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Friday, September 5, 2014

Candor Fridays- Week Eight

It’s Friday, folks!

And apparently, my family is all on the same brainwave…

Laura Sauer asked: How important is it to know your character's favorite foods?

Very. Or, rather, it’s important to know all the little things about your character. We tend to forget that characters are people; they live and breathe and think and feel, just like us. Sure, maybe they do all that within the pages of a book while we do it all here on earth, but they do it all the same. And, when we writers forget that, our readers know. They can spot an underdeveloped character a mile off.

When developing a character, you should always give them likes and dislikes that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the story, but shape their character all the same. For example- if any of you have read the first Kit Parker book, you know Kit’s love of corned beef hash, doesn’t really have anything to do with the story. It doesn’t further it along or turn out to help in some amazing plot twist in the end. But it’s there all the same. Because Kit is real. She has things she likes that don’t always have to do with her getting kidnapped. And they don’t have to have anything to do with it. In fact, they shouldn’t.

So, yes, to answer your question, it’s very important to know their favorite food. And their favorite color. And their birthday. And anything else you can dream up. Even if you don’t sit down and write a list of it all or if you don’t put any of it in the book (because you developing your character will translate into the book regardless of whether you put those details in the book or not). But you need to know your character well enough that when someone asks you “What’s your hero’s favorite color?” you can give an answer quickly that fits who they are. Not just the first thing that pops into your head, but something that really fits their personality.

Danielle Sauer asked: Are you going to write more in a sequel to The Crimson Banner?

I get this question a lot. I hate it. So, thanks for asking, so I can answer it once and for all (okay, people will probably keep asking, but I can still hope).

The basic answer is: probably not.

The not-so-basic answer is: I have a ton of ideas- several books worth- some great plot twists, and characters I love very much and who are beyond special to me. That said, I still am not going to write about that. I want to, but it’s not going to happen.

See, I wrote The Crimson Banner several years ago. I was young, just starting out as a writer. It was the first book I had ever actually finished. And, that’s apparent in my writing. I’m not going to say lots of bad things about it because that always looks like fishing for compliments and I’m not doing that. So, I’ll just say: anyone who has read both of my books can see that my writing style has grown a lot in the last several years.

It is literally impossible for me to write in that style again. I have tried, again and again, and I can’t. So, it would be wrong for me to give my readers something different than the book they’re asking for. They want a book like the first one, but with the rest of the story, with more about the people they have come to care about. And I can’t give them that.

Especially since I have nothing left to say about Jack and Melinda. In my mind, they deserve a happily ever after. They’re married, have a daughter, and are living the rest of their lives in peace. In the several attempts to write book 2, they don’t even really make it into the book all that much. Because once I tell you about their “happily ever after” that’s it. That’s all there is to say about them.

And then there’s Toby. Who isn’t cooperating and while the spunk and the fire is still there, it’s not the same. Toby’s mellowed as with age (okay, only a year or two, but still). And people want the Toby they met in book one, not a semi-different version who changes without warning.

I’m not even going to go into the rest of it here. Because that would take all day.

So, to reiterate, I will probably never get around to writing more in this series. I’m 99% positive that it’s not going to happen. While I know what happens, I can’t translate those ideas into the words necessary to tell this story. And, while I’m very sorry for that, I have to accept that’s just the way it is.

And, Rodger Sauer asked: Movie first / Book first ???   Which do you recommend and why?

This is a hard question to answer. I would recommend you do whatever you prefer as there are pros and cons to each side. Some people are diehard book first and others are movie first. I have heard arguments mostly for book first and they do make sense to me, so I would recommend going with whatever you like best.

That said, I always watch the movie first, if possible. Nearly every time I have watched a movie after reading the book, I have wanted to take the movie and throw it against a wall in. Then I cringe every time the movie is so much as mentioned and feelings of rage and anger well inside of me. Yeah, I take my books seriously.

However, if I watch the movie first, I’m like “Oh, hey, this is pretty good.” And then I read the book to find out what really happened. Then I discover that the book is even better than the movie that I liked and now both the book and the movie can be mentioned without me freaking out. Because both were good. Plus, sometimes, if the book has a lot going on or something, having that condensed version to give you all the key points first- in the form of the movie- before reading the book with all its twists and turns can be really helpful.

Though, I should probably point out that spoilers or knowing how the book ends before I read it has never really bothered me. I don’t like things spoiled without warning, but if I know they’re going to be, I’m cool with it and can still read and enjoy the book (though, that’s a discussion for another day…)

Every other reader I know would recommend the book first. Actually, they can be quite snobby about it and love to brag about what true fans they are because they read the book first. Which is the lamest thing you can ever do to someone. It’s a pride thing where people feel the need to put everyone else around them down because it makes them feel superior. They might not realize that’s what they’re doing, but that’s how human nature works. (Not saying every person who reads the book first is like this, just the people who feel the need to put others down because they watched the movie first).

So, yeah. I would recommend going with what you prefer. However, when I meet people who are diehard book first, I love to share my views on why I like to watch the movie first.

And, that’s that. See you all on Monday! And, in the meantime, don’t forget to send in your questions for next week!


  1. Good points about the movie first. I get easily confused when there are multiple characters, so when I read Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit, I found it to be a blessing that I had already watched the BBC version, and could more easily sort out whom was who (or vice versa). Also, two other pros come to mind: (a) I already know I enjoy the story, so I don't mind reading it then (rather than thinking through the first half "I hope I don't put all this time into reading something I'm not going to like..."), and (b) it's kind of like the onion thing... you get the first view with the movie, and then get to start peeling back some layers when you read the book. I love those "ooooh, this wasn't in the movie" "bonus" moments!

  2. When you read a book and really like all the characters it is hard to say good-bye and move on to the next book. I usually take a day or two before I move on to the next. So I can not imagine how hard it must be to put those people and places away when you are done writing about them. But it is better to say good-bye after their happily-ever after, than to force the story. That would not be fair to you, your characters, or your readers. I think that is why a lot of writers kill off their mains. Next subject - I am a book first person. I have a very vivid imagination and love to see a story in my mind's eye first, otherwise all I picture is the movie. Frankly, I like my version better. I can edit it any way I like.