Tag Archives: for writers

#MondayBlogs Writing Tips: Different Perspectives

8 Aug

I love writing from different perspectives. Both my YA series—The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods—are written in first POV but from two different speakers. I love using this technique for novel writing, because I enjoy first person, but I dislike how it restricts the storytelling to one character, especially when a scene would be better from a different perspective. So, I have two protagonists, and of course, there are complications that come along with this. What’s the most common question I am asked?

How do you make each voice unique?

I’ll provide a few aspects to keep in mind, but of course, this journey will be different for every writer and every novel. First, know that every character should have its own distinct voice. A reader should be able to open the novel and know who is speaking immediately. This is more difficult than it sounds, but it can get easier over time.

1. Perspective. 

The most obvious change between one voice to another is their unique perspective. What is their background? How do they feel? Where were they educated? Are they affecting the words, or are you? It’s important that characters have their own voice, and that voice will come out in combination with their personalities and backgrounds. For instance, your character who is a fashion designer would definitely use specific colors and fabrics to describe clothes, but your mechanic character might not.

2. Pay Attention to Diction and Syntax

Just like authors have their own “voice,” so do characters. Because of their backgrounds, characters will have different vocabularies. One character may use very flowery language, while another may have less of a need to elaborate. Consider their education, where they come from, and what they might know. The way they speak should differ, whether they are talking out loud or explaining the scene inwardly. Sometimes, syntax can be used to emphasize certain speech patterns, but be careful not to overuse syntax. Too many exclamations or repeated habits/phrases can become tedious and boring rather than unique and fun. Sometimes less is more. Little clues are normally enough.

3. Consider Rhythm

Honestly, I think rhythm is often overlooked, but paying attention to subtle changes in sound and length of sentences is important. One character’s thoughts may drag on, so their sentences are longer, while another might make short lists to contain their thoughts. Like everything making up your character, a person’s rhythm will depend on their personality, background, and goals. It could even change from scene to scene, but consistency is key.

All four of these women would tell a different story about this picture.

All four of these women would tell a different story about this picture.

One of my favorite exercises:

Write a chapter in which the two characters are talking. Write it from POV 1, and then, rewrite the exact same scene from POV 2. Check to make sure the dialogue and the physical actions are the exact same, but then, compare the thought process. How did the scene change? What does this change mean? Do they each bring a unique perspective? And out of those perspectives, which one is best to use?

As an example, two people can be talking and Person A could notice Person B is fidgeting. Person A may assume Person B is nervous, but when you tell it from Person B’s perspective, you learn that they are distracted, not nervous. These little bits can truly morph the way characters interact. I always encourage this exercise when starting out, even if the writer isn’t planning on telling from another’s perspective.

This exercise helps me understand the characters, and I feel more confident when I move onto a new scene. (Sometimes, it even helps me choose which scene to use…and worse case scenario, you have an extra scene to release as an extra for your readers.)

Have fun and good luck! 

Original posted March 31, 2013

~SAT

Bad Bloods: November Rain is FREE across all eBook platforms right now! (And I’m dutifully working on the next installment, too!) Happy reading. 😀

November Rain

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow, 

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Bad Bloods Free Book

Bad Bloods Free Book

 

Website Wonders

28 Jul

Announcements:

All day today, I’ll be on The Authors Show, a radio station, and I hope you check out the interview by clicking here. Share it around if you want!

But if you’re more into the reading side, Elaine Jeremiah wrote the latest review of Take Me Tomorrow, and you can click here to read her thoughts. She ends her review with, “On the whole I thought that this was an excellent book, gripping and exciting and well worth a read. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys an exciting, edge-of-your-seat, thrilling story.

Website Wonders:

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just plain awesome. Below, you’ll find all of July’s Website wonders categorized into these categories: For Writers, Publishing News, Reading, and Inspiration. Between each category is a photo. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to like my Facebook page because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

For Writers:

If Strangers Talked to Everybody like They Talk to Writers: “Cool, I always wanted to be a car salesmen. Maybe when I retire I’ll settle down and just work on selling that Buick I’ve had in my head for years.”

Periodic Table of Storytelling: This is amazing. The element Kni = knight in shiny armor, but my favorite is Bbw = badass bookworm

12 Useful Websites to Improve Your Writing: The Hemingway App is on here! But so many other great tools are, too.

12 Amazing Sites with Breathtaking Free Stock Photos: Bootstrap Bay: Perfect for cover artists or writers who want to pick out the artwork for their cover artist.

Diary of Purple Prose: A collection of beautiful words.

New York Times 50 Most Challenging Words: I loved chimera – an imaginary creäture composed of the parts of several different animals, wild or impossible idea.

From Writers Write

From Writers Write

Publishing News:

If I Stay Trailer #2: I just can’t wait.

J.K. Rowling has released a new ‘Harry Potter’ story online:

20-Year-Old Hunter S. Thompson’s Superb Advice on How to Find Your Purpose and Have a Meaningful Life: Fun fact, Hunter S. Thompson is the reason I became comfortable using my real name in publishing.

 1010719_10152450258948856_1224726922587651237_n

Reading:

50 Signs You’re Addicted to Reading: Between book hangovers, book boyfriends, and book adaptations, this list is pretty accurate.

10 Books Guaranteed to Make You Cry: Two of my favorite novels are on here. One of my friends will never forgive me for giving her my copy of One Day, although – I have to say – that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is one of the only books AND movie adaptations to both make me cry.

55 great books under 200 pages: fun infographic

Two Anonymous Students Sneak into a Classroom Every Week and Literally Blow Everyone’s Mind: Since these were quotes, I thought this fit in the “reading” category more, but their chalk art is gorgeous.

31 Beautiful Ideas for a Book-Inspired Wedding: There you go, Buzzfeed.

I’ll make my own library :D

I’ll make my own library 😀

Inspiration:

26 Real Places That Look Like They’ve Been Taken Out of Fairy Tales: Beautiful castles, striking country roads, and caves with built-in nightlights.

Fairytales Come to Life in Magical Photos: Trust me. Fairytale photos are one of three things: stunning, haunting, or both.

This Landscape Body Art Lit Up by Black Lights

It Took 126 Photos, but Scientists Finally Fit the Biggest Tree on the Planet into One Amazing Image: Yes. I’m obsessed with trees. But anyone can appreciate this photo.

 This Looks Like An Ordinary Park, But Look At What Happens When the Season Changes: This is something that would honestly be unbelievable in fiction but so amazing in real life! (Which is sad!) But oh so cool.

Hope you enjoyed these sites as much as I did!

~SAT

Taking a Mental Health Day

20 Jul

Taking a Mental Health Day 

That’s right. I’m taking a mental health day. In translation? I am avoiding my laptop so I don’t pull every curly strand of hair I have left out of my head. This doesn’t mean I’m crazy. It means I’m quite sane, actually.

Everyone needs a break. Taking breaks is healthy. For me, book launches are really stressful, and they demand a lot of energy, so I don’t sleep very well, and that doesn’t help my jittery, coffee-addicted lifestyle.

So I’m not writing a huge post today, because I’m taking a mental vacation in order to reenergize, so that I can return and finish Death Before Daylight! (Muh-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.)

In the meantime, here is a little gift for everyone:

Click to go to Smashwords

Click to go to Smashwords

Happy reading,

~SAT

Website Wonders

28 Jun

It’s that time again! Today is Website Wonders, and my next post will be June’s Ketchup. But I’m switching it up a little bit. Today, I’ll be sharing all of the websites I’ve come across this month that I think you’ll enjoy – but I’m also sharing a small excerpt of Take Me Tomorrow. Don’t forget to email me if you want to review it! I’m at shannonathompson@aol.com, and I should be receiving the review copies soon. I am also open to interviews! (Or just talking.) So talk to you soon!

~SAT

Below, you’ll find all of June’s Website Wonders categorized into these categories: For Writers, Publishing News, For Readers, Inspiration, and Humor. The excerpt is at the bottom, but I share all of these on my Author Facebook page throughout the month, so be sure to join me there if you haven’t already. 😀

For Writers:

200 Words Instead of “Said” – I am a huge fan of the word “said” but many writers like to use a variety of words. A few readers left fantastic tips on my Author Facebook Page, including Amber Skye Forbes saying to use words like these like gems. I agree with her, but this article is great if you’re looking for those little gems to use.

Famous Writer’s Sleep Habits vs. Literary Productivity: Too bad my sleep habits aren’t anything like these.

21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors: “Even the great writers of our time have tried and failed and failed some more.”

Publishing News:

Amazon Is Now Re-Stocking Some Hachette Titles: This dispute is on-going.

10341650_298028600374281_5981253292046260357_n

For Readers:

What Your Favorite High School Book Says About You: I picked “1984” since “The Stranger” wasn’t on the list.

George RR Martin’s editor hints at eighth Game of Thrones book: An eighth book?!

Against YA: I responded to this horrible article this month here –> “Everything I Learned From Against YA and More”

14 Brilliant Pieces of Literature You Can Read in the Time it Takes to Eat Lunch: This article is a brilliant piece to read during lunch. I felt so lucky to find this. It’s a great list!

Cassandra Clare released a snippet from The Dark Artifices: Can’t wait!

10380902_696674780379706_7718344388191972223_n

A quote from Seconds Before Sunrise that Snydle quotes made!

Inspiration:

Spooky, Wild Scenes Straight Out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales: beautiful photos

Powerful Portraits of Brave People Revealing Their Insecurities: Other than the fact that this project is powerful and amazing and so many other words, I thought this would be a great exercise for writers to run through with their characters. What are there insecurities? Where would they write them down? How would they display themselves?

Under This Tree In Cuba, There’s A Secret World. Enter At Your Own Risk: Goes to show how much one tree can hide.

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Great for historical writers!

The Top 10 TED Talks Every Woman Should See: I would like to add that these aren’t just for women. I think they’re great for everyone.

Humor:

The 20 Biggest Plot Holes In World History: Truth is stranger than fiction.

Which Member of the Justice League Are You?: I’m Batman!

Excerpt:

A little information first: the photo you see is from the Take Me Tomorrow Pinterest board. The boy is very close to Miles Beckett, a friend of Sophia’s. The scene you’re about to read is actually a part of a flashback of the first time Sophia met Miles when they were seven years old.

10486302_700440563336461_7589438558921574845_n“We’re going to be best friends,” Lily squealed, seeming younger than me even though I was told we were the same age. I couldn’t say anything to that either.

“You’ll really like it here,” Ms. Beckett said, giving a slight push to a young boy standing next to her. He had stumbled forward, but his gaze never left the ground. His curls were matted with gel, and his shirt had a collar. He looked like a child dressed in an old man’s suit.

Miles managed to tell me his name, while Lily exclaimed that he was her brother. Twins. I had never met twins before.

“I’m Sophia,” I said, glancing up at my father for social direction.

“You’ll like it here, kiddo,” he repeated Ms. Beckett’s words, playing with the glasses in his pocket. I nodded mechanically, knowing that his new job would keep him out of the State most of the time. I was stuck here, and everything was about to change.

Hope you enjoy the websites!

~SAT

 

Website Wonders

27 Apr

It’s that time again. The end of the month. (Is it just me or did April go by really fast?) Today is dedicated to Website Wonders – a day where I share all the fun writing and reading websites I have come across. This month, I have organized the categories like this: Writing: Reading: Book-to-Movie Adaptations, Fun and Inspirational Articles, Songs, and Photos. What can I say? It’s been a crazy month. If you’re feeling really adventurous, here is my previous Website Wonder.

Writing:

Synonyms for 95 Commonly Used Words – A Mini-Thesaurus for Writers: This is a fast (I mean, quick) way to check your writing for common language. It also suggests new (I mean, unique) words to use instead.

The Best Apps for Any Kind of Writing: These are amazing.

Reading:

Reddit’s Top 105 Fantasy Novels/Series of All Time Quiz: A lot of the books/authors repeat, but it’s still fun to take it if you’re a fantasy fan.

What Kind of Book Are You? Quiz: I am a mystery.

NPR’s April Fool’s Day Prank Was An Absolute Masterpiece: I won’t ruin it with an explanation, but don’t you just hate people who judge things that haven’t read?

Famous Quotes Illustrated with Minimalist Designs: I thought these were beautifully done

100 Amazing Books to Read in a Lifetime: Pretty good collection

Book-to-Movie Adaptations:

If I Stay Official Trailer: I love this novel so much. It broke one of the norms of novels by beginning in perfect bliss, and it worked with music so well.

“The Giver” Featurette Comes with New Black-And-White Footage: It looks like The Giver Movie will feature some black and white! I’m really happy about this because the original trailer destroyed my hope for this movie and this featurette built it back up.

Fun and Inspirational Articles:

The Most Haunted Place in the World is For SaleMy guilty pleasure is horror, so this got my mind racing with ideas.

Most Beautiful Forests in the World: I am also a fan of trees.

 48 Epic Dream Hotels to Visit Before You Die: This is where I excuse myself to go write a short story about me visiting these places, so I can pretend I’m actually there for a moment.

Songs:

Under the Sea: It’s been raining a lot here, so this is what I play.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen: I confess that my 12-year-old song used to use this as motivation

Photos: (none of these are mine. Please click the links to visit the owners or where I got them from.)

Random House:

1236487_10152302327867389_982375285_n

Fantasy is More Fun:

578583_473014839492632_1992308411_n

National Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan:

10250246_758499234162046_7464910688836014045_n

Vintage Books & Anchor BooksRIP Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014)

RIP Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014)

RIP Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014)

Hope you’ve enjoyed these as much as I did! Remember, I always share these on my Facebook page, so join me over there to get these on a regular basis. You will also have the opportunity to play fun games and win guest spots on my blog. 

~SAT

Writing Tips: The Five Senses

18 Mar

Special thanks goes out to actress, director, and dancer, Gracie Dzienny, for quoting my first novel, November Snow, on her Twitter. She is known for her work on Nickelodeon’s Supah Ninjas and multiple shows on AwesomenessTV. Visit her YouTube channel by clicking here.

Grace

 

nice

“This is a story of forbidden love, hidden love, and a war of love.” Find out why Endless Reading said they can’t wait to read Seconds Before Sunrise in the latest review of Minutes Before Sunset by clicking here.

I wrote this post in a way I don’t normally do so. Below, I ranked the five senses from easiest to hardest in terms of including them into a story – which was a task in itself because I kept questioning my order – and then I choose a random chapter in the middle of two of my novels – Seconds Before Sunrise (SBS) and November Snow (NS) – to tally my use of the senses. So the tallies might seem contradicting because I wrote the post before I collected the tallies to see if my perception was the same as my reality. Then, below that, I have a quote from those of you who commented on my Facebook author page.

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

But I want to add one last thing: there are many novels that do not include one or more of these senses for many reasons, mainly novels that cover blindness or deafness. Although those novels are very strong, I am dealing with the average novel that cover all senses in order to explore which senses are the most and least difficult to use so that we can analyze our styles together in order to improve in our five categories. But I want to thank those writers who have written novels with blind, deaf, or other protagonists in those various fields, so thank you.

#1 Sight

I’m not sure many will argue this being the easiest, especially if the novel is in first person. We see from the character’s eyes – and we see a lot. Whether they’re looking at road while driving or searching a library for answers, their eyes are working to keep the story moving forward.

Tally: Since both of my novels are from first perspectives, I decided not to tally this one at all because it’s practically every other sentence.

Paul Davis: “Sight is the easiest by far. I think it’s really easy to forget touch and smell.”

#2 Sound

I decided to forget about dialogue in order to really study this sense in reading and writing. If I included dialogue – just hearing someone speak – then this would probably be like number one, but I thought that was too obvious. However, I am including the way someone’s voice sounds, but I mainly wanted to hear thunder or creaking doors or a television rattling on a stand as a train zooms by an open window. Because of this, I did not include dialogue associated sounds in the tallies.

NS: 11: “Trees brushed against each other to the never-ending music of the crisp, November wind.”

SBS: 6: “…a rush of sounds consumed my senses.”

Alexis Danielle Allinson: The easiest I think is sound as we are taught to familiarize a sound with a distinct description from an early age.

#3 Taste

I think this was the first one I wrote down. For me, taste isn’t necessarily the hardest sense; it’s just the least likely used. A character needs to be eating or kissing or in an accident or a vampire or something along those lines to be reminded of taste.

SBS: 5 “I opened my mouth to speak but spit blood out instead. He wiped it away, but I tasted it.”

NS: 2 “A stream of salty water drove down my cheek to my lips.”

Alexis Danielle Allinson: Taste is the hardest as everyone does this different from each other.

three

#4 Touch

At this point, I have moved the five senses around on my list so many times that I don’t even know if this is where this sense originally started, but alas – this is where it ends up. For me, touch is a debatable and difficult area. Sure, characters can “grab” something, but that doesn’t necessarily make it “touch.” I feel like touch must be how rough a surface is, how cold someone’s skin is, how gravel coats hands with powdery dust. Touch isn’t a verb. Touch has texture or a sensation. 

NS: 13 “My lips were still tingling.”

SBS: 8 “The suffocating air was filled with electricity, and it burned against my exposed flesh.”

Aurélia Evangelaire: And still as a writer, the easiest sense for me to use is touch. I like the feeling of things under hands and I love to describe it.

#5 Smell

Oh, god. This exercise is not easy. At this point, I realize I didn’t know how hard it is to choose which sense goes on what ranking. You think you do until you try. It was really difficult to choose the most difficult, but I finally went with smell because smell, in many ways, is like taste. It’s limited in the sense (haha, see what I did there?) that it’s difficult to include this sense without it seeming forced. It’s often rare moments a character takes the time to “smell the roses.” Just like real people, their lives are hectic – they may even be chased around by enemies – and it’s often the slower, more intimate moments that they have smell. This goes to say that I just had another instance where I realized how the senses change dramatically over genres. I feel like smell, taste, and touch are much easier and more important in romance, especially erotica, but those same senses may not be at the top for things like sci-fi, especially if they are in a space suit that prevents all kinds of smells.

SBS: 11 “The smell of smoke broke through the blood dripping from my nose.”

NS:5 “The rusty smell of whiskey split the air.”

Phillip Peterson Smell, I think, is the easiest and most useful. It’s more of an all-encompassing scent to the scene, which, if done well, can most effectively put the reader into your world (as smell is the most connected to memory).

ts

Those are my five senses as well as a few other writers’ senses.

It was a fun exercise to write down what I thought about the five senses before going through my novel to tally away. In the end, this allowed me to see the difference in my perspective and in reality. (Like how I used smell a lot more than taste.) I definitely recommend writers try this out themselves. I realized quickly that senses change dramatically from novel to novel. For instance, the setting in November Snow is very dirty and dangerous, so sound and touch were actually HUGE. Taste? Not so much. But Seconds Before Sunrise was nearly the opposite. Then again, these were only passages. It would take me weeks to analyze the entire novels, but I still think this is worth it.

You must be tempted by now.

You must be tempted by now.

What about you? Did you try this exercise? Do you have certain senses you use more? Ones that you avoid? Were your results different than what you thought they would be?

Comment below!

P.S. “Look Inside” of Seconds Before Sunrise is now up on Amazon! Check it out by clicking the book cover on the right 😀

~SAT

Writing Tips: Family Variety

27 Jan

Two points before we start on today’s topic:

The other day I realized I haven’t even hit the one-year mark of the release of Minutes Before Sunset, yet I’ve already had so much encouraging support. Because of this, I’ve added a Reviews page for The Timely Death Trilogy. Check it out, and you’ll see a variety of fellow authors and bloggers who’ve read it. Thank you for taking the time to write a review after reading!

This brings me to my other announcement. The Paris Carter reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, and you can read the entire review here, but here’s a teaser: “Shannon A. Thompson is able to hold your attention to the plot with a refreshing story than the average young adult novel filled with romance and a few over the top scenes. This novel focuses more on action and suspense than actual romance. This novel is great for anyone looking for a quick young adult novel that still has a great plot and characters.”

Today’s topic:

Everyone’s family is different. Some people have siblings, parents, and grandparents – some don’t. Some people are raised by their family, while others find all of their role models elsewhere. There are so many types of family members and how they all link together and work together. In one neighborhood, there are stepparents, adoptions, half-siblings, and uncles raising their nephews as sons. Variety isn’t just prominent in the physical relationships – it’s also in how someone decides to raise children or how family members interact with one another. Every family is different, and novels should show this – it will add believability, and it will also allow more of the readers to relate to the story. Below, I will share my experiences when creating different family types in Minutes Before Sunset and why I chose certain types for specific characters. (All pictures were created by FreeFlashToys – Stick Figure Family)

Instead of focusing on one family at a time, I am going to organize this post by different family types.

Stepfamilies: “It’s been calculated that about one in three of us is involved in a step-family situation.” – Net Doctor

I only have one of these in The Timely Death Trilogy, but it’s one of the protagonist’s families: The Welborns.

Eric’s family is probably the most complicated of all of the families. Before the novel, it was Eric, his father, and his mother. Then, his mother commits suicide, and his family remarries a number of years later. He then gains a stepmother – Mindy – and a stepbrother – Noah.

I wanted to show this for many reasons, one being that stepfamilies are very common nowadays. But there was also an emotional line I wanted to have in the novel. In Minutes Before Sunset, Eric struggles to understand his mother’s death as well as how he’s supposed to be connected to a family unrelated to him. I wanted this relationship to be symbolic to the division of humans and the paranormal creatures (in this case, shades.) This happened when Eric discusses how his stepmother and stepbrother are human, while he isn’t – causing a divide that both sides cannot see or  understand.

Eric Welborn’s family

Eric Welborn’s family

Single-Parent Families: “One out of every two children in the United States will live in a single-parent family at some time before they reach age 18.” – Health of Children

Single-parent families are defined by children being raised by a parent who has been widowed, divorced, not remarried, or never married. I managed to get all of these into the story, although we only see Eric’s father as a single-parent (widowed before he was remarried) in the first few pages. Jonathon – Eric’s best friend – would be the divorced situation. His mother left and never came back. Crystal – Jessica’s best friend – would be the never married situation. Her father is completely absent (and her mother isn’t around that often either.) Through their actions in the first book (and the next two to come) readers will see how their family situations have affected them. For instance, Jonathon is like a second father to his younger brother, Brenthan. But we’ll get into siblings in a minute.

Single-Parents Homes: Dad or Mom?

I know. I know. I just talked about this, but I wanted to add one more diverse part to consider: single-parents can be (and are) mothers AND fathers. Although it has been more common for mother’s to raise children alone, the single-father households are growing (according to this article by The Wall Street Journal.) This was personally something I couldn’t find in novels. I was in a single-parent household, raised by my father, and I remember wondering why I couldn’t find that in many novels when I was younger. Because of that, I was sure to have both situations in Minutes Before Sunset. The Hutchins – where Lola raises her daughter, Crystal – and the Stones – where George raises his two sons, Jonathon and Brenthan.

The Stones

The Stones

Siblings: 

There are so many different kinds of siblings, kids who are close in age and far apart in age, kids who only have sisters, and kids who have both sisters and brothers. There are step-siblings and half-siblings. But all of these types fall under siblings.

In Minutes Before Sunset, I have characters who have full-blooded siblings (Jonathon and Brenthan), half-siblings (Zac and Linda), step-siblings (Eric and Noah), and characters who don’t have siblings at all (Jessica, Crystal, and Robb.) But, like the other topics, having a variety is key to shaping a character’s personality and background, but their relationships can always change throughout the story.

Adopted: In 2008, 135,813 children were adopted in the US in all types of adoption – CreatingAFamily.Org

Like I said above, not everyone has parents or grandparents to take care of them. In this case, I wanted to show two different kinds: raised by adoption and raised by the community. After her parents died in a car wreck, Jessica was adopted when she was a baby. In another situation, Camille – Eric’s guard – was ditched by her parents. She was raised by the Dark as a community. She doesn’t have a traditional system at all.

Pets: Pet ownership in the U.S. has more than tripled from the 1970s – The Humane Society

I REALLY wanted to have them in the trilogy, but it just didn’t work out. However, there are pets in my other works. November Snow has a “pet.” Serena is constantly around a squirrel.

Pets was not the only thing I couldn’t include. There are so many types of families I didn’t have room for (military, grandparents, uncles/aunts, twins, etc.) But I am excited that readers will learn even more about the diverse range of backgrounds my characters have in Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy.)

After writing this, I want to add one more thing. 

BgoartReaders have different kinds of families, and it can often be difficult for readers when they can never find families similar to theirs in any novels. Personally, I had this problem growing up, so maybe this is why I try to add as much variety as possible. When I was younger, my family included my dad, my mom, and my older brother. At one point, we lived with my grandfather, but then, my mom died. A few years later, my father remarried. I had two stepsisters and a stepbrother. They divorced later, and it’s been my dad, my brother, and I ever since. (Although my brother is getting married soon – yay for sister-in-laws!)

I shared my personal story for one reason: different kinds of families aren’t uncommon. Changing family types isn’t uncommon. But I think variety can sometimes go unnoticed in novels (either by the reader or the writer.)  This is my attempt to share why I try to include variety – I think it’s important for both readers and writers – and I hope you’ll consider adding more variety and/or sharing how you’ve already added variety in your novels.

~SAT

Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

Writing Tips: Details: Vehicles

16 Jan

Last month was my best month in sales yet. Minutes Before Sunset continues to grow, and I want to thank everyone for their encouraging support, especially as we get closer to the release of Seconds Before Sunrise this March. I am very happy, and I must thank you all for that – thank you!

Another thank you goes out to Red Sand Reviewz for reading Minutes Before Sunset. “The summary alone had me hooked. Once I started reading it, I just couldn’t put it down. It has a unique storyline with plot twists and it beats a few stereotypes.” Find out what their only disappointment was in book 1 of The Timely Death trilogy by reading the rest of the review here.

And lastly, I asked everyone on my Facebook Author Page if you all would enjoy a monthly review of entertainment – like movies, music, and books – that I come across. Due to your input, these posts are now in the plan for once a month, and I will hopefully have my first one at the end of January.

Now, today’s topic. 

I’m starting a series of tips called “Writing Tips: Details: _____.” It will focus on things like how to choose a character’s wardrobe, bedroom style, and other favorite things in order to enhance their believability. This one is my first one, and considering I’ve been talking about cars a lot, I thought I would start off with vehicles – how to pick them and what to keep in mind while choosing them.

I think picking cars is a lot like picking names as well as many other things. The time period matters, the background matters, but you can still have fun with it, and it is ultimately up to the story. As long as you consider the character as the main chooser – and don’t choose a car simply because it’s your favorite car – I think you’re safe. I’m going to be using three examples from Minutes Before Sunset with individual reasoning for why I picked these cars. (The pictures are close examples, not exact, because years change over time, and one idea I talk about it being timeless.)

1. Eric Welborn (Shoman) – old Dodge Charger, black, two-door coupe

I know. I know. It’s only the backside, but the license plate is too funny! I have the link to the full picture below.

I know. I know. It’s only the backside, but the license plate is too funny! I have the link to the full picture below.

Originally, Eric drove a 2009, black Charger. The reasoning  – at first – was simple (and that is where I made a mistake). I wanted him to have a nice car, considering his father’s income, but I didn’t think his father would splurge beyond that for his son. When choosing the year, I picked a 2009, because that was the year I ended the trilogy, and my first plan was that he would have the latest model. But then I realized the same thing I realized when I discussed using technology in books – it becomes outdated really fast. That’s when I reconsidered the year of his car and realized that he also loves history. His personality directed a love for older cars. In that realization, I had to accept another change: his father spent more money on him. This came down to their relationship, which is explained in Minutes Before Sunset, so I can’t get more into it without a spoiler. But I made the personal decision not to focus on the exact year but rather the coupe style – that way, the car would last a decade after the book was published. I know the photo above is only the backside, but I thought the license plate was too funny to not share. If you’re curious, it’s a 1970 Dodge Charger 2-door coupe, RHD and you can see the full picture here.

2. Teresa Young (Camille) – old, silver BMW

This was the closest one I could find.

This was the closest one I could find.

More of Teresa’s background will be explained in Seconds Before Sunrise, but – so far – readers know she is a “half-breed.” She’s half-Light, half-Dark, and she was raised by the Dark. She is also Eric’s guard. When I reflected on this, I thought she might also have a nice car, something that Eric’s father would get her, but then I realized Camille was not the type to accept it. She wouldn’t even like it. She’s proud of being Eric’s guard, but she also wants to be herself, so her car had to reflect her independence, even if it seemed like more independence than she actually had. It also had to be unlike Eric’s car for another reason entirely – no one can know she is his guard. The world simply believes they are family friends. If the Welborn’s bought her a nice car, it would bring too much attention to their already suspicious relationship. It was another reason as to why she needed something that didn’t cause any unnecessary attention. That being said, Camille, herself, was insistent on a BMW, so that’s where I let the character ultimately pick (and what better way to celebrate her independence?). If I had to pick the closest car she would have today, it would be a 2004, BMW 3-Series with 80,000+ miles on it.

3. Robb McLain – Chevrolet Suburban, blue, a few years old 

This is a 2007, Chevy Suburban LTZ

This is a 2007, Chevy Suburban LTZ

One of Jessica Taylor’s best friends, Robb McLain is the social guy. He’s never alone, and he’s always driving someone around town, so I knew he needed a big vehicle, but his social life was not the main reason I picked this car for him. I had to think about who bought the car – his parents – and I remembered something my own father told me about choosing a 97’ Tahoe for my brother when he was Robb’s age, “I put as much metal around him as possible. I would put him in a tank if I could. It’s how I protect him.” As I thought of this, I could see Robb’s parents nodding. They agreed, and I knew I needed something like the 97’ Tahoe my brother drove at the time. Eventually, the Suburban settled down on my imagination’s driveway, and Robb was driving away soon enough.

Just in case you’re curious, I drive a manual - a Mazda, RX-8 named “Roxy."

Just in case you’re curious, I drive a manual – a Mazda, RX-8 named “Roxy.”

As you can see, there are a lot of things one has to consider when picking vehicles out for characters. Who bought the car? Who’s driving the car? What will the car be used for? Does the car work for the personality, setting, and economic background? And – most of all – did it feel right to your character when you picked it out? 

What about you? What kind of cars have you picked for a characters to drive around in? Were there any questions or hesitations you had when car shopping?

~SAT

Photography and Writing

12 Jan

First – if you like Facebook groups for authors, editors, and/or any one to do with writing, here’s a fantastic one for the Author Extension Community. It’s just another way to meet more people willing to support other artists.

Second – I want to thank Sarit Yahalomi at Coffee & Books & Art for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset: “I can always appreciate a female character whose purpose is not only to look cute and pretty in the arms of her leading man but to actually show some attitude and who knows how to fight back.” Check out her entire review here.

I joined Instagram. Believe it or not, this actually has to do with my post today. I didn’t plan on talking about photography and how it has affected my writing life, but I thought sharing my surrender to Instagram was a good way to open up this little discussion that has more to do with my past than my current life. I would love it if you would join me there. I will probably (mainly) take fun photos of cats, coffee, and my writing adventures, and I hope to see your photos, too.

But what do photos have to do with writing?

I used to love photography. I still do, but I meant to say that I used to participate in photography. At one point, photography actually overcame my writing – which wasn’t a surprise, considering my father worked for Kodak for 25 years, and our house was full of one-time-use photograph machines. I used to have a beautiful camera that sadly died a number of years ago. I have been weary about getting a new one, only because I need a new laptop first, but I miss it – a lot.

I found creativity behind the lens just as I find adventures behind words today. I used to spend hours walking through empty fields and forests, imagining all of the magic that could exist in one backyard.  Below is actually a photo I took in my front yard, and – fun fact – it was used on the back cover of Minutes Before Sunset.

19553_1171443324923_4970923_n

A part of this is now the back cover on Minutes Before Sunset.

At some point in my childhood I realized the magic I obsessed over was in the simplest of things – in the broken bottle cap or the abandoned farmhouse – because it came down to perspective. 

A farmhouse wasn’t just a barn that no one wanted – it was a mystery, a creaking doorway into the unknown. Perhaps this is why articles about abandoned places inspire me so much. They leave room for the imagination in reality rather than forcing the imagination while sitting in an empty room. It’s fresh air, so to speak.

The magic found in creating art is discovered by challenging a perspective. 

This is what photography has to do with writing – for me, it’s about how we see the world, but it’s also about trying a new hobby to enhance a talent (or taking a moment to get away from the keyboard and out of the house.) I’ve shown how I’ve used photographs in a book to keep track of writing, but there’s more to photos than simply staring at them in the same sense that reading words is different than writing words down.

The point of this – honestly – isn’t about getting you to love photography but rather sharing my experience with realizing that I might be able to further my love for writing by dabbling back in my love for photography. 

So, try it with me if you want – go back in time, remember something you used to love to do, even if it was rarely, and attempt to love it for a day again. Enjoy it like a vacation or rededicate yourself to practicing it again in 2014.

I know I will be. In fact, in the future I will be blogging about why the photo below is symbolic to my writing. If you recall, it was used as the placement photo before the cover to Seconds Before Sunrise was revealed, and there’s a very good reason for that. I’m looking forward to sharing that reasoning soon.

What does this have to do with Seconds Before Sunrise?

What does this have to do with Seconds Before Sunrise? You’re about to find out.

~SAT

Book Ratings & Review Exchange Debate

13 Sep

Before I get into rating novels, I wanted to share a link for Minutes Before Sunset fans:

As you’re waiting for Seconds Before Sunrise, tell me what you think will happen and/or what you want to see in Book 2 of A Timely Death trilogy on this Goodreads discussion by clicking here.

I also wanted to give links to two major developments in the young-adult movie industry:

  • J.K. Rowling is penning a new film-series which takes place 70 years before Harry Potter. Read more here.
  • Filming of City of Ashes has been delayed. (I’m so sad, but read more here.)

But now…book ratings!

If you follow my Facebook Author Page, then you know I have been asking writers and readers alike how they feel about when someone asks you to only post a review if it is 4 or 5 stars? Is this deception or is this “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all?”

I asked this question, because I’ve seen a trend in the industry of authors regulating reviewers (telling them to only post the review if it’s of a higher rating.) To me, I found it very surprising how many writers and reviewers accept and even encourage this concept. Personally, I am on the side of deception. I don’t think there is anything wrong with 1, 2, or 3 star reviews. I find honesty to be more important, and, also, honesty from one person may lead another reader to realize they will still like the novel. For instance, someone can review a book, give it one star, and say it was due to the genre. A reader might see this and realize they still love that genre; therefore, the one star review is still very helpful. I also think there is a major difference between a “hate” and a “critique,” and a 1-star review isn’t necessarily a “hate.” But this is my opinion.

I wanted to hear others’ opinions, and here are some from my Facebook page:

Joe H. Hinojosa: “I felt that if I’m going to be constrained in my review, I would have a hard time being honest, and my belief is that my integrity is on the line. I don’t want to compromise that. As for your question, it made me believe that the author did not believe that his book merited a high rating, that it lacked something, either grammatically, or perhaps the plot itself was poorly constructed. To solicit a review, and putting conditions on posting the review, seems to say that he himself rates the book poorly.”

Patrick Dixon:  “If someone asks for my opinion “but only if it’s good” I say no for similar reasons to Joe’s above. Now, if they ask without restrictions, and I can’t give it at least 3 stars due to nagging issues that are fixable (and I think the book has goodness buried in it, just needs an edit or a fix or an explanation about something), I’ll message the author directly (if I can) with what I’d give it and why, and give them the option if they want me to post it or not. If the book is completely not my cup of tea, but may be of value to someone else, I’ll post it, with the caveat near the top that “This is not MY kind of book, but if you like <x, y, or z> then it might be for you,” and try to point out the good points for other readers. But that’s just how I do things.”

Amber Skye Forbes: “It is deception because it isn’t allowing room for opinions that could provide a fair, balanced review for a potential reader to buy your book. For example, three star views are not inherently bad. I have bought books based off three star reviews before because what the reviewer didn’t like, I liked.”

Mariah E. Wilson:  “I think that authors need to let readers see the bad reviews along with the good. And how an author handles a less than desirable review speaks volumes. If you’re so insecure about your work that you ban reviewers from posting anything below a 4 star review, it seems unfair. And besides, not all “bad reviews” are bad. A review is what? An opinion. Everyone is different and everyone is going to have a different experience with the same book. If two people read a book and both give it a 5 star review, they could both love different parts of the book. It’s just an opinion.”

So what is everyone else’s opinion? If you read the opinions above, you will see they are generally on the deception side (which I am in agreement with) but I am interested in hearing more from the other side as well. Please share your opinion either way as I think this is a growing trend, and it’s important to understand why such things become popular if we want the industry (especially the Indie industry) to continue growing.

Other news: Submit your novel to AEC Stellar Publishing now! 

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 5.54.31 PM

%d bloggers like this: