Best of the Blogs
The best posts I’ve read this week on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.
The focus this week is on writing craft. That’s not deliberate—it just happened that way. Some weeks it’s a mix, some weeks it isn’t.
First up, Myra Johnson visits Seekerville to discuss Story Genius by Lisa Cron. It’s a brilliant book, and I highly recommend it. Myra talks about the “third rail,” the emotional power that keeps our story moving forward.
Using the MBTI for Characterisation
I don’t know about you, but I find getting to know “my” characters (the characters I’m writing) one of the most difficult aspects of writing a first draft. And characterisation is also what makes or breaks a book for me—that’s how important characterisation is.
In fact, Lisa Cron says:
Ultimately, all stories are character driven—yes, all stories.
That’s because great stories aren’t about what happens as much as they are about how the characters react to and make sense of what happened.
In 5 Ways to Use Myers-Briggs for Characters, KM Weiland recants on her previous aversion to using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to profile her characters, and gives five great tips. And do read the comments. One commenter has written a virtual essay, which is informative (and technical).
Jamie Lynn Booth visits Kristen Lamb’s website to discuss Why the World Needs More Inspirational Romance.
This is another post where the comments are as enlightening as the post. Many of the commenters describe themselves as Christians, but say they aren’t writing with the major CBA publishers would recognise as Christian fiction. As one commenter says:
I firmly believe that God has called us to be truth-tellers in a broken world.
I take the point. A lot of Christian fiction is telling the Truth (God’s Truth), sure. But it’s failing to tell it in an authentic way that will resonate with non-Christians. While I love Christian fiction that’s written for Christians by Christians, there is also a need for fiction written by Christians for the general market, but that will still lead people to God.
Part of this is about having flawed characters non-Christian readers will recognise.
And that’s what Lanette Kauten is talking about in Writing Authentic Characters (also at Kristen Lamb’s website). Lanette is a Christian, but isn’t writing “Christian fiction”. She says:
My characters are a part of the world they live in and act accordingly.
And her world is messy. Her heroine is described as a confused atheist in a lesbian relationship escaping from her upbringing in a weird Charismatic church. That’s part of the story, but it’s not the whole story. Her message is that our writing must be authentic.
Now for something lighter …
I enjoy humour. Who doesn’t? But I often come across novels where the humour either falls flat, or crosses the line from humour into a cringefest of slapstick.
In this excellent post at the BookBaby blog, Scott McCormick explains why: because Your Story Needs a Good Straight Man. If I think about it, a lot of the humour that didn’t work for me as a reader was because both characters were trying to be funny. And that doesn’t work. As Scott explains, good humour needs a straight man.
The best humour isn’t when one character says something funny and the other character laughs. It’s when one character says something funny, and the other character ignores the humour and carries on with the conversation. Terry Pratchett was a master at this.
McCormick also says:
Interestingly, a straight man doesn’t have to be limited to comedies. A good straight man can make your heroes more heroic, and your tragic figures more tragic.
Worth thinking about …