Gift box with text

It’s that time of year again. My seven-year blogiversary is coming up on July 12th. Holy cow. Seven years? Really?

I think it’s now official that I’ve been blogging for forever. Or maybe after this past year’s health issues, it just feels that way. *smile*

Once again, I’m amazed I found that much to blog about, not just in the number of posts (over 700!) but the length of my posts. (I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve come up with a blog topic and said, “Oh, this one will be short,” and ended up with 2000 words. *sigh*)

But I haven’t been the only one writing. My readers have left several thousand comments on my blog, and several talented guest posters helped me during this difficult year. That’s an amazing amount of conversation and shared stories and tips, and it’s all thanks to you (almost half-a-million visitors this past year!). You’re the reason I blog.

(Even when I’ve had too many health issues this past year to reply to every comment, I still read and appreciate them all. Promise!)

To thank you, I’m celebrating by holding a contest. For those who weren’t around last year, let me back up…

A blogiversary contest—that’s pretty normal, right? But there’s a reason I call myself insane. There’s a reason I write paranormal. There’s a reason my motto is “Why be normal?”

I don’t want to do normal.

So for this contest celebrating this blog and all the readers that make it awesome, the prize is…me.

Well, not “me” literally, but my time and/or money. You get to pick what that means. (Disclaimer: Subject to reasonability, privacy concerns, and legality. I haven’t landed in jail yet, and I don’t intend to start now. *smile*)

I want this contest to be for all my readers, whether you’re a writer or not, whether you’re published or not, whether you’re a newbie or not. If you win, you decide how I can be most helpful to you.

Some ideas:

  • Signed copies of any two of Treasured Claim, Pure Sacrifice, Ironclad Devotion, or the recently released Stone-Cold Heart from my Mythos Legacy series
  • $25 Amazon gift certificate
  • Free registration to any of my online workshops, including my Lost Your Pants? An Impatient Writer’s Guide to Plotting a Story workshop or my upcoming new workshop on my Romance Beat Sheet (I hope to offer both this fall *fingers crossed*)
  • Detailed critique of your opening pages up to 1500 words
  • Critique of your synopsis and/or query letter
  • Beta read up to 8K words (includes feedback on overall premise, characterization, and pacing, but not in-depth editing or grammar)
  • Analysis of your story’s structure and story/character arcs
  • Mentoring/walk-through help on one project (blog/website, developing a premise, business plan, social media platform, etc.)
  • Email brainstorming (story ideas: digging out from plot hole, branding ideas: coming up with tagline, etc.)
  • Copies of all of my MS Word polishing macros
  • I’ll write a guest post for your blog
  • You’ll get to write a guest post for this blog (subject to my guest post policies)
  • Three books from my general blog contest collection (books I’ve picked up from conferences)
  • Pick my brain about anything (grammar questions, copies of the writing advice documents I’ve collected, a list of the writing advice bookmarks I’ve saved, etc.)
  • Or anything else you can think of…within reason. *smile*

To enter, leave a comment. It’s just that easy. (Yep, that means those of you reading this via RSS or newsletter should visit my site so you can wave hello in a comment.) And yes, even if you’ve won in previous years, you’re welcome to enter again!

Maybe tell me what you’d like to win, or make up a funny choice to amuse us all. Introduce yourself if you’ve never commented before. Or tell me how stupid you think this contest idea is. Whatever. It will all count.

Also, I’ll pick an additional winner for every 50 commenters (not including my comments). So if 1-50 different people comment on this post, I’ll pick one winner. If 51-100 different people comment, I’ll pick two winners. And so forth.

This contest will close at midnight Eastern time on Sunday, July 9th, 2017. The winner(s) will be chosen randomly and announced on my official blogiversary post on Tuesday, July 11th. Good luck!

Do you want to win something? If so, tell me about it!

P.S. Don’t worry if you don’t see your comment! If I receive the usual number of entries, we’ll have multiple pages of comments here (that’s a good thing, as it means we’ll have multiple winners!). You can try clicking “Previous Comments” or “Next Comments” at the top of the comment section to see them all, but even if WordPress gets confused and doesn’t display them, rest assured that I see them all from my end. *smile*

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The Hero’s Arc: What’s Your Journey?

by Jami Gold on June 20, 2017

in Random Musings

Silhouette of a woman with sword with text: What's *Your* Hero's Journey?

In storytelling, we often talk about the arc of our hero—the path of change and improvement they follow while trying to reach their goals and satisfy their desires.

At the start of the story, something is holding them back from what they want. The something could be tangible, such as being imprisoned, or it could be psychological, such as being insecure—or any other wound, false belief, or fear. In many stories, both tangible and psychological somethings could be involved.

At the same time, the protagonist often doesn’t know what they really want, what they really desire. Their deepest longing or need might be known only on a subconscious level.

As I’ve pointed out before: All these psychological things that make our characters seem real apply to us too. After all, we are real. *smile*

Also like our characters, we have an arc—a path of change. Unfortunately, we don’t have an author behind the scenes of our life, making sure we succeed, and there’s no guarantee of a happy ending. However, we might be able to take lessons from the hero’s journey of our characters and apply it to our life.

Our Real Life Hero’s Journey

In our stories, by the end, our character is able to do something they weren’t able to do at the beginning. Maybe they learned how to overcome their fear, or maybe they were able to give up unhealthy behaviors. In the big picture, the hero’s journey is about learning to do things they don’t yet know how to do to become “better” than they are.

The same applies to us. There’s plenty we don’t yet know, and thus, there’s plenty we can learn to better ourselves.

Our problem often isn’t finding something to improve. Our problem often comes down to how we can improve.

How Can We Further Our Journey?

Just as our characters face external and internal obstacles, they also have external and internal resources to overcome those obstacles. They might have money or friends or mentors to help them along their path, and they might also have strengths and insights about themselves as additional tools.

Likewise, we can reach outward and inward to make progress along our journey as well. The key to our progress, however, might be our resourcefulness. How good are we at identifying and applying sources of assistance?

Reaching Out:

Reaching out to external resources to help us learn new things and overcome obstacles includes:

  • Asking friends and family for help
  • Honing our “Google-fu” to find online advice
  • Searching for mentors, real or virtual (those we simply imitate without direct mentoring)
  • Practicing our skills
  • Offering our talents to others to improve our financial situation
  • Etc., etc.

Reaching In:

Reaching into our internal resources to help us learn new things and overcome obstacles includes:

All of those resources, however, require effort. We must expend effort to find them, do them, and apply them. That effort is where we often run into trouble.

We Are Worthy of the Effort to Improve

We don’t always have control over our external resources. Sometimes the money we need to fulfill our goals simply isn’t there. Sometimes our family and friends aren’t supportive or able to help us. But our internal resources are under our control.

Taking advantage of those resources doesn’t cost money. They just require us to put in the effort and be self-aware (which is often easier said than done, but isn’t impossible by any means).

That said, our internal issues can cause more than internal obstacles. They can also constrain our resourcefulness for external resources. So addressing our internal issues will often help our external situation as well.

For example, if we don’t think we’re worthy of being helped, we’ll hesitate to reach out and ask for assistance. If we doubt our talents, we won’t put in the effort to improve.

The internet is filled with resources for us to improve ourselves. People have learned to build an entire house from scratch by watching YouTube videos. If we’re resourceful, we can find just about any type of advice on almost any subject.

But resourcefulness will get us only so far. If we’ve ever known how to fix some aspect of our lives but didn’t implement the change, we might want to ask ourselves why we held back. (*raises hand* Been there, done that. Every day.)

Maybe we have a solid reason—such as prioritizing other aspects of improvement—but maybe we don’t. Maybe we’re just holding ourselves back.

So the first thing we have to do is identify and address any internal issues that prevent us from seeing ourselves as deserving of being better. We have to see ourselves as being worthy of the effort.

Worthy of Being Better? Change Might Be Easier

Change is hard. Our characters know this. If change were easy, our stories would be one page long. *smile*

But we also know that our characters often get into their own way. Their fears about what they’re capable of, their wounds telling them something is impossible, or their false beliefs whispering how they’re unworthy all hold them back from their potential—their essence.

In our stories, something triggers our characters to start on the path of change. For us, there’s no “first page” of our lives to create that trigger. We get to choose what that trigger might be.

Our trigger could be anything that gets us to see ourselves as being worthy of improvement—a moment of confidence, a good review or feedback comment on our writing, or a recognition that we’re not unworthy simply for not knowing yet. Our trigger might even be a blog post, pointing out that there’s enough crap in the world holding us back already and there’s no reason to add to our obstacles with doubts of our worthiness. *smile*

As writers, we see evidence all the time that change is possible. We know how change happens for our characters. We know the benefits they experience when they improve their lives and make progress toward their goals.

So as writers, we should understand better than most what might help us along our hero’s journey, how we might overcome our obstacles. And we know more than most about the rewards we can find along the way. *smile*

How are you trying to improve yourself? What are you trying to learn or change? Do you feel that you deserve to be better, or is putting in the effort hard? Does viewing your life like one of your characters help you see how to make changes? Do you see yourself as the hero of your life?

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Giant digging bucket for mining equipment with text: Mining Our Experiences for Emotions

For many of us, the stories that sink deep inside our thoughts are those that resonate. That feel real. That say something honest about the world, relationships, or ourselves.

When I read, stories feel deeper or less shallow if I feel like I have an epiphany of understanding while reading. Usually, it’s triggered by an especially insightful line in the book, and I’ll find myself nodding along and shouting inside my head, “Yes! This!”

But to make our writing that insightful, that deep, that honest, we have to dig deep into ourselves. Most of us have probably heard the advice about how we should make our writing more authentic or genuine. But what does that mean, and how can we make it happen?

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Lizzie Shane to my blog to tackle this question. Before I turn this post over to her, I just want to fangirl for a minute…

I have very few auto-buy authors, but I judged one of her books in a contest—and gave it a perfect score. I loved the story. Loved. And she’s now one of the few on my auto-buy list, so kudos to her. *smile*

More importantly for us, she didn’t run from my fangirl-cornering on Twitter and instead offered to come here and share some of her thoughts on how we can make our writing more authentic. Please welcome Lizzie Shane!

*****

Honesty, Authenticity, and Mining Your Personal Experiences for Writing Gold

Emotional resonance. As an author, especially a romance author, that’s what I’m always seeking in my writing.

As a reader, I connect with a character when they feel real—and that reality is in the details—but for me, it’s not about knowing what kind of toothpaste they use or what the name of their childhood pet was. It’s about the little moments when their inner life—their emotional life—rings particularly true.

Authentic Writing Exposes the Real Us

Writing is an act of exposing your truest self—the moments of humanity we don’t always want to admit—because if you aren’t honest, your readers will spot the inauthenticity. I think a pitfall some writers fall into early in their careers is the urge to write our characters as we wish we are rather than as we truly are.

That aspirational writing can spin a lovely fantasy, but it won’t have the same emotional depth and impact as if we write characters with real reactions—warts and all. And then give those flawed humans a happily-ever-after. That’s where the power is.

I know I don’t always have instinctive emotional reactions I’m proud of. But instead of writing characters who never experience schadenfreude or never think of the selfish thing first, I try to write characters like me—people who may feel the not-so-perfect reaction, but also try to control the reaction and be better.

Often, when a character is feeling one way and wishes they were feeling another way, that is something I can relate to more than anything. Emotion isn’t just broad strokes—happy, sad, in love. It’s often the nuances and subtle warring of how we feel and how we think we ought to feel.

“Write What We Know…Emotionally”

They tell us to write what we know, and that doesn’t just mean as an accountant you can only write about numbers. We all have a breadth of knowledge in our own lives—emotional knowledge—to draw from. Both in our own experience and in the experiences of those close to us.

Two of the most valuable tools in a writer’s toolbox are Empathy and Sincerity. And Self-Awareness. Three! The three most valuable tools… Okay, I’ll stop. (Even though it was tempting to go into the entire Monty Python Spanish Inquisition sketch.)

I have the dubious distinction of being a single romance writer—which means I get the mixed blessing of lots of dating material as I look for my own hero and fail to find him. Like the time a date Googled me and knew more about me than I knew about myself by our first date? I was completely taken aback. And it totally went in a book.

Collect Emotions for Our Writing Toolbox

All those times you think “This is totally going in a book”—WRITE IT DOWN. But don’t just write down the situation, make an emotional record and add it to your toolbox.

When my best friend was getting married, I was her maid of honor, and I kept detailed notes on the experience. But my notes weren’t about which flowers to choose or how many dress stores we visited. They were all about the emotions—both hers and mine. The nerves. The excitement. The pressure.

When I felt happy for her but also left behind, or worried the cost of the bachelorette weekend was going to bankrupt me while also wanting it to be special for her, I wrote it all down—and mined it mercilessly for the book that I very conveniently happened to be writing during those months, Always a Bridesmaid.

Those feelings were fleeting, but they were great material. And perhaps part of the reason they were so fleeting was because I had an incredible outlet. Writing can be great therapy.

I’ve gotten in the habit of jotting things down when I’m feeling something that is particularly complicated or rich. Last year I was fortunate enough to be a finalist for the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. And I was giddy with the validation of it.

I jotted down lots of notes about the experience—the euphora, the nerves, the imposter syndrome. But the best ones, I think, were actually the notes I made after the ceremony when I lost.

Translate Those Emotions to Our Brand of Writing

Winning would have been insanely awesome (and terrifying—going up on that stage? Ack!). But the feeling of losing was so much more complicated and fascinating to me that I decided that night that one of my future heroes will have to be nominated for an Oscar and lose.

I write primarily about love in the wilds of Hollywood, so that was a way of fitting my personal experience into the context of my brand. If I wrote about politicians or athletes, they could have lost an election or a Super Bowl just as easily. It’s all about finding the way to fit your emotional context into your work to enhance it.

You know those cheesy Pepsi commercials—”This must be what Odell Beckham Jr. feels like when he scores the game-winning touchdown.” That’s pretty much what we’re talking about as writers.

You’re trying to make your characters’ emotions as authentic as possible. So if we aren’t going to be chasing bad guys in our day to day lives—or scoring NFL touchdowns to the delight of millions of fans—then we need to mine our own experiences for moments of emotional resonance.

Use whatever is going on in your life—whether it’s the out-of-the-norm (for me) of planning a wedding or the emotions surrounding a day-to-day life of getting up every morning to go to work or getting the kids off to school—and mine your experiences for moments of emotional gold.

Then translate those little moments and feelings into the world of your story to infuse your writing with emotional authenticity, to make your characters more real, and suck the readers in.

Study What Works on an Emotional Level

One other technique I highly recommend is to read actively. As a writer, when you’re reading, be aware of the moments when a character’s emotions seem most real to you—when you find yourself nodding along or feeling a wrench in your heart—and examine what they felt in that moment that got you. For me, it all boils down to honest emotion.

So write fearlessly and pour it all onto the page. And your readers won’t be able to get enough.

*****

Lizzie ShaneLizzie Shane is the 3-Time RITA-Nominated contemporary romance author of the Reality Romance and Bouquet Catchers series. Her latest novel, Dirty Little Secrets, about a politician falling for his nanny despite the political consequences, released on Tuesday. She also writes paranormal romance under the name Vivi Andrews.

For more about Lizzie and her books, please visit www.lizzieshane.com. You can also find her on Goodreads and Facebook.

*****

Dirty Little Secrets coverAbout Dirty Little Secrets:

Widowed father of twin girls and descendant of a political dynasty, Aiden Raines has been going through the motions since he lost his wife, throwing himself into work and focusing on taking care of others. He might work a few too many hours, but he’s getting by and he isn’t interested in rocking the boat—or getting involved in another relationship. Until he finds himself growing keenly aware of the woman who’s been right under his nose for years…

Samira Esfahani moved to DC and took the job as a live-in nanny when she was running away from a failed marriage. After learning how wrong she’d been about her ex-husband, she wasn’t ready to trust her romantic instincts again, but if she were to decide she wanted a man, Aiden Raines would be the prototype for the perfect one. Unfortunately, he’s also her boss, and off limits in more ways than one… until one kiss changes everything.

As much as Samira wants to be with him, she’s leery of trusting her heart—especially if being with Aiden would thrust her into the political spotlight, or worse, leave her hiding in the shadows as his DIRTY LITTLE SECRET.

Buy from Amazon :: Apple :: BN :: Kobo

*****

Thank you so much, Lizzie! As a reader of your books, I enjoyed the insights into the sources of your story ideas, but as a writer, I especially loved your tips. *smile*

As Lizzie said, when we go through emotional experiences, we want to make note of not just the surface emotions, but also of the deeper—perhaps contradictory—emotional levels. Or when we feel a story feels extra authentic, we want to analyze what emotions resonated with us.

We can experience happiness and sadness, along with several other emotions, at the same time. Our thoughts behind how we make sense of those contradictions can get at the core of honest, authentic reactions that help our readers to relate to our characters. And readers who love our characters are more likely to come back for more. *smile*

Do insightful, authentic emotions and reactions make stories feel deeper to you? What’s made you feel an epiphany or gotten you to nod your head in agreement? Have you tried to include honest, authentic emotions in your stories, and if so, how? Did Lizzie’s advice give you any new ideas? Do you have any questions for Lizzie?

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How Can We Make Time Pass in Our Stories?

by Jami Gold on June 13, 2017

in Writing Stuff

Writers Helping Writers: Deepen Your Craft with Resident Writing Coach Jami Gold

It’s time for another one of my guest posts as a Resident Writing Coach over at Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s Writers Helping Writers site. Previously, I shared encouragement for approaching a big revision, as well as advice on how to increase the stakes (the consequences for failure) in our story.

With this turn for another coaching article at WHW, I’m answering a question from a reader of the WHW blog. This time around, we’re talking about how to show (or gloss over) the passage of time in our stories.

The Timeline of Our Story

Unless we’re writing a story in the include-every-minute mode of the TV show 24 (and even that show doesn’t include every minute—bathroom stops, anyone?), we’ll occasionally need to jump ahead in time. We might jump to the next morning or skip over the traffic jam slowing our characters’ progress to keep our story moving.

We’re probably familiar with how to show those jumps in our writing. However, sometimes we’ll need to address longer periods of time: days, weeks, months, years, etc.

For those longer periods—when readers might not be expecting them and therefore need more direction—we tend to use two main techniques that we’ve all seen before (the second technique we frequently use for shorter jumps too):

  • Include a dateline (time passed or actual date) above the scene with the jump:

Two months later…   —or—   December 3rd

He paced through the hospital’s hallways, pushing his worries out through his soles and into the scuffed linoleum under his feet. The door at his dad’s room opened, and…

  • Begin the first sentence of the jump scene with an indication of time:

Two months later, she knew she’d made a mistake. Worse, it was now too late the fix the problem, as…

To Keep Our Story Moving, We Must Manage Time

We want to keep our story moving, and that means we need to skip to the next scene with relevant action. Readers would be bored enough by having to read about several hours of meaningless activity, much less having to read about weeks or months of nothingness.

At the same time, we can’t just make the jump without letting readers know. Not only would that be confusing for readers, but many story issues aren’t believable to readers if a resolution is found too quickly.

If readers don’t get a feel for how much time has passed, we might create several believability issues with our storytelling:

  • romantic plots might feel like insta-love,
  • bad guys might seem too easy to beat,
  • complicated skills might seem too quickly learned,
  • our protagonist’s internal arc might feel too shallow, etc.

Yet the usual methods for mentioning the passage of time might feel too limiting. Over at the WHW blog, Nancy C. asked what other techniques we could use for getting past those longer jumps, and that’s a great question that can lead us to ways to deepen our craft.

Come join me at WHW, where I’m sharing:

  • seven additional ways we can indicate the passage of time to our readers, and
  • two issues to watch out for when skipping over time. *smile*

Writers Helping Writers: Resident Writing Coach Program

A Question of When: Indicating Time Passage in Our Stories

Do you think jumping over time is an underappreciated way of increasing our story’s pace? Have you noticed any particularly good or bad indications of time passage in stories? Do you agree that failing to show time passage can harm our story’s believability? Have you ever wondered about different ways of indicating time? Do you have any questions about working with the passage of time in our stories?

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Wonder Woman poster: Silhouette on a beach at sunset with added text: The Wonder of a Strong Female Character

We’ve had several conversations here over the years of what it means for a heroine to be a “strong female character.” Although on some level it seems like the answer should be obvious, articles continue to discuss the issue because we see so few successful portrayals of such characters—especially in movies.

Like many over the past week, I saw the Wonder Woman movie…and loved it. *smile* One of the many reasons I enjoyed the movie is because the Wonder Woman/Diana Prince character played by Gal Godot is a wonderful (ha!) example of a strong female character. I want to break down what created that sense of strength for me so we might push for more characters like her in our stories.

(I’m exploring her character without revealing plot point spoilers, but if you haven’t seen the movie yet, go! *grin*)

Why Are There So Few Good Examples in Movies?

Throughout history, society has valued women mostly for narrow roles, notably mother and sex partner. Notice that neither of those two main roles are about women themselves.

Instead, those roles center on and are defined by others—children or the (typically) male partner. In movies, even when we see examples of strength within those roles, that strength is usually revealed after an attack or threat that victimizes the woman or those she cares for.

For example, the “mother bear” type of strength is a response to a threat against her kids. The “revenge” type of strength is frequently a response to being jilted, abused, or the like.

In other words, in movies, women are often reduced to those two roles, which is limiting in and of itself. (Not that those roles aren’t important to women, but real women embody many roles at once.) Worse, any strength revealed in those characters comes only after she’s been dismissed, attacked, victimized, or had her weakness exploited as a plot point, often after making a big deal of her weakness being due to her gender or her role.

If we think about these characters in terms of character agency—how much they’re acting on and pushing the story in certain directions rather than merely reacting to how the plot pushes on them—we see that these strength-in-response-to-a-threat characters don’t have as strong of agency as most roles for men. In addition, as the threat (and often her weakness) is related to one of her roles, her strength is less about herself and more about asserting her value within those roles.

The Few Good Examples Are Criticized

At the same time, the lack of good examples means that any character that gets close is scrutinized. Rather than being one of many, she’s the sole recipient of generations of hopes and expectations.

No character could withstand that amount of pressure, so not surprisingly, people find ways to pick on any near-miss examples that come along. (This picking apart of a lone xyz-type of character is why more representation is important for any marginalized group.)

A good example of a strong female character who was picked on for being “not enough” is Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy. Some picked on her for wearing a skirt (*gasp*) at the end of the first movie, as though dressing in a less kick*ss way “lessened” her. Others picked on her for (the horrors!) showing vulnerability and needing rescue, as though needing help—ever—meant she wasn’t strong at all.

Real people aren’t perfect, and our characters shouldn’t need to be perfect either. Any character who was perfect wouldn’t seem realistic. It’s enough to make us think that we can’t win—especially when people start limiting the definition of strong for our characters.

The Many Types of Strength

The character of Ripley from Alien is the typical example of a strong female character cited by many. However, many of the aspects that people point to with that character as far as what makes her strong focus on the butt-kicking type of strength.

Yet in the real world, we can see many different types of strength all around us. Unfortunately, movies often do a poor job of highlighting those stories with female characters, and an even worse job of showing non-victimization-related strength in them.

In the real world, we know that women can show strength in caring for or helping others (not just mother-bear protecting them). We know women can show strength in standing up for what’s right or fighting for what they believe in. We know women can show strength in leadership or courage in moral, emotional, or physical battles. Etc., etc.

Stories that focus on these other types of strength should feature female characters just as frequently as male characters. In the real world, strength along these lines is just as common in women as in men, and stories should reflect that fact.

The Wonder of Wonder Woman

All of those typical issues underline why the Wonder Woman movie was so incredible to me. The movie obviously focuses on her—a female character—but more importantly, the story showcases her different types of strengths—not just the butt-kicking. In addition, the story never victimizes her, forces her into either of the usual female roles, or makes her seem weak because of being a woman. *cue Hallelujah chorus*

The movie doesn’t grant only her character this gift either. The first part of the movie depicts the Amazon women as kicking butt, yes, but it also hints at a rich tapestry of art, rituals, beliefs, and roles for non-butt-kicking members of the society.

More powerfully, we’re not told about Diana’s or the Amazon society’s strengths, we’re shown those strengths by women of many sizes, shapes, and colors. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, a hero shot in a movie is worth a million. *grin*

Ways that Diana’s strengths are portrayed throughout the movie include:

  • From her childhood on, other characters constantly tell her no. She ignores them and follows her passions anyway.
  • As a beautiful woman, she could have taken advantage of the seductress role to get what she wanted, but she never does. She’s secure enough in her abilities to believe she’ll succeed without manipulation.
  • When she is butt-kicking, she’s not acting out of competition or a desire to prove herself. She merely follows her heart on what she believes is right.
  • She doesn’t react defensively when faced with sexism, as again, she’s secure enough to not need to prove herself. Because of this lack of reaction, she’s never turned into a victim.
  • She’s allowed to coo over a baby without the act “weakening” her or pigeon-holing her into the mother role.
  • Her naïvety is never shown as stupidity or foolishness. Instead, she’s simply uninformed about modern culture, which reflects the purity of her history.
  • Even her physical strength is shown as coming from her goodness, compassion, kindness, and determination to live up to her potential.
  • Her character arc isn’t about learning to value x or figuring out she was wrong about y. Her arc explores how she can use her traits to help the world.

In other words, unlike so many other comic book movies, which focus on physical strengths or egos or overcoming a masculine trait like arrogance, she is the embodiment of the feminine spirit. (I mean that not in an exclusionary way, focusing on gender, but on the types of traits that are usually seen as feminine rather than masculine. Just as women encompass feminine and masculine traits, so do all, including men and non-binary.)

Even better, the movie never diminishes the Steve Trevor character. He’s not reduced to the “love interest,” “comic relief,” or any other narrow role. He’s shown as fully supporting her strengths and being a hero in his own right.

Is the movie perfect? Of course not. But Diana’s character was everything I hope the heroines (or for that matter, the heroes) in my stories to be. Heck, she was everything I hope to be. *grin*

This is the potential of strong female characters. This is what we should expect from storytellers. This is a story I want to see more of. *smile*

How would you define “strong female character”? What examples from stories can you think of? What makes those characters “strong”? If you’ve seen the Wonder Woman movie, do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Do you have any other thoughts about her character or the story and how it relates to strengths?

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Should We Follow the Advice to Write Every Day?

June 6, 2017 Writing Stuff
Thumbnail image for Should We Follow the Advice to Write Every Day?

If we know other writers at all, chances are good that we’ve heard a lot of advice. One of the most common pieces of advice? According to dozens of multi-published, bestselling authors, it’s “write every day.” Do they know better than us what it takes to be a writer? Is that a must-listen rule?

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Self Publishing? Where Should We Start?

June 1, 2017 Writing Stuff
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My series about Indie Publishing Paths at Fiction University has highlighted some of the choices we have to make as self-published authors, and now it’s time to summarize everything we’ve learned in a step-by-step plan.

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How to Strengthen Our Characters with Strong Writing

May 30, 2017 Writing Stuff
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Readers can interpret our characters as weak for many reasons, such as being passive, foolish, or lacking an arc. Another way a character might seem weak is using weak sentences in our writing, making them seem more wishy-washy than we intend.

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How Should We Deal with Character Stereotypes?

May 25, 2017 Writing Stuff
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Clichés, tropes, and stereotypes all seem like signs of lazy writing. And they are—or at least, they can be. But it can be impossible to avoid all instances of stereotypical elements. So what should we do instead?

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Self-Publishing Resources: For Fun and Profit

May 23, 2017 Random Musings
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In the writing and self-publishing world, writers encounter a lot of services that cost money. Some of them are solid resources that are worth it if they work for our processes. Others…? Not so much. That’s why it’s always nice to discover free resources or discounted services.

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