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 June, 2003

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Lifecycle of a Character: Maturity

by Sandy Tritt


            Maturity is when our character learns how to handle his emotions. And that means we, as his creator, must learn to control his emotions as well, if we are to get out reader’s empathy. Writers must have an innate understanding of the human psyche. We must understand what motivates people, what destroys them, and how any given person will react in any given situation. Unfortunately, not all of us have this natural ability, so we must find ways to help us increase our knowledge. How?

·  Study Human Psychology at your local college.

·  Observe people, especially in emotional situations.

·  Empathize. How would you react?

·  Study books written on character emotions. Two I strongly suggest: Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood (Story Press, Cincinnati, Ohio) and The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D. (Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, Ohio).

·  Study books written on body language for subtle ways to insinuate emotion through character posture, expression and mannerism.

·  Read emotional scenes in novels. Which ones move you? Why?

            In one of my early attempts at writing, I wrote what I thought was an incredibly emotional scene in which a driver hits a pedestrian. It was full of “God, no! It couldn’t be! Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God! Dear Lord, don’t let her be dead! Oh, God!”

            Well—I was told to look up the word “melodrama” in the dictionary. And now I can see where this over-dramatizing tends to make the reader turn off. The advice I received was: “The more intense the emotion, the more distant the perspective.” While I sometimes agree with this, I also believe it is possible to get into a character’s head during a moment of intense emotion. The trick is to do it in a unique way (which isn’t easy). Although there are many, many masters of emotion out there such as Toni Morrison (Beloved) and Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried), one of my favorite emotional passages is from Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible (pp 366-367, Hardback). Taken from the viewpoint of the oldest sister immediately after witnessing her youngest sister’s death by snakebite, we are given an excellent example of the power of restrained emotion:

            There’s a strange moment in time, after something horrible happens, when you know it’s true but you haven’t told anyone yet. Of all things, that is what I remember most. It was so quiet. And I thought: Now we have to go in and tell Mother. That Ruth May is, oh, sweet Jesus. Ruth May is gone. We had to tell our parents, and they were still in bed, asleep.

            I didn’t cry at first, and then, I don’t know why, but I fell apart when I thought of Mother in bed sleeping. Mother’s dark hair would be all askew on the pillow and her face sweet and quiet. Her whole body just not knowing yet. Her body that had carried and given birth to Ruth May last of all. Mother asleep in her nightgown, still believing she had four living daughters. Now we were going to put one foot in front of the other, walk to the back door, go in the house, stand beside our parents’ bed, wake up Mother, say to her the words, Ruth May, say the word dead. Tell her, Mother wake up!

            The whole world would change then, and nothing would ever be all right again. Not for our family. All the other people in the whole wide world might go on about their business, but for us it would never be normal again.

            I couldn’t move. None of us could. We looked at each other because we knew someone should go but I think we all had the same strange idea that if we stood there without moving forever and ever, we could keep our family the way it was. We would not wake up from this nightmare to find it was someone’s real life, and for once that someone wasn’t just a poor unlucky nobody in a shack you could forget about. It was our life, the only one we were going to have. The only Ruth May.

            Until that moment I’d always believed I could still go home and pretend the Congo never happened. The misery, the hunt, the ants, the embarrassments of all we saw and endured—those were just stories I would tell someday with a laugh and a toss of my hair, when Africa was faraway and make-believe like the people in history books. The tragedies that happened to Africans were not mine. We were different, not just because we were white and had our vaccinations, but because we were simply a much, much luckier kind of person. I would get back home to Bethlehem, Georgia, and be exactly the same Rachel as before. I’d grow up to be a carefree American wife, with nice things and a sensible way of life and three grown sisters to share my ideals and talk to on the phone from time to time. This is what I believed. I’d never planned on being someone different. Never imagined I would be a girl they’d duck their eyes from and whisper about as tragic, for having suffered such a loss.

            I think Leah and Adah also believed these things, in their own different ways, and that is why none of us moved. We thought we could freeze time for just one more minute, and one more after that. That if none of us confessed it, we could hold back the curse that was going to be our history.

What more can I say?

(from Section 3, Workbook)

Want more great tips and techniques? Our Inspiration for Writers Tips and Techniques Workbook is now available. Expanded tips, more topics, reproducible worksheets, exercises to practice what you learn and much more--check it out! Free shipping anywhere in the United States.

(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved, except for those listed here. May be reproduced for educational purposes (such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt at tritt@wvadventures.net for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.

   Keep writing!

Sandy Tritt

Inspiration for Writers tritt@wvadventures.net

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Critiquing Special

  • Limited time special, one cent per word.  Just mention Publishing New Writers  Newsletter (May, 2003).

    Critiques by Sandy Tritt

  • Unlike most editors, I consider my role to be a mentor or a coach. Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I explain how to correct the problem, and I work with you to teach you how to write effective prose. More than 50% of my business is repeat business, and I relish establishing long-term relationships with other writers.

  • Treat you with respect and compassion. All criticism will be of the "constructive" sort. My purpose is to improve your writing, not to destroy your confidence.

  • Mark your manuscript, correcting grammatical and spelling errors and suggesting alternative wording where appropriate, line-by-line.

  • Highlight areas that are especially well-written, so you will know where your strengths are.

  • Where appropriate, offer suggestions for plot development, character development or other areas that could be strengthened.

  • Return a two-to-four page written analysis of your work. This will include evaluation of: plot, setting, characterization, dialogue, special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks, etc.), voice, point of view and any other areas particular to your work.

  • If appropriate, recommend reading or resources to strengthen your areas of weakness.

  • Answer any questions you  have via email.

  • Provide my telephone number for a personal follow-up, if you desire.

For Sandy's success stories, see http://tritt.wirefire.com/


Write Sandy at tritt@wvadventures.net

(See Sandy's article above.)


Publish and Be-In-Demand

By Michael Levy


If you want to earn a little money by becoming a self published author then start out with a lot of money. It is very doubtful you will make any money by publishing your own books. However, if you wait for a large publishing house to accept you...Hell may have to freeze over first.

Some people believe they have the talent to become a famous author and no doubt they are a legend in their own mind. But, having talent and being a good writer does not mean you will find success as an author. It just means you are a good writer.

There are other folks who say they could never become an author because they have not perfected their style yet. Some say they have nothing to write about. Well, everybody has something to share with the world, even if it is how they continue to fail. In fact negativity seems to be more acceptable to the public then positively. Books that make the public cry, dramatize life, or scare them seem to be the ones on the best seller list more often.

The first thing a new self published author has to realize is they will most likely be rejected by the media and general public unless they can afford the services of a reputable publicist. And there are many non reputable scam merchant publicists out in the publishing world, waiting for the next starry eyed sucker to come along. You can also use  a ‘pay for placement publicist' and for ‘only' $3000 you can have your name mentioned in a top magazine and they will even quote you as an expert. Only recommended for those authors with a driving ego and deep pockets)

Never, ever go into debt to sell books. The self publishing world is filled with many people who will eagerly take your money and promise you great exposure. Most times you will lose your money and feel very disappointed. So the second thing to realize is...do not have any expectations of making the big time. Just publish your book for the fun of it. If you can find someone to help you as a partner with no money up front, who will share the profits they make for you, then that is the best solution of all.

Now that you have heard all the good news, how are you going to actually publish your book.

• Are you going to get a good copy editor? (recommended for first timers)

• Are you going to get a good traditional printer ? (only recommended for people with deep pockets, for large print runs are required)

• Are you going to get a publicist?   (even deeper pockets needed)

• Are you going to get a literary agent?   (good ones are very selective)

• Are you going to use a vanity publisher who will charge you an arm and a leg and leave you with bare bones?   (Not recommended)

• Are you going to publish an e-book and sell it through the Internet?

• Are you going to use a print on demand publisher (recommended for most folks with little money to spare and can be combined with an e-book)? Do a search on the Internet and find the best on demand publisher who is fair and genuinely wants to help you succeed.

Publishing your own book can be a very enjoyable experience, or it can become a tortuous, depressing event. It will all depend on how you set up your minds prospects for success. With 70,000, or is it 700,000, (what does one more naught matter) new books published each year, the chances of becoming rich and famous are slim. But to die with your book still inside you is to have wasted your life on earth.

Once you have published your book you are a success. No matter what your friends and family may say, you have published and they have not. No matter what negativity the media communicates, they are just doing their job and you are still a published author, they on the other hand, probably are not.

"Publish And Be-In-Demand" (You are an on demand author).
Publish your book ... enjoy the experience...and know you are successful by your action and deeds..... not by other peoples opinions. Now, set up a web site to sell your book. Submit your link to other web sites and search engines. Be persistent in all your endeavors. Be patient in all your pursuits. Be perseverant in your approach to prosperity. And most important of all....Be helpful to others.

Bio sketch

Michael levy was born in Manchester, England on the 6th March 1945.
After many life experiences and a successful business career he retired to Florida in 1992.
In 1998 Michael established Point of Life, Inc., as a vehicle to project his philosophy and spiritual understanding. The website www.pointoflife.com and the associated newsletter (Point Of Life Global Newsletter) are visited and read by thousands of people around the world every month. Michael is a frequent speaker on radio, television and at seminars where he shares and discusses his views about the purpose of life, finding peace and enjoyment and leading a healthy, stress-free life. 

In just a few years he has become a world renowned poet. In 2002 Michael was invited to become a member of the prestigious Templeton Speaker's Bureau.

Michael has recently established the Point of Life Foundation, a National Heritage Foundation dedicated to bridging the gap between science and religion and to bringing a clear, unbiased message to the general public to help them lead a meaningful, sharing and enjoyable existence. Starting in 2003 the Point of Life Foundation will present seminars and conferences bringing together opinion leaders from the fields of science, religion, medicine, philosophy and nutrition to help find common guidelines for leading a purposeful life.

Michael Levy is the author four books "What is the Point? ISBN 0966806905", "Minds of Blue Souls of Gold"ISBN 0966806913 , "Enjoy Yourself - It's Later Than You Think"ISBN "0966806921 and "Invest with a Genius"ISBN "0966806948. His poetry and essays now grace many web sites, Journals and Magazines throughout the world. His philosophies have become a major source of Truth, Wisdom and Love for many world organizations.
Web Sites : http://www.pointoflife.com  http://www.polfoundation.org
E-mail: mikmikl@aol.com

Michael Levy
Ft Lauderdale

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Publishing New Writers,

June, 2003 (no. 406)

Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

Submissions and comments to cookcomm@gte.net. Links are welcome.

To subscribe and/or  review our archive of past newsletters, go to



'Tips, Two-Handers, Three-Handers-plus, Sentiment and Cameos'

by Ken Mulholland

AuthorMe Country Editor

1. Lay a dollar on 'White-Socks' in the forth at Santa Monica.
2. Never give a sucker an even break.
3. I think there is a World Market for maybe 5 computers
4. The best things in life are free.
5. Fred Astaire. 'Can dance a bit, can't sing.'
6. Never work with children and animals.

Before you reach for the dictionary, the word means: ' wicked, iniquitous, villainous' and might well apply to some of the above.
The one it doesn't apply to is ' The best things in life are free.'

So here we go. These tips are free. Take them and use them if you wish. They just might help your hand as it glides across the empty void of white known as ' the page of unspoken thoughts and dreams.'
Yes that's right, the page that sometimes sits there staring up at you while you sit there staring just as blankly down at it.

First, let's take a look at Two-Handers.
These are dialogue passages between two people. Here's an example.

Ken's fingers gripped the back of a brown leather chair that stood before the oak desk. On the other side sat Bruce, the man who had just rejected him. ' Are you telling me that this is no good?' said Ken, losing patience.

' I'm telling you that I won't have it,' answered Bruce. "It's just not palatable.'

' Now look here,' Ken answered, hostility rising in his voice, 'I've spent a bit of time over this. Won't you reconsider?'

' Consumers...' said Bruce.

' Consumers be damned!' replied Ken, thrusting a sheet across the desk. ' Look at this again. You'll love it!'

' Nothing you can say will change my mind. You have my answer and that's final,' said Bruce, tossing the paper back at him.

Alright, now let's look at that again.

Ken's fingers gripped the back of a brown leather chair that stood before the oak desk. On the other side sat Bruce, the man who had just rejected him. 'Are you telling me that this is no good?' said Ken, losing patience.

' I'm telling you that I won't have it, It's just not palatable.'

' Now look here, I've spent a bit of time over this. Won't you reconsider?'

' Consumers....'

' Consumers be damned! Look at this again. You'll love it!'

' Nothing you can say will change my mind. You have my answer and that's final.' 

So I've taken out all the names, ( to protect the innocent ) and the action and the 'said Ken', 'answered Bruce' stuff, leaving only the skeleton of the dialogue.
So what? So this. You have the chance to look at various ways of writing dialogue and it will depend on how you want the work to look and read:
with dialogue tags,
with action in those tags,
or without any tags at all.  

There are those of the view that you should 'show' not 'tell'. Others tend to like a more Spartan approach, cutting to the bone, whilst others prefer the middle-ground.

One writer told me that to use 'said' for each character's tag makes them almost invisible and doesn't intrude on the dialogue, rather than using 'remarked', 'whispered', 'shouted', 'returned', 'wondered', and so forth.
My thinking is that 'said' stands out by its repetition. Why would we wish to banish others forms of expression, as those above, because they might be intrusive?
If they are, why are they words in the first place? And why should we not be free to utilize them?

Here I feel, strictures are being imposed without foundation.
You are the writer and you should be the judge of how you want the work to appear.
Yes, there are certain rules and guidelines that need to be known and taken into consideration.
However, we must not allow ourselves to be driven by current convention, or the mere whims and conjectures of others without at least questioning the standards set.
The fact is that all language is constantly fluid and ever-changing. And with it, so change the rules and regulations, the trends, the catch-phrases, the styles and the attitudes to language and, by extension, to writing itself.

So, you may want to consider exactly how you wish to present your work. Not only as to its actual content, but also its format. If the work is very short; what I would term a 'cameo' of dialogue, you could choose one of the three examples above, and take that to be the 'style' of the composition.
On the other hand if the work is novel-sized, or even larger, you may want to think about choosing an overall 'style' that will remain constant throughout, or a deliberate variation of styles utilizing all three options over the long haul, to alleviate the stagnation of repetition and to enliven the reading with new and exciting possibilities.

The point here is that there is a point here.
You are wielding the stylus, the quill, the ball-point, the keyboard. You have a responsibility to look at how your work is to be presented, and to make the decisions required to get the thing working the way you and the reader will applaud.
Writing is not just 'blasting away' with a shot-gun approach. It does have certain responsibilities that belong to the writer. Amongst these are the concerns of the final product: its hook, its look, its reader consideration, its writer's consideration.

Now these get a little more complicated.

At that moment there came an urgent knocking on the office door. Before Bruce could say 'enter', Rena burst in. 'Have you decided yet?' she enquired, looking rather frazzled.

'Yes', Bruce replied, ' it's definitely not for me. I know, I know,' he held up his hand, 'you think that it's got value for mon....'

'We all think that except you,' she answered almost vehemently. 'It has good content....'

' It has meat', Ken muttered.
' It has far too little "meat" as you term it Ken.'

Ken turned from the window where he had been gazing down at the busy street below. ' Now listen to reason Bruce....'

' Reason? When the hell did that come in?' Bruce spun about in his chair, his chin jutting firmly, his finger pointing directly at Rena.

' Why don't you tell him Rena?'

' Tell him exactly what Bruce? That you are the only one of the whole group that....'

Now let's reduce that to dialogue, and see if the thing works without tags.

At that moment there came an urgent knocking at the office door. Before Bruce could say 'enter', Rena burst in. 'Have you decided yet?'

'Yes, it's definitely not for me. I know, I know, you think that it's got value for mon....'

' We all think that except you. It has good content.'

' It has meat.'

' It has far too little "meat" as you term it Ken.'

' Now listen to reason Bruce....'

' Reason? When the hell did that come in? Why don't you tell him Rena?'

' Tell him exactly what Bruce? That you are the only one of the whole group that....'

With a little deduction it is still possible to tell who's speaking and retain the gist of this three way conversation. Remember, this is an exercise only. An example of what can be done. It is not intended as the 'correct' way, merely another way of delivering the goods.

Now, Three handers-plus.

' That think you should give in to Ken', Linda completed the sentence

Rena turned to the open doorway. ' Linda, I thought that you and Adam weren't going to get into this. Can't we just have your vote and leave it at that?' she groaned, sliding limply into the leather chair.

' You know what Linda and I think about Ken's selection. It's just that Bruce feels otherwise,' said Adam, hovering behind Linda so that his tall frame filled the space.

' So, it's back to you Bruce. We three are giving our preferences to Ken'. Rena swiveled round to face him.

Bruce took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. ' I see. And I thought that I had the say around here. You know, we work as a team, we do it my way.'

Adam snorted. ' Not on something like this. C'mon Bruce, it's not that often I get to agreeing with the girls on Ken's behalf....'

' It appears that I am out voted then,' Bruce interrupted, a look of resignation on his face. 'Very well, we shall all have

Here again we'll take away all the tags and see if it still makes sense.

' That think you should give in to Ken.' 

' Linda, I thought that you and Adam weren't going to get into this. Can't we just have your vote and leave it at that?'

' You know what Linda and I think about Ken's selection. It's just that Bruce feels otherwise.'

' So it's back to you Bruce. We three are giving our preferences to Ken.'

' I see. And I thought that I had the say around here. You know, we work as a team, we do it my way.'

' Not on something like this. C'mon Bruce, it's not that often I get to agreeing with the girls on Ken's behalf....'

' It appears that I am outvoted then. Very well, we shall all have

Again, with a little deduction we can still work out who is saying what, because the identification of the character is indicated in the 'pre' or 'post' statements of others.

"Fine" you mutter. And when would I want to apply a technique like this? What would be the reason?

Okay, take a look at two articles on AuthorMe entitled 'An Inkling of AuthorMe' and 'The AuthorMe Staff Gathering and Picnic.'
So there are sometimes special circumstances where you can, if you so desire, apply the above technique. Also remember that 'Two-Handers' can often be used if you want some variation to the standard tagging system.

Now that we have briefly covered 'Two-Three-Plus Handers', there are the subjects of Sentiment and Cameos.
Well, the above is an example of a cameo: that is a short literary vignette (If there can be such a thing, otherwise you are in the presence of a birthing phrase.) that may be a very short story, or a mini-chapter that will be slotted into a larger work.

Oh and I suppose, if you have come this far down the page, you may be wondering what was the subject of discussion by the group in the office.
Was it about the rejection of a manuscript?
No. Ken only had a single page of material.
Perhaps it was poetry. A poem?
Unlikely. Bev Boisen, AuthorMe Poetry Editor, wasn't amongst the crew.

Let's try some lateral thinking here.
Maybe the cast were only handy names and weren't associated with AuthorMe.
Maybe an advertising agency!
What if they were discussing an 'Ad Campaign'.

Clues, clues. Hmm.
'Not palatable'. 'Far too little meat'.
You don't think they were talking about a certain clown dangling his legs off a pair of golden arches!
Kinda fits the clues though.

Wait a minute!
Why don't we just zoom into the paper? It's still lying there on the desk. Just let me fiddle around here...there that should...looks like a menu of some sort.
' Fast Food. Delivered To Your Door.'
Alright! Now we're cookin' (Pardon the pun-see, 'Cookin'-food-Bruce Coo...forget it.)
Look! There's a single asterisk and some scribble next to number 96.

Can't quite make it out, it's little lettering. Oh yeah, I see now...

Oh no! Well, 'Sentiment' was going to be a part of this article. Here it comes.
'The Aussie Pizza. All Vegetarian, with a Double-Thick Vegemite base'.
And the scrawl reads, 'Topped with lots of anchovies.'

Ken, how could you do this to me?

Cameos and Sentiment will have to wait till next month.
Except this sentiment.

Outta time and outta space.
Umm. Time and Space. I wonder if that might make a good subject?

Keep writing, keep exploring.
Ken Mulholland











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