folks can benefit from this). My favorite class runs through NaNoWriMo and keeps participants motivated to keep up their word count and finish their project. I've met some of my favorite people in community college classes.
Local writers' associations and specialized schools hold workshops that focus on specialized skills. Some authors even offer retreats. Keep an eye out for an opportunity to get away for a weekend and focus on your craft.
A lot of writers participate in Twitter chats, Facebook groups, and other interactive social media platforms. I knew quite a few people online well before I met them in person. Typically I was connected with the writer in some other way (publisher, friend of a friend, etc.), but social media provides a wonderful way to network for those of us who are introverted.
Every time I meet up with another writer for drinks or to talk, I'm reminded how lucky I am. It's amazing how many authors are willing to give their time and share their expertise.
Do you have a writing community? Where did you find your group?
by Camela Thompson
Warning: Spoilers ahead for season 6 of Game of Thrones.
This week I participated in the #10minutenovelists chat on Twitter (Thursdays at 6PM PST). The Q&A sessions revolved around Save the Cat, a well known and respected book explaining successful script structure. Many authors swear by the method for novels, as the concept of hooking and retaining an audience applies to either medium. Every. time. an outlining tool is mentioned to a group of writers, a discussion ensues extolling the benefits of pantsing (spontaneously creating--"by the seat of their pants"), plotting, or a combination of the two. While there are famous writers who have found success pantsing, I'd like to talk about a brilliant example that highlights just how profoundly impactful planning ahead can be.
This example is brought to us by the great George R.R. Martin.
As a reward for getting my books back online and driving the third book in The Hunted closer to production (more on that soon), my husband and I splurged on an HBO Now account and binged on Game of Thrones. With George R.R. Martin you can count on two things. 1. He's going to kill off your favorite characters in spectacular fashion. 2. The man's long game (planning) is stunning. I think he's brilliant and anyone who disagrees can't be my friend.
What separates the amateurs from the masters are the details. Not only does Game of Throne feature a dizzying amount of characters, but each of them is complex. All have backgrounds that shaped them into who they are. Even the worst have at least one feature that makes them more human than monster (even Cersei--she loves her children). But what makes the series great are the intricate themes that have the potential to play out into shocking reveals. Six seasons in, George R.R. Martin blew my mind with a single word.
Let's just pretend it never happened.
We had to pause our series binge because I had to walk away from episode five and process it. So much happened, but that last scene was blatantly traumatic (if you haven't seen it, return to this post after you watch the episode). Bran makes a lot of choices that make me yell at the books/television. He's reluctant to leave his dream states because he's whole again, and that's understandable. What happens to Hodor, though. It was hard to watch.
Bran's consciousness stands in the past while his body is being dragged away from the wights and white walkers. The cave is under attack because of a critical mistake he made. Bran wandered up to the White King without his mentor and was touched, breaking the protective magic of the children of the forest. The people and creatures around him fight for his existence while he stays in a trance. Bran creates a link to Willis, the stable boy who grew up with Ned Stark, giving the boy a window into how he dies. Bran short-circuits Willis' mind, leaving him writhing on the ground, echoing the words screamed at him while he sacrifices his life. "Hold the door." This is how Hodor got his name.
The longer I thought through it, the more convinced I was that this was George R.R. Martin's plan all along. I confirmed my suspicions by watching the extra material. The writers working with George R.R. Martin described the hotel room they sat in while their minds were blown. He planned it all along. He knew how Hodor got his name.
While I slow clap George R.R. Martin's latest grey matter explosion bestowed upon us all, I encourage pantsers to plot at least a little bit. Without knowing where your books are going and some key details along the way, you miss opportunities to plant material that leads to something that yanks the rug out from under your reader. Know where your series is going. Create backstories for your characters, which may even mean spending time on material that's never published. If you plan it just right, a simple word has the potential to twist your readers' hearts and connect them to a character.
Have you watched or read a series that had a masterful reveal? Do you think it's critical to plan ahead?
by Camela Thompson
I love hanging out with authors. Inevitably, someone goes off on a tangent, triggering a round of story telling. We hear about warped childhoods (my favorite), traumatic college capers, and horrific writers' conference pitches. Get us in a group and we'll talk all night. In that spirit, a group of us are participating in a blog hop to tell you about our worst theater experiences. Here's my story.
The 90s were a little bit amazing. Big hair, bright colors, a weird ass phase of feminism, and the resurgence of slasher films. Scream 2 came out in 1997, and I attended with my then boyfriend. My love of the horror-comedy blend started early and we can blame that fascination on my paternal grandmother for introducing me to Friday the 13th at the tender age of six (WHAT THE HELL WAS SHE THINKING?). The Scream franchise had enough sense to make fun of itself, and scenes were intentionally over the top. While my friends were shrieking--and we were teenagers so conjure that horrible noise they make that's closer to pig than human--I laughed. Okay, sometimes I hid, but that was an excuse to pretend I was normal for my boyfriend. Sucker.
Grandma, is that you?
Not much scares me, but when it does, it's something really weird or demon possession. People who aren't afraid of demon possession have a gene missing. As my boyfriend and I sat snuggled up in the theater so I could steal his soda, the movie kicked off with a bunch of college kids attending a movie premiere in a theater much like ours. I tensed when a character stood up and went to the restroom--doom music hinted at a terrible event looming in the near future. I coped by drinking more soda. When crazed muttering emanated from the stall beside our man on a date with destiny, I finished the soda. When he leaned into the stall divider to eavesdrop on the crazed mumbler, I bit my knuckles to keep from shouting a warning. When the knife penetrated the stall divider and his brain, I realized that I had a new phobia of theater bathrooms and I had to pee.
Perhaps if I had downed a medium Sprite, I could have lasted through the movie and the car ride home. Because it was a large Mountain Dew, my heart rate rivaled that of a hamster's and only a slim chance existed that I could last through the end of the movie. On the up side, I lost all sense of fear after another thirty minutes of clenching every muscle below my navel. No amount of doom music could make me pretend to hide behind the boyfriend's shirt. I could only think of Tycho Brahe and his exploded bladder (it's a thing, look it up). My boyfriend kept glancing over at me and asking, "Are you okay?" because I incessantly squirmed in my seat. Reasoning that a psycho had less chance of successfully hiding in a post movie rush, I tried to make it through to the end. I failed.
When the killer was moments away from being discovered, I stood. People hissed at me to get out of the way while I blocked their view of the mask unveiling, tripping over someone's purse and nearly voiding my bladder two seats from the end of the aisle. I scurried down the hallway to the exit, pausing twice to press my knees together and pray. The strain of pushing the door open to the lobby got me so close to wetting myself, I instantly formulated a plan that involved hand soap and those air driers to revive my pants.
If that isn't scary, then you're better adjusted than I am.
Stop congratulating yourself. It's not hard to do.
When I burst into the bathroom, I fought the impulse to run back out into the lobby. The place had been deserted, but I had been too occupied to notice. Convinced that someone loomed in wait sheerly for the pleasure of copycatting a copycat of a copycat killer, I stared at the stalls and tap danced to jog my bladder into submission. When I had nearly convinced myself I could wait until I got home, an intense wave of muscle spasms hit and I shot into the first stall. If I didn't hit TMI levels before, I now confess that I emptied my bladder with my jeans around my ankles, feet pressing the door of the stall closed, and leaning over against the hard tile wall to shrink as far away from the stall divider as possible.
The fact that I stuck around to thoroughly wash my hands is a testament to my germaphobia. I returned to my seat just as the credits hit. Because this was before Marvel trained us into watching all of the credits for a ten second glimpse at a character, my boyfriend rolled his eyes and informed me that I had missed it all.
I didn't care. I could walk to the car with my head held high and not ruin the seat of his mother's car.
To this day, I have no recollection of the movie after that first scene.
Check out some awesome theater stories by Michael G. Munz, Tiffany Pitts, and Elise Stephens.
by Camela Thompson
When my publisher announced they were going out of business, my first response was panic. The fear stemmed from the unknown learning curve I faced, not the rush to find another publishing house. I had been debating whether or not to move over to self-publishing, and the end of Booktrope gave me the nudge I needed. My day job as an analyst involves a lot of focus on planning for the future, but this time I had no idea what to expect.
Patricia D. Eddy is my editor and a life saver. She talked me off the ledge a few times and reassured me by giving me simple next steps. I signed up for a state and city business license, negotiated terms on the creative contract with my team, and then set about deciding what to do with my books. I didn't want to lose momentum I had gained from a sale back in March, but I had no idea what I needed in order to get my books up on the major platforms.
Publish as is or make updates?
Knowing I had a month to get the new versions prepared gave me plenty of time to give the writing in All the Pretty Bones a facelift. I didn't change the storyline or characters, but I changed some of the language. Writing is a lot like playing an instrument or painting. No matter how long you practice and perform, there will always be something that can be learned and improved upon.
All of this work didn't go over well with my assistant.
Layout seemed like a black art to me. I've done graphic design in the past, so cover design doesn't intimidate me as much as interior layout. The thought of learning multiple programs to format for ebook and print seemed daunting. There's also the matter of sales volume. Around 99.9% of my sales volume comes from ebooks. I'd like to make the print version available eventually, but I'm not feeling a lot of pressure to do so in the immediate future.
A self-published friend recommended I forgo publishing for the Nook. After reviewing sales, I decided to move forward with establishing an account with Nook Press and questioned signing up with iBooks. In the end, I signed up for the following:
How the heck do you edit layouts?
Like I mentioned, this started as a complete mystery and fueled my one freak out evening. Which is ridiculous now that I've worked with Vellum. It's awesome. If you have a Mac, I wouldn't recommend anything else. I can format a book in under an hour, which is freaking fantastic.
Like I mentioned, prepping the print version hasn't been a priority, but I'm told I'll need InDesign and a lot of whiskey.
Where does this leave me?
I'm pleased that my books will be offline for a minimal amount of time. My files are uploaded and ready to go. Now I can focus on wrapping up the final proofs for book three and start writing again. It has been strange to not have the chance to write. I can't describe how much I'm looking forward to falling back into a routine.
A lot of my author friends post coffee memes. Tons of coffee memes. I'm from Seattle and thought I could relate, but now I get it. The only times I surfaced this weekend involved an author collaboration meeting (which was awesome) and walks to the coffee stand. I must have looked like one of the mole women emerging into sunlight. Squinting. Because I had no fricken' clue the sun had made an appearance.
My books go offline on June 1st, and I'm not ready. My list is long and missing check marks. My blog posts are going to be very short until I get my books back online. Priorities, right?
When I get frantic, I stare at my screenshot from the Bookbub for All the Pretty Bones. It's a beautiful thing, and I didn't catch the high point. It's not bragging if it's a coping mechanism. Just kidding. It's a brag. I'm proud of my book, and I'm not giving up.
Until my books are ready, my weekends and evenings are booked. When this is over, I'm binging on HBO.
by Camela Thompson
As I mentioned last week, my publisher is going out of business. It's a struggle to adapt to the changes the marketplace has faced in the last several years. I know other authors will be or already have been in my position. There are a lot of options for us after we are given back our rights. I'm not sure there is a single correct path. The only wrong answer is to give up.
Before you begin the quest for your book's next life, review your contract for any ongoing obligations and determine when/how creative rights are returned. A contract lawyer can help walk you through the details and draw up any necessary paperwork. In my case, my hybrid publisher used a creative contract and split royalties to compensate team members over five years. If the author or publisher wanted out of the agreement, the author inherited responsibility for compensating team members for the duration of the agreement. This means teams can attempt to agree to a flat rate, a new publisher can pay off the team members, or the author can continue royalty distribution (the author can form a business that allows 1099 contract work for royalties or find a similar publisher that is willing to carry the torch).
Which Publishing Model Next?
Moving from one publisher to another isn't simple, especially when your sights are on a large traditional publisher. If you have a book that has hundreds of reviews, consistent sales, and can boast about impressive social media stats; you're in great shape. In fact, interested parties probably emailed you when official news of the publisher going belly up hit the wire. If you have multiple books with mediocre or even good stats, it's going to be more difficult. If you're just starting out, you may need to accept that what one publisher deemed acceptable may not appeal to another. It may take a different twist in your genre or another year of writing experience and a new book.
Fortunately, our creative rights are being returned promptly. Many of the Booktrope authors had previous experience with self-publishing. Some publishers with similar models stepped forward and offered to take complete teams (and distribute royalties) for approved books. Others are taking time to send query letters, pitch in person, and evaluate next steps. A few have decided to throw in the towel. Hopefully temporarily.
What Did I Decide?
Self-publishing makes sense to me. I'm accustomed to operating in a business environment, and I believe I have the maturity to stay motivated and on task. My one worry is my ability to market (it's not my strong suit!), but this is something I'll have to learn anywhere. I've got my business licenses, negotiated rates, have a marketing plan for relaunch, and am ready to dig in to learn what there is to know about ISBN options and layout programs. I used to do graphic design and I'll get there. Self-publishers who are dedicated to producing a high-quality product blend in with the traditional market. I'm determined to meet a high bar.
I've been warned that I'm shooting myself in the foot and traditional publishers will shy away from me. This may be true. But it might not. The market is changing. If I work hard, I'll build momentum. I'll keep learning, work at a rate that's sustainable with a day job, and ask for help when I need it. What's important is that I know I can't give up.
Resilience is the key to survival. When faced with major change, you alone have the power to choose whether to give up or keep fighting.
by Camela Thompson
I took a break from my day job on Friday to check my personal e-mail. I had a suspicion the note from my publisher wasn't good news, but Booktrope's announcement still came a shock. They are going out of business and nearly all books (mine most definitely included) will no longer be available for sale as of May 31st.
My first reaction? Disappointment. Then I texted everyone I know and scoped out Facebook. Not everyone took the news well. I vented a bit in private, but ultimately life as an author is not for the faint of heart. I'd like to point out that this is a very difficult time to be in the industry as a publisher. The ease of self publishing and sheer volumes of titles per year have made it critical to hang on to proven authors and shy away from the risk of new talent. Success as an author is greatly determined by perseverance. I know many very talented authors who have given up after years of rejection where others succeeded because they moved on and kept trying. It didn't take long after receiving that ominous email to realize that it was time to roll up my shirt sleeves and make the most of what has happened.
Booktrope had a unique approach to publishing. They screened incoming novels then stepped back and allowed their authors to negotiate and develop their own teams. From start to finish, Booktrope provided little interference, allowing the team members to work together and decide on the final product. Team members received compensation over time from royalties. The driver to success had to be the quality of the product put out by the team.
I don't know what drove the decision to close shop, but I could see a few flaws with their approach. Leaving a team alone to produce a product doesn't always work out. Sometimes there needs to be a bad guy who holds a person accountable for not doing their share (fortunately, my teams were wonderful). The biggest issue had to do with the compensation model for the team members who were not authors. Productivity, or enough sales to generate sustainable revenue, has a very slow ramp in this industry. This penalized creative team members who agreed to work with new authors. The adage is that an author will experience consistent sales after five quality books are published, but this takes time. It could be years for team members to see a profit, and sometimes good books fail. They couldn't make a living while they waited for sales to ramp.
When you decide to self publish, you assume liability. You choose how much time and money to invest. Your decisions ultimately determine success. Traditional publishers assume a lot of risk by paying the editors, copy editors, cover designers, marketers, and distributors up front. They must be picky about who they accept if they have a chance at succeeding. The wonderful thing about Booktrope was that the risk no longer fell squarely on the author or the publisher. Unfortunately, this meant that those of us who were new, niche, or non-compliant dragged others down. As someone averaging one book per year, I felt guilty that I didn't write more, market more, sell more.
I've met the people who were at the heart of Booktrope, and they cared deeply. They wanted us all to succeed and they had an innovative approach. They gave me my first break as an author, and I've learned so much. I'm thankful for all of the connections I've developed because of Booktrope. I have no complaints and regret that things didn't work out.
I'm responsible for negotiating with my creative team members to come to an agreement on compensation for their contribution if I wish to use their work. Because the majority of my team members preferred up front compensation, my out of pocket expenses and the short amount of time to turn a product around make self-publishing the most logical choice.
There was a bit of pride in having a publisher. Someone chose my work and gave it a stamp of approval. The longer I write, the less I need the added pat on the back, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't sting a little. That said, I'm in a better place than most because of the connections I've made through Booktrope. I'll have help from people I respect.
I'll do my best to get All the Pretty Bones and Blood, Spirit & Bone back online as quickly as possible because I don't want to lose the momentum I've worked so hard for. It's going to be a bumpy road, but as I joked to my editor, this was the kick in the pants I needed.
It's time to note the lessons from this chapter and move on.
Camela spends her days as an operations analyst looking for potential pitfalls and creating efficiencies, driving results with the numbers to prove that change is worth the discomfort. She realized early on that a company's success is entirely dependent on people. Product and planning mean little without proper execution. In the evenings she writes about things that go bump in the night with her adorable terrier mix by her side.
by Camela Thompson
I spent the last week in a cold medicine fueled fugue. I typically prefer to consume only naturally sourced foods, teas, and products. When it became too difficult to suck down enough air to cross a room without being dizzy, I gave up and went to the doctor. I felt honest-to-God joy when she gave me an inhaler and a prescription for an industrial strength cough suppressant, and I'm counting down the minutes until I can dose myself with NyQuil Severe Cold and Flu and set up my humidifier. The one positive to being sick is that I can finally relax and give myself permission to do absolutely nothing. My week was spent binging on Netflix, consuming books, and easing back into work. I found a few gems I thought I would pass along.
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown
Anthony Bourdain's approach to travel is one I appreciate. The areas he covers have experienced deep, often recent, trauma. He'll try any food and not look down his nose at it. He also tends to abide by local customs. There are a few unusual reasons I love this show. Systemic lupus and a list of food allergies makes traveling difficult. Living with a dysfunctional immune system piles additional risk to exposure to bacteria and parasites foreign to what I'm accustomed to, making travel to South America and much of Asia problematic. I'm content to watch Bourdain try foods I'll only dream of from the comfort of my couch.
My most loyal companion has insisted on staying by my side all week.
Chelsea Handler Does
I squirmed through the first episode on marriage. Handler's disdain and jaded view of marriage were extreme even for me, but I appreciated her approach. Her episode on racism was thought provoking. She didn't deny her position of privilege and questioned her own view points while rigidly maintaining others. I appreciated that she faced several groups who had protested her humor and had an open discussion without it escalating into a room full of yelling people. I feel the material she shared and viewpoints she highlighted were relevant and even necessary. I wish more people would face awkward conversations and challenge their own thinking.
The Great British Bake Off
It may seem very strange that a Celiac loves watching people make foods she'll never enjoy, but the contrasts between American and British society fascinate me. The baked Alaska incident highlights my meaning. Where Iain ultimately blamed himself for an emotional outburst after finding his ice cream removed from the freezer and thoroughly melted into his glorious sponge cake, I would have drained what I could and kept it as evidence of malicious conduct by a competitor. When winning is at stake, I don't see a problem with throwing someone else under the bus (if they were at fault, of course, and she was).
Concealed in Death by JD Robb
A few chapters in, I was convinced I knew who the killer was, but I didn't anticipate the twist at the end. I totally knew who the killer was, but it didn't impact my enjoyment of the novel. I have to say I really enjoyed Susan Erickson's narration.
Who needs another crime series? Apparently, this girl does. While it's yet another middle-aged white guy with a traumatic past, the story line was compelling and fast paced. Was it on par with True Detective season one? Of course not. It's still good enough that I would recommend it to crime mystery fans of the CSI and Law & Order vein.
I've also been watching and rereading some of my favorites. I'm rereading Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. There are some things I would do differently (I say the same about my own first book), but the concept is hilarious and her descriptions are fantastic. Supernatural has jumped the shark so many times the poor creature went belly up, but there are still moments I enjoy. I'm currently listening to Anonymous Source by A.C. Fuller on Audible and reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.
Do you have any current favorites you would like to pass along?
by Camela Thompson
"Writer's block is a bitch." I found that little gem while reviewing older versions of a published manuscript. The line sat neatly tucked underneath complaints about my characters. I expressed my concern that Olivia didn't display enough strength. A character who had the canniness to avoid a stalker for ten long years still wasn't ready to turn on him and do him harm. Lucian presented a larger problem. One moment he offered to help a perfect stranger, and the next he displayed a level of selfishness that made him completely unlikable.
The concerns punctuated by my obvious predicament of writer's block reminded me of some solid advice I've passed along to others. It's something I have to relearn from time to time. Write your characters as they are, not as you want them to be.
My process for writing a novel usually begins with a compelling concept, or even a single line that sticks in my mind. Then the plot comes together. The lengthy part is getting to know my characters. They don't jump out at me during the first few pages. I get impressions of their quirks and some broad strokes of their overall demeanor, but that isn't enough. A story isn't convincing without a strong understanding of the characters. I've broken the factors that drive rewrites and writer's block into three main points.
How Do You Motivate a Character to Show Up?
Consider a character with severe social anxiety. I need her to go to a party to meet another character who is motivated to help her find a serial kidnapper. A serial kidnapper who (unbeknownst to my main character) is targeting her. What would make her agree to attend a party? It's not likely that her extrovert best friend would be able to simply talk her into attending.
If my character is told it's a small get-together and she has a favorite activity that will be the focus of said get-together, she may consider going. If her friend had given up something meaningful in order for her to attend, this may also motivate her. A guilt trip or expressed concern may help push her over the edge. The social anxiety would likely require all of these combined to allow her to make herself uncomfortable. If I can find something that helps reduce her anxiety, I may have a shot at keeping her at the party long enough to interact with someone without having to resort to removing her ride home.
How Do Characters Form Bonds?
Let's go another layer deeper. What would compel two opposites to bond? My main character's best friend is an extrovert. If they shared something in common, perhaps a secret or a fundamental difference from the people around them, they may have enough in common to bond. Perhaps our extrovert knew what it was like to be different and stuck up for her new friend?
Considering my difficulty in getting my main character to a social function, it's unlikely they met at a party. My main character is in college, and it's not impossible to imagine that she hit it off with a new roommate or a classmate. But with an introvert who has the added burden of social anxiety, it may make more sense to have my main character attend a large school if she were able to attend with a best friend. While it's possible my characters met more recently, she would be more likely to tolerate a difficult environment with someone she loves. It would also make my main character more likely to subject herself to discomfort if it were someone she cared for deeply.
How Do You Motivate a Character to Act Out of Character?
An introvert woman with a kind soul must kill someone.
There are several circumstances that could push someone to kill, but the most compelling in this instance is protecting someone my main character loves. Self-defense could also push her to defend herself, but I've seen people who refuse to stand up for themselves put everything on the line for someone who is incapable of defending themselves. Perhaps they wished someone would have done the same for them, but the more likely reason is they know how it feels. And no one should have to feel like a victim.
Creating motivating factors that are both internal and external are crucial, but how do you figure out who your character is to being with? I've heard a lot of great advice:
Finally, keep in mind that readers are willing to suspend belief to a point. The reason why it's so important to keep in mind what I've outlined above is because you don't want to lose your readers. If you haven't provided compelling reasons for your characters to act as you need them to, or if you put them in a scenario that doesn't make sense, the reader may walk away from your story. Compelling characters have flaws and quirks, but they also do everything for a reason--whether we agree with them or not.
Who is your favorite character and why do you like them? What kind of motivations made them who they were?
by Camela Thompson
The weather in Seattle is gorgeous right now. Yesterday I spent most of the day working in the yard. The occasional dog barked, a car whizzed by now and then, but the drone of lawnmowers provided the primary soundtrack. We've had the wettest winter on record, and all of that torrential rain started in January. These past few days have been a very welcome break and our neighbors have responded by attending their yards. A few blocks down, a middle-aged man has been tackling projects to improve a very neglected yard. Because of the temperature, he shed his shirt.
A petite woman walked up the hill, stopped on his sidewalk, and proceeded to launch into a litany of loud "compliments." Apparently this gentleman has dreamy blue eyes and a figure she approved of. I stopped walking the dog and watched a very awkward exchange that only lasted a few moments. She walked off grinning from ear to ear, and he stood leaning his gut on his shovel with a flummoxed look on his face.
The scenario provided a clear example for the term "catcall" (a shout or call that's negatively perceived by the recipient), but it was the reverse of what I've experienced in my life. He was visibly upset. My response wasn't empathetic. I had to fight the laughter percolating. It proved what I'd told many men: If someone did this to you, you wouldn't like it either.
There are some people out there who think yelling "nice ass" or telling people what they want to do with their body is a compliment. I really shouldn't have to explain why this is degrading. But I will because I've seen it so many times. Catcalls are inherently aggressive. Words are spewed without any regard to how the person on the receiving end feels about them. Telling someone what you would do to their body is threatening. It reduces the recipient to an object, and even if that object is being admired, it's dehumanizing. Suddenly I'm reduced to a body part and cringing for the follow-up grab or lean in by someone who's much larger than I am. It's disrespectful and not okay.
My neighbor got a window into life as a woman. When I explain to men what happens to women, especially at night clubs and bars, they're horrified and shocked. They haven't had to decide whether wearing a short skirt is worth looking cute because you know there's a risk someone will try to flip it up. Many of them haven't been groped in passing only to turn and see a wall of men looking in different directions. They probably haven't been relentlessly pursued around the bar after trying to nicely tell the guy you're not interested. They always get confused by the polite part and insist it only encourages people. Being rude escalates the situation in my experience. A flat out rejection leads to accusations and even being burned with a cigarette (that was a bad night).
Many of us understand that accepted "bro" behavior is destructive. My neighbor should now. Maybe if this scenario was more common, we'd see less of it. I'd rather treat my fellow humans with some respect and hope for the same in return.
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.