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A Twist of Wyrd Author Interview

A Twist of Wyrd Author Interview

The Manuscript Shredder interviews author P.J. Friel about her book, A Twist of Wyrd.

Using Character Motivations in Plot Chains-authortoolbox

Using Character Motivations in Plot Chains-authortoolbox

People may not always behave in a logical manner, but when you are planning out your stories, your characters should. Creating characters without any internal logic will produce an inconsistent, illogical mess. Fortunately, there is a simple trick for fixing this problem

Creating the Perfect Love Interest

Creating the Perfect Love Interest

How to Turn your Love Interest into a Living Character

The love interest is an integral part of contemporary plot structure. But too often that character is little more than a pretty face designed to be the main character’s dream girl. Today’s love interest needs to be more than just a skirt waiting to be rescued. Make sure your love interest is a person who matters.

Steps to Creating a Meaningful Love Interest

Your love interest must be a fully realized character

If you haven’t already, make a character sheet for your love interest. For now, skip over the physical description and think about him as a person. What does he want? Yes, your love interest needs to have his own wants. He is just more than arm candy. He needs to have his own life. How does he fit into the narrative? Is he a protagonist force, or an antagonistic force?

In The Lego Batman Movie, Barbara Gordon’s role was antagonistic. She represented the rule of law, whereas Batman assumed a vigilante role. She worked with her team, Batman was a loner. She also had no interest in Batman romantically, whereas Batman became obsessed with her. If you removed the romantic aspect, Barbara still had a role to play in the plot. This is what makes her a fully formed character.

Your love interest shouldn’t be perfectwriting the perfect love

No matter what you see in Hollywood, your love interest should not just be a piece of tail in leather pants. Give him a real personality that includes a flaw. Real people have flaws. If your love interest is too perfect, the relationship will feel contrived. Readers will sense that this is a person created as a cuddle doll for your main character. Rather than feeling like a real person, your love interest will be nothing more than a personal fantasy. Your love interest needs to be more than just “hot.” If your character only ever describes him by his physical characteristics, then she isn’t really falling in love.

If your love interest is male, watch out for the “alpha-hole” problem. This is more prevalent in romance novels where the male character is basically a self-centered jerk, but for some reason, the behavior is excusable because he’s really good in bed. If your main character really is interested in this type of guy, then you need to address whatever character flaw attracts her to him and make that part of her inner journey.

Your love interest should affect the plot

This does not mean just getting kidnapped. The modern love interest needs to be more than the girl your hero rescues. Make sure you have your main character and the love interest interacting outside the romantic subplot. Give your love interest a function from the secondary character list: antagonist, side-kick, complicating factor, or teacher. Think through how this role will affect the budding romance. This will ensure the romantic subplot doesn’t feel like an afterthought.

Your romantic subplot should be fully formed

Make a quick synopsis of their romance. This will prevent you from falling into the “instant love’ trap. Instant love happens when two characters don’t have enough time to develop a relationship before falling in love. Consider your own relationships. How many interactions did you typically have with a person before a first date? How many dates did you go on before you made a commitment? If your character becomes obsessed on the first date, this could be a symptom of a serious psychological problem. While this might add an interesting dynamic to your character, make sure this is a direction you really want to go. If you want your characters to make a real love connection, you will need to make sure your romantic subplot is fully formed.

Beats for a romantic subplot

While a romance novel will have more plot points, for a romantic subplot your should have at least four: the meeting, the turning point, the crisis, the resolution. These can happen during other scenes, but you should be able to identify them in your story.

The meeting is nothing more than the moment your characters first meet. If your characters already know each other, this will be the first moment your main character begins to think about him in a romantic capacity.

The turning point is the moment the love interest becomes aware of the main character’s interest. This will change the dynamic between the two characters. Either the love interest will be receptive to the attention, or she will reject it. Whichever you choose, this will establish the nature of the relationship until the next plot point

The dark moment is the event that challenges the status quo. If the relationship is amicable, then this will be the major conflict coming to fruition. In romance novels, this conflict is usually based on a character’s flaw or fear. If the relationship is antagonistic, this will be the moment that changes something for the love interest. She will begin to see the hero in another light.

The final point is the resolution. Here, whatever problem arose in the dark moment will be overcome. This does not necessarily mean that the couple will live happily ever after. It means the conflict between the parties has ended. The guy doesn’t always have to get the girl. Having the couple split but being better for the experience is also acceptable. Likewise, the “love interest” doesn’t even need to be a romantic role. This function could also be served by two sworn enemies learning to trust one another. A Romulan and a Klingon overcoming personal prejudices could function as a love interest. The purpose of the love interest subplot is to show personal growth in the main character.

Getting Down and Dirty

Unless you are writing for a specific romance line (Harlequin Blaze, etc.) then the level of on-page sex you wish to include in your story is up to you. There is nothing that says you must have a sex scene in your story. If you wish to include one, the level of description is a personal choice. Some writers favor innuendo while others include every graphic detail. There is no wrong answer. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of writing a sexual encounter, end the scene by implying the next step and leave the details to the reader’s imagination. Then, pick up the story the next morning. If you wish to include a sex scene, go for it.

Not every story needs a love interest, but if you have one, make sure you take the time to make yours a living, breathing person.

If you found this article useful, please share it with other writers on social media. Thanks!

Have something to add? Leave a comment. I love hearing from readers.

Celebrating a win-IWSG

Celebrating a win-IWSG

How I Celebrate a Win This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group: a monthly blog hop therapy group for writers. The awesome co-hosts for the March 7 posting of the IWSG are Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen […]

The First 50 Pages: Recommended

The First 50 Pages: Recommended

Jeff Gerke’s The First 50 Pages is a writing how-to intended to point out every way you are ruining your manuscript, and then guide you through ways to fix those problems

Shameless Plugs Podcast

Shameless Plugs Podcast

J.A. George and Samantha the Writer discuss reading, writing and pop culture – and shamelessly plug their own writing.
— Read on

This week’s special guest: me

I talk about the blog, why I do it, and my upcoming project.

World-building: why sprinkles don’t work-author toolbox

World-building: why sprinkles don’t work-author toolbox

Just chopping info-dumps into smaller pieces isn’t really that sneaky. The savvy reader will still sense that something isn’t right. Sprinkling world-building randomly into your story is like tossing skittles on top of your tiramisu. It doesn’t solve the real problem. Fortunately, there is a better way

Novel Revision and Editing Guide

Novel Revision and Editing Guide

Revising without a plan can lead to hours of wasted effort and frustration. Rather than getting stuck in an endless editing loop, use this novel revision and editing guide to make sure you are doing the right edits in the right order

Why I Write Fantasy-IWSG

Why I Write Fantasy-IWSG

Why I Write Fantasy

This is my first post on the blog hop The Insecure Writers Support Group: a monthly blog hop therapy group for writers.

(If you’re here for my writing lessons and have no need for this warm-fuzzy-feeling stuff, I’ll see you on Friday.)

Co-hosts for the February 7 posting of the IWSG are Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia, Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte.

If you’d like to sign up click here

February 7 question – What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

Why I write Fantasy

WHY I WRITE FANTASY-www.themanuscriptshredder.comWhen I was young, fantasy novels were a way to escape. The adolescent mind rebelling against some perceived injustice. The sense of wrongness in the world that I had no word for, just the driving need to escape. I read all kinds of fantasy because anywhere was better than here.

In my teen years, the nameless repression began to identify itself as the message of my “true” role in life became apparent. I fled to fantasy. Whether it was Star Trek or Dungeons and Dragons, fantasy was a place where female characters weren’t penalized. I didn’t care if my heroines fought with swords, magic, or phasers. They could fight. Anywhere was better than here.

As an adult, I began teaching in an urban school in a poor neighborhood. I watched my students do incredible things despite the struggles of poverty, and I thought, “If only they were living somewhere where they didn’t have these problems.” Surely, anywhere was better than here.

Then I moved to a wealthy suburban district and watched the students there struggle not under the weight of poverty but of impossible expectations. I saw this at every school I taught. Every background, every race, every environment. No matter where I went, my students had the same needs, the same hopes. Only the monsters changed.

This is what fantasy does. It illustrates what is common to all people. By telling stories in cultures that do not exist, it strips away the reader’s preconceptions and politics. By changing these rules, those biases no longer affect the reader’s experience. This leaves readers only the shared human experience. The basic needs that unite us: shelter, safety, belonging, and self-expression are present no matter how foreign the setting.

Fantasy allows us to drop the expectation and biases of our own culture in favor of the common human experience. Fantasy isn’t about escaping. It’s about examining what is common to all human experience. The buildings may be different, but people are all the same. This is why I love fantasy and why fantasy is so important.

Fantasy shows us that everywhere is here.

Thanks for reading,
M.L. Keller

To continue on the blog hop


The Magic Fix-it Scene

The Magic Fix-it Scene

Adding material to your manuscript to solve a problem? The magic fix-it scene rarely works. While these scenes are intended to solve a specific problem, they often cause a host of other issues. But there is a better way