Monday, April 05, 2010

Guest - Pauline Baird Jones

Good morning everyone! It's a fine Spring Day whether it's raining or sunny (let's not mention any other form of precipitation). We have a very talented author with us today, Pauline Baird Jones, who will be discussing characterization, a topic near and dear to all of us writers and readers alike. So sit back and enjoy the article and don't forget to leave a comment with your email addy by noon on Friday. Pauline is offering one lucky reader a electronic copy of The Key.

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When I sat down to write, Girl Gone Nova, I was doing it knowing that The Key had won a bronze IPPY (Independent Publisher award) and the Dream Realm Award for science fiction romance and readers wanted another book about Sara and that I wasn’t going to give it to them.

My challenge, then, was to create a character that would be, at the very least, as fun and interesting as Sara, without “doing” Sara again, only with a different name and hair color. I also needed someone who would be high adventure enough to propel the action without being annoying or a guy in girl’s clothing.

I am a pantster, an “into the mist” writer. That means, when I start a book I have no clue what it’s going to be about. Well, I did know the new novel was going to be a) science fiction romance; and b) set in Garradian universe, same as The Key. But I also wanted it to be able to stand alone.

Like The Key, it had to begin and end with my characters. When I’m reading a book, if I don’t care about the people, then I close it and move on. When I start creating a character, I begin by using some techniques left over from my playwriting/screenwriting days. When you are playwriting/screenwriting, you don’t know what the actress or actor will look like who will eventually play that character, so how they look is very general. You start with basic traits and layer traits on, based on what you need to make the plot start to move, saving the truly personal details for later.

The first trait is easy. Doc was female. I don’t remember now why I wanted her to also be a medical doctor, but she was. Maybe I just felt it, or maybe I was channeling her before I knew it. I knew she also needed to be a genius, because the problem she had to solve involved some people missing through an alien technology-based portal.

She needed to have secrets, because characters with secrets are interesting (unless you are the one who has to figure them out!). She needed to have military skills, in addition to her other skills, because she was going to need to kick some butt, possibly several butts.

There is an interesting synergy that begins to happen. As you create character traits to meet plot needs, the character traits also begin to shape the plot in new and unexpected directions. And when that happens—after you wail with dismay—you rejoice because you know the character has begun to live and breathe. You know she has become proactive, not passive. You know that now she is your partner in writing the book and not your puppet.

Doc, from Girl Gone Nova, made me work for each trait “reveal,” but Olivia, from my Steampunk novella, Tangled in Time, walked on to the stage fully formed. Of course, she‘s from the 1890’s and has better manners than Doc.

If you would like more information about how I use playwriting/screenwriting techniques to create characters that work with me and not against me, check out my free article on my website called Getting The Wood Out.

Prize: Ebook edition of The Key
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Pauline Baird Jones is the award-winning author of nine novels of action-adventure, science fiction romance, suspense, romantic suspense and comedy-mystery. She's also written two non-fiction books,Adapting Your Novel for Film and Made-up Mayhem, and she co-wrote Managing Your Book Writing Business with Jamie Engle. Her seventh novel, Out of Time, an action-adventure romance set in World War II, is an EPPIE 2007 winner. Her eighth novel, The Key won an Independent Book Award Bronze Medal (IPPY) for 2008 and is a 2007 Dream Realm Awards Winner. She also has short stories in several anthologies. Originally from Wyoming, she and her family moved from New Orleans to Texas before Katrina. You can find out more about Pauline at www.perilouspauline.com

Girl Gone Nova
Doc--Delilah Oliver Clementyne’s—orders are simple: do the impossible and do it fast. A genius/bad ass, she does the impossible on a regular basis. But this time the impossible is complicated by an imminent war between the Earth expedition to the Garradian Galaxy and the Gadi, an encounter with some wife-hunting aliens, and not one but two bands of time travelers.

She could handle all that, but her biggest challenge—and the reason the impossible might be not possible this time—is that she’s fallen in love.

Wrong time, wrong man, wrong everything. So why does it feel so right?

Excerpt:
He brought up the cloak and went sensor dark. He turned back, would have smiled at her, but she gripped a weapon with both hands and it was pointed at his chest. No sign of recognition flared in her eyes or softened her stance.

“Delilah?”

Her body shuddered with cold or shock, or both.

He kept still, his voice soft. “I thought you’d be glad to see me.”

She blinked once, and then again. Water ran down her face and off her jaw line.

“Hel?” Her stance softened some, one hand leaving the partially lowered weapon to rub her eyes.

He rose, taking it slow, not anxious to alarm her into shooting. He had no way of knowing what her weapon was set to.

He rubbed his scruffy chin. “I had to become Kalian to find you.”

The hand holding the weapon dropped to her side. She swayed, even as she tried to smile.

“Nice timing.”

“Your friends were getting close,” he admitted, stepping close. The smells of the storm clung to her, hiding her scent.

“The tornado was closer.” She reached out, her hand touching his chest as if she still weren’t sure he was real. It slid up, a brief loss of sensation until she found his face. “You need a shave.”

His hand slid down her arm, his fingers closing around the weapon and easing it out of her grasp. He tossed it onto the copilot’s chair and tugged her close. “I need you.”

“I’m a mess.”

“You’re perfect.”

Her laugh broke in the middle. Her arms slid up around his neck. His mouth found hers and passion flared, as out of control as the storm beneath them. He drove her mouth open. Couldn’t get close enough to her to satisfy. He pushed, with his mouth and his body until she slammed into the bulkhead. Water soaked into his clothes, and he could have sworn the air around them sizzled as if touched by fire. She whimpered, deep in her throat. He started to lift his head, concerned he’d hurt her, but her hands at the back of his head, and her moan of protest, stopped that. One should never disappoint a lady.

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-- Lynda Again --
This week's member word is forte
\FORT\ noun
: something in which one excels : one's strong point

Members of my newsgroup will know what to do with today's word. You can know too by joining us. But don't worry, there isn't any chatter. You'll only get notices from me so it won't fill your mailbox. My fluffy cat, Wookie Baby, will help me select the lucky person whose name is drawn and I'll announce it here on Friday. (She'd do it herself but her English vocabulary is limited to NO-when she's going to the vet and WOE-when she's getting a bath, lol) This week's prize is a Mills & Boone Presents collection of novellas by Robyn Grady, Joanna Fulford and Janice Lynn for three great stories!

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13 comments:

Pauline B Jones said...

Good morning, Lynda and many thanks for hosting me on Star Crossed! I love the blog and try to read it every week, even though it has a growing effect on my TBR pile. :-)

Cheers!
Pauline

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Pauline,

Since I'm familiar with your writing, I know how talented you are.

Best of luck getting the word out about your new novel.

Pauline B Jones said...

Many thanks, Jacqueline! Appreciate the support!

Barbara Monajem said...

Groan. I'm an into-the-mist writer, too, and although I love how the characters and plot drive each other, sometimes their tussles can be exhausting!

Love that title - Girl Gone Nova!

Betty Gordon said...

Pauline, a great interview and we have a great book to look forward to. Creating characters,one of the best parts of beginning a new manuscript, is fun, but seeing them come to life is wonderful.

Betty Gordon

Roxanne Smolen said...

Thanks for an interesting article. I agree that characters are important in fiction. If the reader doesn't care about the characters, they probably won't care about what's happening to them. Your book sounds great. Best of luck to you.

Shannon said...

So interesting to hear you say that in screenwriting you don't know what the actor will look like. I just saw an interview with Jennifer Crusie and she said she rarely describes her characters in detail because she wants readers to picture them for themselves. I like that. Best of luck with Girl Gone Nova--I can't wait to read it.

Pauline B Jones said...

Many thanks to all of you for stopping by! I went to bed feeling like a tree that falls in the forest! LOLOL!

Thank you all! :-)
Pauline

Linda Andrews said...

What a great excerpt from Girl Gone Nova. I like how you get to know your characters and the surprises to you must be quite enjoyable to the reader as well.

Denise Verrico said...

Great blog, Pauline! Enough can't be said about strong characters.

Pauline B Jones said...

Sorry to disappear so abruptly! I went out of town suddenly and the hotel did NOT have WiFi? How crazy is that?

I want to thank Lynda again, for hosting me this week. The winner of the free digital copy of THE KEY is...

(drum roll here)

....Roxanne Smolen! If you'll email me privately at pauline @ pauline b jones dot com and tell me which format you prefer, I'll email it to you ASAP!

Hope you all had a great week!!!

Lynda K. Scott said...

Hi all, I just wanted to let you all know that Debbie's name was pulled from the prize box. She'll be getting the M&B Presents book in the mail soon.

Thanks to all who played!

Pauline B Jones said...

Congratulations, Debbie!