How To Make Your Main Character More Interesting

Us writers are a peculiar bunch though inside we are all pretty similar. We all secretly grow to love our characters more than we love our children, have all experienced sleepless nights whilst desperately trying to figure out our new plot twists and we’ve all been there, that dreaded moment when we realise that actually, our main character isn't that interesting. 
It’s a defining moment in your writing journey, one where you can either crash and burn in the blaze that is your seemingly failed book or rise from its ashes like a phoenix. 
In this post I hope to give you some gentle guidance on how to make your main character more interesting. 

Get to know your character

If you don’t know your main character, how do you expect your readers to? 
If you want to make your main character interesting, find out what’s interesting about them. Take some time out from writing and work on the creation of your characters. I recommend writing a backstory, this post by Alice Jones has some great tips on character depth and creating back stories, click here
Your backstory doesn’t have to be anything amazing, a simple timeline or bullet points will do and remember that once you know them you own them and you’ll be ready for whatever your character throws at you during your writing process. 

Know your secondary characters

You don’t have to go to the extent of writing a backstory for these characters but make sure you know their reason for being in your novel, if you’re struggling to find one they’re not needed. 
A problem a lot of us writers face is we have the tendency in the first draft to make some secondary characters (SC’s) more interesting that our main character (MC). This is a big no-no. If one of your SC’s is stealing spotlight, either rethink who your MC is or tone it down a notch. 


Everyone has flaws so why doesn’t your main character?

What’s more interesting? The popular cheerleader who lands the most incredible moves every time and always gets the guy or the lonely outcast who has never even done a roly-poly for a reason down to the writer joins the cheerleading squad, lands the most incredible move when all odds were against them and eventually gets the guy who in all other circumstances would have been out of their league. It’s a story as old as time, lonely outcast turn prom queen but it works. 
Giving your characters flaws is a sure fire way to make your characters more interesting. Tying in with the next section: Your readers aren’t perfect so neither should your MC be, making your MC relatable to your readers is so important. 


Make your main character relatable

If your readers can’t relate to your characters then why would they invest their time in your book? 
Get to know your target audience and make your MC as relatable as you can. 
If your book is aimed at teenage boys who love science and hate football but your MC is forty year old woman who hates science and loves football then something somewhere has went seriously wrong, do you see where I’m coming from?
Reliability is so important. Readers like to see themselves in your characters so don’t let them down. 

Conflict

Conflict is a writer’s best friend. No question about it. Conflict provides the possibility of page turning plot twists and edge of your seat reading if written correctly, Arrr a writer’s dream. So, what does conflict bring to your MC? Writing your MC into conflicting situations naturally makes them more interesting. If written correctly your readers will be desperate to know how they not only react in those situations but will be rooting for certain outcomes, it’s up to you as the writer to give in to those outcomes or show a little of your evil side (which all of us writers have) and do the complete opposite. 
Another way to create conflict is to give your protagonist an antagonist. 
It’s pretty much book law that in every story their has to an antagonist as well as a protagonist but keep in mind that the antagonist doesn’t necessarily have to be human. In Susan Lewis’s The Choice the antagonist was her baby's illness. 
We will be publishing a post very soon on the different types of antagonists and how to create the perfect one so follow this blog to make sure you don’t miss it. 

To summerise: 

Your MC is the driving force of your novel so invest as much of your time into their creation and getting to know them as you can. Make sure they aren’t flawless and are relatable to your target audience and conflict is a writer’s best friend so take some time out to think of all the things that can go wrong for your character, choose the best one’s and voila! You’ve got yourself a page turner. 

I really hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any tips of making your main character more interesting please let us know in the comments below! 

Happy writing guys. 


J A Shaw

Breaking the ‘It Has to be Perfect on the First Draft’ Ideology

For some reason, 90% of new and aspiring writers (myself included when I first started out!) have bought into the concept that their first draft has to be perfect.
After classing myself as a writer for some years now, thinking about this actually baffles me. Going from my own personal experience, when I first started out the idea of a ‘rough draft’ was foreign to me. I somehow had got it into my head that everything I wrote had to be publishing ready and this my fellow writers is why it took me three months to write a chapter. 
So, in this post I’m hoping to break this crazy ideology.

No one's first draft is perfect!


Do you think Pride and Prejudice was completed in one draft? Or how about the Harry Potter series? I doubt it very much. The reason these authors completed their books to a publishing standard is because they not only understood why first drafts existed but they also knew how to use them rather than having the lack of description and horrendous plot holes deflate them and put them off writing for life.

So, what is a first draft?


The words ‘first draft’ are pretty self explanatory but trust me when I say it goes so much deeper than that.
Your first draft is your chance to just go wild, to forget about all the pickiness of grammar and punctuation and to forget about the perfect wording and the cliffhangers that keep us writers up at night (This is all to an extent, don’t make your second draft harder than it needs to be!).
Your first draft is your chance to create the basics and the backbone of your story and spend 70 - 100 thousand words getting to know your characters.

Use your first draft to get the damn book written!


When I write a first draft I try not to bother with the description to much unless it comes naturally. If I have to sit thinking about it and it’s eating into my writing time I just write the basics of what I want to say and move on. You can write the most beautifully descriptive paragraph in the world but if that's all you write, what's the point?
I understand the importance of showing rather than telling but that’s what your second draft is for, changing those ‘tells’ into ‘shows’.
When I write I also try not to read over the previous chapters. I found that when I did I’d spend days even weeks just re-reading them and editing them to the point of no return and then in the end I was just left with eight chapters and six months of my life gone. Now, when I write, I write. I let my imagination take me to where it needs to go because I know once that first draft is finished I can sit back, read through and swap, change, delete and edit until my hearts content. At least at that point I’ll have a full book to do it with.
So guys, use that first draft to just write the book and worry about all the picky stuff later.
If you're struggling to get your first draft written because of other commitments, take a look at this post for some tips on how to juggle a writing career as well as a full time job. 

Let your characters run free!


Every writer knows that no matter how much you put into planning and creating a character as soon as they get on the page they take a life of their own. Most would panic at this and fall down at the first hurdle their character throws at them but honestly, calm yourself down and just go with the flow. Use your first draft to let your characters take you in the right direction.
If you put your characters in a box and never let them step outside the lines you’ll miss out on so much creativity that you never even knew you had.
It’s your characters story so let them tell it, you can reign them in where needed in your second draft.


So, why do we feel it has to be perfect?


I believe that the reason we feel our first draft has to be perfect is because us writers are a proud bunch. We are so passionate about our work that anything less than perfect is just not stood for. This is a mentality to keep but keep in mind that you are working towards perfection and that’s what your final draft should be.

To summarise…


First drafts are there for you to learn your story and your characters, not to be perfect.

Second drafts are where you put the meat on the bones. Rewrite those chapters, describe that beautiful summers day and the smouldering look on your protagonist's lover's face. Make the reader feel what you want them to feel. 

Your final draft is for perfection. You know your story, you know your characters better than you know yourself and you’ve edited those chapters to within an inch of your life so use your final draft to make it perfect. Tie up those loose ends, fill in those plot holes and get some twists and turns in there that will drive your readers wild!

Writing is a three stage process, don’t be stuck at the first hurdle because you’re heading for the finish line before you even know your way around the track

Happy writing guys! 


How to Earn Money from Blogging

How to earn money from blogging
A question as old as time (well, as old as the internet) is how do I make money from blogging?
When the internet was first invented I truly believe that even the inventors didn’t realise its true potential. I’m sure they thought it would be used by governments and the military but if only they realised how huge and powerful the internet could be! I mean how else would we watch cats trying to jump from one thing to another or find the most ultimate fail compilations known to man?
Not being able to do this just doesn’t bare thinking about, I know.
Another phenomenon the internet has given us is blogging. For those of you who are unsure what a blog is, a blog in a whole is basically a website but with a more personal touch and writing a blog post is basically writing an article or for some, a journal entry.
People blog about pretty much anything: holidays/traveling, food, weight loss, exercise, you name it -people blog about it.
A question a lot of wannabe bloggers want to know is: How do I make money from blogging? And that’s a question I hope to answer for you today. 

First Things First, you can’t make money from blogging without a blog.


Seems obvious doesn’t it, but you’d be surprised how many people ask how they can make money from blogging before they’ve even written a word. So just for a moment, lets go back to basics.

Choose your blogging platform.

There are some fantastic free blogging platforms out there so it’s really just a case of picking the best one for you. 


Here’s a few to get you started: 



Content

Once you’ve chosen your platform you’ll need to have a think about your content. Your content not only needs to be unique in its own way, it needs to stand out to the right audience.
So what’s your niche and who are your audience?
The truth is, there are thousands of blogs out there so if you’re serious about blogging to make money you need to have a sit down and a serious think about what you’re going to write about.
Quality is key.

The questions you need to ask yourself are:
Has it been done before?
If it has, how can I make my content unique?
Once you’ve answered these questions it’s time for you to get to blogging!

What now?

Okay, so you’ve chosen your platform, you’ve made your content unique to your audience and you’ve published your first blog post. What now? 

A lot of people think that once their blog is live on the internet that that’s it and suddenly they will gain millions of views and miraculously earn thousands of pounds/dollars over night. I’m sorry to be the one to burst your bubble but the cut throat blogging industry doesn’t quite work like that. 

Before you can even think about making money from blogging you’ll need to build a following. As mentioned before, there are thousands of blogs out there so you need to give people a reason to click on yours. 

First step is advertising.
Share your posts via social media eg. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram to start letting people know that your blog is out there. 
If you’re serious, you can even go to the extent of paid advertising via social media which is a great way to get your blog known to an audience other than your friends and family.
Google offers some great advertising opportunities through Adwords

Once you’ve gained a following you’ll be ready to move on to the next step and start making money from your blog.

Advertising ON your blog.
The way 99% of bloggers make money through blogging is through advertisements.
The first thing you need to do is decide which advertising platform is best for you. 

Here’s a few to take a look at:




I cannot stress this enough: READ THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF YOUR CHOSEN COMPANY. Each of them have certain criteria your blog needs to hit so make sure your blog hits that criteria before trying to apply or else your just going to end up disappointed.

Okay, so you’ve created and published your blog, you’ve let the world know it’s out there and have been accepted by your chosen advertising company. It’s incredible how many people think that that’s it. Wannabe bloggers… it’s only just begun. 

If you truly want your blog to be a success, persistence is key. 

I recommend aiming for at least 1 or 2 blog posts per week to keep your content fresh. 

Share every post and encourage friends, family and followers to like and share as well. 

Once you have a number of posts, to keep your traffic on the up and up re-share old posts, not everybody would have seen them the first time around so don’t just dump them in the blog post scrap yard!

If you follow these steps the sky is the limit. 

Persistence and commitment are a bloggers key words so keep them in mind!

Happy blogging guys.

P.S. There are also a lot of other factors to take into consideration with blogging eg. SEO, research etc. We'll be doing a post going into more detail about blogging very soon so remember to follow this blog so you don't miss it!

Review: The Poison Princess by Kresley Cole (The Arcana Chronicles)


I am well aware this blog is beginning to look like more of a Kresley Cole fan site, but after finishing all three books in her series The Arcana Chronicles in like a week, I just knew I had to review them.
The Poison Princess

This incredible piece of work literally has everything.Teen drama, love, hate, passion; magic, zombies, the apocalypse! Need I say more?

So, I suppose I’d better stop this nattering and get reviewing.

The Poison Princess is the first book in the series, written in fist person as the character Evie Green.

Evie is a typical sixteen year old girl, she goes to high school and has a great group of friends but for the past year she has been hiding a secret.

Unknown to her friends, for the past year Evie had been fiercely battling with her mental health. Though on the outside to everyone else she was just the same old Evie, daily she was struggling with twisted apocalyptic visions and tormenting voices. Oh… and plants being attracted to her (Just thought I’d throw that in there!).

Just when Evie felt she couldn’t possibly take anymore a Cajun spanner by the name of Jack is thrown into the works.

Something about Jack fascinated Evie. From the wrong side of the Bayou, Jack was a force to be reckoned with; the deep scars on his knuckles a warning to anyone who dared to press on his patience, but the line between lust and hate for Evie was thin.

Throughout this book we hang off of every paragraph as the unlikely pairs romance blossoms with a constant ‘will they won’t they’ feel to their journey.

After the ‘Flash’ -the apocalyptic disaster that destroyed most of the world along with her best friends- Evie is left alone with no family and only the Cajun to rely on. It is then that she finds out she is more than just a mentally ill teenager and instead she is The Empress -the same one pictured on Tarot cards; in fact, that the cards themselves were created to commemorate her and twenty-one other kids with otherworldly abilities.

It is then that Evie also discovers that not only is she a Major Arcana but that she is unwillingly in the middle of a supernatural fight to the death game between all the Arcana's… and only one will survive.

Their prize: Immortality.

As Evie and Jack cross the country in search for her grandmother in hope that they can end the game, we are left biting our fingers down to bone as they trek through zombie ridden towns (Bagmen), slaver territories and cannibals mines collecting other Arcana kids along the way, each one hungry for icons and drawn to the promised prize of immortality.

This book truly is one of the best books I have ever read. Kresley’s originality and just sheer genius is mind boggling.

Her take on how lonely and misunderstood people struggling with mental health problems can be at the beginning of the book is admirable and her ability to write a series that truly does have everything a fantasy fanatic could ever wish for is well… I take my hat of to you Miss Cole.

If you're looking for a series that will have you calling in sick to school or work so you can read just one more page this really is the series for you.

I’ve left a lot out of this review as this book is a constant page turner with twists and turns everywhere so I hope you appreciate the non spoilers when you come to read them.

Happy reading.

J A Shaw.

Review of The Professional Part 1 by Kresley Cole

Kresley ColeAs a huge fan of everything that is ‘Kresley Cole’ and in serious withdrawal mode waiting for the next instalment of her incredibly addictive ‘IAD’ series, it was understandable that when I heard of the release of The Professional Part 1, I HAD TO HAVE IT. For ages I put it off, refusing to purchase it until all three instalments were released and fighting back the tears, spurts of anger and brief moments of hatred for all things around me (everything seeming to remind me that out there, just one click away, the one thing that would feed my craving was available –and for only 99p!) I managed it. I forced myself to wait and trust me when I say… it was totally worth it.
So used to Kresley Cole’s adult fantasy, I was in two minds of how I would react to a three part serial with no Valkyries, vampires or werewolves in sight… I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Yet again, Kresley has pulled out a blinder! Our heroine is as humorous and snarky as ever (could have totally seen her being a Valkyrie!) and our brooding alpha male Sevastyan is as sexy, mysterious and dangerously intriguing as all the rest of KC’s heroes we have come to know and want… huhum, sorry, love. Yes, The Professional has definitely matched up to the incredibly high standards of the rest of her literary work.
Told through the point of view of tantalising red head Natalie Porter, a twenty-four year old virgin farm girl from Nebraska, KC introduces The Game Maker series with a bang. Taking us into the farfetched yet somehow believable world of the Russian Mafiya, we see how -after working her fingers to the bone in three jobs while studying for her history PHD- Natalie finally manages to track down her birth father; though what follows was far from anything she and we could have ever dreamed. Natalie is suddenly thrown into a world which is far from the innocent Nebraska lifestyle she grew up in and to top it all off, Sevastyan ‘the Siberian’, the Bratva’s top mob enforcer; her bodyguard, had captured her sights in the darkest of ways…
This book kept me page turning to the very end and finishing on a hot, steamy, TEASING cliff-hanger (Kresley you naughty lady!) I am dying to get cracking with the next instalment!
Kresley Cole Book Review

Kresley Cole is famous for not only her incredible erotic writing skills but her ability to create a story that pulls you in and keeps you page turning to the very end, then biting your nails till your fingers are raw while you’re waiting for the next book to be released! The Professional did this. 

Kresley hit the nail on the head. You go KC!
Hot, enthralling and extremely addictive, The Professional is most definitely one for your reading bucket list.
Written by J A Shaw

Husbands, kids, dogs, bosses and writing…Who’s first priority?

House of Seer book 1
'Forces of Nature' Trilogy
My life has changed. Not in the ‘oh my god I’m now a best selling author’ type of way, (unfortunately), but definitely changed. I hadn’t anticipated just how much becoming an author would consume me – or my spare time – when I embarked on my life long goal of writing a book. I also underestimated that at my stage of life, there are certain other priorities which demand attention just as much as my characters!

I have wanted to write since the age of nine, when I read ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier; it remains my favourite book, and I have revisited it many times over. The opening lines are considered the best of all time, and quite rightly so. The magic, mystery and spookiness of that first paragraph still gives me goose bumps! 
Reading ‘Rebecca’ sparked a desire to write, and I was encouraged all the way by a fantastic English teacher, who loved everything I wrote apart from the horror stories – they gave him nightmares (mission accomplished). I continued to write into my late teens and early twenties, and published short romances in a student magazine. I then retreated from writing as my other career in HR/Learning & Development took over, along with attempting to become a grown up. 
I met my husband and we filled our spare time socialising and holidaying (bliss!), before getting married and starting a family.
Suddenly my spare time was filled with a tiny human being as opposed to leisurely lunches at the pub, or Friday night rugby games and karaoke. Then I had another tiny human being, and sometime after this we also acquired a dog…

So it’s rather bizarre that about three years ago I had an idea for a story. It was actually a dream…one of those full-blown detailed dreams that played out before me. I could sense the emotion, see the characters and the landscapes, and woke up to write as much of it down as possible. 
Over the course of two years I messed about with the story and attempted to write it – I had lots of doubts, wrote then re-wrote numerous scenes, ditched thousands of words, then reapplied them, stepped away for almost three months and chastised myself for ‘playing’ at being a writer…it was like trying to put together a 70,000 piece jigsaw whilst on a gigantic rollercoaster.

But I did it. And my book ‘House of Seer’ - the first in the ‘Forces of Nature’ trilogy - was released in June this year, and it’s doing well. 
Shocks the hell out of me…

I expected to sell a few copies to friends and family, and drift away into obscurity, pleased that I had fulfilled my dream. I didn’t actually expect to continue with the story in book two, (which is now in demand and the readers are getting impatient!), nor the time it takes to market and promote via social media. I’m very new to all of this, and haven’t as yet sussed out what other vehicles I can trust to help and support me!

And then there is the actual writing. Yeah…that’s when life gets complicated! 

I still have those two human beings, although they’re not so tiny any more, I still have a husband (thankfully), and I still have my career…oh and we still have the dog!
My life is busy and finding time to write is hard (thank you Scooby-Doo for keeping my small ones captivated whilst I write this blog!).

There is something called work/life balance, which most people strive to achieve; there is also living for the moment, when you can grasp precious time and dedicate it to something you love to do. For me this is when I have to prioritise and this can be hard going.
For example, I may choose to write rather than play with the small humans; I may finish a chapter I’ve been struggling with, as opposed to having a date night with the husband; I will prefer to edit than go out with my team mates, and miss the fun and frolics they get up to!
And how do I feel at the end of all these decisions? Guilty. I feel guilty for choosing to write…but I’m also learning that this is worth it. 

My choice to write is having a positive impact.

For my small humans, they now want to read all sorts of books, and ‘write’ their own stories, (as far as four and five year olds can do), and it amazes me the power of their imagination. I believe that I am encouraging this development - coaching it, letting it free to explore as far as their own limits…the imagination is an amazing thing and both my girls have vivid ones.
For my husband, it’s having some time for us to explore our own interests, so that when we have a date night it’s exciting to talk about what I’ve been working on. My ideas are usually formed, chapters written enough to start to flesh out, and he provides a great opinion, because he is so removed from the process. He’s my critique, my confidante, my cheer squad and my reality.
With work, my teammates and my boss show how proud they are because they are so supportive of my efforts. They have all read my first book, and are keen for the second, and their enthusiasm is infectious. Sometimes I get home from chatting with them about a scene, or a character, and their conversations excite me so much that the words just come!

And then there’s the dog. My gorgeous cocker spaniel who can’t tell me to ‘just write it’, to reassure me when I have doubts, to cheer me on and offer feedback. Instead she constantly tries to sit on my lap when I get the laptop out, or launches herself on me, mid-type-flow, for a cwtch! She breaks my concentration with love. 
Often I need a break…
But she also allows me to explore my imagination when I take her on walks in the forest or to the beach. She waits patiently when I stop to try and think of a word for something, or a name for a character. She accepts my mumblings out loud and hopefully doesn’t think I’m crazy. So for that, she can jump on my laptop! 

As long as I’ve just pressed ‘save’…


Written by Eleanor Elliott