Monday, March 19, 2012

Is Your Character a Zombie?

With the season finale of The Walking Dead still fresh on my mind, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the zombies vs. survivors dynamic.

Here’s what I know about survivors. They’re clever, skilled and creative. (I was going to add “fit,” but if you’re clever, skilled and creative you can be a contestant on The Biggest Loser and still defeat a zombie.) Being forever pursued, they’re constantly aware of their surroundings. They are strong-willed and adaptable.

Now think. Does any of this apply to your main character? 

If bullied, does he fight back? If lost, can he find his way? If leading, does he shoulder the weight?

Now let’s consider the zombies. Here’s what we know about them. They crave human flesh. They'll amble for miles to find food. They mostly travel in groups. And there is no hierarchy.

Is this your MC? 

Craving/wanting is the catalyst, but will your character stagger aimlessly until he happens upon his goal or does he have a game plan to tackle it? Is he just one of the group or does he stand out as an individual? Does he make his own rules, buck the system, challenge authority (A-listers, teachers, overbearing parents, etc.) or does he have free reign to tackle conflicts without consequence (boring!)?

I’d like to think that all of my main characters are survivors. That when faced with their own zombie apocalypse, they’re clever, skilled and creative. Oh, I’ve had a few who started out as zombies, but hey, that’s what revisions are for.

So next time you’re struggling with characterization, just ask. Is my MC a zombie or a survivor?  


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Need a Tag!

Dialogue tags. Yeah, we’re supposed to avoid them - start with an action instead. But your character can only scratch her nose or flip her hair so many times. 

Said is preferred. It's barely noticeable. But after too many, you'll notice.

Could it be you need something with punch? Well, that's where I come in. As it turns out, I’m a tag collector. And over the years, I’ve made a lengthy list. *And keep in mind, these are just fun, unusual tags.

For example: What did the agitated character do?

she bleated.
she blustered.
she bristled.
she crabbed.
she fussed.
she griped.
she groused.
she gruffed.
she grumbled.
she grumped.
she rumbled.
she spat.
she squawked.

Got one of those annoying sarcastic characters?

she chided.
she clucked.
she cracked.
she deadpanned.
she dug.
she egged.
she flouted.
she guffawed.
she heckled.
she mocked.
she mouthed off.
she poohed.
she quipped.
she sassed.
she scoffed.
she smirked.
she snarked.
she sniped.

Here are a few of my favorites:

she bubbled.
she coaxed.
she dazzled.
she ho-hummed.
she quavered.
she scrooged.
she sing-songed.
she tacked on.

And my ultimate favorite: *drumroll*

“Yeow!” she onomatopoeiad.

If you'd like a copy of my full alphabetized list (I've never had time to categorize it), contact me at

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Shout-Out: Everneath

I rarely review books. Mostly because I tend to use a lot of dumb lingo like “I LOVED it!” “Awesome!” “This book is great!” 

But this is one of those rare occasions, so I'll try to keep the exclamation marks to a minimum. I just finished  Everneath by Brodi Ashton. It definitely deserves a shout-out.

After 100 years, 17-year-old Nikki Beckett has just returned from the Everneath, an underworld where immortals feed on human prey. But in human time, only 6 months have passed. And she only has 6 months on the surface before being sucked back under again. It’s what happens in those 6 months that keeps you turning the page.  

Everneath was inspired by the myth of Persephone and Hades, and the story unfolds in the form of a countdown clock, adding to the suspense and sense of urgency.

Teeny bits of it were a little over the top, but it was well crafted, had engaging characters and no point will you have it “figured out.” It is simply a compelling read.

Highly recommend