Note: Archetypes discussed in this newsletter
are based on the book
by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LeFever, Sue Viders
Back in January to kickstart
your writing year!
Jan 5 - 31st
Layla Chase, Betty Hanawa,Myla
Jackson and Delilah Devlin are pleased to announce the release
of Altered State a new series
of shapeshifters coming to you from Ellora's Cave. The release
schedule of the books in this series is as follows:
|Night Prowler by Layla
Chase - Dec 24, 2008
|Beast Within by Betty
Hanawa - Jan 28, 2009
|Naked Prey by Myla
Jackson - Feb 25, 2009
|Unleashing the Tiger by
Delilah Devlin - Mar 25, 2009
Myla Jackson is pleased
to announce the release of Cat Scratch Fever December
5, 2008 at Ellora's Cave
Desiree Holts OW/YM for Elloras
Cave, Teaching Molly, is a finalist in the Eppies,
in the Erotic Romance category.
Myla Jackson, Shayla Kersten and
Layla Chase are pleased to announce the release of their
anthology Masters of Desire on December 29, 2005
in print from Kensington Aphrodisia
signed a contract with Samhain for a paranormal novella and another
contract with Harlequin Spice for a Brief
Desiree Holt has signed a contract
with Elloras Cave for Having It All, part
of the Caveman Anthology series. She also just contracted her
novella, I Dare You. Her The Edge of Morning,
which will be released in January from Total-e-bound, is the first
in a new series, The Sentinels, about guardians
who are all shapeshifters. Her first full length for The Wild
Rose Press Scarlet Rose line, Do You Trust Me, is
in galleys and will be out after the first of the year.
Roni Adams latest book in the Double
B Series will release on January 2, 2009
Holiday Gift of
1 - Naming Your Characters
By Layla Chase
For me, a character's name is
integral to his or her personality. Not only does the name
describe a core attribute, but it also establishes that
person's nationality (which helps me fill in family and
upbringing details). I want my characters to be seen as
individuals and I pick names that say something about who
that person is. For some I pick a name that can't be shortened
and or I create a nickname for when the characters get to
know each other better. For others, I choose a name with
a meaning that portrays the character's growth during the
story. Because the names are so important, I can't write
a story (and sometimes can't even start plotting) until
I've chosen them. The names for secondary characters are
ones we hear everyday, further illuminating the hero and
heroine as being different.
Once I know what type of people
they are (choosing from the 16 major archetypes explained
later this month), I start on the names. Sources of choosing
names are: baby name books, Character Name Sourcebook (published
by Writer's Digest Books), phone books (helpful with getting
regional flavor), even tombstones in cemeteries. The last
is especially good for learning names used in past eras.
Recently I saw an unusual name on a waitress's nametag while
vacationing and used it in a story.
Sometimes I've used themes for
names. One historical series I'm working on has siblings
whose names are semi-precious stones. In another story,
the parents were hippies and their children's names are
synonymous with peace and love. In yet another, the mother
loved the Arthurian tales. In a couple of stories, fake
names are used as part of the plot but both names the character
uses fit the core personality.
For most male characters and the
female ones I'm portraying as business-like, I choose names
with no more than two syllables. For most female characters,
the name will be more lyrical and gentle sounding. The final
test-say the name aloud, and in several tones. Can the name
be spoken in anger? Exasperation? How will the name sound
This process can be time-consuming
but is so rewarding when you choose (or invent) a name that
exactly fits your characters.
2 - The Chief Archetype
by Allie Standifer
solid, dependable and always there when times are rough.
He is the Chief.
A chief is the personification
of a Type A archetype. He is goal-oriented, determined and
always takes care of everyone he loves. Always follow the
rules and colors inside the lines. He is a firm believer
in rules, schedules and order. The Chief's stubbornness
and single-minded determination may lead in him in places
few wish to go, but he will always stand by his principles,
beliefs and friends. When the world is twisting off its
orbit and chaos becomes the norm, the Chief is the one you
want by your side for his ability to single-handedly turn
the work right side up again.
An example of the chief is Humphrey
Bogart in Sabrina.
3 - The Bad
By Desiree Holt
of the most appealing characters in romance fiction is the
"bad boy." The one your mother wouldn't let in
the house. The one with the hot gleam in his eyes and the
disregard for rules. When you write about him, close your
eyes and visualize-think James Dean, Patrick Swayze in Dirty
Dancing, Christian Bale.
The attraction of women to the
bad boy archetype is attributed both to his confidence,
the intriguing air of mystery surrounding him, his seeming
indifference to the abundance of sexual options open to
him (making his choices as much from arrogance than anything
else) and his appearance of unavailability. He presents
a challenge that women can't resist. He is an obvious contrast
with men who seem needy and too eager to please, almost
desperate in some cases, diminishing their attractiveness.
the rebel, perhaps the boy from the wrong side of the tracks.
He can be bitter and volatile, a crushed idealist, but he's
also charismatic and street smart. He hates authority and
doesn't buckle under to anyone, which is why he's often
in a job where he's his own boss. That means he can be anyone
from the guy who runs the motorcycle shop to the top of
the ladder CEO.
If this man were trapped in the
basement with an unconscious heroine and a bomb was ticking,
he'd be very physical. He's going to be resentful and have
a bad attitude, but he's used to being in tight spots. He's
a Bad Boy, after all. He might pick the lock or just beat
his way out - and really enjoy it!
He's very masculine, with a dark,
sexy look and is surrounded by an aura of great, but leashed
power. He wears an invisible "keep off" sign that
really says "come here-right now." And with him,
you can do all the naughty things you were always told were
4 - The
Best Friend Archetype
by Roni Adams
is the beta hero. He's kind, responsible, decent, a regular
Mr. Nice Guy.
man doesn't enjoy confrontation and can sometimes be unassertive
because he doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But he'll
always be there.
was the nice guy you went to high school with. The one who
was always there to lend a shoulder when the "bad boy"
who we thought we wanted broke our hearts. He's the coach
for your kid's little league and he's the guy who actually
attends the PTA meetings. He takes care of his parents,
and he volunteers at the holidays.
examples of Best Friends? Tom Hanks generally plays this
role. Michael J. Fox played this type of character in his
movies. Mark Ruffalo in 13 Going on 30 was a best friend.
believes that women can do anything and they don't threaten
him. Many times he is the result of a family of sisters
and usually is right on with his opinions and thoughts about
a heroine's conflict. He has a healthy respect for women
and would always want the heroine's comfort and needs to
come before his own. While he can be very casual and easy
going, he can also stand up for what he believes in but
generally in a way that doesn't alienate anyone.
is the type of hero who has a lot of connections; people
like him. In small towns, he has a friend on every corner,
in large cities, he's probably made friends with the neighbors
in his apartment building. People gravitate towards him
and his natural warm personality.
5 - The
by Eve Savage
hero is the fantasy creator. He's got all the right lines
and all the right moves. Unfortunately, these moves are
all to gain him the good time. The irony about the charmer
is he works very hard to get something for nothing. He's
got a string of women and doesn't commit to one easily.
The charmer is all about self-satisfaction.
of the charmer are Johnny Storm from The Fantastic 4,
Dick in The Bachelor and The Bobby Soxer, and Bret Maverick
6 - The Hero Archetype
(The Lost Soul
by Betty Hanawa
The Lost Soul is
the character who has been hurt in the past and is scared
to reach out again. The hurt may have come from a childhood
cruelty, either intentional or not-the loss of a loved
one, an illness. The pain the character clings to may
even be a physical attribute that makes him/her different
from the mainstream.
Yes, the character
clings to the pain. Staying with what's familiar now than
to change is always easier. Deep, deep down, the character
is convinced that to try again to reach out and join the
party of life will involve more hurt to be endured.
This is not to
say the Lost Soul character is always a recluse. The character's
life may well be very full and enjoyable. However, that
life is just slightly stunted, possibly in such a small
way, even the character isn't aware unless challenged
last thing a Lost Soul character needs for growth is an
enabler of any sort. The Lost Soul has to learn to face
the pain and get beyond it. He/she needs someone to help
face this challenge. That someone cannot take on the challenge
for the Lost Soul, but has to demonstrate why the Lost
Soul must grow to encompass the hurt as part of life and
live better because of it.
Beast from Beauty
and the Beast is an obvious Lost Soul, as is Heathcliff
from Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Bruce Wayne is
a Lost Soul who uses his Batman persona to fight crime
in a battle to deal with his own pain. Peter Parker, Spider
Man, is the geeky teenage outcast who suddenly has super
powers, which he uses as a crime fighter to cope with
the difficulties in his life. In the last two examples,
their choice is to fight bad guys and be heroic to others
instead of handling the uneasy feelings of inadequacy
by not being good enough to protect his parents (in Bruce
Wayne's case), deal with snotty contemporaries or stop
his uncle from being killed in Peter Parker's situation.
For each of them, they've magnified their losses and situations
until they hold themselves responsible, even though they
weren't, which keeps them lost in their own pain.
For the Lost Soul
to grow emotionally, the desire, determination, and drive
to change has to come from inside the self. Outside events
and people can help the Lost Soul realized the change
has to be made. Ultimately, however, the Lost Soul has
to be the one to do it.
7 - The Warrior Archetype
by Eve Savage
likes a man in uniform. We like him even more when he's
out of uniform! I have always had a soft spot for a military
man. Which is a good thing as I am happily married to
A military man
is the embodiment of the warrior archetype. This hero
is honorable, relentless and always sticks up for the
underdog. He doesn't always follow the rules, but he does
have a code he lives by and expects other people to live
by as well. His determination to fight for the cause tends
to lead to self-righteousness and a rigid adherence to
his code. But in the end, good guys will always win.
Some examples of
the warrior are: John McClane (Bruce Willis) in Die Hard,
William Wallace (Mel Gibson) in Braveheart, Lt. Col Hal
Moore (Mel Gibson) in We Were Soldiers, and Capt. John
H. Miller (Tom Hanks) in Saving Private Ryan.
8 -The Swashbuckler
By Megan Kerans
The name "Swashbuckler"
brings to mind pirates and lightning-fast sword fights.
However, there is more to this archetype than a black
flag and cutlass.
Swashbuckler is a daring, confident man who lives on
the edge of danger. Within this archetype are different
kinds of swashbucklers. The DAREDEVIL is a risk-taker,
fearless he seeks out life-and-death challenges and
thrives on spitting in the Grim-Reaper's eye. He has
shades of the "bad boy's" confidence and penchant
Next is the EXPLORER
this man is about the end goal rather than the process.
He often has a personal commitment, takes calculated
risks, but isn't averse to having a little fun while
doing it. This type is more likely to think ahead and
while he'll take risks, they are more calculated. Captain
Jack Sparrow, Robin Hood and Indiana Jones are three
Always looking for the next challenge
Never stops to consider failure or consequence.
Dives in headfirst.
Can have a purpose
Thinks on his feet
Doesn't consider others' feelings
Need for freedom
Doesn't take orders well.
Can be ruthless if called for
Always looking ahead
Any career that involves danger,
challenge and travel is ideal for the Swashbuckler.
9 -The Professor
By Bev Oz
professor is easy to pick out in almost any crowd. If
he's not wearing a lab coat or a tweed jacket with leather-patched
elbows, he's probably out and about in a hodgepodged,
mismatched outfit, oblivious to any fashion faux pas.
After all, the purpose of clothing is to protect one from
the elements and prevent any indecent exposure. Does it
really matter if his lime green "particle vacuums
suck" t-shirt matches his plaid slacks, when what's
happening in his head is what's important? To the rational-thinking
Professor, the answer is unequivocally NO.
Although he may
not be the king of cool, don't let his lack of fashion
sense fool you for a moment. The Professor is no dummy.
He's extremely intelligent and a logical, rational thinker
- almost to a fault. He's the cool head in a crisis. As
he pushes up his glasses, he's quietly calculating the
probability of potential outcomes, and will continue to
ponder the problem until the most reasonable and feasible
resolution can be found. A well-educated man, he finds
joy in the most tedious of subject matter and has no problem
verbalizing quantum physics. But ask him to speak any
language other than his learned specialty, and he's a
goner. He often uses terms and phrases the ordinary person
simply cannot comprehend, or says the wrong thing at the
most inappropriate time.
The Professor may
not be a social creature blessed with all the social graces.
He's spent more time in a lab or reading books alone rather
than living in the real world. But he is a steadfast,
reliable fellow you can count on through thick and thin.
The Professor is honest and faithful, and genuine about
his feelings. Because he is so unpracticed with emotions
and love in general, he can be vulnerable and sometimes
clumsy, but always tries his best, especially when he's
fallen for a girl.
Dr. Dolittle, the Professor on Gilligan's Island , Barnaby
Fulton in Monkey Business, Norbit and Harry Potter
10 -The Boss Archetype
By Megan Kerans
Boss might be called a "bitch" by some. She
is in charge and isn't about to let you forget it. Wherever
the top of the ladder is, you will find her there or climbing
her way to that lofty spot.
might be a woman accustomed to being in a position of
power, a Queen or member of a very powerful family. This
lady doesn't want her way simply to have it, she believes
her way is the best and most likely to result in a successful
outcome. Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl is a good example
of this kind of Boss.
A second kind of
"boss" is one who has had to work her way up
the ladder. She's savvy and determined to reach the pinnacle.
She has no time for anything or anyone is her way. Having
seen life without success or control, makes her hungrier
Planning, Organizing, Executing
Winning is everything
Can't see from other's point of view
Ignores others' feeling and her own.
Needs to be in-charge
Need for perfection
Goals and ambition are the focus
of the Boss's life and she accomplishes them.
11- The Seductress
by Eve Savage
all women use their body as a weapon - but this one does.
The seductress knows how to use everything she's been
given to her advantage. And when it's not given to her,
she takes it instead.
An expert at quickly
sizing up a situation and using every bit of knowledge
to her advantage, some may think she's cold and cruel.
Quite the opposite. The seductress is at heart a survivor.
Full of passion and self-preservation, she doesn't trust
anyone but herself.
examples of the seductress are: Scarlet O'Hara (Vivian
Leigh) in Gone With The Wind, Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah
Michelle Gellar) in Cruel Intentions, and Jessica Rabbit
in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
12- Spunky Kid
by Bev Oz
The Spunky Kid
is that irrepressible woman cheering on everyone, including
herself, with the never-say-die attitude. No mountain
is ever too high climb, valley too deep to crawl through,
or mission too impossible to achieve. At least, not with
the gutsy and supportive Spunky Kid around. Even if all
hell breaks loose, you can count on her to be there until
the bitter end, as she's as loyal as they come.
the Spunky Kid doesn't necessarily have an easily recognizable
uniform, there's a good chance you'll find her decked
out in more manly, sporty clothes than in dresses and
pumps. Why? She's likely hanging out with the guys, watching
or playing the game, and tossing back and forth verbal
barbs and wisecracks with the best of them. Her ability
to behave like a proper lady may be a bit on the clumsy
side, too. But don't think for a moment she's not capable
of being feminine and using good manners. With just a
little effort, a light touch of makeup, and dress, she
can easily transform herself into an irresistible knockout
that sometimes throws the hero completely off balance.
Think of Amanda Bynes character in What
a Girl Wants and J.P. Franklin in television's My Boys.
The Spunky Kid
generally has an extensive gaggle of friends eager to
be around her, a short list of enemies, and a past that
may be littered with failed attempts at love. Her moxie
and eternal optimism always carries her through any tough
Some examples of
the Spunky Kid include Bella Blue in The Ex List, Blue
in Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Natural Born Charmer, and
Fiona in Shrek.
13 - Free Spirit
By Layla Chase
is full of energy, fun loving and spontaneous. Ruled by
her emotions, rather than any practical consideration,
this character goes through life listening to her inner
voice. This may not make sense to others but she thinks
relying on her instincts is the only way to make decisions.
She very much lives in the moment and is sincere in her
dealing with others. Looking at life with a positive viewpoint
keeps her always thinking of possibilities.
a strong sense of individuality, she is labeled eccentric
by some and a trendsetter by others. Her curiosity and
enthusiasm leads her in several directions at the drop
of a hat. The impulsiveness that makes her lively person
to be around also may cause hurt feelings because she
speaks her mind before thinking.
Free Spirit might be a comedian-think Auntie Mame, Phoebe
Bufay in Friends, or Lucille Ball. Or the character may
be a darling like Ariel in The Little Mermaid, or Jane
Austen's Emma, or Jenna Elfman in Dharma & Greg. Occupations
that fit this personality are: actress, fashion designer,
travel agent, florist, receptionist, retail buyer, manicurist,
Life is never dull
with the Free Spirit around.
14 - The Waif
by Betty Hanawa
The Waif is the
character who not only wants to be protected, but whom
everyone else is more than happy to take care of. The
Waif is an innocent, despite being aware of life's harsh
realities. The Waif rarely, if ever, instigates life changes.
No matter what happens, The Waif holds to a solid core
of belief that whatever happens, happens. The Waif accepts
what happens, incorporates it into life's fabric, and
White is the perfect examples of The Waif. She ended up
under the thumb of an Evil Queen who dressed her in rags.
Snow White never cared why she suddenly had new clothes,
but cheerfully went off into the woods with a huntsman
she didn't know. When he told her to run, she did. She
didn't question, she simply ran. She stumbled into the
dwarves' lives and simply took up the position of their
maid and nurturer. Even when the Evil Queen disguised
herself as an old crone offering apples, Snow White didn't
remember Grumpy told her not to accept gifts from strangers.
She took the pretty apple and ate it. When the Prince
kissed her and woke her up, she cheerfully rode away with
him, waving good-bye to the dwarves.
is also a Waif, she's a stronger character because she
has emotional growth. At the end, she steps in front of
the step-mother and step-sisters to show she has the glass
slipper and claim the Prince. She instigated that change
in her life.
To be a viable
character for today's public, the Waif must become strong
enough to take steps to change the life path, not simply
stand still and let life happen.
15 - The Librarian
by Roni Adams
heroine is controlled and proper. She knows every rule
and regulation and follows them to the letter. She is
a role model in her community and is generally above reproach
in her personal life. But, underneath all this proper
role-model behavior lurks a passionate woman who longs
for the hero who can make her feel uninhibited and free.
The Librarian can be shy and quiet, finding solace in
the peaceful atmosphere of her library and her books,
or she could be an intellect- the girl in school who knew
everything and intimidated most people with her knowledge.
Librarian may have chosen the life she has or it may be
a role thrust upon her by life's circumstances. Her parents
may have been quiet and expected the same. She may have
come from an intellectual background, maybe both parents
were professors and she's followed in their footsteps.
Or her childhood could have been so out of control and
chaotic that she has to have this kind of control in her
adult life in order to cope. This heroine isn't always
a librarian, however, she could be a school teacher, or
college professor, she might even be a doctor.
are: Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone, Rose Sayer in
The African Queen, Diane Chambers in Cheers
16 - The Crusader Archetype
no other way to put it - the crusader is the fighter!
is strength and determination personified. The crusader
knows her goals and walks over anyone who gets in her
way. She is stubborn and could never be called a damsel
Some examples of
crusaders are Buffy Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
Sarah Connor in The Terminator movies and Lu Shu Lien
(Michelle Yeoh) in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
17 - Nurturer Archetype
by Betty Hanawa
Nurturer can be summed up in one word: Mom!
This is not to
imply males are not nurturers, some can be terrific at
it. Primarily, though, nurturing falls to females.
These are the characters
who take care of everyone, whether they like it or not.
The Nurturer often anticipates needs and arranges things
before the need arises. This is the calendar keeper, the
sender of cards and flowers, the gift buyer. The Nurturer
is a volunteer-junky whether for a family gathering or
an organization. The Nurturer thrives as a homemaker,
a teacher, a secretary, an accountant. The Nurturer is
not the power figure, but the one influencing the power.
In My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, Maria Portokalos tells her
daughter, "Let me tell you something, Toula. The
man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can
turn the head any way she wants."
flaw the Nurturer must overcome is two-fold.
One: not everyone
wants to be taken care of nor can be taken care of. The
Nurturer gets her feelings hurt when she realizes not
everything she does is appreciated. At that point, she
becomes the martyr. How many people does it take to change
a light bulb for a mom? None. Don't worry about it. Go.
Enjoy yourself. I'll be fine here. Alone. In the dark.
Two: a Nurturer
has to learn is when to encourage someone to take charge
of the decision process and not step in and take over.
The Nurturer has to step back and allow someone to learn
a lesson by failing.
A wise Nurturer
knows how to encourage and support without becoming a
Smother Mother. Another nurture is Abby in The Truth about
Cats and Dogs.
18- The Protagonist
By Desiree Holt
The term protagonist
refers to the central or main character in a story. The
word derives from a Greek term that means "the main
character." It is most common for the story to be
"about" the protagonist; even if the Main Character's
actions are not heroic, they are nonetheless usually vital
to the progress of the story.
The protagonist could also be the narrator of the story,
if it's told in first person.
protagonist is a figure or figures in literature whose
intentions are the primary focus of a story. Usually protagonists
are derived from good will, however, this does not always
have to be true. Protagonists cannot exist in a story
without opposition from a figure or figures called antagonists.
Classically in literature, characters with good will are
usually the protagonists. However, not all characters
who assist the protagonist are required to be simple protagonistic.
The actions of
the plot are a result of actions by the protagonist. For
example: an attorney makes a conscious decision about
representing a particular client. Everything else follows
from that. The client isn't what he seems to be. Bad people
are involved in his life who then focus on the protagonist-our
hero. The protagonist's wife/girl friend is alarmed by
what's happening, wants him to drop the client and their
relationship is affected.
Sometimes, a work
will initially highlight a particular character, as though
they were the protagonist, and then unexpectedly dispose
of that character as dramatic device. Such a character
is called a false protagonist. This happens most often
in suspense stories and thrillers.
And remember, the
type of person you choose for your protagonist, the characteristics
he/she has, will also determine how and why that person
interacts with the occurrences of the plot.
19 - The
By Delilah Devlin
First, let's demolish the idea
that Antagonist is synonymous with "Villain."
Sure, a villain can be an antagonist, but not all antagonists
by definition are "barrier characters." The antagonist's
role is to prevent the protagonist from reaching his or
her goal. This can be your villain of the piece, but the
antagonist doesn't necessarily have to be a bad person.
It is how he/she/it interacts with the protagonist that
determines the role.
The easiest way I can think of
to get your mind around this concept is by providing you
an example. In the movie The River, Mel Gibson and Sissy
Spacek are a married couple trying to save their farm from
a river that's rising. Their goal is to save their farm.
The river doesn't have a goal, doesn't have any motivation,
doesn't hate the couple, doesn't mean them harm-but by continuing
to rise, it's acting as a barrier character, preventing
the couple from achieving their goal.
Actual, "live" antagonists
can be well-intentioned. A mother who doesn't think a heroine
is good enough for her son may act as an antagonist, putting
up roadblocks to the hero and heroine's blossoming romance,
but she isn't doing it out of spite. She means well. She
isn't a villain-merely an antagonist.
what about the villain? Is he necessarily the antagonist
of a story? Think about Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the
Lambs. This was a nasty character, but he wasn't the antagonist
of the story. The hideous killer murdering women to fashion
his "girl-suit" was the antagonist as he continued
to elude the FBI. Hannibal, in fact, aided Clarice. He was
a contagonist in that he played with her, aiding the antagonist
as he fattened up the girl he'd kidnapped, but he also made
Clarice think, gave her hints, helped her face her own terrors
so that she could figure out the puzzle and save the lamb.
In that sense, he was also her mentor.
Confused enough? When you lay
out your characters, it's important to think about how they
support the protagonist. How they interact with and how
they change the protagonist will determine their role in
20 - The
By Megan Kerans
Of all the roles
for characters, the contagonist often causes the most
confusion. Many times the contagonist is confused with
the antagonist, but they are different and serve different
is person or entity is knowingly trying to stop your hero/heroine
from reaching their goal. They are completely aware of
their actions and taking steps purposefully to throw roadblocks
before the hero/heroine. In many cases this person is
the villain of the story.
between an antagonist and contagonist is knowledge and
intent. The contagonist can also be a person or entity.
They cause roadblocks for your hero, but unlike the antagonist,
they believe they are "helping." Think of a
well-meaning friend or family member. They care about
the hero/heroine and honestly believe the goal will be
bad for that person.
contagonist can also act out of ignorance. They honestly
have no idea their actions are thwarting the hero/heroine
from their goal. This person can be anyone from an oblivious
family member or friend to the security guard who won't
bend the rules and allow the hero/heroine to sneak inside
a building after hours.
A contagonist doesn't
need to be a person. A blizzard that stops your hero from
chasing the villain is a contagonist. The storm isn't
knowingly or purposely acting against the hero, but simply
by being poses a challenge. A high-tech security system
such as the one in Mission Impossible is a form of contagonist.
The Chicago Police Department pursuing Dr. Kimble in the
Fugitive as he tries to clear his name create challenges
to his discovering the real killer.
21 - Role: Mentor
By Shayla Kersten
Mentor is a vital role in most novels. He is the protagonist's
guide, teacher, surrogate parent or master. The Mentor
is the conscience of the story. One of the most obvious
Mentors in a movie is Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode
Luke, Obi-Wan was literally his teacher, his guide and
his master. Sometimes the role isn't as obvious but it
is just as important. Like Obi-Wan, the character may
disappear from the story leaving only their influence
behind. Or they may be there, by the hero or heroine's
side, until the end, like Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid.
again, the Mentor may not make a true appearance in the
novel at all. He or she could be a memory of deceased
parent or teacher. The moral fiber instilled in the protagonist
could act in the Mentor's stead.
Mentor helps shape the protagonist's character so he can
succeed at his task. When Luke was flying his fighter
in the final raid on the Death Star, he heard the voice
of Obi-Wan telling him to "use the force"-to
believe in himself and his beliefs and training. This
is an obvious use of the Mentor's role.
of the time, the role is more understated. The heroine
remembering her mother's confidence in her abilities as
she faces the villain shows the Mentor's affect in a more
one chooses to use a Mentor in a novel, Mentors should
be well-rounded characters with believable reasons for
why the protagonist looks up to them.
22 - Role:
by Roni Adams
a secondary character, the buddy, the friend, the character
who makes the hero or heroine shine. The sidekick doesn't
always have to be the same age as the main characters; sometimes
the sidekick is a mentor or a guide, a mature influence
and the voice of reason. Through the sidekick, the reader
gets to know the main characters even better. The sidekick
doesn't even have to be human as in the case of Bruiser
in Legally Blond.
Sidekicks can be
funny (like Al, Dirk's sidekick in Sahara), or they can
be serious. They can be the strong calm influence in the
troubled waters of the hero or heroine's life or they can
be the zany quirky "you need to lighten up" type
of secondary character.
few romance novels can exist using only a hero and a heroine.
It's not natural to think that men and women don't have
others in their life and these secondary characters serve
a vital role in helping the reader understand their internal
thoughts and feelings about the other. Writers, however,
have to be careful of sidekicks - too often they can overtake
the story and the reader wants to read more scenes featuring
the sidekick and doesn't relate as well to the hero and
- Role: Logic
By Shayla Kersten
is a secondary character that embodies reason or control
for the protagonist. Appealing to the intellect of the
protagonist, Logic helps move
the story forward. An example of Logic in a movie is Princess
Leia in Star Wars.
single minded about her mission and the need to defeat
the Empire. She convinces Luke, the hero, to follow her
with reason-the Death Star would change the balance of
power in the galaxy. The emperor would be unstoppable.
Since Han is the Skeptic (see #24), he's convinced by
the promise of a reward.
the example of Leia is a well-rounded character in Star
Wars, Logic doesn't need to be a fully developed role.
Shorter novels don't leave room for too many characters.
As with most of the secondary characters, Logic can be
combined with another role or can even be internalized
as part of the hero's or heroine's upbringing or training.
24- Role: Skeptic
By Shayla Kersten
Skeptic is the disbeliever, the Doubting Thomas. The role's
function is to make the hero or heroine question their purpose
or their goal. Can the heroine really succeed? Will the
hero's plan fail?
Although a secondary character, the Skeptic is an important
role. He creates conflict and as writers, conflict is our
my Star Wars references, Han Solo is the Skeptic. He doesn't
believe in the Force-"hokey religions". He doesn't
believe in much of anything. He's only in it for the money.
as Skeptic plays off Luke's role as hero. Instead of making
Luke doubt himself, Han's skepticism makes Luke try harder
to succeed. This is a perfect example of a Skeptic. Of course,
in the end, the Skeptic comes through. By the next movie,
The Empire Strikes Back, Han's role has changed to the Mentor.
unafraid-they succeed in spite of their fear. The role of
skeptic outlines those fears for the hero to overcome.
with any secondary character, this role can be combined
with others or internalized as part of the protagonist's
25 - Role: Emotion
By Desiree Holt
role of Emotion is the character that appeals to the protagonist
to listen to his heart and emotions to reach his goal. Logic
might tell him that it can't be done, but emotion will tell
him that if he believes in his heart that he can do it,
he will succeed.
character that convinces the hero or heroine to toss caution
to the wind or to stand fast in the face of defeat with
nothing more than a belief or faith is using emotion to
spur the main character on. This is the character that will
help the Alpha male wrestle with his own emotions (and we
know how good Alpha males are dealing with their emotions
the Stone, Joan Wilder was Jack's emotion. When she told
him she'd never had such a good time, it helped him realize
that he'd never been someone's
good time and that he liked it and would miss it if it was
gone. She helped him develop emotion and a longing for something
more than just the next great fortune to hunt.
is Dr. House's emotion on the TV Drama House. She reminds
Dr. House that they are dealing with people, not just diseases.
House has a Type A tendency to see the puzzle, not the person.
Dr. Cuddy reminds him that these are people with feelings
and families that care for them.
26 - Character Description
characters ARE your story. Plant that in your head from
the very beginning and you'll build a better story. Character
Description is more than just the physical characteristics
of your characters. In order to have a full, rich story,
your characters have to be more than just flat paper dolls
colored lightly with crayons. They need to be three-dimensional.
describe the physical characteristics of your characters.
Sometimes a character's physical characteristics have a
lot of bearing on how that character behaves. Take for example
a character who is Albino. The character perceives him/herself
as different from others and may react to criticism or simple
phrases in a completely different way than someone whom
the rest of society considers normal. So, yes, describe
your characters in detail. I use a spread sheet for the
vitals: hair color, eye color, age, and height to keep my
characters' descriptions consistent throughout the book.
than just jotting down the simple physical description,
go into the character's manner of dress, where he/she lives,
what she/he does for a living.
deeper to get to know your character. Take him/her back
to his childhood, his birthplace, who raised him, what kind
of parents he had. Were there siblings, what was the pecking
order in the family? Who were his friends? What issues did
he deal with as a child? Adolescent? Young Adult? What relationships
shaped the way he reacts in situations?
your self, what does he fear? Hate? Love? What are his/her
strengths and weakness? Give your character a physical trait
or mannerism he/she displays when he's happy, sad, angry,
or nervous. These traits help you to show his feelings throughout
your story rather than telling them. Describe them up front
to use throughout the story and remain consistent. Characters
with flaws and quirks are much more interesting. Consider
Dr. House or Monk.
your character is more than just the color of hair and eyes.
It's the color of their soul. Paint your character with
all the colors at your disposal making him/her rich with
shadows and light. Do this for all your characters, but
be most generous with your pallet when identifying your
27 - Goals, Motivation,
first learned about Goals, Motivation and Conflict from
listening to a workshop tape by the inspiring author Debra
Dixon. She does a fabulous job describing these
three key elements to character development in her book
Motivation & Conflict. If you don't have
a copy of this book, get one.
character's goal is WHAT he wants
or what he thinks he wants in the beginning of the story.
In You've Got Mail Joe Fox's goal is to build his new
store Fox Books.
motivation is WHY he wants it. In
Joe's case, it's all about money and prestige. He's grown
up in a family of money-making men, driven by the need
to make more money. It's a measure of their worth and
conflict is WHY HE CAN'T HAVE IT
or what gets in the way of his ability to attain his goal.
this case, Kathleen Kelly launches a campaign to stop
Fox Books from building around the corner from her bookstore,
painting them and Joe Fox as the big bad wolf. Conflict
is what makes the story interesting just like flaws are
what make characters interesting. Without conflict, you
don't have a story. So make the conflict good. Make it
matter to the characters. To Kathleen Kelly whose goal
was to keep her bookstore going just like it had for years
and years, the conflict of the big mega-bookstore moving
sales territory was a huge blow to her. Why (motivation)?
Because her bookstore was tied to her memories of her
mother (makes your reader want to root for Kathleen).
Repeat after me:
because you identify a character's goal at the beginning
of the story doesn't mean you're stuck with that goal
through to the end. In many cases, the character may change
his mind or commit to another goal as the story progresses
or as the character grows and learns. Or if he achieves
his goal as in Joe's bookstore putting Kathleen's out
of business, he might find the success empty and establish
a new goal: win the heart of Kathleen.
you lay out your story, remember, to ask:
does my character want (GOAL)?
Why does he want it (MOTIVATION)?
Why can't he have it (CONFLICT)?
Day 28 - Character
what's this Character Arc, you say? Is it some big boat
you have your character climb aboard with the other animals,
two-by-two in preparation for the big flood?
Character Arc is the journey your character undertakes.
It's the path toward learning and growing. He steps on
the path or into the boat at the beginning, thinking one
thing, convinced his way is the true and only way. As
the story progresses and conflicts emerge, events happen
to him, his beliefs and attitudes change. He might grow
stronger, or become less harsh by the time he climbs off
the boat at the end of the journey.
For example, at the beginning of You've Got Mail Joe Fox
thought "It's business. It's not personal."
Through his interactions with Kathleen Kelly, the man
on the elevator, his ex-girlfriend and other people he
met along his journey, his beliefs shifted and changed.
the end of the story, he'd learned that life was empty
when you looked at it as all about business. He began
to realize he didn't want to end up like his father, never
finding love, never being loved. Through his interactions
with Kathleen and others, he learned and
grew and became a better person wanting life to be personal,
not all about the business. Kathleen helped him to see
this by her actions, her love for her employees and her
Character Arc is the progression of your character's change
throughout the story. Think of Hans Solo in the first
Star Wars movie. He was all about making money, never
getting involved. By the end of the first movie, he was
ready to join the rebel cause. He'd learned there was
more to life than smuggling for personal gain throughout
the star system. He came to this conclusion through the
events that occurred and the people who influenced him
along the way.
29 - Ramp-Up for 2009:
Daily Page Counter
By Delilah Devlin
Roses hope that you've enjoyed the little lessons we've
provided all month long regarding character roles and
development. For the last three days of the year, I'd
like to give you some tools to help you keep productive
in the New Year.
One of the things I wished I'd known before I published
was how fast I could write.
Knowing how productive you can be is important for several
reasons. Say you want to enter a contest, but you need
a new manuscript to wow the judges. Do you know for
certain that you can finish it in time to enter? Or,
what do you tell an editor who's crazy about a proposal
she just accepted when she asks how fast she can have
it, especially when she wants it yesterday?
I've kept a spreadsheet
that captures my daily page count since 2002. Taking
an average of the page counts per week can help me estimate
my productivity, but looking at periods where I wasn't
particularly productive forces me to evaluate why I
wasn't and helps me plan better in the future for those
things that cause the lulls (conferences, between book
Keeping the chart
up to date "keeps it real" for me. I can't
romanticize what I can accomplish when I have cold,
hard data. Follow the link to the EXCEL spreadsheet
page count chart I will keep for 2009 if you'd like
to give it a try.
isn't always straightforward. Different publishers have
different formats for manuscript submission. For Ellora's
Cave, I submit my manuscripts in Book Antiqua font,
1.5 lines, rather than double-spaced, which gives me
an average word count of around 300 words per page.
For Avon, I submit in Times New Roman for an average
word count of 285 per page. For Kensington, I submit
in Courier New for an average of 250 words per page.
I personally don't make a distinction between formats
for the tally I enter in my page counter, but you might
convert your documents daily to one format to get a
truer picture of your productivity for planning purposes.
Daily Page Count Click Here
30 - Ramp-Up
There's a brand-new,
bright-shiny year ahead. Don't waste time thinking you have
all the time in the world to accomplish your goals. Get
started now on laying down a plan to reach those goals.
a monthly calendar. We're providing a link to a free
MS word 12-month calendar. You can work with it on your
computer, or print it out and use a stubby pencil to
map out your year.
out your non-writing days:
all family-related dates on the calendar (family vacation,
graduations, birthdays, etc). Any date you know you
won't be at your computer. These are your first priorities.
in conferences, writing retreats, meetings.
might want to shade those days, so you don't consider
them at all when you move into the next steps.
Planning -- No deadlines pushing you, but you want to
set some personal ones so you make progress
How many pages
will I commit to write in a day?
weekdays?(example: 2 pages per day)
(example: 6 pages per day)
other writing-related activities need to be included
in your plan?
Calculate the number of writing days needed to complete
Lay out your projects, one after another
Planning - You have a deadline
does this project have to be shipped?
other writing-related activities need to be included
in your plan?
Count the number of actual writing days available between
now and when the project needs to be done
Calculate the number of pages per day you need to write
to achieve your goal and pencil it in on your calendar
(number of pages divided by number of available days)
If you have more than one commitment, you need to adjust.
Can you string them one after another ( or overlap them)
and accomplish all? Or do you need to tighten the timeframe
and perhaps finish one quicker than necessary to make
all your goals? When you're done tightening and you're
looking at the daily word count required, does it look
For a copy of Rose's
2009 Planning Calendar for your planning purposes...
Planning Calendar Click Here
31 - Ramp-Up
Get Ready, Get Set, Go!
First, one last tool I'd like
to offer. I've shown you what I use to gauge my productivity
(the daily page counter). I've walked you through planning
your work in the long-term (the annual-monthly calendar),
and now I'll let you have a peek at what I use to plan my
work on a week-to-week basis.
The tool's not perfect. I like
to play with the spreadsheet and have the totals roll from
one week to the next, but that might be more work than you
want. You might have something that's simpler that works
just fine for you. The point I'm not making is that it doesn't
matter what tool you use, but somehow you have to translate
your annual/monthly goals into work steps each week so that
you make forward progress.
In the grayed lines for each day's
notes, I write down what I hope to achieve. In the white
lines below it, I write what I actually accomplished or
what might have interrupted it. The tool is a way to preserve
your work plan/accomplishments, but also to validate what
you were doing on specific dates-if say the IRS comes knocking
and wants to know about business expenses you claimed for
a particular date. A quick check to see that I traveled
to Little Rock for an RWA chapter meeting is very helpful.
Note the columns to the right
of the spreadsheet. Yup, that's provided for you to keep
tabs on multiple projects. Not that I'm saying you should
work on several projects at one time, but you may have edits
coming from an editor that you'd like to keep tabs on, you
might be working on story or character notes for another
project when you break from your current WIP. Yes, I work
on several projects at once, and sometimes I plan page count
progress for 2-3 each work. But I'm just crazy that way.
Use the columns to keep projects in mind, but don't think
you actually have to add pages to all of them every week.
So, that's the final worksheet.
Every year we've done a December
countdown that we hoped would be helpful for the visitors
to Rose's Colored Glasses. We try to mix up the topics.
We like to learn new things and refresh our knowledge of
subjects we know. It's not a chore. We hope you've enjoyed
this year's countdown, and wish you every success in the
Weekly Planner Click Here