My latest “What if” session resulted in a new mission: Add Characters=Realistic Protagonist

Puppeteer

Adding additional, or secondary, characters can help develop your protagonist!

After my last “What if ” session I found myself developing a whole new character.

I’m going to plop this character down into several scenes from beginning to middle, which is the extent to which I have written my Fantasy Manuscript, and add her to my protagonist‘s friend list.

Yes, this means I get to go back and revamp every interaction between most of the characters already written, but I think my readers will know my protagonist better through the new character.  It will aid in moving the tale along, and add some moral compass, too.  So, all in all, it is worth the extra work!

I’m also introducing two more characters, one  originally planned for  the second book  of the Fantasy series, and the other an enemy, or frienemy as they are called.  My protagonist needs work, and I need to show the reader her less desirable traits, as well as her better traits.  My protagonist must learn how to make good choices to grow in maturity, and act to follow suit.  These can be expanded on through her friends points of view.

Conflict, not perfection, and the struggle to move forward make my protagonist appear more real, and that will help my reader to relate to her.  The secondary characters provide support for, or undermine her  further development, which helps to drive the plot.  Mission accomplished…well, not quite yet.

Guess I’ve got my work cut out for me!  Now you try.  Add a new character and see what it does for your story.

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>Formatting Your Manuscript: Section One, Traditional Format

Manuscript

Don't wait! Format your manuscript now!

>When I began writing, it was on paper.  Ten sheets of crazy written notes in chicken scratch handwriting, filled to capacity on both sides. I even had teeny notes in the margins and running around the edges!  Beautiful to have the ideas down, ugly to look at.  I transferred it to the computer, started fleshing out those ideas, making them bigger, scrapping some, just writing.  However, I was all over the place with fun word fonts tiny print sizes, not to mention right justified margins.  There was nothing to distinguish between one chapter and the next, and it had random headers and footers for chapters and notes.  With an eye on future publication, I knew I needed to get my writing into manuscript format, both for my own organization, and eventual manuscript submissions.

So, I dove into the search to find the best manuscript formatting advice.  And there is a crazy amount of information out there!  For this first segment I’m going to concentrate on traditional publishing formats.   After reading two books with content on the subject, and twenty websites, I came up with a good  answer, and a couple of links. Depending on the publishing house, there are many ways to format a manuscript, and each one has its preference.  There are, however, some prominent commonalities.  The following list should get your writing in good order, and when you get to the finish line, your manuscript will be properly formatted aside from front page.

Get organized, get formatted, get going!

The following format applies to Traditional Manuscripts only:

  • A one inch margin all around is the industry standard.
  • Margin should be left justified, resulting in a ragged margin on the right edge.
  • Most prefer no header or footer
  • Type size should allow for editing and ease of reading. Size 12 or 10 are best, but trend leans toward size 12.
  • Most Editors and Agents prefer to read fonts in New Courier, but Times New Roman is  acceptable.  This can vary widely between Agents, Editors, and Publishing Houses.  Check before you send your manuscript!
  • Double space your lines.
  • Use a .5 inch indentation for a new paragraph.
  •  To begin a new chapter, insert a page break, but check with the Publishing House guidelines as this varies highly.
  • Another option to indicate when one paragraph starts and another stops is to use a pound sign # centered at the start of a new chapter, but once again this varies highly by Publishing House.  Check their specific guidelines!
  • Words that you want to emphasized should be underlined.  Do not use italics.
  • Number your pages at the top of each page!  Make sure they are sequential, starting from 1, 2, 3, etc. each page getting a number to the end page which will have the highest number. There are specifics as to where each Publishing House will want the numbering, but for writing purposes top right should do.
  • There is a lot of conflicting information as to whether or not to print your name at the top of each page.  But from researching this, it is better to skip it until you have selected an agent or publishing house, then apply those guidelines. 
  • Want more information about formatting you manuscript or a front cover letter? My usual go to guy, Author Nathan Bransford and this nice clear information from Moira Allen, editor of Writing World.com Moira Allen, Manuscript Format

>What’s in a Name? How do you choose a pen name and should you?

Mask

Do you use a Nom de Plume?

>Do you recognize any of these Author names?  Richard Bachman, Mark Twain, J.D. Robb, Paul French, David Axton, Joanne Rowling, Dawn Cook.

Give up?

They are Stephen King, Samuel Clemens, Nora Roberts, Issac Asimov, Dean Koontz, J.K. Rowling, Kim Harrison.  So when do you use a pen name?

There are several reasons to publish under a Nom de Plume instead of your own.  In some cases, for an already established Author, a switch to a different genre is the push. For instance, while Auroa Hartsmith might be an okay name for a romance author, it might not work for a horror author…unless she is rewriting a new version of Frankenstein.

Another reason is privacy.  Some authors are pretty quiet in their home lives.  They may not want to share so much of their real persona with the public until they are putting on their game face for press reviews and panels and signings.  There are also authors who are writing about controversial or adult subjects.  Their privacy is important because of possible harmful repercussions to their dayjobs or public reputations.

An author may want to write more books than a publishing house is willing to commit to, so writing under a different name helps the author avoid legal entanglementsif they move to a new house, or even publish for themselves.  It all depends on the contract entered in to originally.

A new Author may want to keep their options open for future publications to varying audiences.  Perhaps the voice you are writing in now is suitable for children’s literature, but say you want to use the same name to write a horror or adult novel.  The voice would change according to the audience, and the subject matter would be inappropriate for the kiddies, so the name should follow suit, to avoid complications.

Some Authors simply don’t feel the name has a good ring to it, and they want a name that sounds younger, or older according to their tale.

Choosing a pen name that does not give away your gender can be helpful in marketing your book to a larger audience.  Unfortunately, it is still common that people tend to buy books leaning toward a certain gender for a specific genre.  J.K. Rowling’s publisher felt that her gender might limit her target audience in marketing a book with a boy protagonist.  J.K. Rowling instead of Joanne Rowling is a gender neutral choice.

And here’s an interesting snippet: When an author chooses a name, they may be encouraged by their publisher to select a name that comes after the letter “E” and before the letter “N” in the alphabet.  This is because, according to market research, people have a tendency to look at titles from those that are near the top to middle of the shelves.  They are less likely to choose a title from the lower shelves.That means that if you have a last name starting with a “Z” your work will not be as visible to the customer trying to find a good read.

So, many authors do use a pen name for many and varied reasons. I didn’t see a whole lot of cons discussed, and in fact, the pros are numerous, so I wrote this Pen Name Blog in a positive light.  Have fun choosing yours!

C.K. Garner =^,^=

>Stuck on what to write? Play the “What If” game.

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...

Cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

>Stephen King’s book, “On Writing” has a great tip for when you don’t know what to say next, or if you are trying to think up an idea for your novel play the “What if” game. It’s easy to learn, just pick a subject. Say you like Zombies. Now play “what if” with the idea of Zombies:

What if Zombies were teachable?
What if you could train them to do mundane work like mowing the lawn or bicycle repairs?
What if they accidentally ate your neighbors cat while mowing the lawn because you had them on too long a chain?
What if there was a movement to free the poor worker ant Zombies?
What if someone proposed a Zombie Bill of Rights?
What if the Zombies came unleashed and ate their owners?
Would the Zombies still mow the lawn out of habit?

There. Considering that was “What if” on a single subject, how many other possibilities or impossibilities are there to write about? Now you get the idea!

Playing “What if” brings you to ask and add more questions. Soon you’ll have plenty of questions asked that need answering! So, the next time you don’t know how to begin writing your novel, or are stuck for ideas in the middle of your manuscript, look around your neighborhood and start playing, “What if…”

>Something every potential ebook Author should read…

A Picture of a eBook

Image via Wikipedia

For tonight’s post, I’m simply going to direct you to the right of my Blog page where the My Blog List resides.  Note the name Nathan Bransford. I’ve mentioned him before as both Author and former Agent.  Read what he has to say about the scuffle between Amazon ebooks and Apple.  Sounds like ebook Authors will take the hit possibly in publishing restrictions, perhaps in accessibility, likely in the wallet.  I’ve a very loose understanding on this, so I’m directing you to The Pro, Nathan Bransford.  Follow the link to his page.  The article you are looking for is “This Week in Books” dated 5/13/11 Nathan Bransford talks about ebooks and the possible new rules

Blogging is a Start…

Climbing Gear

Equip yourself with the right gear and learn the ropes of getting published!

>There is a lot of advice about writing out there, but many sites fail to mention that you need to learn the ropes before you finish your manuscript.  Nathan Bransford’s Blog about Writing and Authorship talks about what you need to do ahead of time, things you should be researching ahead of your completing a manuscript.  Under the title, “How to find a Literary Agent” you can connect to his straight talk about the work you need to do.  Blogging is a start.  You can read the info. HERE.  Bransford champions learning about and beginning to promote yourself, connecting with other Writers and Authors, and learning about agents before you need them…makes sense, right?  So here’s my attempt at getting my WordPress Blog account to connect with  Blogspot so I can connect with more of you brilliant Writers and Authors!  Wish me luck!

http://ckgarner.blogspot.com/

>Writer’s Break: Have you read any Steampunk lately?

>Ah, a little rest for the cramped fingers.  Time to relax with a good read.  I am quite involved in a very active group of alternate historians known as Steampunks.  The books in the Steampunk genre tend to lean towards alternate history of the Victorian Era, which speculate as to how things might be in the future.  Think HG Wells, The Time Machine, Sherlock Holmes, League of Extraordinary Gentleman, and now Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest.

Boneshaker differs a bit from a lot of books in the Steampunk genre, as it takes place in the Alternate history US, instead of the typically seen Victorian British Empire.  It leans more to a Western ideal of the times such as the search for Gold, issues of culture and status, the Civil War and the expansion of travel through trains, and in true Steampunk fashion, dirigibles.  Want to know a bit more?
Here is a full review of Boneshaker by Cherie Priest at boingboing.net 
To visit Author Cherie Priest’s Blog click here