Learn to Write by Reading: Character Arc

WriteOwls logo 150 blackSuccessful writers say it all the time: To be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. So we challenge you to read more and to read outside of your comfort zone.

Good novels aren’t just about what happens (plot). They’re about how people respond to what’s happening, and how their beliefs change over the course of a story (character arc). In this month’s challenge, we invite you to read books where the authors did a wonderful job of shifting the character’s worldview over the course of the story. Here are some of our book recommendations. Pay particular attention to the growth of the characters over the course of the story.

Alicia: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Laura: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Megan: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Naomi: The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Stacey: Small Gods by Terry Pratchett


Pixie dust vs. Unbelief . . .

Alicia Finney

Alicia Finney

In the world, seeing is believing, but, in my faith, believing is seeing.  You come to a place where you say, Yes, I will put my heart here.  Then a new reality, new truths are seen from this new vantage point.  Like trying to see the lay of the land, then climbing a mountain and marveling as it all comes into view.  Very much a journey.

I don’t share this that you should join my church – though, you’re welcome – but that you might consider your writer’s journey much the same.  From the view of a person of faith.  Your faith.  

You see your writing, your dreams.  They are a seed within you, one that looks nothing like the end product quite frankly.  But it is yours, and you say, Yes, I will put my heart here.  And you work, and you sacrifice, and you believe.  And, slowly, that seed begins to grow.  For the longest time, only you will be able to see the shifts and changes, the little sprouts peeking from the shell.  Yet, you are encouraged.  This seed may yet bear fruit.   Continue reading

Bang-up First Pages: Three W’s and a Plus

Stacey Kite

Stacey Kite

I’ve been attending writing conferences for a while now, and I keep thinking that, at some point, the sessions will start sounding like re-runs, but they haven’t. My favorite part of this year’s MidSouth SCBWI conference, after my two friends winning manuscript awards, of course (Yay! Way to go!), was the first pages session.

For those of you not familiar with a first pages session, people drop an anonymous copy of their manuscript’s first page (i.e. the first 200 words) in the designated box the morning of the conference. (There’s a different box for each category: picture books, middle grade and young adult.) Continue reading

Practical Prompt 10/5/16: Mysterious Past, Part 3

WriteOwls logo 150 blackFor our September “Learn to Write by Reading” challenge, we invited you to examine books that had characters with mysterious backstories. Now, apply what you learned to your own manuscript.

When a character has a mysterious past, the author often withholds the most traumatic or key parts of that backstory until well into the book, sometimes not revealing the heart of the mystery until the climax of the story.  In the book you’re reading, when does the author give you the truth about the character’s past, and how did he or she do it?  Was it given as a memory or flashback triggered by current events? A confession, perhaps, internal or otherwise? Examine how the author segued into and out of present events to give you the reveal about the past. How much writing space did the big reveal take?

Now using what you’ve learned, decide the best place in your story for your character’s big reveal and the best method for that reveal.

Writing Communities: The Power of More Than One

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

There was an insane amount of information to digest from the SCBWI Midsouth conference (#SCBWIMIDSOUTH16). A lot. I learned a plethora about picture book characters, and advice on writing about historical events. I finally think I have a grasp of what a high concept novel is.  All of this info was great, helpful, inspiring. But more on all of that later, because I’m still processing all that I learned and I feel a little overwhelmed by it. Continue reading