Tuesday, May 18, 2010

That Dog Do Bark: A Canine Aroo of Apologia in D Major

dog • house (dôg hous): a small shelter for a dog; the modest backyard abode in which an author resides if said author fails to show up for an online chat.

That Dog Do Bark: A Canine Aroo of Apologia in D Major
by Martha Engber

All right, let’s be candid. I’m in the doghouse for not showing up on Sun., May 9, to chat with all you good writing souls here at WritersChatRoom.com. I could tell you that, had I read the lovely email reminder from Audrey, I would have arrived, online and on time.

But alas, due to Mother’s Day, that holiday in which mothers are given the most treacherous advice to do as they please, I thought I’d treat myself to that most cherished of modern luxuries, a No Email Day. And look what happened. When I finally opened my email at 7 p.m. — PST rather than EST — I almost had a heart attack.

But I’m a silver lining kind of gal, and the redeeming outcome in this instance is that I’m highly motivated to make amends for wasting your time, for which I really am truly sorry.

The first order of business is to let you know that yes, I will — absolutely — show up at 7 p.m. EST (4 p.m. PST) on Sun., May 23, to chat with you.

The second is to provide you with what I, as a writer (The Wind Thief), character development guru and writing coach, see in my own writing and that of others as the main errors writers make when developing characters.

While I know we couldn’t possibly make these mistakes, feel free to pass the list to those poor fellow writers you suspect have fallen into the muck. The points are also made — more elegantly — in my book, Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up.

The 10 Most Common Mistakes Writers Make When Creating Characters

1. Only developing some characters instead of all

2. Not understanding what role a character plays

3. Relying on cliché, the fast, cheap way to pop a character into place

4. Telling, rather than showing readers what’s most important to your character and why he/she is so interesting

5. Not doing enough research about what your character must know to be credible

6. Not allowing your character to act according to his/her nature

7. Not including your personal experience to aid your character on his/her journey

8. Defending your character during the critique process, rather than realizing there’s a problem

9. Not allowing the character to get into trouble

10. Not bothering to clean up your spelling, grammar, punctuation or format issues, problems that hinder readers’ attempts to get to know your character

The list includes a lot of not, an attitude we’ll flip around on May 23 when we talk about what you can do to make your characters the best they can be.

Until then, happy writing!

(Martha Engber will be our chat guest on May 23, 2010, at 7 pm EST. This post is a chance for you to get to know her before the chat.)


At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never read a more elegant apology. Can't wait till Sunday.



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