Saturday, June 28, 2014

Stereotypical Charactes

This is going to be my first in a series of posts about common stereotypes in characters and in plots.

The nerd. The jock. The queen bee. These are all stereotypes that you've probably seen beforewhether it be in books, movies, television, or real life. And in writing (especially young adult fiction), it can be easy to add in a few of these, but that usually isn't the right thing to do.

Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't have a nerd or a jock in your writing. That's fine as long as all your nerds don't have glasses, pocket protectors, constant bullying issues, a heaping collection of comic books, and awkward social ability.

Am I saying you shouldn't write a character who loves comic books? No, but you shouldn't write a character who fits the exact nerd mold in every aspect. The same applies for all the other stereotypes.

Sometimes this can be tricky, so the the way to fix a stereotypical character is to add in different nerdy aspects, maybe some athletic aspects, or some other personality traits. Writing a smart athlete or an outgoing nerd easily differentiates the character from others.

So does having stereotypical characters in your writing mean your a terrible writer? Absolutely not. It just means you might have some issues to work out. I'd be lying if I said I don't have any of them in my current work in progress.

Do you have ways of changing stereotypical characters? Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Liebster Awards

I just got back after being away for a while and found that I've been nominated for the Liebster Awards by Amanda Wikoff at Ramblings of a Wayward Author, and this sounds really cool! Thanks for nominating me!

About the Liebster Awards: Bloggers choose other bloggers that they like who have 200 followers or less. It helps get the blogs more followers and communicate with other bloggers. the chain keeps going, and if people don't stop, it just keeps going!

If/when nominated, create a post that includes:
  • Thanking and linking back to the person who nominated you,
  • Eleven facts about yourself,
  • Answers to the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you,
  • Nine bloggers (if you can't find nine, that's okay) who you want to nominate have fewer than 200 followers (the blogger who nominated you can't be one of them), and
  • Eleven questions for your nominees
Let your nominees know about their nomination.

Eleven things about me:

  1. My favourite author, Jerry Spinelli, writes books mainly meant for kids in elementary school.
  2. I love Doctor Who and Sherlock. 
  3. My favourite Doctor in Doctor Who is Ten.
  4. My Myer's-Briggs personality type is INTJ, even though I'm very talkative and most people at first sight would not label me as an introvert.  
  5. I like researching random things for fun. 
  6. I used to make PowerPoints for fun. 
  7. I'm a Christian. 
  8. I'm in my school band. 
  9. I'm bad at rembering facts about myself. 
  10. I first thought about writing a book when I was nine. It was supposed to be a children's book, and I'd written it for a school story competition. 
  11. The first novel I tried to write was about a girl who started questioning reality. I started it when I was eleven.

Questions from Amanda:

  1. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? The United Kingdom. I'm a bit of an Anglophile.  
  2. Favorite music? Christian, especially Matthew West
  3. Favorite movie? Either God's Not Dead or Star Trek: Into Darkness
  4. Cats or dogs? Dogs. 
  5. Longest time spent on a plane? I honestly have no clue. I think it's probably between four and seven hours.
  6. Favorite cheese? Colby Jack
  7. Apple or Android? Android
  8. Facebook or Instagram? Facebook
  9. How soon did you run out of questions to ask? Question seven.
  10. How many pets do you have? Two
  11. Which of these questions was hardest to answer? This one. None of the questions were particularly hard for me to answer, really. 
I nominate Stori Tori's Blog, Of Pencils and Dragons, Summer Snowflakes, Pen Pals of Peculiar Personalities, and Imogen Elvis: Gossiping with Dragons.

Questions for my nominees:
  1. When did you first start writing?
  2. Why did you start your blog?
  3. How often do you write?
  4. What's your favourite colour?
  5. Do you prefer British or American spellings?
  6. What's your favourite animal?
  7. What's your favourite word?
  8. What's your favourite book?
  9. Who's your favourite author?
  10. When did you first decide to write a novel?
  11. Are you tired of answering all of these questions?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Using Dialect Properly

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've been a bit busy with the end of the school year and band events. I probably won't be posting too much over the summer either because I'll be gone or busy with band events. Anyway, time to actually post.

Dialect is something I've always struggled to use well. You want to make sure you're making it clear where your characters are from, but in doing this, you can easily cross the line into overuse. Reading a book where every other word was "yer" or "yar" or "ahnt." (I found these examples from The Dialect Dictionary.)

So the problem is, when is it too much? And honestly, I don't have a definitive answer for this. Personally, I think if you have one or two characters who always say a certain word in a distinct dialect, that's okay, but if they pronounce twenty-eight common words differently than the norm, that might be a stretch. One other way to keep from overusing dialect in your dialogue is to mention the dialect in some type of tag or prose surrounding the speech, such as "'What's up?' A deep southern accent was obvious in his voice."

Another problem that can arise with dialect happens when you write a story set in a place or area you've never been to. (That is, if you're writing in the real world; this applies less with other-world fantasy and science fiction.)

If you don't know how they'd say something in northeast Connecticut and you're trying to say that thing, the easiest way out is to just use the lingo that you would use. And in a first draft, that's okay. But once you get into the editing process, you should probably start to work on using correct dialect.

Some resources for finding how certain things are said in different areas are The Dialect Dictionary, these dialect maps that show the answers to certain dialect-related questions in different areas with percentages, and by going on Google and searching the word or phrase and the general area.

Also, just for fun, here's a dialect quiz (which you could use on your characters if you wanted to) that tries to find  out where your from based off of your answers to a series of dialect-related questions paired with the same survey results used to make the dialect maps I talked about above.

Do you like to use dialect in your stories? How do you keep from overusing it? Let me know in the comments.