When Ozarks Romance Authors meets on the first Saturday of each month, sometimes we have the opportunity for one of our members to "live tweet" during our guest speaker's presentation. If you follow us on Twitter (@OzarksRomance) you will see our live tweet take place at approximately 1:05 p.m. Central Standard Time.
At our May 7, 2011, meeting, one of our members traveled back home to the Ozarks from the Boston, Massachusetts, area to visit with family and speak to our writers' group. That member was Diana Groe, who wrote as Emily Bryan in the past and currently writes for Kensington as Mia Marlowe.
To learn more about this fabulous author, visit her web site, www.MiaMarlowe.com or her author's page on the official Kensington web site, http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/catalog.cfm?dest=dir&linkid=2836&linkon=subsection
The live tweet is on our Twitter page, but it's probably buried by now. We've had several requests to share the information, so we are posting the entire live tweet below.
It really helps if you stand on the shoulders of others. Don't have to go it alone.
Enter every contest that you can afford. If you have something worth taking a look at, enter.
Contests = excellent feedback from target readers and work in front of eyes of agents.
If you're in RWA and you win, place or show in RWA contests, your name is in RWA mag for industry insiders to see.
Publishing is such a subjective business. It's important to give them a reason to say no to you.
Win, place or show in contest = someone likes you, so industry insiders more likely to take a chance.
Diana wrote 2 complete manuscripts before 3rd one sold.
If you're working on 1st manuscript, this is your "training wheels" manuscript.
However, there ARE some people who DO sell their first book.
First novel pub in 2006 under her own name, Diana Groe.
Distracting the Duchess was so different than 1st book that she needed pen name, Emily Bryan.
Kensington liked her but wanted a NEW pen name, Mia Marlowe.
Must be flexible in this businsess, even if changing pen names.
We continue to learn, even once we are published. Continue to learn and grow.
Some writers are plotters. Some are pantsters. Some use Snowflake Method. Many methods. Use what works for YOU.
Christopher Vogler's Hero's Journey
Archetypes are characters that tend to reappear (not stereotypes).
Hero or Heroine = most important character of all. Comes from Greek "to protect and to serve."
Why is hero/heroine memorable? They live large. They are the person we'd like to be.
We want to at least try their life on for a while.
Primary psychological function of hero/heroine is letting reader slip into their shoes.
Character Arc = They must be different for having made the journey through the story.
Hero is the one who acts, not who is acted upon. They need to be the prime mover.
If hero or heroine practices self-sacrifices, it REALLY pulls in the reader. Motivated by someone else's danger.
Hero/heroine is how reader learns how this person deals with death (metaphorical or real). Death of dream, business, marriage, etc.
We read to know that we are not alone. We want to find out how others have dealt with loss because everyone goes through this.
Diana was so in love with her first heroine, but readers hated her. She was too perfect. Heroine needs to be flawed in some way.
"Monk" is a good example of flawed hero, and we are pulling for him all the way.
Another mask for hero/heroine or another character = mentor
Mentor represents call to our higher selves.
Mentors = editor in Romancing the Stone, Obiwan, Gandolph, Fairy Godmother
Fallen Mentor = used to be a hero, but has tumbled from pedestal
A League of Their Own = Tom Hanks is fallen mentor (former star player)
Sometimes mentor is inner mentor for hero/heroine = code of ethics, faith, Star Trek's Prime Directive
Mentor may morph into Threshold Guardian
Anything that keeps their forward progress down. Could be positive, negative, or neutral.
In some cases, value of having Threshold Guardian is showing potential danger in story.
Hero/heroine must be smart. Won't plunge into danger without any thought. Threshold Guardian can help with this.
Threshold Guardian might test to see if hero/heroine is worthy.
Threshold Guardian = neurosis
We want hero/heroine to earn everything they get. Threshold Guardian might help H/H be ready to face vill
Herald = another character. Signifies change is coming. Starts things in motion.
Herald could be force of nature, like tornado in Wizard of Oz.
Herald in Romancing the Stone = phone call to Joan Wilder that set story into motion.
Shape Shifter character = Might project what characters WANTS to see. Someone who changes abruptly.
Shape Shifter = Loyalty always in doubt. H/h wonders if this person will betray him/her.
Very last knot you want to untie in your story is relationship. Work it through to very end.
Hero might possibly be Shape Shifter. Example = Thomas Crown in The Thomas Crown Affair.
It has been said that your story is only as strong as your villain.
Shadow Character = psychosis
Sometimes it's the issues that keep the H/h apart. This is where shadow character is internalized.
Provide Hero with worthy opponent, whether internal or external.
Vigo Mortensen in GI Jane = Threshold Guardian / Shadow Character.
Make sure your villain isn't a cardboard character.
Every villain is the hero in his own story. Villain also needs something good, whether they love their children, nice to mother, something.
If but for a few bad choices, this person (villain) could have been so different.
You might want to redeem your villain.
Trickster = Character spreads mayhem. Good for sidekicks and also heroes. Bugs Bunny and other rabbit heroes across the globe.
Trickster can be catalyst for change.
Any character, at any time, can wear one of these masks.
The most satisfying stories have elements of Hero's Journey. Once you know them, will recognize in books and movies.
The title you choose sets the stage for your book. Give people an idea of what kind of a story they'll get.
Title is your first hook for the reader. Make it a good one.
Once you sell, your editor may or may not change title. But a dynamite title can help you sell.
Red Pencil Thursdays on http://www.miamarlowe.com blog. Looking for volunteers again. Email her through site.
Need 500 words of ms for Red Pencil Thursdays. She'll critique, send back to you, and then post on blog.
1st sentence of novel must surprise and delight. Grab them and don't let go.
Do not start first page of your novel with the weather (unless character is a meteorologist).
1st sentence is a promise to your reader that the story will move forward.
Avoid a backstory-dump! Don't spill your guts about the character. Tease the reader with info.
Foreshadowing is vital in the beginning of your story. Seeds of everything that's going to happen.
Hint at both the inner and outer conflicts in the beginning. Story must have both inner and outer conflicts.
Introduce H/h in unique way that draws in the reader. Something that will stick with reader.
Excellent example of introducing character is Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts -- "She woke in the body of a dead friend."
In the beginning, show what your character lacks. Something must change.
Sleepless in Seattle = Tom Hanks is burying wife and says it doesn't happen twice. All we need to know. Unhappy and we're pulling for him already.
For a good story, must also have call to adventure. Invite H/h to face the unknown.
Inciting incident = loss of loved one, temptation, something that stires restlessness, disorientation, discomfort.
Donald Maase says something must happen within first 5 pages to turn H/h's life on end.
Another vital part of story = refusal of the call
Why refuse the call to adventure? Why say no? Creates tension. Shows intelligence. Adventures are messy things.
The stronger the refusal, the more satisfying it will be when H/h jumps into it, finds out they are made for each other, etc.
Put a secret door into your story. Whatever you do, don't do ____. You know, at some point, they will face this.
Good idea to give H/h a wingman or wingwoman so they have someone to talk to.
Even with mentor, at some point, H/h must stand on his/her own. This is why mentors die. Obiwan, Dumbledore...
Threshold for adventure = usually toward end of chapter 3.
At this point, there is no returning to life as they know it.
Next portion of story = Tests, Allies, and Enemies. H/h will probably fail at first. Otherwise, the story would be over.
Approach to the Inmost Cave = Greatest challenge on journey. H/h must face his/her most daunting fear.
If your Approach to Inmost Cave is strong, your story won't have the dreaded "sagging middle."
Reward = After faced fear and moved foward, H/h get the reward. Could be true love, realization of goal, finding treasure.
Transformation & Revelation = Ritual death as hero overcomes greatest foe. Black moment.
Best if characters get into trouble because of something they've done. Because of their own choices.
Each action bridges on what comes before. Everything builds. Stakes are raised with each scene.
Black moment: Donald Maase says no matter how bad it is, make it WORSE!
The Return = Ready to go back to everyday life stronger, filled with purpose and deeper understanding.
Not all stories use all stages of the journey, but the most satisfying tales have several of these hot buttons.
Thanks for joining us for live-tweet of novelist http://www.miamarlowe.com speaking to Ozarks Romance Authors! #sgf
12 for critique group and 18 for meeting, which is great for a holiday weekend (Mother's Day)!