Sunday, January 25, 2015

How to Write Good Guys You Love | Writer Tips

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What keeps a good guy from being a bland guy?

I don't know about you, but my favorite characters are villains...
I'm sure that says a lot about me. 
We won't go there...

Think about it.
Can you name more villains or good guys?
(I know which one I can name more of and it ain't the good guys)

If you picked villains you are (right) like me. Why is that? Why are villains more memorable than the good, moral, law abiding folk? For me, the villain is the character who is most human-- the one with the flaws, has the motivation (be it getting 'revenge' or world domination) and yeah, usually the most entertaining. 

But your good guys don't have to be boring. They don't have to be the moral high towers who can't even barb with the bad guys because "That's not what good guys do"


How can you keep your protagonist interesting in your novel? Let's take a look...
5 Ways to Make Interesting Good Guys

1) Make him/her imperfect.
Just because someone is 'good' doesn't mean he/she is perfect. Flaws give humanity to any character. None of us are perfect and your protagonist won't be either.

2) Give him/her a weakness.
Superman has Kryptonite.
I have chocolate.
We all have weaknesses. 
Weaknesses up the stakes and gives the reader a reason to care. Plus it leads to internal struggles beyond the 'bad guy'.

3) Give him/her some good comeback lines
Sure, bad guys are fun and all and say the best lines ever-- but don't forget your protagonist. Even heroes have a sense of humor.

4) Give him/her a moral compass
...but Kelly you just said.
I know what I bloody just said ;) Even imperfect people have morals. Everyone (well most everyone) has something in this world that they will not do-- and usually THAT is the thing villains pick up on and try to force him/her to do (evil things). 

Push your good guy to the breaking point
Have someone addicted to chocolate? Lock him/her in a bakery and watch the internal struggle fly. Anything to keep the conflict churning.

5) Help them help themselves
There is a difference in sitting back and letting everything happen to you-- and getting up and trying to stop it. Frodo could have easily sat back and either tossed the ring or just given it to Gollum and been done with it. That would have been a very short story-- and an incredibly boring book.

Have your good guy get in on the action. Don't just let the bad guy run all over him and don't just have him/her react to things around them and not be productive in solving the problem.

As with the villain, the good guy should be layered. Make him memorable by making him complex.

I love hearing from you! To prove it, every comment I get in January will go into a hat. One person will be randomly chosen to win either a 1st chapter critique from me (no grammar edits. Just content) OR a free meme made especially for you.

~*~My internet dwellings ~*~

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How to Write a "Good" Bad Guy (A post all about Villains!)

The winner of the #oneword2015 meme is Jaci. Congratulations!
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What do Darth Vader, Norman Bates, and the Wicked Witch of the West all have in common?

They, of course, are the villains in their particular stories. We all remember them, but why? What is it about their particular characters makes them memorable?

I love writing villains. I think they are one of the best parts of writing, only I like to write a villain who doesn't think he is the villain.

Let me explain...

Let's take Darth Vader...

Just a guy trying to protect his wife


Norman Bates

Just a guy who loves his mother


Wicked Witch of the West

A woman who just wants her shoes back


They are all compelling. They aren't 'bad' in the sense of being horrible or evil {well, maybe the wicked witch}, but their circumstances make them SEEM bad.

Let's keep going.
David from The Lost Boys

Just wants a family


Magneto (Xmen)
20th century fox

Fights for equality (and actually in Days of Future past, the future he predicts is the future that happens so he's actually right and SO THERE Charles... ummm... sorry)

And let's not forget every writers' favorite villain...


Personally, I love villains who-- if you wrote the story from THEIR point of view-- would be/could be the hero.

Magneto wants equality and will do anything for it. {a heroic trait}
Darth Vader is so scared he'll hurt his wife that he literally kills her. {maybe not heroic, but he does want to protect her. Protecting the ones we love... very much a "good guy" quality.}

Of course, there are some villains who are just evil for the sake of being evil and mean-- or even to gain power.

Scar from The Lion King
Cruella from 101 Dalmations
Jafar from Aladdin 

I have written both kinds of villains. 
*Kendra from BIG is BEAUTIFUL was just mean. I'm sure she had her insecurities, but mainly, she was just a bully who liked to pick on Brittany for fun.

*Mr. Dodsworth in Betraying Ever After believes he is the hero. He thinks he deserves to do everything he's done and will do anything to get what he feels he is owed. You can really see that in Cloaked in Red in the Forbidden box set. If you ever want to read a bad guy who is really bad, but believes he's the good guy-- read that book!

What that in mind, here are my
Top 6 ways to write a compelling villain:

1) Make him more than "one note" Most people aren't mean overnight. Give him/her a reason. A personality. Layers.

2) Understand what made him/her the bad guy in the first place? What is his relationship to you protagonist?

3) Write a paragraph/short story based on your villains point of view. Or rewrite a scene you already have, but flip the pov. Why is your villain doing what he/she is doing? They always say there are two sides to the same story. Can you understand your villain's motivation?

4) Be careful of cliches. *insert mustache twirl*

5) Give him a motive-- make him passionate about his motive. Okay, so he wants to blow up the moon... why?

6) Avoid "Scooby-Doo"-- villains who always tell how/why they did what they did at the end. That can take away from your book and some of your suspense. How can you avoid that in your book?  How can you sprinkle in little clues throughout?

Who is your favorite villain? Is it someone who is flat out 'evil' or is someone who has a complex back story and who thinks he/she is the good guy? Let me know in the comments. 

I love hearing from you! To prove it, every comment I get in January will go into a hat. One person will be randomly chosen to win either a 1st chapter critique from me (no grammar edits. Just content) OR a free meme made especially for you.


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Monday, January 5, 2015

One Word: 2015 {drum roll}

Have you ever tried to cook, talk on the phone and referee your kids so they a) don't kill each other or b) wake up their daddy?

Not only are you frazzled and irritated, but nothing gets your full attention despite your best efforts (currently, I'm working on a blog post, fighting with my computer, and listening to my kids bicker... ah... ) At the end of your mental anguish (going back to the food analogy) you have food to eat [hopefully], but it usually isn't our best attempt-- Edible-- probably-- but not our best effort.

That's what happens when our  mind races and we try to do too much in our lives at one time-- even our social media lives-- yeah, those are real too. {I talk to way  more people online than I do in real life daily... how sad is that? Or is it normal-- maybe it is the new normal...}

I like to think it is.
For me, I have facebook, twitter, tumblr, pinterest, tsu, youtube, and instagram: kellymartin215
 (I think that's it)-- and do you know what? I love them all! I could spend hours and hours on each one (#confession -- I have)
 -- Yes, I linked my social media links to this post--it is a sickness, I tell ya... ;)

Let's keep going with the confessions *breathe* As long as I've been writing this post, I've thought about youtube video ideas, how my tsu share contest is going, my newsletter-- and have watched people walking outside my window...
{I'm sorry I'm not giving you my full attention. It's not you. It's me... I promise. I have a problem.}
That's where my one word for 2015 comes in.
 [See... there is a point.]
Every year, I pick a word I want to try to focus on for the year and try to be a better person because of it. Last year, my word was "Let Go" Let go of all the anger and bitterness and jealousy... (did I actually admit that...)
Did I succeed? Ummmmmm... I like to think I've grown as a person.
SOOOOO-- What is this year's word? If you've read this far, you need a hug **HUGS**
It is something I really need help with (as evidence by this blog post-- no-- not curing my parentheses obsession. Some things can never be broken.)
My word for 2015...

What does that mean to me?
FOCUS on one project at a time
FOCUS when someone is talking to me
FOCUS on my writing goals for the year
FOCUS on my health
FOCUS on my faith
FOCUS on my family
As I read that back... that is a lot of focusing and it might actually defeat the purpose of the world focus... ;)
One month at a time.
One day at a time.
One step at a time.
**What's your #oneword for 2015? Leave a comment and let me know. One commenter will win a custom made #oneword meme for your blog or facebook page (or just to share). Winner will be announced on next Monday's blog post where I'll discuss writing/reading about one of my favorite things:
*stay tuned*
 Be sure to subscribe to my youtube channel to learn more about my one word
{vlogs updated Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays}
Have a great day!!
Be excellent to each other!