Saturday, August 19, 2017

Planning Your Novel - Part 6 - Hero Charactization

by Elva Cobb Martin

How do you like this photo I chose to represent my current hero, privateer  Captain Ethan Beckett?

Doesn't that face, that intense look inspire you? It certainly did me. It is actually the face of the Turkish actor who played the hero in the NetFlix historical romance series "Kurt Seyit and Sura." I highly recommend this series for historical romance lovers.

Here is how I've planned out my character,

Captain Ethan Beckett, formerly Rev. Ethan Becket of Charles Town.

Basics: grieving widower, bitter since wife’s death, left the ministry and returned to the sea, his first love.

Physical Description: tall- 6 feet, 2 in.; muscular, deep-set pewter eyes,   chestnut brown hair pulled back in a queue (braid), full beard and mustache, sun-tanned square face; flaring nostrils; straight eyebrows; thick neck, arms, chest; thin lips; great with sword and sailing a ship.

Internal  Goal/motivation– overcome his grief and bitterness over wife’s death and second child at birth and raise his first child Joshua in a happy home

External – Find and rescue his sister from Spanish captivity

Core Need:  To find the peace and happiness he once had during his first marriage and ministry

Character and Spiritual Arc

Persona: (face he shows the world) Bitter, easily angered, arrogant, now drinks, doesn’t think God cares or was fair in letting his godly wife Olivia  and child die in child birth. Vows never to love again.

Essence: unmoored, feels cut-off from all that is good, guilt-ridden for backsliding, feels a failure, wishing he could find his way back to sanity and peace.

Will Become: a stronger minister than he ever was with renewed faith in God’s love, care and power to forgive and cleanse.  No longer angry or bitter, quits drinking, humble, able to risk loving again.

I have further notes planning my romantic arc for Captain Becket.

Now you've been introduced to my heroine and hero in my wip. How do you like them?  In my next blog I'll share about those important secondary characters that enrich our story.

I'm busy finishing the first three chapters and a proposal for some editors I met at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in May who liked my pitch for this series and asked to see a proposal. Yes, tis a lot of work! But I'm taking you on the journey with me!

Are you working on a novel? Would love to hear your comments or questions. And please do share this blog on Twitter and Face book by clicking on the icons below.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin


Friday, August 11, 2017

Planning Your Novel -Part 5 Deep Heroine Characterization

by  Elva Cobb Martin

Planning an Heroic, Determined, Compassionate Heroine --start with a picture or two.

Here are a couple of the photos I've chosen for my heroine in Spanish Captive, showing her two sides as a lovely Spanish lady and a trained sword-fighting foe when necessary. (And, yes, it's going to be necessary). I love having an idea of how my heroine might look as I plan and write the story.
(Do  you recognize Catherine Zeta Jones?)

My heroine: 

Doña  Marisol Valentin 




Physical Description: Medium height, long, curly, dark hair, hazel eyes with a tinge of gold,  dark arched brows and thick lashes, skin color and texture from her English mother – creamy ivory; face structure – oval/oblong with high cheek bones; straight nose, full lips and gleaming straight white teeth, small but strong hands with long, tapered fingers; general body structure – small bones, lithe, well endowed, much stronger than she looks. Had Spanish father and English mother.

Special skills:  Trained in sword fighting. Is excellent horsewoman and Flamenco dancer. Raised on an Andalusian Stud Farm in Cadiz, Spain

Don't forget my premise for this novel:

Love, forgiveness, and determination can overcome the most horrifying experiences and poor choices when God is invited into the equation.

Here are some characterization details I'm working out for Marisol that will help develop and bring my premise into realization. Of course, some of this may very well change as I write the story. I keep my plotting outline fluid!

Internal Goal/Motivation – to overcome her terrible past and find love, security, respect. She falls in love with widower privateer Captain Ethan Becket, but sees little hope for that relationship due to her terrible past with the murder of a Spanish noble who attacked her. 

Spirit of Rejection  - desperately wants to be part of a loving family circle but doubts she's worthy.

 External Goal/Motivation-  Escape from Spain to New World. Later, help Captain Ethan Becket find and rescue his sister from Spanish captors thought to be living in Cartagena.
        
Core need: to find true love, security, respect and a new beginning.

 Greatest fear: That ALL her past will be revealed and she’ll suffer great consequences, even to being garroted (in Spain) for murder. And Ethan Becket will never understand if he learns of the murder.

The incident that wounded her earlier in life that got her to believing a lie.
Her stepfather tried to marry her off to a rich, wicked don she refused to marry. One day the nobleman attacked her but she managed to stab him, accidentally killing him. She had to flee her home and live by her wits and charms. She escaped from Spain by becoming an indentured slave on a ship bound for the colonies.

Character Arc:  
Persona (face she shows to the world):  A very capable, sometimes harsh, sometimes vixen, fearless young woman.

Essence: An insecure, frightened, low self-esteem, young woman, who longs to escape her past and find love, family, and security.

Will become: a strong, godly young woman willing and able to fight and sacrifice for  others.

Spiritual Arc
Marisol starts out as a nominal believer, not sure what blessings faith affords. Even though she repented her past sins, she still feels like soiled goods and knows she’ll go to prison or to  execution if the murdered nobleman's family finds her. She is sure no one will believe her version of the attack vs. the version of the man’s family, who are wealthy and of the Spanish nobility.
   
 She Will Become: Marisol will discover through scripture and experiences that God wants to wipe away all that stains her mind, will and emotions and help her become a true woman of God worthy of respect and love. The battle she will face when the murder catches up with her will serve to strengthen her, not to destroy her, and will build a strong faith in God’s justice and belief in his love for her.

Romantic Arc
Marisol falls in love with widower Captain Ethan Becket, but many hurdles stand between these two ever finding love and a HEA. 

Do you like this heroine so far?  Please do leave a comment and share the blog on your social media by clicking the square links below.

Blessings,
Elva Martin













Friday, August 4, 2017

Planning Your Novel Part 4 - Characterization Special: Dancing Horse Heroine



By Elva Cobb Martin  ---Check out the above YouTube Clip!

If you're planning a novel, I assume you've studied a lot about characterization and how best to plan and detail your characters. But today with the above YouTube clip I am sharing with you something I've run across with planning my Spanish heroine in my current wip (work in progress).

In my research I ran across the Spanish horse or the Andalusian breed which has had a large influence on the bloodlines of the beautiful Lipizzaner breed of horses of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. That's why it's called the Spanish Riding School, but it's in Vienna, Austria.

I've had horses myself and love them. I am thinking about making my heroine more special than ever by setting her on a Spanish horse stud farm where she has learned the beautiful dancing with the horses like you see in the clip. Don't you think this will make her a much more special character that readers will love?

Remember, one of my first points in planning your novel in Part 1 was Research and More Research! I've spent some time studying out the Spanish or Andalusian horse and had a great time doing it. My novel will be much richer as a result. These horses are still being bred in several nations and very popular all over the world, not just in Spain or Austria.

In the clip you can see where the Lipizzaner got it's beautiful dressage genes! And don't you love the Spanish guitar accompaniment?

Of course, I've got MUCH research on this subject I may never get to use in my novel, but that's fine. I'd rather be on the rich end rather than the skimpy one.

Here's a few quick notes from my research for you horse lovers like me!

Spanish horses, including the Andalusian, originated from Arabian and Berber horses from North Africa. They were brought to Spain in the 8th Century. (Think Muslim invasion and takeover of Spain which continued several centuries and hence the mosques still standing there).


During the 15th and 16th Centuries (think of the Catholic deliverance of Spain, Queen Isabella's Empire, and Columbus) these majestic high-stepping Spanish horses became the status symbol of the royal courts throughout Europe. 
Note: my photo may be of Isabella...and it might not be. But you get the picture. ( :



1580: When the importation of horses from the Spanish Peninsula became more difficult, the Vienna court under Archduke Karl II decided to develop their own breeding farm in . . . Lipica. He sent buyers to Spain and they brought back stallions and mares. They became the foundation of the Lipizzan breed. And, yes, I have the rest of the exciting story about even these Lipizzan horses and all they went through during the various European wars, even their rescue during WWII by our own General Patton. But that's another story. . . for another day.




Have you planned a special talent or work for your main character that people will love to learn about? This is the kind of thing that makes an historical or a contemporary novel much richer. In my contemporary Summer of Deception novel, I shared the growing and making of tea by my hero. You can find the novel here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071L28PHH
I also have a beautiful Arabian horse in this novel named Haidez.

Do join the fun and tell us about your character's special talent or work. Please click on the social buttons below to share if you found this blog helpful.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin








Friday, July 28, 2017

Planning Your Novel Part 3 "Pitches and Book Tags"

by Elva Cobb Martin


In Part 2 we talked about "Premise" and how it will actually help you write your pitch. Never mind pulling your hair out. You can access Parts 1-2 in my archives.

So what is a pitch (or log line) and how does it differ from a book tag?

A pitch is a one or two sentence nutshell that explains what your book is about. 

Imagine someone asking you, "What is your book about?" (Some one like an editor or agent that you may run into at a conference and you only have a few moments to tell them about your book). 

Here are some examples of pitches:

1) Jacob Marshall must avenge his father's honor by implicating Serena Jones' father, only to realize revenge often hurts the innocent.

2) Rachel York determines to unearth the truth about her brother's reported death by taking a position at an historic tea plantation, only to realize the truth may destroy her new found love and could even cost her life.  (This was my pitch for Summer of Deception which helped snag a contract and can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071L28PHH )

Want to try your hand at a pitch?  Here's a simple template that has helped me:

(Your protagonist) _________MUST __________(critical plot goal) BY ______________(action or conflict)  
ONLY TO REALIZE __________________(what the character learns about life that helps him change his goal during journey of book

Tags are a briefer hook, like back cover copy first line or byline in a movie. You'll need this for your book cover and tweets.

To boldly go where no man has gone. (Star Wars)
Don't go in the water (Jaws)
Collide with destiny (Titanic)
Power comes with a price (The List by Robert Whitlow)
Can love survive a summer of deception? (for my novel Summer of Deception)
Falling in love with a pirate was never part of her plan. (for my novel, In a Pirate's Debt).

My Premise for my current wip helped me write my Pitch. Of course, it's an inspirational romance.


To recap, my tweaked premise for my wip is: Love, forgiveness, and determination can overcome the most horrifying experiences and poor choices when God is invited into the equation.

Here's a rough draft of my pitch:

"Marisol Valentine flees after murdering the Spanish nobleman who sexually assaulted her only to find herself caught in a net of kidnappers for the King's colonization of the New World which threatens to derail her forever from love, security and decency until she discovers a God who can work good even from evil."

How's that for a long sentence? But it gets the job done--for now. ( :

Thanks for stopping by. Please do leave a comment and a sample pitch, if you have one. And share this blog if it has been helpful.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin













Saturday, July 22, 2017

Planning Your Novel - Part 2 "Premise"

by Elva Cobb Martin


Planning your novel can get that dream you have (like an illusive bubble in your head and heart), down on plain white paper or on your computer screen.

In Part 1 of planning a novel, we talked about:

a) Reading/immersing yourself in your genre and time period


b) Jotting down your initial storyline
c) Researching and more researching

You can find Part 1 in my archives.

Today, I want to talk about the first of three important "p's" in planning your novel: Premise, Pitch, and Pictures.

Stavros Halvatzis has several good blogs about Premise that helped me. Click http://stavroshalvatzis.com/story-design/how-to-create-a-strong-dramatic-Premise

To recap, he says: 

The story or moral premise is a short description of the entire story in its essential form. It's the essential core or meaning of the story and the chief theme of your story.

A unique premise contains a strong set-up and pay-off, it generates dramatic questions, and gives the writer a blueprint for writing a successful story.

It can be thought of as the two-part genetic code of a story: one part identifies the virtue which leads to victory, while the other identifies the opposite, which leads to defeat.

Here are some movie examples he sites:

1) The Ten Commandments, Braveheart, The Firm, Gladiator
    "The hero must do the right thing to eventually achieve the goal (carry the day, save the world), even if it sometimes means he has to sacrifice himself."

2) In There Will be Blood  
      "The pursuit of wealth and power, at the expense of love and family, leads to loneliness and defeat."

After studying premise this is what I came up with for my work-in-progress, an inspirational historical romance.

"Love, forgiveness and determination can overcome the most horrifying experiences and poor choices."

Can you see the two main parts of my story? (Terrible experience & Happy Resolution) Can you see that it will be an encouraging story for those who have suffered from bad experiences or poor choices? Does it bring to mind dramatic questions like: What horrible experience did the heroine endure? How will she find love and forgiveness to overcome the effects? Does she have enough determination to move forward to a HEA? My heroine, Marisol Valentin, will find what she needs to overcome! She will illustrate my idea of a strong, determined woman who will not let circumstances destroy her or keep her down. And, of course, she will have to discover the great power of Christian faith to do this.

Do you see that from my premise, I actually have my beginning, middle and end of my story? 
     The Horrifying Experience (and all it entailed)
     Working to Overcome (risk, hindrances, conflict, people)
     Accessing love, forgiveness and determination to a HEA

Sound like the 3 acts? Maybe so.

Can you come up with a premise for your novel? It will help you write your story, and keep you on track to your planned ending.
Please share it in the comments. I'd love to read it.

Premise is different from the Pitch which I will discuss in my next blog. Premise will help you write your pitch!

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and share this blog on your social media if it was helpful.

Blessings,
Elva Cobb Martin







Saturday, July 15, 2017

Planning Your Novel - Part 1

by Elva Cobb Martin

Are you planning your first novel or trying to get started with your next one? I give God the glory for two novels recently released by Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas, Summer of Deception and In a Pirate's Debt. You can check them out on Amazon at this link: http://amzn.to/2pOgVHI

This summer I am researching and planning my next novel which will become a series, I hope. Here are the steps that have helped me in the past and, I believe, will assist me again.


1) Read, Read in Your Genre --and Time Period if Historical.
I find it very important to immerse myself in the genre I'm hoping to write. In your genre, find the best, most successful authors you can and read and study what makes their novel interesting to read. I often take notes and write in the margins!

If writing an historical, find books in your time period. Since I'm planning an historical series set in the 1700's like my pirate novel above, I am reading novels of established authors set in this century. It's amazing how many great ideas come to me as I soak up stories set in my chosen time period and place. Reading a contemporary novel,or one set in the Regency Period, or during World War II won't help keep me on target, so I save those novels for another time. I also look for movies set in my time period and save them in my TV groups. I take notes on setting, dialog, dress, conflict, historical tidbits, etc. 

4) Jot Down Your Initial Storyline
My basic story idea is of a heroine, an indentured servant, who has a bad past she's carrying like baggage, even after she becomes a Christian. (See the "lie" she believes and the spiritual plot possibility of her overcoming?) After a terrible incident in Spain she fled for her life to the New World as an indentured servant. She falls in love with her master after he becomes widowed, but she feels like soiled goods he will never be interested in. She desires to find respect, security and love and will go to some lengths to find them. (See the motivation and goals unfolding?) And, of course, I will give the widowed hero problems, conflicts, and goals to complicate the romance possibility we will pursue from Charles Town to the Spanish Main. Of course, some of these details will likely change as I write the story! (More on characterization, lies, motivation, and goals in Part 2.)

3) Research and Research Some More
Having the Internet has made research so much easier. Seldom do I have to make a trip to the library for research. This novel will have a heroine who is an indentured servant. Yesterday I googled "Indentured Servants in America" and came up with great information. I printed some articles and saved some to my computer. I already know this story will be set mainly on the Spanish Main in Cartagena so I googled that and came up with some great articles and maps.






























How do you plan a new novel? I would love to hear your comments. Next time I will share Part 2 that works for me.

Blessings,
Elva Martin

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Flat Speaker Beats Vs. Beats That Tell a Story


Guest Blog by Andrea Merrell, Author and Assoc. Editor, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

I am happy to welcome Andrea Merrell as a guest blogger today on Carolina Romance. Here are her tips about good speaker beats that will help your novel or creative nonfiction succeed. 
We’re taught the concept at writers’ conferences, read about it in helpful blog posts, and hear it from our critique group: show—don’t tell. This key to writing well can make or break an otherwise good story.  One way to be sure you’re showing your story is by using descriptive speaker beats. But first, let’s look at the difference between tags and beats.


Speaker Tags

A speaker tag shows the speaker’s name and a speech-related verb (said, asked, shouted). This is generally the best way to indicate which of your characters is speaking, but sometimes we tend to overuse tags. They’re not necessary each time someone speaks, especially in a long section of dialogue.



Example: “That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing,” Wendy said.

                     “Thank you so much,” Beverly replied.

                     “Where did you get it?” Wendy asked.

                   “It came from Dillard’s,” Beverly answered.

                     “Oh, that’s my favorite department store,” Wendy said.


Speaker Beats

A speaker beat is the action or internal thoughts that accompany what the speaker is saying. It also indicates who is doing the speaking.



Example: “I can’t believe you said that.” Jessie grabbed her keys and headed for the door.

Example: Tears rolled down Susie’s face. “It was a mistake. Please forgive me.”



Just like tags, don’t overuse beats. Too many will interrupt the flow of dialogue. They’re not necessary every time, but they work well to set the scene when used correctly.



Here are a few common speaker beats that are not only telling but redundant and, well … flat—especially when used over and over in a manuscript:

  • She smiled.
  • He laughed.
  • She cried.
  • He shrugged.
  • She nodded.
  • He cleared his throat.
  • She blushed.
  • He flexed his jaw.
  • She sighed.
  • He winked.
  • She straightened her shoulders.
  • He raked his hand through his hair.

Am I saying it’s never okay to use these beats? Yes and no. An occasional she smiled or he shrugged might be acceptable, but not just as a filler. And not if you want the reader to relate to your characters and feel like they’re watching them on the big screen. We need to show the emotions and inner conflict of our characters. Let’s look at another example.


Flat Speaker Beats

“I’ll be home soon,” Steve said. “Sorry, I forgot about the party.” He laughed.


Julie sighed. “You don’t listen to anything I say, do you?”


“Sure I do.” Steve shrugged. “I just don’t have the best memory.”


“You don’t care about my feelings. That’s the problem.” Julie cried.


What do you get from this section of dialogue? Not much. In fact, it’s pretty boring. We don’t even know whose point of view we’re in. Let’s set the scene a little better.

Speaker Beats that Tell a Story

“I’ll be home soon,” Steve said with a nervous laugh, wishing for the hundredth time he had put tonight’s party on his mobile calendar. He would have a hard time talking himself out of this one.

Julie’s weary sigh cut through the phone like a knife and reminded him of all the other important events he had conveniently forgotten. “You don’t listen to anything I say, do you?”

Steve shrugged his shoulders in a nervous gesture—the way he always did when he knew he was wrong—even though no one could see him. “Sure I do. I just don’t have the best memory.” Well, that was at least partially true. No need to make the situation worse.

“You don’t care about my feelings.” As usual, the sound of crying replaced the sigh. “That’s the problem,” Julie said between sobs. “You’ve never cared.”

Do you see the difference? Can you feel the conflict and tension between the two? Paint a picture with your words and pull your reader into the story.

Andrea Merrell is an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. She teaches workshops at writers’ conferences and has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues. Andrea is a graduate of Christian Communicators and a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. She is the author of Murder of a Manuscript, Praying for the Prodigal, and Marriage: Make It or Break It. For more information visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com.

Andrea's latest release is, Marriage: Make It or Break It.

Thanks for stopping by today. Do you have samples of good speaker beats to share? Please leave your comments and share this blog on your social media.

http://ctt.ec/dzJo7  Click to tweet.

Elva Cobb Martin