How to Create Characters in 60 Seconds

How To Create Characters in 60 SecondsWhen you create great characters, they walk onto the page and make your story unforgettable.

They can bring every scene to life.

But creating characters takes tons of time and effort, doesn’t it?

Not necessarily.

I’m here to show you how you can create an impressively good character in 60 seconds or less.

 

Sound impossible? Here’s the secret:

You don’t need to write ten pages of backstory to make a great character. All you need is four short sentences.

Sentence #1: Name & Appearance

What is this character’s name?

If you don’t have a name in mind yet, use a placeholder name. (More on names in a moment.) Next question:

How would you describe this character’s appearance, in a single word, or as few words as possible?

Don’t limit yourself to just hair, clothes, or general physical description. Get creative. Come up with any noticeable outward feature that sounds good, and jot it down.

Continue reading

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Book Signing with Molly Tanzer at BookBar

A little over a year ago, I did one of my favorite book events of all time. I joined New York Times bestselling author Carrie Vaughn and the fabulous J.L. Forrest at the BookBar.

It’s a bookstore. And a bar. Brilliant.

The place was packed. People were having a great time. Everything was so completely overwhelming and amazingly exciting.

Not only was it fun, it was also meaningful, because we all got to sit down and have thought-provoking conversations with readers.

Also, since there was plenty of wine everywhere, us authors sounded pretty brilliant. ; )

This week I’ll be heading back to the Bookbar. This time, I’m teaming up with the amazing Molly Tanzer, author of Creatures of Will and Temper. She’ll be reading from the next book in the series, Creatures of Want and Ruin, which moves the action from Victorian London to Prohibition-era Long Island.

I, of course, will be reading from No Sleep Till Doomsday. (Funny urban fantasy with crystal magic and demon-possessed muscle cars. Unyielding mayhem. You know the drill.)

Come join us and have a great time!

Bookbar author signing event Laurence MacNaughtonBook Signing Event Details:

Saturday, March 9, 2019
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

BookBar
4280 Tennyson Street
Denver, CO 80212

RSVP on Meetup.com

Don’t miss out on any upcoming events! Subscribe to my author newsletter.

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Introducing the Six-Figure Master Fiction Plot

Lester Dent Master Fiction PlotEver wish you could write a novel in just a matter of weeks . . . and then sell it for good money?

Lester Dent did exactly that. In fact, he wrote his first novel in just thirteen days.

You read that right. Thirteen days.

Over the course of his career, he wrote nearly 200 novel-length stories. He crammed the pages of pulp fiction magazines with stories cranked out under various pen names. During the Great Depression, while legions of writers were starving, he boasted that he made $18,000 a year with his writing. In today’s terms, that’s more than $250,000 a year.

He often wrote a book-length story every month, using a “master plot” formula of his own devising.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get your hands on that top-secret recipe for success? You bet it would.

So here it is. Continue reading

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Answered: Your Most Burning Questions About Editors

James Persichetti, Developmental Editor at Lost Hat Editorial Services

For every brilliant manuscript that grows into a best-selling novel, untold thousands of others get dumped into the recycle bin. What’s the crucial difference between them?

Ask Jamie.

Over the years, James Persichetti has seen more unpublished manuscripts cross his desk than most people could read in a lifetime. He started out at the incomparable Nelson Literary Agency (Bird Box, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, etc.).

Now, he’s launched Lost Hat Editorial Services, a boutique editing business that helps writers like you succeed. Here he is, in his own words, to tell you how to find the right editor, polish your book to perfection, and avoid the biggest mistakes aspiring writers make. Continue reading

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5 Most Inspiring Books for Writers

Did you resolve to finish your novel this year?

I salute you. The bad news is that 80% of those who set New Year’s resolutions give up by the second week of February, according to U.S. News.

So, right about . . . now.

Need a little help staying inspired to write your novel? Here are the best books to keep you going.

P.S. For even more inspiration, writing tips, and other good stuff, subscribe to my author newsletter. (It’s free!)

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Have yourself a very merry doomsday!

Do you know someone on your “Nice” list who would like to receive an autographed Dru Jasper book as a gift? I’m signing and sending out one of each book, and you can help me pick the winners!

Just contact me and tell me the name of the person you’d like to give a book to, and which book they might like:

#1: It Happened One Doomsday,
#2: A Kiss Before Doomsday, or
#3: No Sleep till Doomsday.

No matter what you celebrate this season, I’m wishing you peace, joy, and the warmest of holiday greetings! Ho ho ho! : )

Very best,
Laurence

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6 Best How-To Books for Writers

Countless best-selling authors have told me that in their early years, before they were published, they relentlessly studied the craft of writing. Consequently, I’ve had hundreds of writing books recommended to me.

Here are the very best of them all, the books I always keep within arm’s reach of my writing desk.

#1: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

Way back when I worked for a book distributor, Michael Wiese Productions sent me a sample copy of the original Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. I devoured that book, and it helped launch my career as a novelist.

The original Save the Cat! book series was aimed at screenwriters. This brand-new version by Jessica Brody seamlessly adapts Blake Snyder’s methods for novelists. It’s one of the best “how to write a novel” books of the decade.

Get it. Read it. Follow it. You’ll be glad you did.

#2: The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Whenever you or I write the first draft of the story, our characters tend to exhibit the same cliche body language: nodding, shrugging, grinning. Pretty uninspired stuff, really.

Solution? Crack open this book, which contains more than 150 pages of body language, internal sensations, and mental responses to every imaginable emotion.

Is your character determined? Show him rolling up his sleeves. Is she mortified? Show her covering her face with her hands. Instantly, this book will have your characters winking, swaggering, leaning closer, tapping their feet, tightening their fists — and coming alive on the page.

While you’re getting this book, pick up the rest of the books in this series. Believe me, you’ll use them.

#3: Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge

Michael Hauge is a storytelling genius. He’s not only a best-selling author and inspiring speaker, he’s also one of Hollywood’s top story experts. He’s worked on projects starring Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Reese Witherspoon, and Morgan Freeman. This book is packed solid with practical, nuts-and-bolts techniques you can use to write a better screenplay, novel, short story, or any work of fiction. It’s no exaggeration to say that reading that book forever transformed the way I look at stories.

Plus, Hauge is a super, super nice guy. Every time I talk to him, I come away wiser. So check out his books.

#4: Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham

You really should read all of Jack Bickham’s books on writing, but this one in particular. It is packed with masterful techniques to keep readers hooked throughout a story.

Perhaps the biggest revelation in this book is the way Bickham breaks down cause and effect. Stories are told not just in scenes, but also in something he calls “sequels.” A sequel is a moment (or even a whole chapter) when the lead character emotionally reacts to the previous scene, revisits the big story questions, works through a dilemma, and decides on a new course of action.

If you want to become a successful author, you need to master the scene and sequel technique. This book shows you how.

#5: The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics by Dennis O’Neil

Even if you don’t read comic books, you can’t deny their enormous impact on popular books, movies, and TV shows today.

Best-selling novelist and comic book legend Dennis O’Neil breaks down the elements that make comic book stories work.

It’s also a fascinating primer on solid storytelling techniques that can benefit any writer.

#6: The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines by Tami D. Cowden, Carol LeFever, Sue Viders

I happened to pick up this book at the Tattered Cover bookstore nearly 20 years ago, and I have never since found a more practical guide to character relationships.

Aimed at romance writers (but useful to anyone), this book divides male and female characters into eight broad archetypes. Male types include The Chief, the Bad Boy, the Best Friend, etc. Female types include the Nurturer, the Free Spirit, the Librarian, and so on.

This is not in-depth psychology, here. But it works. Take a look at my Dru Jasper urban fantasy series. I have a Librarian named Dru and a Bad Boy named Greyson. They fall in love. By and large, the critics love them.

The genius of this book is that it shows you how the archetypes interact with each other. For example, how do the Bad Boy and the Librarian drive each other crazy? How do they work together as a team? How do they eventually change each other for the better? Read the book and find out.

What are your favorite writing books?

I’m always on the lookout for new books to add to my shelf. What titles have you found to be especially useful, interesting, or inspiring? Let me know.

By the way, for more free writing tips (and other cool stuff), why not subscribe to my newsletter?

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8 Secrets to Pitching Your Novel Like a Pro

8 Secrets to Pitching Your Novel Like a ProWhen it comes to publishing a novel, the actual writing is only half the battle. In order to get the attention of a publisher, you have to know how to “sell” your book.

I think we can all agree that most writers are not natural-born sales professionals. So it’s easy to understand why the idea of sitting down across the desk from an editor and pitching your novel might make you break out in a cold sweat.

No worries. There are basically eight big pitfalls you have to avoid — all you have to do is navigate around them, and let your story shine through.

I’ve explained how to do it here, on Fiction University.

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The real life inspiration behind No Sleep till Doomsday

Perhaps the most popular character in my Dru Jasper series is Hellbringer, a black 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona that is literally possessed by a speed demon.

In my new book, No Sleep till Doomsday, our anti-hero Hellbringer has a brand-new nemesis, a 2018 Dodge Demon named Soulbreaker.

If you’re even thinking about reading my book, you’re going to want to watch this video.

Whoa!

Man, that’s tough to beat. But yeah, that’s pretty much the essence of my book.

There’s another video I’d like to share with you that reveals a second big inspiration behind this book, but — SPOILER ALERT! — it hints at a major plot twist. So if you want to avoid the spoiler, stop reading now.

(By the way, if you haven’t signed up for my author newsletter yet, and you want to be entered to win free books and other cool stuff, click here.)

But if you DO want to read about this big mysterious inspiration (and you can’t say I didn’t warn you), here it is:

Continue reading

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Meet me at Tattered Cover on Friday 11/9/18 at 7 pm

No Sleep Till Doomsday book signingIf you’re in the Denver area, come meet me this Friday at my very favorite bookstore: Tattered Cover. I’ll talk about the stories behind No Sleep till Doomsday, read my favorite pages, answer questions, and sign books.

After the signing, head through the “secret door” into The Goods restaurant next door to join me and mingle with other book lovers like you. Hope to see you there!

When:

Friday, November 9 at 7:00 PM

Where:

Tattered Cover on Colfax
2526 East W Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80206

Can’t make it? Still want to get a signed paperback—or even win one for free? You’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win when you subscribe to my author newsletter.

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