At the 2015 James River Writers conference, I moderated the panel, “Creating Memorable Characters: Writing the Characters Readers Hold in their Hearts.” The illustrious panel included Stacy Hawkins Adams, author of Lead Me Home; Bruce Hollinger, author of The Invention of Fire; Amy Sue Nathan, author of The Good Neighbor; and Kristina Wright, author of Fairy Tale Lust.
I think it went well. Alas, there is no recording or transcript to share. Here is some of what was said that I recall:
Dialogue should be used to reveal character or move the plot forward, not serve as exposition.
Use internal monologue sparingly — too much can send the reader skimming.
Some writers lavish their characters with physical descriptions, while others are more stingy. However much detail you use to convey your characters’ traits, be sure they are easy for your readers to hold in their minds.
Perfect characters are boring and unrealistic – your protagonists should have flaws just as people do.
Antagonists/villains are people too. Just as protagonists should have flaws, antagonists should have sympathetic qualities. Readers should understand their motivations, even if they don’t agree with them.
I would have loved to have been a panelist here as characters are what I most enjoy about writing stories. It’s like I’m introducing beloved friends to the world. My aim is to make compelling characters collide and write down the fallout.
Thank you to James River Writers for inviting me to moderate the panel discussion on author websites.
Thank you to author Anne Westrick and Pubslush Development Director Justine Schofield for making my job easier by being engaging and knowledgeable panelists!
And thank you to all who came out to Firehouse Theater tonight to learn more about what goes into making successful author websites.
In the first half of the program, we covered domain names, free hosting, and examples of authors doing it right with their websites. And for those who do not know what Pubslush is, it’s a crowdfunding site specifically for authors. Justine took us through some of the projects getting funded and how the process works.
In Q&A, we covered search engine optimization, responsive web design, copyright concerns, and how much to put on your site versus saving it for publication elsewhere.
It was a privilege to be up there, as for the past seven (?) years I’ve been in the audience at the Writing Shows. I hope attendees found it worthwhile and that I get to do it again.
My personal view is that websites are crucial for any business. And writing is a business. Your site can sell you as much as it can sell your work. It’s open all the time, ready to serve your customers. It’s also a process. You don’t have to get it right when you first start. Trial and error are great teachers. Set goals and deadlines for yourself, then assess when you reach those milestones.