40 Days of Worksheets – Day 30

ramonagravitarWorksheet #30 – Market and Audience

Some questions for before and after your book goes live in the world.

  1. Who do you imagine as your ideal reader?
  2. What other books are like yours in some way (comps)?
  3. What is unique about your story?
  4. What lesson, history, new information will a reader learn from your story?
  5. Does your story problem address a social issue?
  6. If you had to hand sell your book, where would you go?
  7. If I looked up your book in a library collection, what would books would pop up as a “you might like these” referral?
  8. Could you write book club type questions for your book?
  9. Does your story include graphic violence, sex, religion, or some other content that might keep readers from buying your book?
  10. If you were invited to read a section of your book, which section would you choose and why?

Please note: All worksheets posted are my original work and intellectual property. I ask that you share the links on social media, and you are welcome to share the worksheets with your critique groups and writing friends with credit given. That being said, these worksheets—despite being posted on the Internet—may not be copied, distributed, or published as anyone’s work but mine. In short: sharing is good, plagiarism is bad.

Disclaimer #2: You may post your completed worksheet if you’d like, but please remember that, by doing so, you are sharing your ideas with all of the Internet. You’ve been warned.

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 29

ramonagravitarWorksheet #29 – Emotional Journey

The following questions address the character’s personal story and how the events of the plot affects them emotionally and internally.

1. What is your character’s general emotional state at the start of the story?

2 As the story progresses, what change does she want to happen in her personal life? Does that happen?

3. If there anything at the start of the story that she wants to change about herself? Does that happens?

4. What are three things that happen in the story that affect or touch her emotionally? Does she change because of these three things?

5. Does her personal/private life undergo change or stress because of the plot?

6. Does anyone get hurt in the story because of her actions? If so, how does that change her (if it does)?

7. Does she win/lose any personal relationships?

8. Does she have an unresolved issue from the past (baggage)? If so, is it resolved? If it is not resolved, why not?

9. What is the lowest/saddest emotional moment for her in the story?

10. What is the highest/happiest?

11. Does she have a weakness or fear at the start of the story that she has to face? If so, what is the result?

12. What is she like at the end of the story, from an internal POV, as compared to what she’s like at the beginning? In other words, how has she changed?

13. Was this painful? Was it worth the pain?

14. Is your character more content or less so at the end of the story?

15. If the character is at peace at the start, is she at peace at the end? Is she emotionally distraught at the start, and the same at the end? At peace at the start, but disturbed at the end? Disturbed at the start, but peaceful at the end? Which one of these start-end questions best describes your lead character?

Please note: All worksheets posted are my original work and intellectual property. I ask that you share the links on social media, and you are welcome to share the worksheets with your critique groups and writing friends with credit given. That being said, these worksheets—despite being posted on the Internet—may not be copied, distributed, or published as anyone’s work but mine. In short: sharing is good, plagiarism is bad.

Disclaimer #2: You may post your completed worksheet if you’d like, but please remember that, by doing so, you are sharing your ideas with all of the Internet. You’ve been warned.

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 28

ramonagravitarWorksheet #28 – 10 Random Self Editing Tips

Here are quick fixes for making your copy cleaner, leaner, and meaner.

  1. Master dialogue tags. This is the formula: open quotation mark, dialogue, punctuation, close quotation mark, speaker’s name, speaking word, period.

Said is the standard speaker word. Asked, answered, yelled, whispered, etc. are acceptable because those are ways to speak. Sighed, yawned, laughed, smiled, shrugged, etc. are NOT acceptable because those are not ways people speak.

  1. Learn—and banish—your habit words. My characters love to peer. They peer and peer and peer. They too often get annoyed, appalled, and aggravated. At least once a story, someone calls someone else a Troglodyte. I finally broke the Troglodyte habit and began using nimrod as my pet insult. Now I have to banish nimrod because I’ve overused it. As a writer, you are a work in progress, and you have to keep an eye on yourself—and your habit words.
  2. Ground the reader in the opening of every scene. Look at the opening lines of each scene. Can you place the characters in a physical spot, or are they floating around in the ether chatting away, or walking in some unnamed place while the reader struggles to get a visual?
  3. Look at the structure of your sentences. Are there several in a row structured the same way? That gets repetitive. Do you write short sentence after short sentence after short sentence so that your writing is choppy? Mix up sentence styles.
  4. Examine the endings of your chapters. Do you have a habit of asking a leading question at the end of every chapter? Or does a character end the scene with a witty comment—every time? A few times is fine. More than a few is a habit.
  5. Cut the looking. “Maxwell walked into the kitchen and looked around.” It is a given that when a character enters a room, they’ll look around. “Maxwell looked into my eyes and said….” a)If Maxwell is going to speak to you, he’s going to look into your eyes, not your elbow, so it’s unnecessary to mention the eyes. b) Unless Maxwell has an issue with making eye contact and looking into your eyes is significant, there’s no need to mention the looking at all. Just let the man speak.
  6. Get rid of just (see above), really, very, etc. This is mentioned really very often, but writers just don’t seem to listen.
  7. Use Spell Check. It won’t catch every error but it helps, and you are allowed to disagree with the suggested changes. Plus, it’s free. Free is good.
  8. Examine your scenes. Does every scene have a specific purpose? Does it lead to a next scene? If this scene was cut from the manuscript, would the story fall apart?
  9. Do your characters speak like real people? Unless your character is delivering a speech or giving a report, dialogue should be a few sentences long.

Please note: All worksheets posted are my original work and intellectual property. I ask that you share the links on social media, and you are welcome to share the worksheets with your critique groups and writing friends with credit given. That being said, these worksheets—despite being posted on the Internet—may not be copied, distributed, or published as anyone’s work but mine. In short: sharing is good, plagiarism is bad.

Disclaimer #2: You may post your completed worksheet if you’d like, but please remember that, by doing so, you are sharing your ideas with all of the Internet. You’ve been warned.

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 27

ramonagravitarWorksheet #27 – 50 Questions about your Lead Character

 The following questions are intended to make you think about your character from different perspectives. Your responses can be as short or as long as you wish.

  1. Prior to the events of the story, what would be a typical day in the life of your Lead Character?
  2. What was the worst Day in your Lead Character’s life?
  3. What was the best day?
  4. What does he like best about himself?
  5. What would he like to change?
  6. Where is his happy or peaceful place?
  7. Who had the most influence on him as a child?
  8. Who would be his personal hero or someone he tries to model?
  9. What was his young childhood (before school) like?
  10. Was he rebellious as a teenager?
  11. Who is his confidant?
  12. What does he most regret from his past?
  13. Has he ever lost a loved one (family, friend, lover) to death?
  14. How does he feel about his looks/body?
  15. Where does he go to relax/hang out?
  16. What place does he avoid and why?
  17. Has he ever loved and lost?
  18. What is his pet peeve?
  19. What is his home like?
  20. Is he neat or messy?
  21. What is his fashion style?
  22. What is his greatest fear?
  23. What would he say is his greatest flaw?
  24. Is he trustworthy?
  25. Is he an optimist or a pessimist?
  26. What kind of parent is he/would he be?
  27. Does he have any cherished possessions?
  28. When under stress, what does he do to cope?
  29. What is his family/cultural background?
  30. Is he an introvert or extrovert?
  31. What is his overall state of health?
  32. How would someone meeting him describe him (physically & personality)?
  33. What outside-of-work subject/s fascinate him?
  34. What are his beliefs about ghosts, miracles, paranormal, etc.?
  35. Would he describe himself as content with his life?
  36. Does he miss someone?
  37. Who was/is the love of his life?
  38. How would his neighbors describe him?
  39. Is he dependable? Sentimental? Empathetic? Emotional?
  40. What/who has he walked away from?
  41. What does he dislike about his life?
  42. Does he hold any grudges?
  43. Has he ever done anything he (or someone else) considers unforgiveable?
  44. Would he say his career is headed in the right direction?
  45. If he had a groundhog day, what day would he want to relive over and over?
  46. What day in his life would he like to change?
  47. Does he care what other people think about him?
  48. Is he a good co-worker or partner?
  49. What makes him proud about himself?
  50. Given the choice, would he retire to a cabin in the mountains, a cottage at the seashore, a penthouse in a high-rise, or a farmhouse in the country?

 Please note: All worksheets posted are my original work and intellectual property. I ask that you share the links on social media, and you are welcome to share the worksheets with your critique groups and writing friends with credit given. That being said, these worksheets—despite being posted on the Internet—may not be copied, distributed, or published as anyone’s work but mine. In short: sharing is good, plagiarism is bad.

Disclaimer #2: You may post your completed worksheet if you’d like, but please remember that, by doing so, you are sharing your ideas with all of the Internet. You’ve been warned.

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 26

cropped-ramonalogofinal.jpgWorksheet #26 – Weekly Goals

 Sunday is traditionally a day of rest and relaxation, or reflection and renewal. In my online courses, I give a day off for a mental break, but because this a short-term project, no breaks!

Goals for this week:

1 – How much will you write on your WIP this week? (# of words, # of pages, # of chapters, # of hours–whatever measuring stick you’d like to use)

2 – What other tasks do you need to handle this week? (revisions or research for your WIP, blog posts, submissions, PR, etc.)

3 – How did you do on last week’s goals?

As you set goals, remember to be realistic! Doable goals are the ones people achieve. It’s great to push yourself, but if you aim for the unrealistic or unreachable, you’re setting yourself up for failure.  Be reasonable with yourself as you plan this week–and good luck!

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 25

ramonagravitarWorksheet #25 – If I Did It

A famous criminal who-shall-not-be-named once wrote a book that was never published. The book outlined how he would have committed a certain crime, if indeed he had committed it.

It may be the dream of your antagonist to tell their story without worry about guilt or prosecution, to share why they felt driven to whatever bad act they committed.

Give them the chance. Crawl into the head of your antagonist and listen to the reasoning, the planning, the execution, and the emotions expressed there but nowhere else.

And then write a full confession on their behalf.

If I Did It by Your Antagonist

(write here)

Please note: All worksheets posted are my original work and intellectual property. I ask that you share the links on social media, and you are welcome to share the worksheets with your critique groups and writing friends with credit given. That being said, these worksheets—despite being posted on the Internet—may not be copied, distributed, or published as anyone’s work but mine. In short: sharing is good, plagiarism is bad.

Disclaimer #2: You may post your completed worksheet if you’d like, but please remember that, by doing so, you are sharing your ideas with all of the Internet. You’ve been warned.

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 24

ramonagravitarWorksheet #24 – Creating Obstacles

What does your protagonist really want? This is a question writers often struggle over because the “want” question is not the easy answer to solving the plot. A main character who is a police investigator will “want” to solve the crime, but it’s not what s/he wants in her heart of hearts. That’s the “really want” question.

Maybe what she really wants is a peaceful home life despite the stress and chaos of her job. Maybe what he really wants is acceptance from his neighbors in a new town. Maybe what she really wants is to get past an old trauma and stop feeling unworthy to be alive. Maybe what he really wants is blatant success and lots of money and a big house. (No judgment!)

Conflict happens when obstacles appear that impede the character’s ability to get what s/he wants. Conflicts can be large or small. To create tension, confrontations with obstacles should vary and built (move from small obstacles to large).

Example in Creating Obstacles

What does marry really want? To marry Joe

 

What are 10 obstacles to this? (small to large)

  1. Mary’s accused of a crime and out on bail awaiting trial
  2. Joe is 5 years younger
  3. Joe is her best friend’s ex
  4. Joe’s family hates her from some old family feud
  5. Mary is in a grad school program and marrying Joe would mean dropping out
  6. Richard (Joe’s brother) is in love with Mary
  7. Mary and Joe are on opposite spectrums financially, politically, religiously, etc.
  8. Joe has two children and Mary has no experience with children
  9. Mary is allergic to Joe’s beloved dog
  10. Joe thinks Mary is guilty of crime in #1

 

How will Mary overcome these obstacles to get what she wants? Which are true impediments and which are things you learn to ignore or work out in a relationship?

Now, your turn.

What does your character want?

Name 10 obstacles (small to large)

Figure out which are true obstacles and which are things you learn to live with, or around.

Please note: All worksheets posted are my original work and intellectual property. I ask that you share the links on social media, and you are welcome to share the worksheets with your critique groups and writing friends with credit given. That being said, these worksheets—despite being posted on the Internet—may not be copied, distributed, or published as anyone’s work but mine. In short: sharing is good, plagiarism is bad.

Disclaimer #2: You may post your completed worksheet if you’d like, but please remember that, by doing so, you are sharing your ideas with all of the Internet. You’ve been warned.

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 23

ramonagravitarWorksheet #23 – Too Stupid To Live

Characters are imperfect creatures who, like real people, make mistakes and sometimes do really stupid things. TSTL is a ruler that measures if a character’s mistakes are valid and human and understandable, of if their actions are so foolish that it reveals the author’s inability to bring about a conclusion without resorting to desperate measures.

What does it mean when a character is Too Stupid To Live? It means the character acts without plausible motivation in order to serve the plot. A TSTL character will go into the dark basement even though the light switch doesn’t work and a violent escaped convict has been spotted in the area. What rational person would do this? No one, but the author needs the character in the basement for the climax.

In short, a TSTL character ignores the “fool me once, fool me twice” rule, only they’re fooling themselves.

A story needs danger, and characters do need to make bad choices. The measure of these bad choices is whether or not they are so stupid that it damages the character in service of the plot. If the cop who rushes ahead without backup does so because he’s a honcho hothead hotshot, well, he should get what’s coming to him and not be rewarded for his foolishness. But if he’s doing this because there is a person dangling from the edge of a cliff and there’s no time to wait, then he’s a hero.

Think about the risky choices your characters make and answer the following:

  1. Why is this decision risky or foolish?
  2. Why is it necessary to the plot?
  3. Why must this character, and no one else, perform this act or make this choice?
  4. Does the character know it’s a risk?
  5. What bad thing will happen if the character does not act?
  6. Is there any other way to get this character where you need him/her to be without getting him/her into a TSTL situation?

Please note: All worksheets posted are my original work and intellectual property. I ask that you share the links on social media, and you are welcome to share the worksheets with your critique groups and writing friends with credit given. That being said, these worksheets—despite being posted on the Internet—may not be copied, distributed, or published as anyone’s work but mine. In short: sharing is good, plagiarism is bad.

Disclaimer #2: You may post your completed worksheet if you’d like, but please remember that, by doing so, you are sharing your ideas with all of the Internet. You’ve been warned.

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 22

ramonagravitarWorksheet #22 – Plotting Worksheet

Does your manuscript include these plot elements? Answer with a brief description.

Hook:

Normal world:

Inciting Incident:

Conflict:

Emotional journey:

Backstory:

Exposition:

Complications:

Transitions:

Flashbacks:

Climax:

Resolution:

Denouement:

Please note: All worksheets posted are my original work and intellectual property. I ask that you share the links on social media, and you are welcome to share the worksheets with your critique groups and writing friends with credit given. That being said, these worksheets—despite being posted on the Internet—may not be copied, distributed, or published as anyone’s work but mine. In short: sharing is good, plagiarism is bad.

Disclaimer #2: You may post your completed worksheet if you’d like, but please remember that, by doing so, you are sharing your ideas with all of the Internet. You’ve been warned.

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 21

cropped-ramonagravitar.jpgWorksheet #21 – TEN MAJOR SCENES

What are the 10 most important scenes in the story? List below in chronological order, plus how this scene drives the plot forward:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Please note: All worksheets posted are my original work and intellectual property. I ask that you share the links on social media, and you are welcome to share the worksheets with your critique groups and writing friends with credit given. That being said, these worksheets—despite being posted on the Internet—may not be copied, distributed, or published as anyone’s work but mine. In short: sharing is good, plagiarism is bad.

Disclaimer #2: You may post your completed worksheet if you’d like, but please remember that, by doing so, you are sharing your ideas with all of the Internet. You’ve been warned.