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March 2018
10

A character arc is the way a character changes or grows throughout the course of a story. The change can be physical or emotional, and it doesn't have to be major, but you want your main characters, especially your protagonist, to experience some sort of transformation along their journey.


At the beginning of your story, ask yourself the following questions about your main characters:


  • What do they want?
  • What are they missing?
  • What is holding them back from getting what/where they want/need to be?


The answers to these questions can be broad or specific. For example, here are what my main characters want in my novel Wait for the Rain, which is about three college friends who reunite on a tropical island to celebrate turning forty:


  • Daphne wants to find herself after a failed marriage.
  • Skylar wants to become a CEO.
  • KC wants to have more time with her stepson before he leaves for college.


You get to decide what your characters want, so keep those answers in mind as you write. Also know that your characters don't have to get what they want. Or maybe they do get what they want, then realize they don't want it after all. The important thing to remember is that if your characters behave throughout the story in a way that is consistently in pursuit of what they want, an arc for each of them will naturally develop. And the arc will feel genuine, not forced.


Character arcs are important because they give readers something to invest in. If readers reach the end of the story and think, "No one changed at all," they will sense that something is missing, which will also leave them feeling unfulfilled. Well-developed character arcs satisfy readers, and satisfied readers turn into fans!


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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10

Refresher on IT'S/ITS

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 20, 2018

Are you confused by when to use IT'S and when to use ITS? If so, you have every right to be, because the correct way to use ITS goes against the general rule we're taught about apostrophes. Here's a refresher on the difference between IT'S and ITS:


We normally use an apostrophe when something belongs to someone or something - in other words, to indicate possession:


  • This diary belongs to Daphne.
  • This is Daphne's diary.


  • I like going to that movie theater because the seats there are super comfortable
  • That movie theater's seats are super comfortable.


However, when something belongs to IT, no apostrophe is needed:


  • That movie theater's seats are super comfortable.
  • I like going to that movie theater because ITS seats are super comfortable.


  • Daphne's diary has a green cover.
  • That's Daphne's diary, and ITS cover is green.


We also use apostrophes as a contraction for a noun plus the verb IS or HAS:


  • This seat is super comfortable.
  • This seat's super comfortable. (Seat + IS)


  • Gloria has seen that movie three times.
  • Gloria's seen that movie three times. (GLORIA + HAS)


Following the contraction rule for apostrophes, IT'S is used as a contraction for IT IS or IT HAS:


  • IT IS getting dark, so I really should go home.
  • IT'S getting dark, so I really should go home. (IT + IS)


  • Are you okay? IT HAS been weeks since I've heard from you.
  • Are you okay? IT'S been weeks since I've heard from you. (IT + HAS)


Do the above examples make sense? Essentially, ITS as the possessive form of IT is an exception to the rule regarding apostrophes, so it comes down to memorization to get it right.


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Writer's block is the worst. The worst! When it strikes and I find myself sitting at my desk, staring at nothing, I often feel like my white laptop screen is snickering at me and sending me horrible thoughts. You suck, Maria! Who are you to think you can be a writer? Why don't you just give up?


Is that how you feel when you get writer's block? If so, isn't it awful? I truly hate it.


A friend of mine is a creative director at an advertising agency, and we recently had a conversation about the brainstorming process, which we agreed is similar in many ways to the writing process. She told me that when she encounters a mental block, she finds it helpful to break her pattern.


For example:


  • Make yourself get up a half-hour early.
  • Go to your office via a new route, whether it's driving/bus/subway/walking.
  • Listen to a different radio station on your commute.
  • Buy your morning coffee somewhere new.
  • Go for a walk with your head on a swivel, and look for things you normally wouldn't notice.


My friend said it's human nature to fall into a routine, and that shaking things up even a little bit can help unlock that creative energy. I liked her suggestions and plan to try some of them the next time I find myself facing the dreaded BLANK screen of my laptop, willing my brain to come up with something, ANYTHING. Usually when I'm stuck I go for a run or to the gym, but those things are part of my regular routine, so perhaps my friend is on to something.


Do you have a proven strategy for dealing with writer's block? If so, please share in the comments so we can all learn from each other.


-Maria

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg


Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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We all know how important word of mouth is for book sales, but how and why it happens is usually a mystery. As authors, what can we do to encourage word of mouth other than asking our fans to tell their friends? There's nothing wrong with that, but even our most diehard supporters might have no idea what to do in any concrete way, even though they might really want to help us.


For that reason, in addition to asking fans to spread the word, I suggest providing tools and links they can easily copy and paste - and share. For example, here are some you can offer through your website, email, social media, newsletters, etc. In these examples, the hyperlinks are for my books, but they will give you a sense of how helpful they can be:



Marketing doesn't come naturally to most people, but (almost) everyone knows how to copy and paste. The next time a fan tells you she enjoyed your book, thank her for her support, and then ask her to help spread the word...and offer some tools. You never know who might take up your cause, so it's worth trying. A few posts on social media can go a long way!


-Maria

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg


Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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