Monday, October 10, 2016

Character Tension - Part 2 - Family

Welcome back to this mini-series about how to build tension in your novel. Last month, we looked at conflicting characters. This week, we’re going to take it one step further and look at conflicting family members. Check out the top three suggestions I have for really amping up the tension between those who love (or hate!) each other the most:

First - family members are all raised in the same way...or are they? Take a look at how some family members might be favored over others? Who gets away with blue murder, and who doesn't? Why is someone their father's favorite and another not? Who is unfairly treated and who is the princess/prince of the house? Even as adults, characters will harbor resentments (or over the top loyalty) depending on how their parents raised them.

Second - how do partners raise their children? Do they agree on discipline? Disagree? Do they disagree on where they should live, work, let the children go to school? What if one person listens exclusively to their parents and never to their wife/husband? There are many instances in a family unit to rub up against one another. Everything from divorce, custody battles, substance abuse problems, neglect to success, religion, sex and more.

Third - power struggles within families also create a great way to build tension. What happens when one family member wants power over another? Maybe a son trying to prove himself over his father? A mother trying to show how much more beautiful she is than her teenage daughter? A father trying to rule his house with an iron fist?

As you can see, there are many ways the family unit can build tension throughout the landscape of your novel, and you should make sure these elements are fully developed as they'll give your character a new level of depth, too.

Check in next month for my final tension post - love and romance!  

Monday, October 3, 2016

Your Creative Space

I’ve recently moved. Not a major, new-city-new-life type move, but it is a new house which means I’m carving out new spaces to write in. So writing spaces and office spaces are on my mind. 
Any space can become a writing space. I’ve written in hotel rooms, studio apartments, coffee shops, church classrooms, theaters. For me, these are what I need to settle into a space and make it inspiring:
  1. A computer or a tablet with a keyboard. Okay, so that’s probably a little obvious. I have, in a pinch, written scenes in a notebook, but I prefer typing. My iPad mini and a bluetooth keyboard served me well for a few months, and they fit easily in a purse without adding much weight. I can be ready to write at a moment’s notice.
  2. Music. For me, music is often necessary. It blocks out nearby conversations, if I’m writing in public, or the screams of either silence or the kids if I’m writing at home (playing screams, of course). Music also gets me into the story’s mood, since I generally pick a specific album or build a playlist for each manuscript. So this also means I usually need earbuds. Once, I had to beg my husband to bring me a pair when I was at a coffee shop. Now I make sure to keep a pair in every bag that I might carry with me.
  3. Coffee, tea, or water. I need something to drink. If the writing is flowing, I’ll ignore it, but I need a mug or cup nearby. Just because.
  4. Bathroom access. Number 3 explains this necessity, but I need breaks while writing, and a trip to the bathroom is the best excuse to get up and move. 
  5. Table and chair. While I have written while sitting on the floor, I prefer a table of some sort and a regular chair. I know many writers who write on the couch or the bed, but for me, that’s not usually where I’m able to be most productive. I also like to get dressed as opposed to staying in pajamas even when I won’t be leaving the house. 

What’s on your list of necessities for carving out writing space?