Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Secondary Characters in Fiction or Memoir #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Because memoirists can’t change what happened and who is involved in the particular memoir slice of life story they are telling, it’s all about what they choose to show the reader about the secondary characters in the memoir and what they choose to leave out. And whatever the memoirist tells or shows needs to be explained through the lens of the protagonist.

Secondary characters grow and change within the story arc of the protagonist in fiction or memoir.  You don’t want just plot puppets, characters used to move the story forward without any background or desires of their own. All characters think they’re the hero of their own story according to Lisa Cron in her Story Genius course. But when you’re crafting a story, you want the protagonist driving the change within the story, not the secondary characters.

In memoir, the other characters are real life people. And the reason why they are in the story is to amplify and support the protagonist’s transformational arc of change. The reader needs to get a sense of what the secondary characters are about and what their specific agendas are. They are real people with real lives. The memoirist can’t change anything about their real lives or she’s writing fiction—not memoir.

In my memoir about attending college as a mother of five, my husband and our children play an informative role in helping me and hindering me in my attempt at college. I felt like a specimen under a microscope with not only my own family watching to see how I handle college, but also my mother and siblings. I felt like everyone was waiting for me to fail.

            Like in many families, my five children are all different. But as the protagonist in my memoir, I not only need to distinguish each of my children for the reader, I also need to remember to include only what matters about their lives to the story I am telling, my journey through college, my understanding of what education is all about. When I talk about distinguishing each child, I don’t mean what they look like. I’m talking about their personalities, how they act, what’s important to them and how that affects me the protagonist in the memoir.

            For instance, my second daughter Michelle is the family brainiac. Every family seems to have one! But what does that mean to Victoria in the memoir story. It means that even at a young age, Victoria relies on Michelle as a family [and later college classwork] sounding board. But because Michelle is young and inexperienced in the beginning of Victoria’s college journey, Michelle still wants Mom’s attention, still needs to be individually noticed within the family.

Marie, the oldest, is special needs. She consumes most of Victoria’s time and is the impetus for Victoria to begin college. Marie can process only one thing at a time. Victoria has trouble remembering this and frequently becomes frustrated.

My husband Bill’s task in the memoir story is to be the voice of reason. He tries to get Victoria to stop and listen to others, a very difficult job as Victoria’s always short on time. He feels Victoria is consumed by her studies [true], thus taking too much time away from family, increasing his workload, and denying him “couple time.”
Bill’s job is to counter what father had said to Victoria. Bill needs to change what is ingrained in Victoria, that she’s not good enough for college/not smart enough for college. He, along with other secondary characters, chips away at Victoria's misbelief that she’s inferior to those who attend or attended college. Victoria can do whatever she sets her mind to—even if she needs to study/learn differently or take longer to do so, like Marie.

My son William, the middle child, is smart, but needs to be watched to be sure he does all his assignments. He’s laid-back, not high-strung like Victoria. During Victoria’s college years, he has a calming effect on her.  But he, too, wants his time with Mom.

The family is used to having Victoria’s time. She doesn’t mind. This is her life. But if Victoria wants to succeed in college, things would need to change because she still learns differently, like her daughter Marie, and needs to play catch-up with the more traditional college student.

            *Please feel free to offer comments or ask questions about my secondary characters. This helps me to move forward on my memoir.*

            Whether it’s memoir or fiction, each secondary character needs to have a specific personality, a reason to be, that benefits the main storyline. As the writer, you include only the facets of secondary characters’ lives that pertain to the story you are telling.

Once again, I’d like to thank Jennie Nash of Author Accelerator and Lisa Cron for helping me to understand these concepts in my memoir.

Thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. To continue hopping through more amazing blogs or to join our Author Toolbox blog hop, click here

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Write with Chrys Fey Guest Post

Today, I’m sharing my Adventures in Writing blog with a good friend and fellow writer from InsecureWriters Support Group, a knowledgeable and helpful group of writers.

Chrys Fey has a new release, and it is my pleasure to assist with its launch. Here’s Chrys to give you all the details.


Catch the
sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book!

Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You
from Idea to Publication offers an abundance of data in one handy book. From
writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks
on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. You’ll also discover how to
write specific scenes and characters, adding depth to your work.

•        Spark One:
Being a Writer
•        Spark Two:
Story Essentials
•        Spark
Three: A Book’s Stepping Stones
•        Spark Four:
How To
•        Spark Five:
Character ER
•        Spark Six:
•        Spark
Seven: Publishing
•        Spark
Eight: Marketing
•        Spark Nine:
Writing About
•        Spark Ten:
Final Inspiration

With so much information, you’ll take
notes, highlight, and flag pages to come back to again and again on your
writing journey.



 Chrys Fey is the
author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance,
crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group
and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur

Fey realized she wanted to write by
watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started her
first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen. Fey
lives in Florida and is always on the lookout for hurricanes.
Chrys Fey’s Links:


Open to
all from June 4th 2018 – July 6th 2018
Click here to enter or
use the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Insecure Writers Want to Know: What’s Harder to Create: Book Titles or Character Names?

            For me, I’d have to say that book titles or short story titles are more difficult to create. Titles are the nicknames of story or plot. They are essential to grabbing a reader’s attention to purchase or actually read the story.

            Can I come up with a perfect nickname—or title—right away? Nope! Sometimes a title comes to me as I start to create a manuscript, but more often than not, the title changes by submission time.

            Titles need to be clear, concise, and direct to be of any use to both readers and writers. You want to make a reader stop and consider the subject or topic in your writing from the title. You are enticing the reader into your story, your pages, your book. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, titles need to encompass the meaning of your writing.

            *I realize some literary titles may not conform to these ideas.*

            Have you noticed that non-fiction titles are usually longer than fiction titles? I feel this is because non-fiction writers want to be clear about what is in their pages. Let’s take The Boys in the Boat, Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown as an example. This historical non-fiction title lets the reader know exactly when, where, and what will transpire in the pages of the book. [It’s a great book, by the way!]

            I realize that many writers feel a short title is easier to remember than a long title. And that’s basically true, as long as the short title captures the essence of the story. Here are just a few titles I plucked from my shelf to show you how the titles encapsulate the story.

Louis Sachar’s YA novel Holes encompasses the main thrust of the story in the one word title. The reader [or maybe just me] immediately wants to know why the youth are digging all these holes in a desert. Is it just punishment or is there a deeper secret?

In Elizabeth George’s novel What Came Before He Shot Her, the whole story is literally about the days before the protagonist supposedly shot someone. In essence, it explains how the whole situation came about.

Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You is thematically a story about communication. In it the reader discovers the inner thoughts and lives of the characters that, unfortunately, they can’t seem to communicate to each other in the story present.  

For my short stories, I tend to create shorter titles: Brotherly Love, Natural Instincts, and Emerging from Darkness, to name just a few. In those titles, the editor felt the story was encapsulated: brothers struggling to listen to each other; a protagonist understanding and thereby surviving in nature; a protagonist finally coming to grips with her past to be able to live her present.

In one of my non-fiction titles: Pedalers’ Express: Ocean to Ocean, the title tells the reader how [on bicycles] and where [from ocean to ocean] the journey takes place.  

            I could go on and on, but I’m sure you have thoughts on the purpose of titles and their construction, too. Please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.