Nancy's Books

Sunday, October 3, 2010

National Book Festival, Characterization, Mad Magazine, Mrs. P's Writing Contest for Kids

The photo is a picture of my books at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Trouble in Troublesome Creek represented the Kentucky booth. Happy Birthday, the Story of the World's Most Popular Song, was showcased because it was released this year and the story focuses on Kentucky.

Breathing Life into Characters, Part I

Believable characters make the world of fiction come alive. A character that does not seem real will not be interesting. So how do writers breathe life into characters? The best way to develop a three-dimensional character is to get to know the character as well as you know yourself.

On paper create a character profile. List the character’s physical traits, including hair color, height, and other features. List the character’s likes and dislikes, family members, and unusual mannerisms, such as winking as he smiles or rubbing his hand through his hair when he is stressed. Ask your character questions about favorite foods, sports activities, and friends. Write the character’s answer in a first person voice as though he is talking with you. What are the character’s strengths and weaknesses? What does the character want and why does the character want it? What drives the character? The writer needs to know why the character makes certain choices throughout the development of the plot.

Characters are more interesting if they are not perfect, but they need to be likeable. The reader should want the character to succeed or the story will fall flatter than the page on which it’s written.

Part II will be posted next week.

Call for submissions/Contest
MAD Magazine
Pay: $500+
We're actively looking to expand our pool of freelance comedy writers and there's more opportunity to join The Usual Gang Of Idiots than ever. If you have a twisted sense of humor, a peculiar way of looking at the world, or are simply eager to express your immature, strange or just plain silly side, then we want to see your stuff!

Open to kids 4-13. Two winners will be chosen, one in age
group 4-8 and one in age group 9-13. Stories may be any topic.
Fiction or nonfiction. 250 to 1,000 words.
Two grand prize winners (one from each age group) will have
their stories read by Mrs. P herself and an artist will
create original illustrations to accompany the story. Each
winner will receive a bound copy of the illustrated story,
as well as having it posted on Both grand prize
winners and up to eight runners-up will also each receive
a $25 gift certificate to Powell's.

Deadline: Submissions will be accepted Sept. 1 through Oct. 15, 2010.
Details at

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