Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tea Time: Love in the Time of Global Warming

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

Love in the Time of Global Warming (Love in the Time of Global Warming #1), Francesca Lia Block

Her life by the sea in ruins, Pen has lost everything in the Earth Shaker that all but destroyed the city of Los Angeles. She sets out into the wasteland to search for her family, her journey guided by a tattered copy of Homer’s Odyssey. Soon she begins to realize her own abilities and strength as she faces false promises of safety, the cloned giants who feast on humans, and a madman who wishes her dead. On her voyage, Pen learns to tell stories that reflect her strange visions, while she and her fellow survivors navigate the dangers that lie in wait. In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated. (source:goodreads)

Narrative-This book is told from the first-person POV in the perspective of our gutsy main character, Pen. Most notable is the way the grammar and syntax echo an actual voice: occasionally, I caught what I'm pretty sure are run-on sentences, yet they mesh so well with the surrounding statements that instead of being tedious, they felt natural to read.

The book also is told in a series of present scenes and flashbacks; almost once per chapter Pen's remembering events that happened before the Earth Shaker. Occasionally, this did get tedious, but I found it curious how the flashbacks both related in some way to the present event that it's paired with, and also how the flashbacks reveal something about Pen that we wouldn't otherwise know. I'm definitely going to have to read this book again just for this style of storytelling, because it made it interesting, and was probably the piece of the novel that most kept me reading.

Plot-To dive right in, I really enjoyed half of this novel, and the other half I spent quite a bit confused. The beginning is great: it covers the exact moment Pen was separated from her family, her efforts to survive on her own, even after her house is looted. The end is just as good: Pen's finally figured out just how brave and strong she is, and I truly admired her starting the moment she lost her eye (yep, that happened).

It was the middle that had me in a state of confusion. As she presses on through what's left of L.A. and meets some rather charming and fantastic young people who join her, the similarities between this novel and THE ODYSSEY were a bit too strong for me. I love books that retell old tales, or so something to breathe new life to them, but the way this book followed the exact path of THE ODYSSEY (yes, it says in the pitch that the book is her guide; I thought it would be more guide-like instead of an almost mirror-image), without any clear indication of why there was suddenly so much magic in a previously ordinary world (the giants were explained; not much else was), I was confused.

Everything else was phenomenal, though. The relationships between the characters, and the way they relied on each other and their survival to help them along the path of self-discovery, was extremely well done. In the end, I really did enjoy the novel, although the general consensus of my brain was that there was a bit of a bumpy ride.

Still, worth reading if you love adventure and danger. There was a lot of that.

Characters-I absolutely adored all of the main characters in this novel. Pen, Hex, Ez, and Ash are all social misfits; in fact, this book was actually brought to my attention due to another blogger recommending it for its themes of diversity (and I apologize, I can't remember which blog I saw this book on). All of these characters are queer in some way: lesbian, transgender, gay. A major arc of the book was actually about Pen struggling with her identity: she knew she was a lesbian when she started to crush on one of her friends, and when she met Hex her ideas about who she was became extremely mixed up until she found out that Hex used to be Lex It was actually Hex who encouraged her to be more brave, as well; who taught her that she doesn't have to be perfect, but she's still loved and she's still extremely capable, even after the world ended.

What was so great about the way these characters were portrayed is that it's not over the top, it's not overdone. In this time when many in the publishing industry are pushing for more diverse books, LOVE IN THE TIME OF GLOBAL WARMING delivers without making the book entirely about gender and sexual identities. And it's beautiful.

Final Answer: 3.66 / 5 stars

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@Rae_Slater calls LOVE IN THE TIME OF GLOBAL WARMING @francescablock "beautiful'. Read the review (Click to Tweet)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Wallflower 1-Year Blogerversary: Meet Rae (Again)

In case ya'll didn't know, Tuesday, February 24 was my official 1-Year Blogging Anniversary! *shoots confetti* Yes, I did purposely not tell anyone. No, I don't have a reason. Yes, I am very excited because I've been doing this for a whole entire year.

To celebrate, I'm doing multiple things today:

  1. Introducing myself. It dawned on my that I met many of ya'll lovelies long after my initial introductory post; besides, a lot's changed in a year! So I've got some random facts about myself, should ya'll be curious about who, exactly, I am.
  2. There's some new features hopefully coming to the blog soon; I figured I'd give ya'll a small sneak-peek as to what I've been thinking about.
  3. Giveaway! Who doesn't love a nice giveaway?

Before all of that, though, I need to say: thank you. To everyone. Blogging's turned into a major part of my life, and I've met and connected with some amazing people because of it. I wouldn't be where I am, now - either blogging-wise or anywhere else - without the support and kindness of everyone I've met. So just know that I will always have a special place in my heart for all of you authors, readers, writers, and miscellaneous categories of awesome peoples.

And, as always, please feel free to introduce or re-introduce ya'll-selves in the comments, too! I love to meet new people, so don't be shy!


I was totally going to do bullet points...then I realized nothing about my life belongs in a bulleted list. Therefore, ya'll get *gasp* paragraphs! And pictures!
This is me.
Photo (c) Melissa Vigil

Anyway, I'm Rae. I'm in my third year at New Mexico State University, studying to get my B.A. in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing, as well as a minor in History. I write YA, read YA, blog about writing and reading, tweet about practically everything (really, I'm a loon), occasionally hole up in my room like a hermit, drink a lot of coffee, stress out over school work, flail and fangirl over my favorite books (and grammar: semi-colons are totally the shizz-nit), and I watch a lot of movies.

I'm 20 years old. I'll be graduating college in December. After that? No clue besides more reading and writing. I've written three YA novels in my lifetime, and the most recent of those is currently in its third draft of revisions (which may or may not be a good thing because I kind of don't know what's happening).

I also love editing: editing is my future (well, if I have anything to say about it, at least). Not only does editing help me learn more about the craft of writing, but I genuinely love getting the opportunity to clean up a manuscript for a friend or colleague and help them make it shiny and new-looking. What does this mean for you? If you have something you'd like a new set of eyes on, just ask. I can't guarantee a yes, but it'll be painful for me to turn down a new opportunity.

Most of all? I love meeting new people. I love talking about writing with other writers, and reading with other readers, and I love talking about anything with anyone. I've been told I'm easy to get along with, and while I often question that statement I certainly try my best.
This is also me. In the awful lighting of my apartment.
Which explains the face I'm making, right?
Actually, I make that face a lot . . .

Hm...what else can I tell you about me? I have a tattoo and I certainly want more; I keep saying that I'll dye my hair but I doubt I'll ever do it. I don't like Nutella. I spend most of my money on books, which drives my roommate crazy (our apartment is kind of small). Cherries are delicious, as is coffee and most breads. Pop-up books are incredible things (I have a Sherlock Holmes one and an Edgar Allen Poe one; be jealous). I say "ya'll" a lot; is that interesting?

And...okay, I'm honestly out of breath. And I don't want to bore ya'll. Have questions for me? Shoot me a tweet, a question on tumblr, an I said, I'll respond! Like I also said: I love chatting, so even if you ever just want to talk, I'm here for you.

I'm actually here for you in multiple places (besides the blog): Twitter * Tumblr * Facebook * Goodreads

Coming to The Wallflower (soon-ish):

To celebrate blogging for a whole stinking year, I'm going to *try* to add some fun monthly/maybe weekly things here on the blog, including:
  • Letters to Literary Heroes: in which I write letter to some of my favorite book characters ever.
  • Things My Characters Learn (the Hard Way): a short little snippet about the ways in which the characters I write basically go through hell.
Both of these little do-dads will, of course, be things I'd love others to play with, as well, so if you have questions or suggestions for them let me know! They'll be starting up anywhere within the next week, or even the next month, and hopefully we can all have some fun with them!


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Blogger @Rae_Slater's celebrating her bloggerversary! Meet Rae, and help her celebrate with a giveaway! (Click to Tweet)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Release Day Blitz: Sachael Dreams

Hello all you lovely people out there. Today's an awesome day, because it's the release day for SACHAEL DREAMS, written by Melody Winter and published by REUTS Publications! I think it promises to be an exciting read, but if you don't believe me, check out all the goodies below!

Sachael Dreams
Melody Winter 

Twenty-two-year-old Estelle Bailey has had enough of busy city-life and her hot-tempered ex. She escapes to the seclusion and peace of her family’s clifftop home in Ravenscar, where the soothing solitude whispers to her soul as strongly as the sea itself does. But her newfound contentment is interrupted when a mysterious man—a Sachael, master of seduction—joins her midnight swim unexpectedly.

Estelle struggles against his charm and the overpowering attraction she feels for him. He offers her a life she never could have imagined, a life beneath the waves . . . but at what cost? Before she can decide, she’s captured, ensnared by the Sect, a secret enemy of the Sachaels, becoming a pawn in a war she knew nothing about.

Now, she’s left with a new choice—escape the clutches of the Sect and flee into the ocean, or side with her alluring, intimidating captor and destroy the Sachaels forever. Can she turn her back on the man she might love, or will the secret of her heritage change everything?

Set against a picturesque backdrop, Sachael Dreams is the first in a new series, exploring themes of romance, love, and identity, and the struggle that happens when all three collide.

Meet the Author

Growing up, Melody Winter showed a natural ability in art, a head for maths, and a tendency to write far too long English essays. Difficult to place in the world when she graduated, she pursued a career in teaching, but eventually ended up working in Finance. Melody is convinced the methodical time she spends working with numbers fuels her desire to drift into dream worlds and write about the illusory characters in her head.

Melody Winter lives in North Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two sons. When not dealing with football, rugby, and a whole plethora of ‘boy’ activities, she will be found scribbling notes for her stories, or preparing for another trip to the beach. With an obsession for anything mythical, Melody revels in reading and writing about such creatures. In fact, if she wasn’t such a terrible swimmer, she’d say she was a mermaid.

Sachael Dreams is her debut novel, and the first in her New Adult Romantic Fantasy series—the ‘Mine Series’.

Website * Twitter * Facebook.

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Release Day Blitz: SACHAEL DREAMS @MelodyWinter, published by @REUTSpub + trailer! (Click to Tweet

Monday, February 23, 2015

Characters and Interiority: Thought-Processes

So I was going to write a post on telling vs. showing and why telling is sometimes acceptable but only in small doses (never in large doses; I promise you the reader would roll their eyes). Then I was going to write a post about antagonists and how you have to humanize them in order to make them not only believable, but to allow to reader to sympathize them in some way.

Then I was sitting at my laptop going, "Um, I really have no clue how to talk about either of those right now." So those are coming, eventually; promise!

Instead I decided to write on something that I personally struggle with as a writer; it's something that's also been my thesis adviser's number one suggestion so far after reading the first two rough drafts of two short stories I'm writing for my senior project.


Technically it's not a word, but I'm ignoring that: in my world, it's totally a word. And it's fun to say. So what is interiority? Simply, it's the inner-workings of your character. As the title suggests: it's their thoughts and their thought-processes; it's their vision of the world and how that vision impacts what they do and what they say.

It's a large part of making your reader connect to your characters, and particularly the character whose perspective the reader is spending time in. Whether you're writing in first person or third, interiority is important.

It's also really hard to do without doing a whole lot of telling. In my opinion, at least (remember: I'm horrible at interiority and it's been my adviser's number one suggestion for improving my short stories; I am by no means an expert).

So if I'm not an expert, why am I explaining all this? Put simply: it helps me learn. I hope it helps you learn, too. (Also: I've never claimed to be an expert on anything involved in this writing thing, so there's that, too).

Despite that, I think there's one easy way to both understand your character's inner workings, as well as show the reader the character's inner workings; and it'll sound more natural.

Write your first draft. However you want. By this time, you should already have at least a little bit of an idea of what your character's motives are, so that'll help you write them and their actions. Once you've got the actions written, go back. Start again and add to the skeleton. You know what you're character's doing, now attempt to unravel the why. What makes them come to the conclusions that they do?

There's a lot of work that comes into this part. What's helped me is to consider a number of things:

  • Consider your character's back story. Their history will help define their future; it determines the way they act on psychological scales. Memories are powerful things, so use them.
  • Consider their relationship with others. Everyone's influenced by somebody else. Something somebody else did, something someone else said. Whether that somebody is a friend or an enemy also has an impact, and determines how far under the skin their influence can get. There's also peer pressure: does that somebody want your character to do something? How does that make them feel?
  • Consider recent events. It's pretty common for people and characters to react and do things without thinking things through when they're in high-stress situations. Likewise, they're also going to react in strange ways when they have a longer time to think. Think about how much time they have to make a decision, and also what kinds of things have happened recently that might influence those decisions; odds are these events could be at the forefront of their minds.
  • Consider your character's motivations. I kind of already mentioned this before I started this list, but a character's motivations are absolutely key. Whatever they're doing, and whatever decision they're making, the odds are that they'll be hoping that their actions bring them closer to their goals, whatever it is.
Like I said, I'm not an expert on this. Far from it. Yet the above list are some of the things I've been thinking about in order to explain my character's thoughts and actions in those short stories I'm writing; they all run in conjunction with many of the other comments my adviser has had to say: things about their goals and their relationships with other characters, in particular.

The key is that you don't have to have a detailed list of how one thought leads to another with a character. What you do have to do, however, is make the reader familiar enough with the character;s thoughts and life that, when they do make those leaps, the reader can follow them and use them to gain an opinion on the character.

If that makes sense. I hope? If ya'll have any suggestions or corrections or additions for me, let me have them; what kinds of things do you do or think about to really get your readers inside the mind of your character?

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tea Time: Her Dark Curiosity

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

Her Dark Curiosity, Megan Shepherd (The Madman's Daughter #2)

To defeat the darkness, she must first embrace it.

Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father's island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.

As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.

As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.

 With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.(source:goodreads)

Narrative-As with the previous book of this series, HER DARK CURIOSITY is told from the first-person POV of Juliet Moreau. And, as with the previous book of this series, Juliet's voice was fantastic.

This time she's returned to the scene of high London society, but it's been years since she's been forced to go by the rules. The funniest part is her constant complaints of the corsets. Her voice is rich, believable, and so powerful that I heard her clear as day in my head. And, just as I pointed out in my review for THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER, there's a few lines that stand out, that pack so much punch that I'm left breathless. In the case of this book, it's: "I don't know what instinct made me keep such a bloody memento of a murderer. Call it sentimentality. Call it curiosity. / Just don't call it madness" (p. 37).


Plot-HER DARK CURIOSITY takes Juliet off her father's island and back into London's high society, when an old friend of the family takes her in as his guardian. Yet even though miles separate Juliet from the nightmares her father created, she's still distracted by her actions while there, the blood flowing through her veins, Montgomery and Edward (left behind on the island), and the fact that her anatomy isn't quite completely human. To top it all off: something from the island seems to have followed her home, and is now killing people on the streets; people who seem to have wronged Juliet in the past.

Time for a little murder mystery, ya'll.

If I thought THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER was great, this one just blew me out of the water. Juliet's trying to juggle her new, re-privilaged position with the fact that she's involved in some pretty gruesome and bizarre things, whether she wants to be or not. Plus, she knows the killer. No spoilers, here, but there's a lot of hard decisions to be looked at in the plot introduced in this book, including: what makes someone a monster, and does that mean they deserve to die for it? How do you weigh the good vs. the bad?

I really don't feel like I've done that great of a job explaining how awesome this book is, but you'll just have to read it for yourself. See what kind of trouble Juliet's in, now, and the brutal actions she's got, this time.


Characters-As usual, Juliet's got a solid, no-nonsense attitude that I absolutely adore. She does her best to act to the wishes of her guardian, and her affections toward him are absolutely sweet, but with the knowledge in her head of her father's past actions-and her own problems of her body slowly shutting down unless she can find a cure for her disease-there's some things she simply has to do. And when she realizes that she's somehow connected to the murders, well she has to do something about that, too. Particularly since she knows the killer.

There's also a return of Montgomery and Edward, and lots of emotions surrounding the two. Both of them are madly in love with Juliet (and technically there's a third whose lust for her is through the roof, but that's for you to find out). And, again, I think the way they express themselves are wonderfully and realistically done. Montgomery's trying to keep Juliet safe, and so is Edward. They just have different ways of going about it.

There's some new characters that are definitely worth looking at: Lucy, Juliet's best friend (who the reader gets a small glimpse of in THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER), and Elizabeth von Stein, Juliet's guardian's niece. Lucy is a character I expected to loathe. Really. She appears to be nothing but a spoiled socialite, talking about suitors nonstop and portraying herself as the bratty friend who always needs the moment to be about them. Boy, was I wrong. It's not long before you realize that the people in Lucy's life actually have a lot to do with the circumstances surrounding Juliet. not only that, but Lucy is a fierce, fierce loyal friend. She's so incredible that she won me over; she's now, officially, my favorite character of the series so far.

Elizabeth is another character I expected not to like, simply because upon first meeting she's more like a foil for Juliet. I wasn't sure if she'd be an enemy or a friend, but I was so relieved to find out that her skeletons are as rotten as Juliet's, and her experiences in life have led her to become an independent woman with strange knowledge of the world. She doesn't blink an eye with some of the things that Juliet winds up doing, which (in some cases), made her almost comical (but not in a silly way; more in the way she handles some things so easily, almost as if it's normal to lock young men in the basement).

Once more, I fell in love with the characters. Obviously.


I finished this book within a day. Therefore, I was extremely relieved to find out I had less than a month to wait for A COLD LEGACY (The Madman's Daughter #3). And I don't care that I'll have just started five new classes here at college. I will read it.

Final Answer: 4.66 / 5

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Great characters + a twisted plot to leave you guessing. @Rae_Slater reviews HER DARK CURIOSITY @megan_shepherd (Click to Tweet)

A thriller with a voice that's rich, believable, and powerful. HER DARK CURIOSITY @megan_shepherd via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Favorite Screen Characters Blog Hop

I've been tagged for another awesome blog hop that looks like a ton of fun, so read on to find out some of my favorite screen characters! Also be sure to check out the blog of the lovely lady who tagged me, Lisa Hope!

Instructions: For this quick, fun blog hop, you just name your 10 favorite characters from movies or TV, then tag 10 friends to do the same!

As ya'll can see, I have a distinct love for awesome/bad-ass heroines. They've always inspired me.

  • Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv - Fringe)

  • Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson - Fringe)

  • Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene - The Walking Dead)

  • Emma Stone (Wichita - Zombieland)

  • Sarah Jones (Rebecca Madsen - Alcatraz)

  • Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes - Sherlock)

  • Michelle Rodriguez (Letty Oritz - The Fast and the Furious)

  • Drew Roy (Hal Mason - Falling Skies)

  • Sarah Carter (Margaret - Falling Skies)

  • Anna Kendrick (Beca Mitchell - Pitch Perfect)

 And for those lovely tags, I'm calling upon these fantastic ladies:

Briana Morgan - The Novelista
Kaitlin Hillerich - Ink and Quills
Nicole L'autore - Nicole L'autore
Rachel Day - Stained Glass Windows
Aimee Meester - To the Barricade!
Adriana Gabrielle - The Librarian Files
Kathleen Palm - Finding Faeries
Brianne Moore - A Curious Affliction

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Why It's Okay to Take a Step Back From Writing

No matter how stressful writing can be, I think most (if not all) writers can agree that it's a large, very happy part of our lives. It's fun, and in many cases it's the one place where we can really be ourselves, especially when we find The One.

You know what I'm talking about: you've written many other ideas, finished some books, but sometimes they just don't grab you as much as they could. You get bored of it. Yet every now and again you find The One, and you can spend as much time as you can imagine on it and never get bored. It's the manuscript you've been waiting for to hopefully publish one day because it's important to you.

Yet even The One can give you too much stress. It happens. You write, and you write, and you rewrite, and you edit, and you add some scenes, and you cut a character, and you fill in plot holes only to find there's now more plot holes. You're dedicating your life to make this thing perfect and sometimes it's just not working.

One of my biggest pieces of advice for new writers (and many who have been writing for years) is to put away your novel once you've finished it for the first time. Give yourself a week, two weeks is better. Don't look at it and, if you can help it, don't even think about it. That'll help you look at it with a fresh eye when you go back to start revising.

That's one reason to take a step back.

There's another reason: sometimes, the stress becomes too much. No matter how hard you work on it, maybe things just aren't coming together. You've lost yourself, and if it starts becoming more like a chore than an intriguing puzzle, then maybe it's a sign that you need to put it away for a few weeks.

Put simply: maybe you've been working on it for too long; the stress to make it live up to what you know it can be can burn you out.

And that's okay. You might need to just take a break and focus on other things, even if those other things are other ideas you've had floating around. It's okay to cheat on your manuscript, because oftentimes you need a way to stretch that creativity in directions that your manuscript won't allow you, maybe due to plot/genre restrictions, or even the format. Try writing a poem or short story instead of a novel; grab a coloring books and scribble outside the lines.

Getting burnt out happens. It's nothing to feel guilty about, either. Because you don't need to write every single day to be considered a writer, and often times you need to clear your mind and come back with that fresh eye I talked about, even if you're in the middle of a sentence when you need to stop.

It's all about mental health: sometimes we tend to stress ourselves out over things in our novel that are actually quite simple to figure out. Take some time away, and come back only when you feel like you're ready and eager to dive in again.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Release Day Blitz: Dare to Dream

Hello all you lovely people out there. Today's an awesome day, because it's the release day for DARE TO DREAM, written by Carys Jones and Published by REUTS Publications! Currently, I can't say anything about the book, because I'm actually in the middle of reading it for a review coming up in a few weeks, but what I can say is that it promises to be an exciting read. Don't believe me? Check out all the goodies below!

Dare to Dream
Carys Jones

The world was going to end. Of that, Maggie Trafford was certain.

Fourteen-year-old Maggie Trafford leads a normal life. Well, as normal as being crammed in a three-bedroom house with four siblings and a single parent can be, anyway. But despite being somewhat ignored at home, Maggie excels, earning top grades, a best friend who would do anything for her, and stolen looks from a boy in Maths.

It’s not until the dreams start that Maggie realizes “normal” is the least of her problems. Every night, she lives the same nightmare—red lightning, shattered glass, destruction. But nightmares are just that, right? No one believes her when she says it’s an omen. At least, not until the already mysterious pillars of Stonehenge start falling.

No longer alone in her fear, Maggie and the world watch with bated breath as one after another, the historic stones tumble, like a clock counting down. But only Maggie knows what it means: when the last stone falls, destruction will reign. And when the world ends, there’s only one option left—survive.

Horrifying and raw, Dare to Dream is equal parts tragedy and hope, detailing the aftermath of apocalyptic catastrophe, the quest for survival, and the importance of belief

Buy DARE TO DREAM by Carys Jones

Meet the Author:

Carys Jones loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader's imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo.

When she's not writing, Carys likes to indulge her inner geek by watching science-fiction films or playing video games.

She lists John Green, Jodi Picoult and Virginia Andrews as her favorite authors and draws inspiration for her own work from anything and everything.

To Carys, there is no greater feeling then when you lose yourself in a great story and it is that feeling of ultimate escapism which she tries to bring to her books.

Website * Facebook * Twitter 

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Release Day Blitz: DARE TO DREAM @tiny_dancer8, published by @REUTSpub + trailer! (Click to Tweet)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Is That Character Really Necessary?

Quick apologies: my weekend was oddly stressful, which means my thoughts are muddled. I really hope this post makes sense.

For the entire month of December (and most of January) I was trying to get a start on rewriting my WIP. It was painfully hard. Ya'll might remember last month when I wrote my post on Conversations with a Character, and finally managed to figure out where I was going wrong (when my character called me out on being lazy).

Then I looked at one of my characters and realized his presence was a bit odd. I didn't know anything about him. Who are you, Connor? I asked. And then I nearly fell back in my chair when I had that thought, What do you even do?

What dawned on me, then, was that this character--a strapping young man named Connor--actually wasn't necessary. His presence wasn't vital to the plot. I could replace him. As in: I realized I could take him out and put another character (who already had a large part in the plot) in his place, and nothing changed.

Whoa, right?

When writing a novel, everything's important: every word, every sentence, every dialogue, every setting, every character. We all know this, right? One of the problems comes, in my opinion, when looking at characters in particular, especially if you're already done with draft one and you've moved on to rewrites and edits.

That problem? You love all your characters as if you gave birth to them. Then you're editing and you start to wonder why you have so many characters and are they all absolutely needed to make your novel's world go 'round?

It's hard, but that's why you actually should wait for editing to do this, since you're already in a heartless, kill-your-darlings state of mind, anyway.

To solve the dilemma of whether a character is actually really needed, ask yourself (and I did ask myself this) one question: What does that character have to offer?

It's a tough question, particularly when you look at books in a series. Take Harry Potter or even Maggier Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle into consideration: a large cast of characters, and some of them don't have much to do until book two/three/etc. In this case, you have to be willing to look to the future of your novel to determine whether the character in question has anything that might be useful to you or to the story line.

For the purposes of this post, simply look at your character and their purpose (every character has a purpose: protagonist, antagonist, foil, anti-hero, hero; they're the comic relief, they're the gatekeeper, they're the secret keeper. Get the point?) and ask yourself if there's any other character that can take on that exact role, or can carry out that character's duties in addition to their own without anything changing.

If the answer to that question is yes, then perhaps you might want to reconsider their presence.

To be honest, when looking at the necessity of a character it's usually the side and minor characters that go under the ax. Main characters are easy: of course nobody else can do their job (and if somebody else can do their job, then you should probably reconsider them, as well).

If one of those major characters can do the job of a minor, or if you can combine multiple minor characters, odds are that's what needs to be done. As I already said: in my WIP, I was able to replace Connor with another character with none of the consequences changing; the same ripple effects spread out among my other characters. Which meant that Connor wasn't really necessary. It tightened my plot more than you can imagine.

So that's my quick post on determining the necessity of a character. How do you deal with the realization that your cast might be too big?

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Blogger @Rae_Slater talks characters, and how to tell if they're all really as crucial to your plot as you might think. (Click to Tweet)

What does that character have to offer? How to tell if it's time to give that character the ax (Click to Tweet)