Guest Post: Creating Compelling Characters


My dear friend Briana Morgan has guest posted on my blog before, and it is an honor to feature her again with a fantastic post on creating compelling characters. If you would like to read her other guest post, click here!

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Thank you, Mariella, for letting me guest post on your blog! Today, I’m thrilled to talk about character creation and my personal process for creating realistic, memorable people to populate your fiction.

If any of you follow my blog, you may have seen some of my posts on character creation, including How to Get to Know Your Characters, How to Develop Stronger Characters, and 11 Steps to Crafting Characters. Although I still use the techniques discussed in these posts, I learn a lot more about character creation with each novel I write. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned even since writing Blood and Water—which I only released two months ago!

If you, like me, are constantly looking for tips to improve your characters, you’re in luck—I’ve put together a list of points worth considering the next time you’re trying to come up with compelling characters. Give them a try and maybe you’ll find one that works well for you.

  • Write about your character in mundane, everyday scenarios. Though your story may not involve your character taking a trip to the grocery store, it might be useful to imagine them in such a commonplace setting.
  • Take some personality inventories as your character. If you don’t think these tests are accurate, feel free to ignore this step. But while writing Blood and Water, I determined everyone’s Myers-Briggs type, and I thought it was pretty accurate. It also helped me discover how they might respond to certain situations that take place in the novel.
  • Pull from reality. When you can’t seem to come up with any exciting quirks, take bits and pieces from people you know. For example, combine your uncle’s affinity for playing the Theremin with your grandpa’s passion for coin collecting. Nothing is off limits!
  • Use yourself. If you feel weird writing characters based on other people, you can always use yourself. Without conscious effort, a lot of my characters end up sharing some of my traits, anyway. Just be careful not to make them too much like you!
  • Try journaling. In one of my most popular posts on character creation, I mentioned that journaling helps me get inside my characters’ heads. If you don’t know how your character would react at a critical part of the story, try asking them! Talk to them directly. You never know what all they might have to say.

These techniques aren’t everything when it comes to creating compelling characters, but they should help you get started. No matter what method you decide to try, remember one thing—people love reading about other people, warts and all. To make your characters more realistic, make sure they act like real people. They should have hopes, dreams, fears, goals, flaws, and deep, dark secrets. As long as you keep those dimensions in mind, you should have no problem creating compelling characters for your stories!

What techniques do you use to create compelling characters?


 

11811491_10152854599546841_8052592134780564109_n (1)Briana Morgan is YA and NA writer, editor, and blogger who loves dark, suspenseful reads, angst-ridden relationships, and complicated characters. Her interest in Jay Gatsby scares her friends and family. You can find her in way too many places online, eating too much popcorn, reading in the corner, or crying about long-dead literary heroes. Visit her website at www.brianamaemorgan.com.

Her debut novel Blood and Water is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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Review: Blood and Water by Briana Morgan


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In this fast paced and appropriately sickening novel, London has been struck by a plague—people cough up blood to their deaths. Our main character, Jay, finds himself in a dreadful situation: He’s fallen ill but managed to keep it a secret to not worry his sister.

But his plans to keep what little peace that remains in their household are shattered when he finds out his sister’s sick, too. They have both fallen ill with this plague that took their parents, and no one knows a cure. There are only speculations that a doctor in France can help them.

Speculation is not much, but they have nothing else to cling to; along with two of their close friends, they make a journey to France on foot in search of the cure, leaving behind everything they’ve ever known. It’s all been tainted with bad memories, anyway.

It’s a heart-racing journey in which we see Jay struggle with his fear for Maia’s health, his dread for the future, but to make matters worse he has developed a crush on his best friend’s girlfriend. The fact she’s traveling with them adds a layer of awkwardness to their situation, awkwardness and more tension.

How do you speak to your best friend after you kissed his girlfriend?

Blood and Water was a fantastically thought-out debut novel. Short and powerful, I finished with a racing heart, hurting for the characters who’d lost hope and so much more. With these characters I felt hope rise and then fall, I recoiled with them and closed my eyes in regret.

The ending seemed fitting, though I did not see it coming. Poignant, that last scene will be burned into my memory as one of the best I’ve read. It leaves us asking many questions, but also instills in us a sense of doom.

This book was fast and painful, making me take a deep breath of clean air because I could. Because there was no plague. Because I suffocated with the characters as I read.

Blood and Water earns four stars for drawing me into a genre I don’t usually read. I look forward to more work from this promising young author with a talent for hurting readers’ feelings—a very good talent indeed.

Visit the author at her blog here!

Guest Post: How to Stay Productive and Motivated While Writing


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It feels so good to be a published author. I can’t put the feeling into words. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be where I am now, I might have laughed at you. Back then, I had a difficult time staying productive and motivated to put words on the page each and every day. That’s not to say I still don’t have that problem—I’ve just found some ways to move past it.

This month is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which means many people are setting out to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 short days. Trust me when I say that it can be done, no matter how impossible it seems! Still, in order to cross the finish line, you’ll have to do battle with the monsters of procrastination and lack of motivation. Luckily, I’ve managed to slay both of those beasts, and today I want to share some of my tips with you.

  1. Write or Die. Coincidentally, I’m writing this blog post using Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die program. If you’ve never heard of it before, Write or Die is a web-based program that nags you to keep writing. If you find yourself getting distracted or taking ages to meet daily word counts, this program may be indispensable. Since I started using it, I think I’ve seen a tenfold increase in overall writing productivity. Settings-wise, I recommend trying Normal Mode and Strict Grace Period, with a goal of 300 words every 15 minutes (something I borrowed from author K.M. Weiland). Try out a couple of different presets to discover what works best for you. Seriously, though, if it weren’t for Write or Die, I never would have gotten Blood and Water written.
  1. Establish a compelling “why.” If you want to write a book or just write something every day, you need to have a reason why. It’s not enough to write because someone is pressuring you to or because you feel like you “should”—you have to find something personally rewarding about it, otherwise you’ll never feel motivated to get the work done. Regardless of your rationale, make sure you know exactly why you want to sit down with your writing each day.
  1. Track your progress. I love progress bars, leveling up, and tracking my progress in general. For all my daily tasks, to-dos, and habits, I use Habitica. It’s a RPG-style productivity app that earns you experience points for doing real-world things like cleaning the house and meeting daily word counts. There have been many times I wanted to sit on my butt, and then realized how close I was to leveling up, so I went ahead and did some work. Trust me when I say that this app can change your life. Another great way to stay motivated is by tracking your writing stats. Scrivener will do this for you, but if you want more, check out NaNoWriMo’s word count feature (for the month of November), this nifty progress bar, or (my current favorite) MyWriteClub, which I learned about from Ava Jae. I love watching the progress bar move as I update my word count each day!
  1. Find a writing buddy. Writing can be a lonely endeavor, but you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) go it alone. I talked about this idea in my most recent vlog. One of the best ways to ensure that you stay on track with your writing goals is to enlist the help of buddies or accountability partners. You can encourage each other, check in, and send updates on your progress. You’d be surprised how much of a difference this strategy makes! If you need a buddy, feel free to add me on NaNoWriMo or MyWriteClub—I’d love to help encourage you!
  1. Treat yourself. If you haven’t seen the Parks and Recreation episode this notion comes from, watch it now. I’ll wait. Rewarding yourself for a job well done is absolutely vital to your progress as a writer. When I finally finished formatting and publishing Blood and Water, I went out and got my nails done. It made me feel fantastic—I never get my nails done—and helped motivate me to start working on my next project. Set up little rewards for daily, weekly, and monthly project goals. Choose things that you don’t do or buy for yourself every day so that you always have something to look forward to.

No matter how you choose to stay motivated and productive, it’s important to find something that works best for your unique process. Feel free to give these suggestions and try and let me know what you think! And if you have any other tips or advice for staying motivated while writing, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!


11811491_10152854599546841_8052592134780564109_n (1)Briana Morgan is YA and NA writer, editor, and blogger who loves dark, suspenseful reads, angst-ridden relationships, and complicated characters. Her interest in Jay Gatsby scares her friends and family. You can find her in way too many places online, eating too much popcorn, reading in the corner, or crying about long-dead literary heroes. Visit her website at www.brianamaemorgan.com.

Her debut novel Blood and Water is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Cover Reveal: Blood and Water by Briana Morgan


“Jay needed so many things. He needed Maia to be well. He needed a cure for both of them. He needed the world to somehow start making sense again. Above everything, he needed someone to tell him why these terrible things were happening to him.”

Seventeen-year-old Jay Harris lives in a world struck down by a deadly virus. His parents are dead, along with half the planet. When Jay’s sister Maia falls ill, he must find a cure before he loses her, too. But unbeknownst to Maia, Jay is also sick… and he’s running out of time to save them both.

When Jay’s friends tell him there might be a cure for him in France, he must decide whether to pursue it. The journey will be difficult and dangerous, especially in his weakened state, but with little time left—for himself and for Maia—it soon becomes clear there’s no other choice.

Jay leaves the relative comfort of London to search for help, knowing he may never find it. Along the way, he experiences the effects of disaster on the bonds of friendship and fluctuating notions of family. These teens, decimated by a dangerous plague, face stark choices in their search for help, not knowing if their efforts will end in loss and pain.

Will Jay and Maia find a cure before the virus takes them?

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I am so excited to help my friend Briana with her cover reveal today! In the months since we’ve met I’ve found she is a dedicated, passionate writer who loves her story and is super loyal to those she cares for.

Follow her blog, and visit her on Facebook and Twitter!

11811491_10152854599546841_8052592134780564109_nBriana Morgan is a YA and NA writer, editor, and blogger who loves dark, suspenseful reads, angst-ridden relationships, and complicated characters. Her interest in Jay Gatsby scares her friends and family. You can find her in way too many places online, eating too much popcorn, reading in the corner, or crying about long-dead literary heroes.