Tag Archives: Sophia Gray

When Characters Say Too Much or Too Little

6 Sep

Announcements:

I have a couple announcements today. First, I would like to thank The Opinionated Woman’s Musings and Books for Fun for nominating ShannonAThompson.com for the Lovely Blog Award. I nominated six blogs on my Facebook page to keep it going!

In other news, P.S. Bartlett interviewed me, and we discussed my writing process as well as how my works differ from other words in my genres. Check it out by clicking here. I also did another interview with The Examiner, but I will be talking about that today. So let’s get to chatting!

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When Characters Say Too Much or Too Little

This is actually inspired from one of my latest interviews. If you haven’t had a chance to read my interview with The Examiner, here is the link, but in case the link doesn’t work, we spoke about topics in Take Me Tomorrow that I didn’t write about in great detail despite the fact that it is a huge factor to the setting, time, and lives of my characters. If you’ve read even the back cover of Take Me Tomorrow, you know there was a massacre prior to the story taking place. After the massacre, the State – a.k.a. the government body – enforced stricter rules on the citizens to prevent another violent uprising. That being said, Take Me Tomorrow is told from one perspective – a 16-year-old girl named Sophia Gray – and she doesn’t get into much detail about the massacre. The Examiner asked me why, and I explained in our interview:

‘I wanted to show more information on the massacre, but Sophia was very young and still is when the novel takes place, so it didn’t come naturally,’ Thompson says. ‘I thought about 9/11 when I considered the event. I was 10 when that happened, and it took me many years to finally grasp it or understand the importance of the event, but I definitely didn’t understand it when it happened. So I took that approach with Sophia.’

I would also like to add that if a sequel is published – which is up to the readers – the massacre as well as many other questions will be answered, but in terms of Take Me Tomorrow, readers are right. I didn’t explain it in great detail. But there was a reason behind my decision as well as many other decisions I made, particularly with Noah telling the story. Although he did in the original version, I had to cut his voice, because of many reasons – the main one being that it isn’t his story. It’s Sophia’s – but the secondary reasons revolve around his character. (Spoiler alert) When he’s on drugs, his voice makes no sense, and when he’s sober, he tells way too much information. Like way too much. Like the ending too much. Mainly because he can see into the future. But that’s another aspect entirely.

So where am I going with this?

Authors are often struggling with characters. We love them, but the characters – not the author – are in charge, which means they make decisions we don’t like, but we ultimately accept them because they are the ones telling the story. There are four instances that authors deal with in terms of characters, and those four things are listed below.

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Sometimes characters don’t want to talk

I’ve mainly had this problem with my dual-perspective novels. I’ll wait for the boy to talk only to realize he is just not interested, and then, I realize I am going to have to write the entire novel from one perspective. But – eventually – he pops up, and then, I have to go back and add him later. Worst case scenario, they never talk at all, and I struggle to find a way to get around it or to coax them out. But I’m sure many authors have dealt with this, even labeling it writer’s block. I like to call it character’s block – because it’s them, not me – and I wait patiently for them to get over whatever is blocking them. Yes, I realize these are people in my head, but trust me when I say – sometimes – they won’t even talk to me.

Sometimes characters want to talk too much

This is when authors start screaming, “Shut up! Just. Shut. Up. You cannot tell everyone who the murderer is on the first page. Idiot. Then, we don’t have a story.” It happens. Oh, it happens. A character wants to give away everything the second they get a chance to speak. But it can be an easier problem to solve. A simple, “Hold back a little bit.” can solve everything, but it is still difficult when a character insists on exposing information an author wasn’t planning on telling until the end. Most of the time, I bite my lip, listen to the character, and hope they have a reason. They normally do. That being said, I have had to censor a character here and there for giving too much away too quickly. We need some suspense, after all.

Sometimes we (authors) force it

When I say “force” – for once – I don’t mean this as a bad thing. Sometimes, authors get lucky. We find spots that we can slide information in without having to destroy our character’s honesty in the process. I am referring to characters finding newspaper articles or television sets explaining certain events that characters might not understand. This helps because an “outside” source can explain what is happening without the character necessarily being involved. That being said, we don’t try to create these moments. If they happen naturally, fantastic, but we also don’t want to rely on these at every moment we are tempted to do so. (Because we are oh, so tempted.) But this can often lead to info-dumping or other uncomfortable circumstances if authors aren’t careful.

Other times we (authors) don’t force anything

This is what happened with me in Take Me Tomorrow. I could’ve forced information in, found a way to blame the information on the surroundings, but I realized many things when I contemplated that: The State wouldn’t leave documents of the massacre laying around for a 16-year-old girl to get her hands on. (That’s why the only info she does receive is from her father.) The news wouldn’t talk about it, and even if they did, Sophia spends too much time out in the woods to watch the news anyway. She might be oblivious to some of the political situations, but she is 16. Not only is she busy being 16, but she is busy surviving in her environment. Worrying about her dad, Lyn, Falo, and Argos is more important than understanding something that happened when she was 12, even if it was only a few years ago. I also had to keep in mind that she wasn’t directly affected by it at all in terms of her comfort zone (her family and friends.) If she had been, I would’ve been looking at a different situation. So I left it out because Sophia would leave it out. That being said, she is a different person at the end of the novel, and she might figure these things out in the sequel if it happens. But refocusing on not forcing it: sometimes characters need to be true to themselves, even if it is slightly destructive to the story. I don’t regret not having this information involved because I know that I was true to the circumstances, to Sophia, and to the world she lives in. And that isn’t destructive at all.

Sometimes authors have to make big decisions, but most of the time, characters do that for us. We just have to accept it and do the best we can do with their decisions.

Have you ever had these issues with a character? Experienced character’s block? Ever wondered why a character didn’t say something earlier on?

Talk about it below!

~SAT

Writing Tips: Character Profiles

12 Jul

Lots of announcements today before I share my thoughts on creating character profiles:

ShannonAThompson.com hit 17,000 followers! This is truly amazing, and I cannot believe that we’re continuing to grow. I started this little blog without any expectations, but if I had started it with expectations – I’m positive you have surpassed even my wildest dreams. Thank you for your continued support!

Other than that, I partook in an interview with Lit Chic. You can read what I think the hardest part about writing is, but I also have a shout out for all of my readers 😀 So click here to read the entire interview.

And if you are just now checking in and you’re curious about The Timely Death Trilogy, you’re in luck:

Hines and Bigham’s Literary Tryst reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2) – Mindy says, “If you are a Young Adult fan and love a book that can make you feel like you are part of the story and part of a different world you have to read this trilogy. I know I love it!” But I have to share her favorite part of book 2. This excerpt happens when Eric is talking to his guard about Jessica and deciding if he should tell her the truth.

“I don’t know how she’d take all of this at once, especially without proof.”

“So, transform in front of her.”

“And give her a heart attack?” I couldn’t imagine her reaction. “No, thank you.”

“At most, she’d faint.”

Read her favorite romantic moment as well as the entire review by clicking here.

If you haven’t read book 1, My Library in the Making reviewed Minutes Before Sunset this week, stating, “One of the top reasons why I enjoyed this book was all the conspiracies.” But you can read the full review, including her favorite quote and favorite scene by clicking here.

Hope you check out Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise! Your growing support is the ink in my typewriter. Without you, my words would be invisible.

Now, onto today’s post (thank you for sticking with me!)

Writing Tips: Character Profiles 

A few weeks ago, I wrote The Beginning of my Writing Process, in which I revealed many details about how I first start off creating a novel. In the comments, I found a fantastic question about building character profiles, so today – this post is dedicated to Taking on a World of Words. I’ll be discussing three key elements I focus on when building a character profile – something I do BEFORE I write a novel – and I will be using Sophia Gray, the protagonist of my upcoming novel, Take Me Tomorrow, as an example. If you are interested in reading my dystopian book, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com for an ARC.

1. The Basics

I suggest covering these first when taking down notes because you don’t want to overwhelm yourself by trying to cover a vast amount of complicated information first. So – even though I know the complicated stuff first – I always begin taking my notes with the basics. This includes a small physical description, strong personality traits, and background. This is sort of like taking your driver’s license and adding your personality to it. If you like using pictures for inspiration, then grab some from Pinterest, and build from there. (And never be afraid to change things as long as you take note and edit it in your final draft.) Here’s an example of something you might come up with:

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I don’t normally create photos such as that, but I wanted to show what can be done. Below you’ll find some information from my notes about Take Me Tomorrow. (I had to cut a lot of it to avoid spoilers, but this shows my organization process)

“Sophia (16) Sophia Elizabeth Gray

Physical: always wears her mother’s necklace, curly, brown hair, barely 5 foot, three small scars on her neck from Lily’s black cat, Saga. But she also has scars on her arms and legs from the forest.

Personality: loves running, close relationship with her father and Lyn, a stubborn heart. Prefers sweaters and jeans over dresses and heels.

Background: Born in Albany Region, moved to Topeka Region when she was seven, currently lives with her father, Lyn, and Falo.”

2. Timelines

Create a past, present, and future timelines. This is where things begin to get complicated, but don’t fret. Start simple – with everything you know – and make sure nothing contradicts anything else. From there, I would suggest figuring out things you don’t know (when did your protagonist meet their best friend?) Don’t forget: if you write it on your timeline that doesn’t mean you have to write it in the book, but it is safe to know everything and anything you can think of. I would even go as far as saying you should create separate timelines for each character while also creating one large timeline that shows overlaps between characters. Below is a VERY small example of Sophia’s past timeline. This includes the top five major events that happen before the novel ever takes place.

timeline3. Cover Everything 

I mean it. I know it sounds like a lot of work – and it is – but it will save you a lot of trouble in the end.  I create so many maps it’s ridiculous. I even have a “height’s map” which shows what characters would look like standing next to one another. Another example of a character map I had for Take Me Tomorrow is a map with every character’s home (past and present), and routes that they took from home to school to work (basically, anywhere they walked.)

Basically, you can never have too many notes. If you want to graph out the neighbor’s life who is never mentioned, then do it. In fact, you know the years that I picture Take Me Tomorrow to be in, but the actual years are never mentioned in the novel. Most of all, have fun! Never forget to have fun.

~SAT

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Q&A about “Take Me Tomorrow”

9 May

In case you missed my interview with Whispers in the Dark radio, here it the link. You can still listen to the entire show, and I even gave away some extra information about Take Me Tomorrow. The host also recorded four of my latest poems, and he is a wonderful reader, so I highly recommend his show.

Two fantastic blogs reviewed Minutes Before Sunset this week, so please take the time to check them out by clicking the links provided:

Confessions of a Book Geek said, “If you’re into your paranormal/fantasy stories but want something fresh and different from the vampire/werewolves/witches tales we all love (but are in desperate need for a break from), then I highly recommend Minutes Before Sunset and The Timely Death Trilogy.”

Books for Thought agreed when they said, “I was pretty much hooked as soon as I started it, which is a huge accomplishment.”

Check out everything these two readers had to say because their book blogs are highly entertaining.

The day has come! I am revealing more information about Take Me Tomorrow, and I am answering YOUR questions, comments, and more. Everyone is linked to, and I hope you enjoy the answers. But first –

Take Me Tomorrow is on Goodreads, so please add it to your bookshelf today by clicking this link or the photo below:

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The Guesses:

I was going to share all of the guesses, but there were so many and many of them were very long! (Thank you so much!) That being said, the post was way too long with everyone’s awesome guesses (practical stories) so I am only going to link to their websites. As marketing continues, I’ll be sure to repeat my favorite guesses, but here are excerpts from my top three favorite guesses:

1. Auntie Doris: “…I reckon that he only has tickets for that very afternoon, so he goes to New York or Liverpool, but probably New York, with his brother, and they make a fortune, but he never forgets her, and so he sends for her and her father and pays their passage over, and when they get their they get married and a top physician cures the fathers back. And the brother marries an American girl, or a Scouse girl but probably an American girl. Am I right? Do I win?”

You weren’t right, but your guess was a story all on its own, and you did win! Feel free to email me at shannonathompson.com, and we can discuss a guest spot on my blog 😀

2. Things Mattter: A History Blog: “I’m guessing it’s a time travel love story in which this girl knows she’s going to fall in love with this guy but it hasn’t happened yet and she decides to change the future.”

I thought this guess was the closest – mainly because it deals with trying to change the future.

3. Inkwell & Paper: “The angel of death comes along and she begs for one more day, saying “Take me tomorrow.” She is given medicine that will last only 24 hours”

I really loved how she both took the title and the cover “Rx” into account. Plus, her plot sounds wicked.

But thanks goes out to everyone that participated: Legends of Windemere, Tuan Ho, Taking on A World of Words, sociallydecrepit, Timothy Bateson, Sun Mountain Reviews, Amber Skye Forbes, Jonas Lee’s Imaginarium, Ron Estrada, Susannah Ailene Martin, and Ray’s Works.

I also wanted to thank THE RAMBOVA FILES. For sharing the news.

The Discussion: Questions, Statements, and Answers

Below I’ve included all of the websites of those who have asked about Take Me Tomorrow. SAT refers to me, but you will see other initials without links. That is because they asked questions on my personal Facebook, and they do not wish to be linked to. Everything bolded are the main points. Enjoy!

First and foremost,

The Animation Commendation: “What is this about if I may ask?”

SAT: Take Me Tomorrow is a YA, dystopian novel surrounding the existence of a clairvoyant drug. I’ve included the synopsis from Goodreads below, but this is not the final synopsis:

Two years after the massacre, the State enforces stricter rules and harsher punishments on anyone rumored to support tomo – the clairvoyant drug that caused a regional uprising. 

But sixteen-year-old Sophia Gray has other problems. 

Between her father’s illegal forgery and her friend’s troubling history, the last thing Sophia needs is an unexpected encounter with a boy. 

He’s wild, determined, and one step ahead of her. But when his involvement with tomo threatens her friends and family, Sophia has to make a decision: fight for a future she cannot see or sacrifice her loved ones to the world of tomorrow.

Elizabeth Jamison’s PhD Journey: “Shannon, is this a new series? The cover is absolutely fantastic! And how did you finish another book so quickly? It seems like the others just came out. You are amazing.”

SAT: It is the first novel of a series. Originally it was five novels, but I cut it down to only 3. I’m currently hoping to make it two novels. I wrote Take Me Tomorrow when I was 19, so it’s been finished for a few years now. I wasn’t planning on releasing it until November, but after speaking with AEC, I decided it wasn’t doing any good sitting on my laptop, so I’m publishing it now. Also, the story begins in August, so I thought it would be neat for readers to be able to read it during the season that it takes place in.

A Midget with a Huge Imagination: “I hope you’d give me the opportunity to read your work, Shannon! The cover looks amazing and surely this will be another page-turning novel from you!”

SAT: Definitely! I am taking interviewers and reviewers now, so please feel free to message me at shannonathompson.com.

Desirable Purity: “I really want to know this. What is the thought behind this title: Take Me Tomorrow?”

SAT: Explaining in complete detail would ruin one the biggest “shockers” of the novel, but I will try without spoiling it. The clairvoyant drug is called “tomo” – short for “tomorrow” – At least, that’s what the protagonist thinks. There are two scenes in particular to look out for in order to understand the title completely. The ending of chapter fifteen and the ending of chapter nineteen.

LW: “Thought it was you on the cover at first. Lol”

SAT: That is not me on the cover, but I’m glad someone said it, because I’ve actually had a few people say it (including my publisher) and I wanted a chance to clarify that the model is not me – although, the protagonist, Sophia Gray, does have brown hair.

JF: “Where was this pic [the cover] taken? Kansas City area?”

SAT: I can’t say where this picture was taken exactly, but JF is onto something. Take Me Tomorrow is dystopian, but the setting is the Topeka Region, one of seven regions in the State. That being said, “Topeka” isn’t in Kansas. The book technically takes place in the Kansas City, Missouri area. So look out for that explanation in the novel because it is stated.

ABB: “Glad you kept the Rx! Looks Awesome!”

SAT: What? Someone already knew what Take Me Tomorrow was about AND they knew about the Rx? That’s right. A few years ago, I had this novel posted on Wattpad. I gained a couple hundreds fans (Oh, how I wish I could reconnect with them!) and I received some fan art. (It was my first time receiving fan art ever!) I’ve actually shared this fan art before on my post – Writing Tips: Different Perspectives – but it’s been a while since then, so here’s the photo: (Notice a slight change in the title from “Take Me To Tomorrow” to “Take Me Tomorrow.”) You also might have more curiosity after seeing this drawing.

One of the coolest part of writing is when one of your fans creates something for you. This is fan art from a novel of mine on my previous Wattpad account. Sophia and Noah, my male and female protagonists.

One of the coolest part of writing is when one of your fans creates something for you. This is fan art from a novel of mine on my previous Wattpad account. Sophia and Noah, my male and female protagonists.

I hope this answered your questions and sparked even more curiosity! As the author, I am definitely looking forward to this release. It’ll be my first novel released that is told from one perspective, and I cannot wait to share more as the release gets closer. Feel free to ask more questions below, and I will answer them!

Don’t forget to add Take Me Tomorrow on Goodreads or to “like” the novel on Facebook.

~SAT

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