Many a great editor have pushed authors to the limit. Is this really plausible? They ask. Wait! They wail. This character was supposed to be born in 1240 but the black plague didn't happen until a century later! Pesky little details. Yes, they are.
Developing a plausible backstory and timeline for your characters is key to making your readers true believers. Even if no one will ever read that Uncle Jimmy's folks were circus performers in the South in the early 1930's, it has a direct relationship to Uncle Jimmy's odd fear of clowns, which leads to his overreaction when Jimmy Jr. comes running in one Halloween night dressed as Bozo and Uncle Jimmy nearly loses his mind. Perhaps that's a bit extreme...but you get the point.
Timelines - especially family details and birth and death dates - can make a big difference to how you present current events for the characters in your stories. Sometimes dates really matter - like your little girl shares a birthday with her mother and that birthday lands on a Monday instead of a Saturday, causing you to have to figure out why the little girl is having a sleepover on a Sunday instead of a Saturday...to more general knowledge about how your characters real histories, ages, and home lives can influence why and how they make decisions in your plot.
Plausibility is another biggie - especially in fantasy, sci-fi, or supernatural manuscripts. If you are using fantastic elements like magic, time travel, or ghostly interferences, you need to understand the rules of the world that you created and stick with them!
Back story may have a direct and explicit affect on the current storyline, or it may just be notes you have for reference that make their way into the narrative at key moments. Backstory can give characters depth and increase interest. Introduce backstory in dialogue: "Hey, baby, when we first met, you were so free. Remember the marshmallows? You helped me...be...free. And now we're all chained up." You can also allude to backstory with flashbacks or with inner dialogue. "Are you kidding me! I didn't sign up for this! I didn't sign up for anything. Heck, I can't even write my own name without thinking about daddy. Why'd he have to give me his poor, useless name. Daddy shoulda' left before I was born instead of after. And taken his name with him." You can also use flashbacks or narrative to introduce elements of your characters' pasts.
You get the drift. So take some time and create a family tree for your characters, take them out for a drink, and really get to know them. Back it up!
Simply put, a romance novel is a love story between two people who are separated by conflict and tension until the ending, at which time they reach a mutually satisfying conclusion, or the “happily ever after” ending, which we all love. Generally speaking, romance novels have nearly perfect characters. The prominent character is often courageous, willful, but always alluring. The protagonist is commanding, fearless, but mostly just the perfect lover.
At some point in the story, the two main characters meet and share a palpable love connection. It is the actual love story that propels the storyline forward. On their journey of love, however, there are always conflicts, another common denominator in romance novels. This keeps the two
lovers apart as we travel with them throughout the story. These conflicts must inevitably carry huge consequences for both characters, thus creating suspense and drama, and in turn perpetuating the curiosity of the reader, resulting in, you guessed it, the page-turner.
So why does one ever finish reading a romance novel, if one already knows the ending? The hook is in “how” the lovers overcome the obstacles to reach their utopia. Plus there's something comforting in knowing that, while there's risk involved, ultimately, we'll all end up happy - the lovers and the readers.
That’s what keeps 85% of all readers out there coming back for more romance, in all genres, shapes and sizes.
Love it, or not...romance is here to stay!
This week is Children's Book Week. It's all about the kiddos! Since 1919, Children's Book Week is focused on celebrating the love of reading in children. It's managed by Every Child A Reader, a 501(c)(3) literacy organization and sponsored by the Children's Book Council, the national non-profit trade association for children's book publishers. Special events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, and at home, where the connection to reading starts. There are commemorative bookmarks, official nationwide events, and awards that give kids a chance to weigh in on what's being written for them.
There's also a cool graphic novels blog tour, including graphic novelist and current National Ambassador for Young Peoples Literature at Forever YA. The ambassador raises awareness for the important of lifelong literacy and is supported by the Library of Congress.
If you're a teacher, Children's Book Week offers a Digital Toolkit for free resources to use in your library or classroom.
This summer, keep reading on the to-do list! Check out these hot summer reads for kindergarten through fourth graders:
Pablo Prairie Dog and the WWCC Heroes will resonate with both sporty kids and brainiacs. With gorgeous colorful illustrations, the book features a cast of wild half-animal, half-human creatures that play a mix of chess and professional wresting. Through his adventures with WWCC All Star team, Pablo Prairie Dog discovers his own importance and learns that value is found in all of us, no matter our size or differences. Amazon; B&N; Books-A-Million
Curious Critters Marine features incredible photographs depicting 20 common and fascinating sea creatures. Fun and education narratives round out the visuals. Amazon; B&N; IndieBound
If You Love Honey will fascinate kids with an illustrated adventure through the natural world. It’s all about honey! Amazon; B&N; IndieBound
Bottle Cap Boys – Dancing on Royal Street will enthrall young readers with an upbeat rhyme and New Orleans traditions made for kids. Amazon; B&N; IndieBound
Selling Eggs – Trash to Treasure Series, Recycling Creatively with L.T. will inspire kids with cute chicks, pocket money, and creative recycling ideas. With lots to build on in the classroom, kids will learn about taking care of our environment in a fun and charming way. Amazon; B&N; IndieBound