Tips 'N Treats: Week 14

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My Tip

I hope everyone is doing well. This week, I want to talk about fear. It seems a lot of that’s been going around lately (understandable), and the effects of that can be wider reaching than you realize. You may think “I’m afraid about [insert thing going on in the world], but I’m just afraid of that. I’m still writing and submitting.”

To which I say—good. Keep up the creating.

And also stay aware of your actions. Fear is a subconscious creeper. It realizes you’re afraid and subtly applies itself toward everything in your life. You may only recognize your fear of a specific issue, but your brain is working overtime to flood you with fear.

Your conscious: “I’m afraid of X.”

Your subconscious: “I’m afraid of X. Only X. It’s really only X. It’s not Y…or Z. And it’s certainly not my writing. My writing is fine. I’m sending stuff out/self-publishing. It’s good…right? I mean, it’s still as good as it was. X has no relation to my writing. Unless it does. And it’s making my writing bad. I’d better read it one more time…just one more time. Maybe two more times…three…”

You see where this is going.

As someone who’s recently come out of a writing self-esteem slump, let me tell you the fear never goes away. It’s human nature. We fear, and fear is not a singular process. You don’t fear one thing and not have that fear spread like subconscious wildfire. It can be crippling. It can stop you from pursuing things you’ve wanted for years. It can send you sliding into the slippery slope of self-doubt and stagnation.

Don’t let it do this.

If you’re thinking it’s not that simple, you’re right. It’s not simple. At the same time, it’s beautifully simplistic. Instead of being afraid and running from your fear or pushing your fear away, acknowledge it’s part of you. Because it is. Thank it for doing its job of trying to protect you and then move on. At its center, fear has your best interests in mind. It wants to keep you safe. But locking yourself in the proverbial closet and only emerging for the essentials isn’t safety. It’s a form of suicide. You’re letting fear rule. You’re letting it cripple you a little bit at a time, and you’re eventually letting it destroy you. “But I’m alive.” Is “living” in that locked room life?

“This doesn’t sound anything like me. I’m just afraid of X.”

Good. Now, don’t let this become you. It’s fine to be afraid. Fear is natural, but don’t let X get to be such a big fear that it hits you where you live—in your writing space. Don’t let fear keep you from putting your best self out into the world in word form. I won’t quote Yoda, but I’ll say he was right. Fear ultimately leads to suffering and stagnation. Don’t stagnate. Thank your fear. Live with your fear. Keep creating. Keep writing. Keep putting yourself out there because the world needs your stories.

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This week’s posts:

Monday: ROGUE REAPER by Riley Archer
Wednesday: TRUST ME by Obelia Akanke

Guest Tip

This week, I’m pleased to welcome Irada Ronalder to Tips ‘N Treats. Irada is here to discuss what makes certain characters so memorable and why they stick with us long after we’ve closed the book. So, without further preamble, here we go…

Every reader can name the most memorable characters they have met in pages of print. Yet no matter the diversity of genre or age of the works in which these characters appear, each of these characters shares a common quality ̶ the ability to successfully lay claim to a spot of residence in the reader’s heart and mind. These characters are usually multi-faceted; they have strengths and weaknesses that make them believable and relatable.

Such characters are key to a successful book and essential to any series, for it is the very thing that keeps your readers coming back for more. Developing these characters takes time, care, and contemplation. One of the most fundamental considerations should be your character’s destination at the end of the book (or on a larger scale at the end of your series or on a smaller scale at the end of the chapter). Think not only in respect of physical destination, but also in terms of emotional or existential destinations.

Is your character’s tale one of rising? Is it a tale of overcoming the obstacles and challenges faced throughout the journey? Or is it a tale of falling and succumbing to internal or external forces? Knowing your character’s destination and the general shape of the intended journey will help you determine your character’s baseline or initial physical and esoteric conditions.

Identifying these two points in your character’s journey will give you a compass to move your writing forward. Once you know where your character’s journey begins and ends, then the real work commences: fleshing out your character and narrating the steps of the journey.

Develop your character by building in the strengths and weaknesses, biases and beliefs, memories and experiences that define her and influence the choices she makes. What defines your character’s vision of self, others, and the world? Are her most essential qualities innate or acquired? Nurtured or neglected? Are her internal and external voices heeded or ignored? Why? (You shape and develop your character and the journey by narrating occurrences and interactions that show and highlight the qualities and directions you wish to convey. Always bear in mind the golden rule to show not tell.)

Trace the steps that ultimately take your character to the closing scene and make her who she is when the reader closes the back cover. What are the specific tests and dilemmas she faces? Are these challenges moral, situational, self-inflicted, avoidable? Are the struggles charged internally or externally? Are they real or imagined?

As you write, each sequence or scene should be moving your character to that predetermined destination. Her footsteps should mark her growth or decline. Keep in mind that no person’s path is on a constant incline or decline. There are always marks of failure on the road to success, points of hope on the road to loss, potential for good on the path to evil and vice versa. It is the combination of the smaller rises and falls along the path, the good and bad choices that are made, the potential to overcome and fall prey that creates a character that is relatable and memorable, that special kind of character who finds a way into the heart and mind of the reader.

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