How To Create Character Voices

Besides having your own writer’s voice, you must create characters with their own voices.  This is very essential if you write in first person point of view.  To create character voices, you must truly understand the people in your story.  A great blog to read about different personality traits and its effect on people is http://dehypnotize.wordpress.com .

Sometimes a psychological trait has a lot to do with a character’s voice.

  • Professions have a way of sneaking into our lives.  To deal with that, you can describe your characters in their terms, with their professional jargon.  Try to get into that mindset and play with it.
  • If you’re writing a children’s book, you can try to write in a kid’s voice.  Every child has his own grammar, so you’d have some leeway.  You could use superlatives like bestest, mostest.  Use double comparatives–differenter, more better.  Some kids use past tenses like I swimmed, bringed, broughted.  Besides thinking of grammar, it is also good to think in a child’s logic as well.  For instance, kids may misunderstand or be curious about something that an adult wouldn’t pay attention to.
  • Maybe a character has a speech disorder, ADD, or paranoid schizophrenia.  The pattern of thoughts creates this effect instead of a choice of words.  If your character has ADD, you could jump from one topic to another midsentence repeatedly.  If your character has paranoid schizophrenia, you could make her intrepret everything as a conspiracy.  If you want to write gibberish, it wouldn’t be a good read, so you should keep it brief and move on.
  • If you have an elderly character, you could use a wisdom, storyteller’s way of speaking.  Instead of making it predictable, have fun with it and use an idiosyncratic approach.

Sometimes voice comes from an emotion, such as anger, depression, love, hate, fear, etc.

  • If angry, your character could become loud and impulsive; if depressed, quiet and philosophical.
  • Emotions give you a way to think and express your thoughts.  The stronger the emotion, the more energy you could develop in your stories.

Voice depends on attitude as well.  Different attitudes are naive, charming, excited, humble, cool, etc.  It will help you understand your character’s point of view, which depends on where and how your character perceives events.  It will also help you understand how your characters relate to their surroundings.

Whatever you do, make sure to read your work aloud.  Make sure you transformed the words on the page how your character would speak instead of how you would speak.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

End of the World?

Have you seen the movie 2012?  I never watched it, but I know the premise, and I really hope that doesn’t happen in the next couple of days LOL.  All these end of the world theories had me think back to Y2K.

Back then, I didn’t hear the theory about computers and other technology messing up.  I didn’t hear about stacking up with canned foods and adjusting to living in a basement or fall-out shelter.  I heard the theory that it would be the end of the world.

It’s fun having a creative mind but sometimes it gets me into trouble.  On December 31, 1999, I was so scared for midnight to arrive.  My family and I went to the New Year’s Eve party at my grandma’s house.  My aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents were there.

Instead of enjoying their company, I dreaded every minute that passed.  I took my cousin Latisha to the side and convinced her that this would be our last night on Earth.  If I’m scared, I will do everything in my power to make someone else scared too; poor Latisha is always the one I pick on LOL.

Anyway, everyone laughed, joked, and danced except us.  Five minutes to midnight, Latisha and I ran into our grandparent’s bedroom, closed the door, and hid under the bed.  We kept the lights off and stared out the window.  For some reason, I was convinced meteors would strike LOL.

I cried.  It was my senior year, and I just wanted to graduate high school.  It was a bummer that I wouldn’t get to.  Priorites, huh?  Apparently, I was five minutes away from death but only felt bad about not finishing school.  Yes, I’m a nerd.  Perhaps I should have felt bad for never seeing my family again–that’s why my cousin cried.

Eventually, we heard everyone count down for the ball to drop.  “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2…1!!!!”  Latisha and I held hands.  I don’t know about her, but my eyes were closed tightly.  I didn’t want to see the impact; I hoped for a quick death.  Minutes passed and nothing happened.  I opened my eyes and looked out the window again.

It was a beautiful, starry night.  Latisha and I smiled knowing everything would be alright.  We hugged and joined the party again.  The sad thing is no one even noticed we had left LOL.

And just like that, things were back to normal.  Latisha nor I told anyone how scared we had been.  We kept that secret to ourselves until now–since I just told whoever will read this post.

Latisha, if you ever read this, I am truly sorry for that night.  I shouldn’t have frightened you for those few hours straight.  We were teenagers and should have been celebrating, having fun instead of what happened.  If anything, afterwards I should have made sure you were okay instead of assuming you were over it like I was.  I promise if I see you this New Year’s Eve, I won’t sprout off any end of the world theories.  I will not scare you. 

First, we’re too old for that; second, you may not be that naive this time LOL.  However, whenever we visit our aunt in Cleveland, I will continue to scare us about her house being haunted, so you’ll have to live with that.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Resist the Urge to Explain (R.U.E.)

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King take the R.U.E. concept so seriously that there is an entire chapter devoted to it called “Once Is Usually Enough”.

  • “Most writers already know to edit out places where they have literally repeated a word or phrase.  But the repetition of an effect can be just as problematic.  Whether it’s two sentences that convey the same information, two paragraphs that establish the same personality trait, or two characters who fill the same role in the plot, repetition can rob your writing of its power.”
  • “When you have a character point or plot development that is critical to the story, you drive it home more than once to make sure your readers get it.  As a result, you wind up conveying to your readers things they already know, which is almost as condescending (and off-putting) as describing emotions that have already been shown in the dialogue.”

Overexplaining happens to all writers (whether beginning, established, published, or unpublished).  That’s why it is important to revise, revise, revise, and revise some more.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

‘Tis the Season To Be Jolly

I love to read.  When I go to the bookstore, I head for the notebook/sketchbook section, then mystery, then non-fiction (I love psychology books).  I know what I want and don’t stray from that.

But, at the library, I’m more adventourous.  I’ll try anything at least once.  This year I asked two librarians to pick out their favorite books, so I could give them a try.

  • I never thought I’d like Sci-Fi, but I really enjoyed the Harry Dresden Files.  Some other books caught my interest as well.  So, I’d like to thank the librarians for doing that.

I want to continue to expand my reading experience some more.  Since I love horror, thriller, suspense, romance, drama movies, I don’t see why I wouldn’t like the same genres in books as well.

So, I gave myself a challenge.  I’m on the lookout for interesting books to read.  I’ve found five people on Absolute Write that had interesting books in their sigs–four were horror and one was a memior from a guy’s perspective over a break-up.  Two books I’ve found on wordpress.

I”m buying these seven books, and if I like them, I could potentially become a fan of these authors and buy their other ones.  That’s what every writer wants, right?  To have a fan base.

It helps that I’m getting a Kindle for Christmas; I wanted to start my challenge earlier, but it seems like everyone is going the ebook route.  To document my challenge, I’ll add these to my book review section.  Tell your writer friends to check out my blog later on to see if they were the ones chosen.

I’m definitely checking out sigs and blogs to find more books to buy.  So, also tell your writer friends, who self-published or traditionally published (I’m not picky on matters like that.  An intriguing story in an intriguing story no matter how it got into my hands), to leave me a comment of one or two sentences of what the story is about and link to a blog or website about more information of the book with this post.  I can’t find all the authors on my own; I need help.

I love suspense, psychological thrillers, mysteries, etc.  But, I’m willing to give anything a try.  The whole point of my challenge is to get out of my comfort zone.  What’s the worst that could happen?  Maybe I wouldn’t enjoy the book, but it’d still be a plus for the author because they received a book sale and more exposure on the web.

Can’t wait for Christmas, so I can buy these books!!!  I already have seven in mind, but with a Kindle I’ll need more than that!

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

How I Irritated A Palm Reader

I swear the weirdest things happen to me when no witnesses are around.  I have the worst luck ever.

For instance, my junior year at WVU, I attended UpAllNight with my two friends Jenna and Jade.  The activity was palm reading; I stood in one line while they stood in the other.

I waited patiently for my turn.  Finally, I was allowed in the tent; the male palm reader greeted me with a smile.  And, let me tell you that was the only positive thing that happened in that tent.

He told me that I loved Sociology and that I love helping people.  Okay, that’s cool.  Then, he went off on this weird tangent that I should stay away from men because they’ll bring me down.

Say what now?  That was random considering I didn’t ask for love advice nor really wanted it.  He told me to ask him a question.  When I did, he yelled at me for wasting his time on a question I already knew the answer to.

What was his problem?  Did he and the female palm reader make a bet of after so many students, be rude for a laugh?  Did I remind him of an evil ex?

Let’s just say, I was relieved when I could leave; good thing it was free.  He was my first palm reading (if you could even call it that hee hee), and I’m not motivated to try another.

When I met up with the girls, they had nothing but positive things to say about their readings.  When I told them my story, we all laughed and joked that I have a certain charm that keeps guys away.

Looking back now, it could have been worse.  I mean at least he didn’t take my hand or necklace and jump back with a scared expression saying something creepy about me only having a few days to live, or that I was being stalked.

So, the question is:  How did I irritate this palm reader?  Your guess is as good as mine.  I’d love to hear some theories…

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Second Draft of Romance Drama Completed!!!

Yea, I finished my second draft on December 10th!  I kept it at 12-point, Arial font with 179 pages and 44,808 word count.  It’s lower than my first draft, but at least I’m satisfied with the words on the page.  That’s always a triumph!!

I gave two supporting characters name changes, added a few scenes, and expanded on others.  I still have a lot to do to get my word count up unless I query as a category romance (would need at least an additional 11,000 words).  80,000 word count for a novel is looking like a dream instead of a reality hee hee.

To show that I enjoy my plot and characters, I’ve come up with two potential titles.  I like to name my stories after songs; first option, Though I’m Missing You sung by Brandy and second option, When You’re Gone sung by Avril Lavigne.

I like where I’m at now.  The setting is in Providence, Rhode Island.  Poe hasn’t spoken to her ex in a year, but he calls because her best friend, who is his cousin, dies, so she flies out there to attend the funeral.  The story is told through Poe and Oliver’s point of view dealing with the tragedy as well as trying to get closure from one another.

Death hits home for me since I lost both my grandmothers in 2008.  This story is a dedication to them showing how I dealt with my stages of grief.  Instead of the main character dealing with a loss of a family member, I thought it’d be more interesting to have it be her best friend.

Even though it deals with a funeral at the end of the book, I wouldn’t say readers would need Kleenex throughout the whole thing; it’s not overly sappy.  Then again, one day I let my co-worker read my 300-page Graphic novel, and she was sniffling at her desk.  When she finished, I asked her what part almost made her cry.  The part she told me about was sad, but it didn’t make me cry–maybe I’m just cold-hearted (just kidding).

That’s all I can say without giving everything away, so I’ll end with I’m proud of this rough draft.  People can read it without me flinching.

Now, off to join Ladies Who Critique or Absolute Write Share Your Work.  This process of revising my rough draft will vary depending on if my critique partner likes my writing style or has a lot to complain about.  I respect honesty, and I can take any criticism.

After that, my third draft will be completed, which I’ll take my critic’s opinions under consideration, as well as apply the rules from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.  Then, that draft will be sent off to Beta-Readers.  Wish me luck!!!

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book or Series? Novel or Short Story?

Depending on how much you invest in your characters, you could write one book or a series of books about them.  Back in the day, I brought every Babysitter’s Club book; each one brought me closer to the girls.  Don’t even get me started on  how excited I was when a movie came out.

There’s been a trend where authors write series based on the same characters.  For example, the Jack Reacher set, the Vampire Diaries set, the Pretty Little Liars set, the Harry Dresden set, so on and so on.

This is something you should think about.  With your story idea and group of characters–do you want one story or do you think you could write more than one?

It doesn’t have to be answered right away, but it’s something to consider as you write.  It’ll help you decide if the ending to your story will give closure to the reader or end in a cliffhanger.  Naturally, it’ll end with closure if you only have one book to tell.  It’d end in a cliffhanger if you want to write a series of books; you’d want to motivate your readers to buy the next novel or short story.

Another thing you should ask yourself is if you want your piece of fiction to be written as a novel or short story.  The decision can come to you when you begin writing the pages.

I’ll give you a tip on how I approach this question:

  • I’m a huge couch potato, so I always think in terms of would my characters fit in a movie or a TV show.  If the plot fits in a movie, I’ll write a short story; everything can be told quickly and straight to the point.
  • If the plot could fit in a TV show, then I write a novel.  There’s a backstory that needs explained, there’s events in the present, but I have to reveal the future or explain the past.  If divided in Parts (like Part One, Part Two, etc.), each part ends in a cliffhanger and has a different story to tell.  Each part is considered how a season would air on a TV show.
  • If this approach interests you, then use it.  If not, you’ll figure out the best way for you to handle it.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

How To Obtain Your Writer’s Voice

In order to create your writer’s voice, write.  It’s that simple.  Once you complete something, read it aloud.  Your physical voice will tell you where your writing voice sounds false.  It’s indicated by a stutter or a pause.  Whenever this happens, pay attention to those words or phrases; you may want to delete or revise them.  Reading aloud also helps you pace your writing.  You’ll feel where your passages are too slow or too quick.

Trust yourself.

If you love to speak more than write, you can use a tape recorder; next, jot everything down later.  Even though I don’t use a tape recorder, I whisper to myself when I write, especially with character’s dialogue.  I imitate their voices to see if it sounds like a natural conversation before jotting it down.

So, the next time you see someone chatting or whispering to themselves, don’t automatically think he or she is crazy, weird.  It’s probably just a writer trying to perfect his or her craft.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

What Would You Do For Free Chic-Fil-A Food?

If two ladies in a cow costume walked into a Chic-Fil-A restaurant, what would you do?  Applaud them?  Heckle them?  Trip them over?  Avoid eye contact?  Scream “Moo”?

For about two years now, someone has asked me to dress up like a cow with her on a certain day to receive a free menu item from Chic-Fil-A.  I want to say on Wednesdays.

I’m the type of person who doesn’t like being out of my comfort zone.  And, I weigh the pros and cons of every action before doing it, probably why I move slow.

  • PROS-free food (their nuggets and walnut brownies are so delicious)
  • could be a funny story to add to my Book of Observations
  • did I already mention free food?
  • could say I’ve done something most haven’t.  I like being unique
  • economy is still pretty rough, so people gotta do what they gotta do
  • CONS-free food would probably be something I don’t like; I’m a very picky eater
  • wouldn’t travel to Washington DC (about an hour and 10 minutes away) to do this

As you can see, the pros outweigh the cons.  So what’s stopping me?  I was tempted to do it (even though the person who keeps asking probably doesn’t believe me) until she told me it’d be a full cow costume where she’d be in the front section, and I’d be stuck as the butt.

Say what now?  I’m not claustrophobic by any means, but there’s no way I’m letting someone’s butt in my face.  I mean–literally in my face.  Could I even breathe in a costume like that?

I can picture me fainting from lack of oxygen and having us fall onto the floor.  The head and top half of the cow’s body would shake and try to get up while the legs, tail, and butt would lay lifeless.

When the medics arrive, they’d have to give me CPR.  When I’d wake up, I’d keep repeating, “I’m a cow.  I’m a cow.”  They’d probably have me committed.  I couldn’t really blame them; I can even picture The Journal newspaper covering the event on the front page.

The only way I would ever consider doing this is if we went to the Chic-Fil-A in Jefferson County, and if we didn’t have to dress up in a full cow costume.  I could muster up the courage to wear a cow head without it being Halloween.  So, if this person is still interested, let me know hee hee.

Then again, if I’d do something silly, crazy, fun like this, I should go balls to the wall.  We’d need as many stares and whispers about us as possible.  I’m talking customers snapping pics of us and posting it on Facebook, or making a video on YouTube–West Virginians know how to have fun too.

I can picture workers behind the counter questioning the manager’s sales promotion and calling us suckers for participating in it.  Maybe it’d even make their day or put a smile on their face.  Either way, they better give me my free order if I do this.

For the writers out there–if you get asked to do something, don’t automatically dismiss it.  You don’t have to do it, but it’s fun to think “what if…”  Let the scenario play in a story of yours.

  • I usually write dramas, but I’m sure I could fit this funny subplot into a story one day.  Thanks-you know who-for giving me the idea!

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

“Respect Me, Please” by Yawatta Hosby

For my creative writing class (12th grade), I wrote a short story about overcoming bullying in school.  It was a year after Columbine, and most of my stories reflected ways of getting the best of bullies without resorting to violence.  On this assignment, I received a 50/50.  Here it is:

Yawatta Hosby

Per. 3

Sept. 17, 1999

RESPECT ME, PLEASE

Sophie Lynn Jamison loved to paint but hated her art class.  No one wanted to accept the way she looked.  Mark constantly picked on her, Ms. Johnson saw Sophie Lynn’s classmates pick on her but blamed Sophie Lynn and yelled at her.  Plus, she loved to draw what’s in her heart, but the teacher would give her a lower grade than what she deserved.

Usually Sophie Lynn let things slide, but today was a different story.

The students eyed Ms. Johnson, who modeled in front of them, so they could draw her.  Everyone was into their work making sure to get every feature, except Mark.

Sophie Lynn tried her best to ignore his stares.

“Sophie Lynn, you look weird,”  Mark whispered.

“Not weird.  Just different.  There’s a difference,”  she whispered back.  The class laughed.  Sophie Lynn looked at her teacher, who stared blankly at the back wall.

Here we go again.

“Do you ever care what I say to you?”

“It goes in one ear and out the other.”

Mark leaned closer to Sophie Lynn; she continued to draw.  He grabbed her pencil and put a heavy mark on her illustration.  Sophie Lynn’s eyes widened.

“Get a life Mark.”

“Why don’t you off yours?”

She looked at Mark.  He never gotten to her as he did that moment.  She admired her life and wanted to live; however, day by day her art class took a piece of that.

“Seriously, you have a passion for art.  Paint a famous work of art and then you know.  Just like those famous dudes Leonardo Di Vinci, Michelango,”  Mark continued.

No one laughed this time.

“Sophie Lynn get back to work and stop disturbing the class,”  Ms. Johnson said.

This was the last straw.  Everyday she and the teacher would get into it, and Ms. Johnson would threaten to send her to the office.  Well today, Sophie Lynn really wanted to go.

“If I’m such a disturbance, then send me to the office.”

“I will if you don’t get back to work.”

The class looked at Sophie Lynn.  She shoved her art materials on the floor.  “I’m not getting back to work until you scold the right person, which I know you won’t because you and everyone else is too worried about picking on me to realize the real problem–yourselves.  So Ms. Johnson, I’ll save you the trouble and volunteer to go to the office.”

Sophie Lynn stood up and looked at everyone.  Two girls whispered, Mark looked confused, the others looked shocked, and Ms. Johnson crossed her arms across her chest.  Sophie Lynn smiled and walked out of the room slamming the door.

#

The principal refused to talk to her until her parents were present.

“Is that all you would like to tell me?”  Mr. Barr asked annoyed.  Sophie Lynn was confused.  She said everything that happened to her in class today and in the past few months.  If the principal didn’t care, then who would help her.

“Well, let me say this quickly.  I alone cannot stop this problem; you have to help me.  You have to look normal, you know, dress like everyone else because this wild appearance you have going on is just bringing you the negative attention you may deserve.  Now if your art class was such a major problem, then why didn’t you come to me sooner?”

“Because I was reluctant to hear what you had to say because I knew you wouldn’t hear my side.”

Sophie Lynn looked down at her favorite mismatched outfit–a yellow/blue polka dot shirt, red/green flannel pants, and rainbow sneakers she had painted herself.  She wore green glasses and cheap jewelry.  Her hair was in a funky hairstyle, which looked awkward since her hair was too long.

“Honey, why must you act like this.  Mr. Barr, I swear my daughter wasn’t such an outcast until the 8th grade when her older brother died,”  her mom said.

“All I have to say is be different and deal with the consequences,”  her dad said.

Sophie Lynn wanted to cry but held back tears.  Her motto was Express Your Individuality.  Why did that cause so much pain?  Why couldn’t people be more accepting?

#

After the meeting, Sophie Lynn and her parents went home.  She stormed into her room and locked the door.  Her parents didn’t bother to check on her; she felt alone.  She was upset with her parents, people at her school, and herself.  Particularly herself because Sophie Lynn was doing what she promised she’d never do.

She looked through her room to find her “normal” clothes.  She found a pair of blue jeans and red Arizona shirt.  She put on those clothes, brushed her hair into a regular ponytail, and put on her black glasses.

She looked in the mirror.  Look normal, which means selling out so people will leave me alone, or stay the same and tolerate the rudeness of others.  Sophie Lynn chose the first choice.

#

People at school didn’t know how to react.  Sophie Lynn’s boyfriend and best friend were speechless until she clued them in on her plan.  Eventually, people in her art class, including Mark, were nice to her; they apologized just like Sophie Lynn assumed they would.

A month later, her painting was chosen for an art fair.  Ms. Johnson chose it over the rest of the class.  Sophie Lynn dressed up wearing a formal blue dress.  She wooed the judges and became another face in the crowd.  When the contestants got a break from the judging process, Sophie Lynn and her best friend went into the bathroom to finish the rest of her plan.

Ten minutes later, the judges announced they had picked the winners, so the contestants stood back on stage.  Instead of Sophie Lynn wearing her blue dress, she wore her favorite mismatched outfit with her painted shoes, funky hairstyle, and green glasses.

Everyone whispered.  The judges hesitated to announce she was the first place winner.  Sophie Lynn walked to receive her ribbon.  No one applauded, except her boyfriend and best friend.  She grabbed the mic from the judge.

“This past month I was given an ultimatum–either dress normal and have everyone respect me or stay different and deal with the rudeness of everyone.  I chose the easy way out, but even then it wasn’t easy.  I had to wake up every morning sad and low because I couldn’t dress the way I wanted.  I remember what Sam, my deceased brother, told me.  He said, ‘be who you are and the respect you deserve will come.  Most importantly, you don’t need to earn anyone’s respect; they need to gain yours’.  So, I’m here to say I have self-respect for myself, and I’ll continue to be the same person I’ve always been.  Thank you for the award.”

Silence.

After a few seconds, her parents clapped, followed by everyone else.  The applause lasted for about two minutes.  Sophie Lynn smiled.  Her plan worked–she gained the respect of others, including herself.

Furthermore, no one picked on Sophie Lynn again during the rest of the school year.  Everyone evaluated themselves to be happy.  She wouldn’t want it any other way.