Emotional Wounds Thesaurus Entry: Finding Out One’s Child Was Abused

When you’re writing a character, it’s important to know why she is the way she is. Knowing her backstory is important to achieving this end, and one of the most impactful pieces of a character’s backstory is her emotional wound. This negative experience from the past is so intense that a character will go to great lengths to avoid experiencing that kind of pain and negative emotion again. As a result, certain behaviors, beliefs, and character traits will emerge.

teddyCharacters, like real people, are unique, and will respond to wounding events differently. The vast array of possible emotional wounds combined with each character’s personality gives you many options in terms of how your character will turn out. With the right amount of exploration, you should be able to come up with a character whose past appropriately affects her present, resulting in a realistic character that will ring true with readers. Understanding what wounds a protagonist bears will also help you plot out her arc, creating a compelling journey of change that will satisfy readers.

NOTE: We realize that sometimes a wound we profile may have personal meaning, stirring up the past for some of our readers. It is not our intent to create emotional turmoil. Please know that we research each wounding topic carefully to treat it with the utmost respect. 

Finding Out One’s Child Was Abused

Discovering one’s child had their innocence ripped away and one did not know, didn’t see the signs, or misunderstood the signs as being about something else…it’s a parent’s worst nightmare. Whatever the scenario, the result is the same–deep seated guilt and shame that one failed at the most important job they will ever have: being a parent.

Examples:

Learning after the fact that…

  • one’s partner or a close relative has been abusing one’s child
  • the abuse occurred at a trusted family friend’s house
  • one’s child was abused by a teacher or person of authority
  • the abuse took place while one’s child was in the care of a neighbor or babysitter
  • one’s child was being abused in the home while one was present but far enough away to not know what was happening
  • the abuse occurred while away on a supervised trip for a team, organization, club or school event
  • the abuse happened during shared custody visits with one’s ex (either by the ex-spouse or by someone who had access through the ex-spouse)

Basic Needs Often Compromised By This Wound: physiological needs, safety and security, love and belonging, esteem and recognition, self-actualization

False Beliefs That May Be Embraced As a Result of This Wound:

  • I am a terrible parent–I couldn’t even protect my child
  • I should have seen the signs, I should have known
  • I recklessly placed my child in danger instead of protecting them
  • What happened is my fault, I am the adult, I should have been able to stop it
  • If I don’t do better (parenting, questioning everything and everyone, etc.) this will happen again
  • I don’t deserve to be a (mother or father). I basically handed my child over to a predator. My daughter/son is safer with someone else

*these lies (and the guilt and self-blame) are even more deeply entrenched if one’s child acted out in some way only to have it passed off as “bad behavior,” if they tried to say something but were not believed, or they said nothing because they felt they couldn’t go to their parent about it.

Positive Attributes That May Result: alert, analytical, cautious, empathetic, loyal, nurturing, observant, perceptive, persistent, private, proactive, responsible, wise

Negative Traits That May Result: addictive, confrontational, controlling. fanatical, humorless, inflexible, irrational, morbid, obsessive, paranoid, pessimistic, stubborn, uncommunicative, vindictive, worrywart

Resulting Fears:

  • That if one’s child is out of one’s sight, abuse will reoccur
  • That one will somehow miss obvious signs something is wrong and let one’s child down again
  • That people around one’s child will somehow know he/she has been victimized and target them
  • That one will trust the wrong person and unintentionally expose one’s child to harm
  • That if one’s lets down one’s guard, someone will try and get close just to have access to one’s child
  • That if known, other people will condemn one for being an unfit parent
  • That even if one discovers an unsafe situation, one will not be able to stop the abuse in time (“failing” one’s child again.)
  • That, in general, one will continue to fail as a parent over and over

Possible Habits That May Emerge:

  • Needing to know where one’s child is at all times
  • Checking on them frequently with or without their knowledge
  • Being suspicious of anyone who interacts with one’s child, or shows an interest in him/her, even trusted family or friends
  • Looking for dangers and possible areas of exposure to the point that it disrupts the child’s routine or causes fear to bloom
  • One’s mind always going to the worst case scenario
  • Being unable to leave one’s child (choosing to home school them, switching jobs so one is always home after school, etc.)
  • Difficulty sleeping, high anxiety
  • Being overly generous and agreeable, even spoiling one’s child out of guilt
  • Needing to know who the friends of one’s child are, and only allowing sleepovers in one’s own home
  • Difficulty leaving one’s child alone even for short periods of time (to see a movie with a friend, go on a date, etc.), even if the child is old enough to care for themselves
  • Questioning and second-guessing one’s own judgement and decisions, losing confidence in one’s own abilities and personal “radar”

TIP: If you need help understanding the impact of these factors, please read our introductory post on the Emotional Wound Thesaurus. For our current list of Emotional Wound Entries, go here.

For other Descriptive Thesaurus Collections, go here.

 

Image: greyerbaby @ pixabay

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Twitter…for Research?

A long time ago, I wrote a children’s manuscript called Peculiar Plants. It was all about weird little shrubberies that did things that other plants don’t do. Most of them were rare, growing only in a small patch somewhere on the far side of the planet, so they were hard to research. And not being a botanist myself, I needed credible sources to vet my work and offer quotes. Back then, the Internet wasn’t what it is now, and it was really hard to find experts in the field, much less approach them with questions.

Luckily, the process is a lot easier now—if you know where to look. Kathy Klopp Cohen is here today to explain how, with just a few quick steps, one social media network can supply you with a whole list of experts in whatever field you need.

I opened a Twitter account some months back and had reservations about it. I already had Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and email accounts, so was it worth my while to also add Twitter to my day? In a very short period of time, I realized that YES, it was worth the time and effort—but not in the way I had expected.

While researching my new mystery, I ran into a dead end on one question: If investigators find a dog at a murder scene in someone’s house, what do they do with the dog? Nowhere on the Internet could I find out what would be done in this scenario. I employed Google, Facebook, and emailed friends but came up with nothing. Then I thought of Twitter.

I got on my account, searched for someone listed as a policeman/woman, and found one in my old hometown who seemed to be fairly active on Twitter—in other words, he seemed to get on his account at least daily. So I tweeted my question to him.

Two minutes later I had my reply. Just like that! In TWO minutes, I was able to consult an expert in the field who gave me the answer I needed to write my scene authentically.

I’m sold on using Twitter now as a research tool. And since research is necessary for all authors, I’d like to share the process with you.

Let’s say that you’re looking for the answer to the following question: “When a surgeon is performing a long operation—for twelve hours or more—does he take breaks to eat, and if so, where and how?”

1. On your Twitter account homepage, go to the “Search Twitter” box at the top right. Enter surgeon there.

Twitter 1

2. That search will take you to a page called Surgeon. Click on the search box, and a drop box will appear with a fairly long list. Click on the very last option that says “search all people for surgeon.”

Twitter 23. And voilà! You now have a long list of bona fide surgeons with Twitter accounts who can be approached to answer your question.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 3.22.46 PM

4. As with any potential source, it’s important to verify that your new contact is who he/she claims to be. As you search your list, take the time to read the individual biographies under their names. The information they provide should include their full names, the cities in which they live, and their places of employment. In addition they should include links directing you to credentialed web sites, along with contact numbers you can use to verify their authenticity. Read some of their back-and-forth tweets to get a feel for their knowledgeability in the subject area and their potential willingness to answer your questions.

5. Settle on a few that seem to Tweet fairly regularly, since you’ll need your questions to be answered in a timely manner. Then politely message or tweet them with your question.

6.When you get a response from someone, be sure to say, “Thank you!”

If you’ve been looking for answers to questions for your story, try Twitter. It’s very likely that you’ll find an expert who’s willing to answer not only your immediate queries but also any others that come up down the road.

me Kathy Klopp Cohen is the author of three mystery novels and several articles covering topics of linguistic interest. All of her writing has required research, and she’s very happy to share how Twitter has enlarged her research sources. She has lived in Omaha, Nebraska, Germany, and the Washington D.C. area and currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can check out all of her published works at her Amazon author page.

 

Posted in Guest Post, Social Networking, Uncategorized, Writing Resources | 22 Comments

Emotional Wounds Thesaurus Entry: Spending Time in Jail

When you’re writing a character, it’s important to know why she is the way she is. Knowing her backstory is important to achieving this end, and one of the most impactful pieces of a character’s backstory is her emotional wound. This negative experience from the past is so intense that a character will go to great lengths to avoid experiencing that kind of pain and negative emotion again. As a result, certain behaviors, beliefs, and character traits will emerge.

Characters, like real people, are unique, and will respond to wounding events differently. The vast array of possible emotional wounds combined with each character’s personality gives you many options in terms of how your character will turn out. With the right amount of exploration, you should be able to come up with a character whose past appropriately affects her present, resulting in a realistic character that will ring true with readers. Understanding what wounds a protagonist bears will also help you plot out her arc, creating a compelling journey of change that will satisfy readers.

NOTE: We realize that sometimes a wound we profile may have personal meaning, stirring up the past for some of our readers. It is not our intent to create emotional turmoil. Please know that we research each wounding topic carefully to treat it with the utmost respect. 

jail-429639_1920

Courtesy: Pixabay

Definition: Spending a considerable amount of time in jail due to a legitimate conviction, then being released. While being imprisoned for a crime one didn’t commit is a real wounding event, that event will be explored in a different entry. Today’s post is meant to explore the wounds caused by an imprisonment and how they might affect someone after incarceration.

Basic Needs Often Compromised By This Wound: safety and security, love and belonging, esteem and recognition, self-actualization

False Beliefs That May Be Embraced As a Result of This Wound:

  • I’m not safe; I always have to be looking over my shoulder.
  • People will only see me as a convict.
  • I’ll always be a screw-up.
  • No one will ever trust me.
  • I can’t succeed with this monkey on my back.
  • I’ll never be able to live a normal life.
  • I won’t be able to realize my dreams.
  • I’ve ruined any chance of reconciling with my loved ones.

Positive Attributes That May Result: alert, ambitious, appreciative, bold, cautious, discreet, easygoing, humble, independent, loyal, obedient, patient, pensive, persistent, private, protective, resourceful, simple, thrifty

Negative Traits That May Result: addictive, antisocial, callous, cocky, confrontational,  cynical, defensive, devious, disrespectful, evasive, hostile, martyr, needy, nervous, paranoid, pessimistic, possessive, prejudiced, rebellious, resentful, self-destructive, subservient, timid, uncommunicative, volatile, weak-willed, withdrawn

Resulting Fears:

  • Fear of returning to jail
  • Fear of losing the few relatives or friends who believe in him
  • Fear of not being able to support oneself through legitimate means
  • Fear of falling back into the unhealthy habits that landed him in jail
  • Fear of younger loved ones (siblings, children, nieces, nephews) following in one’s footsteps
  • Fear of never finding love

Possible Habits That May Emerge: 

  • Becoming a hard worker in an effort to prove oneself
  • Becoming lazy after being taken care of for so long
  • Hoarding belongings; being overly possessive of one’s things
  • Being content with little in the way of material things
  • Being grateful for things that others take for granted
  • Becoming serious about safety (being alert when walking after dark, adding security to one’s home, etc.)
  • Fearing the police and other security officials
  • Obeying blindly out of a desire to stay out of trouble
  • Rebelling against authority and the law
  • Not thinking for oneself
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Avoiding the places, people, and pastimes that were part of one’s life before jail
  • Falling into addiction as a coping mechanism
  • Drifting aimlessly without any clear goals
  • Sticking close to any family members or friends who reach out after jail
  • Trying to succeed on one’s own, without anyone’s help
  • Returning to criminal activity, either because one can’t support oneself legitimately or because the unsavory activities are habitual or safe
  • Never speaking about one’s jail experiences
  • Exaggerating one’s experiences to make oneself look good to others
  • Becoming socially active to effect change (regarding prison conditions, helping convicts to successfully re-enter society, etc.)
  • Avoiding family out of the belief that they want nothing to do with the incarcerated person or the fear of letting them down

TIP: If you need help understanding the impact of these factors, please read our introductory post on the Emotional Wound Thesaurus. For our current list of Emotional Wound Entries, go here.

For other Descriptive Thesaurus Collections, go here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Grow Reader Empathy By Showing Your Protagonist’s Vulnerable Side

As writers, we all want to encourage a powerful bond to form between our audience and the protagonist so that readers care about the hero or heroine and root for them to succeed. How we do this is through empathy, which is a feeling of understanding and connection that comes about when we successfully put the reader into the character’s emotional shoes.

The Power of Vulnerability

brokenVulnerability is a necessary element to building empathy, but like all powerful things, it is a blade with two sides. On one hand, as people, we connect to displays of vulnerability because it gives us a glimpse at what lies beneath the mask a person wears day-to-day. When someone reveals a truth, an emotion, a deep belief or their biggest fear, they expose their heart to someone else. The willingness to be vulnerable (a necessary ingredient for love and intimacy, for example) is about saying, “this is who I am. I am sharing this real self with you.” It is self-acceptance and courage at the highest level, the purest form.

But vulnerability means being open, and that means risk. We’re going out on a limb, opening ourselves to whatever comes. Pain. Emotional wounds. Judgement, blame, criticism, rejection, humiliation, exploitation, and a host of other things no one wants to feel. This is why it is human nature for people to try to avoid feeling vulnerable and to act strong, even when we are not.

To create credible characters, we want to mirror the real world. This means that like real people, most characters will resist showing their vulnerable side, too.

Do you see the conundrum here? We need to show readers our character’s vulnerable side to help empathy form, but as mirrors of real people, the character will fight us, refusing to let down their guard and acknowledge their soft spots. What a head trip, right? Here we thought we authors were in charge, but nope.

Luckily, authors tend to be, er, sneaky. (Okay, okay, manipulative.)

When our characters are being all alpha tough and refusing to let people in, we can turn once again to the real world for help. Some situations just make a person feel vulnerable. There’s no choice. So, if we identify “universal triggers” for vulnerability, it won’t matter how stubborn our characters are. Simply by deploying a trigger, we’ll be able to place them in a situation that leaves them feeling exposed.

Through their actions, their thoughts and by making them look within at their greatest fears, readers will see a POV character’s soft side. Better still, because these are real world events, readers themselves will know exactly how the situation can lead to that feeling of vulnerability.

Here are some ways to make your character feel – and appear – vulnerable, whether they want to or not.

Through not knowing what will happen next.

vulnerablePeople crave control, of having  power over what the future will bring. Take that away and you are left with the feeling of not knowing, of having no influence or say in the outcome. By placing the power in another’s hands through choices, actions and decisions, you rob your character of control. The resulting feelings of frustration, anxiety and even despair are all ones that reinforce vulnerability. Readers have all felt a loss of control at some point and so will deeply identify with the character’s range of feelings.

Through the mistakes they make.

Despite our best efforts, we all make mistakes. Not only do we hate it when one happens, we tend to beat ourselves up about it, growing frustrated and disappointed for not being smarter, stronger or better. Characters who make mistakes feel authentic, and it humanizes them to readers. Besides, mistakes create great plot complications & conflict!

Through personal failures.

Not succeeding at what one has set out to do is one of the most heartbreaking moments an individual can experience, and it is the same for our characters. A hero’s personal failure, especially one that has repercussions for others, is one way to break down those steel walls and show our hero as vulnerable and human.

Through a death or loss.

A deep, personal loss is never easy. Often a person only realizes what they had or what something meant when it’s gone. Again, this is a universal feeling, something all readers can identify with. Written well, seeing the hero experience loss will remind readers of their own past experiences. Death is final, but other losses can be potent as well. The loss of hope is particularly wounding.

By having one’s role challenged.

Whatever the character’s role is (be it a leader, a provider, a source of comfort , etc.), having it challenged can be devastating. Roles are tied to one’s identity: the husband who loses his job may no longer be able to provide for his family. The leader who made a bad decision must witness the resulting lack of faith from his followers. The mother who fails to keep her child safe feels unsuited for motherhood. When a role is challenged in some way through choices or circumstances, it creates self-doubt, making the character feel vulnerable in a way readers identify with.

By casting doubt on what one believes.

Each person has set beliefs about the universe, how the world works, and the people in it, allowing them to understand their place in the big picture and instilling feelings of belonging. When knowledge surfaces that puts trusted beliefs into question, the character suffers disillusionment, a powerful feeling that can make them feel adrift in their own life.

Disillusionment is an emotional blow and everyone has suffered one at some point. This can be a good way to trigger that feeling of shared experience of vulnerability between character and reader.

By experiencing fear or worry for another. 

This ties into that loss of control I mentioned above, because one directly or indirectly has a lack of influence over circumstances affecting a loved one. Fear and worry can also create road blocks about how best to proceed. It’s one thing to take risks that only affect oneself, and another to take risks that will impact others. The paralysis a person feels over what decision to make when it impacts relationships is an experience readers understand.

By having one’s secrets brought out in the open. 

Secrets are usually hidden for a reason and are often the source of guilt or shame. When one’s secrets are revealed, the character is stripped of their security, and they believe others will view them differently as a result. Readers can empathize with this raw feeling of being exposed. (This link has lots more information about secrets.)

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000046_00058]Showing vulnerability is all about emotion, so if you have it, pull out your Emotion Thesaurus the next time you want to find a unique way to show, not tell, that feeling of being exposed.

As you can see, there are many other ways to bring out a character’s vulnerable side. What techniques do you use on your cast of characters?

 

Image 1: Foundry @ Pixabay
Image 2: RossandZane @ Pixabay

Posted in Character Wound, Characters, Emotion, Emotion Thesaurus Guide, Empathy, Experiments, Fear, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 13 Comments

Blogging, Marketing & Social Media: Three Rules I Break & Why

This is one of those posts that I hesitate to write, simply because there is a whole lot of “You should do X & must do Y” advice that, er, Becca and I do not do. Maybe this costs us sometimes, but it’s what works for us. So, I’m going to pull the curtain back a bit and offer some food for thought.

Before we move on…

There’s no judgements here on what other people do. This is about what Becca & I do. I will try to give my reasons for the choices we’ve made. Mileage may vary.

Monetizing Our Blog

piggy bankYou will notice there are no ads here, no requests for donations, no “tip jar” set up. Have people expressed a desire to tip? Yes. Could we make money with ads based on traffic? You bet. Have people offered to pay us for ad space? Many times. But honestly, Becca and I feel everyone gets enough BUY, BUY, BUY elsewhere, and we don’t want Writers Helping Writers to be bulked up with Google Ads and the like.

So, we’ve chosen not to monetize our blog beyond a few affiliate links to Amazon. If, down the road, we have a sidebar link to another site or service it’s because we believe in that site’s purpose, not because we’re being paid.

Are we leaving money on the table? Probably. But to us, your shares, referrals and word of mouth about our books, the Writers Helping Writers site, and now our One Stop For Writers library too…these are all the thanks we need.

If you want to support us and what we do, just tell a writing friend about us and our work. That helps so much.  :)

Thanking Everyone Who Tweets & Shares

2thanky ouOkay, here’s the thing. Would I love to do this? Yes. And do I absolutely appreciate the time that everyone takes when they tweet me or share a link? Holy heck, yes! But the reality is that I get so many re-tweets now that to respond to them all I would literally be doing nothing each day but thanking people in tweets.

I know you guys love good writing content, and I try to find it, build it, and share it. I am betting that if asked, you’d say you’d rather me be doing that (and, you know, write more books) than spend that time thanking you for each tweet.

So, I made a judgement call and stick to an occasional “thank you all for the tweets” post. I respond to all conversation though, and always will. I hope you’re all okay with this and understand where I’m at, because I love you guys!

Use Free Incentives for Newsletter Sign Ups

It’s practically the Golden Rule: give something away for free to encourage people to sign up for a newsletter. And…it’s a rule I break, with good reason.

To me a newsletter should be personal, fun, entertaining or have high value. People should want to read it. You can give the best freebie in the world away, but if you don’t follow through with a newsletter that keeps their interest, not only will they unsubscribe right away anyway, their disappointment will probably cause them to hesitate when you do have a book or product for sale.

newsletterThe other reason is because I see people misuse freebies all the time. Even the big marketing gurus who offer free courses or webinars can go too far with the hard sell. I’ve attended more than a few webinars on how to market better, increase newsletter sign ups, build a sales funnel, etc. only to see the same manipulative techniques they teach being deployed in their follow up emails, all in hopes of “up-selling” a coaching service they provide.

Look, I get marketing. After all, girl gotta eat. Becca and I & our collective families? Yep, we gotta eat. So Coaching Gurus, well, they gotta eat too.

But when marketing is done poorly, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t want anyone to feel that way because of something I do. I’d rather be transparent and just point you right to our Tools For Writers page, which is brimming with free, rather than make you do something to get free things.

(Really, visit and grab what you need. Becca and I like to share this stuff because we believe we should all grow and succeed together.)

When it comes to newsletters, I still have a lot to learn. I’m working hard to create ones that give my readers what the need and want. But I’d rather spend time growing my skills and focus on the content than try and entice people to sign up with the lure of “free.”

And here’s the thing…even without freebies, I average about 100 or so new sign ups between newsletters. So I really think it’s about the content, not the sign up bonus. So if you want to offer the free item on sign up, go for it. But make sure your focus is KEEPING subscribers, not just getting them to add their email.

(By the way, I love every one of our subscribers and their willingness to follow my lunatic ravings er, rambles!)

That’s my three. What rules do you break and why? Let me know in the comments!

 

Image 1: Mdgrafik0 @ Pixabay
Image2: Ryan McGuire @Pixabay
Image3: Model4you @ Pixabay

Posted in About Us, Social Networking, Uncategorized | 50 Comments

Critiques 4 U, January Style

new-years-eve-1004535_1280

Courtesy: Pixabay

 

CONTEST IS CLOSED!

Happy New Year, everyone! I tell you, 2015 was a CR-AZY year for me, between the launch of One Stop For Writers and moving my family across the country. I’d kind of like to see it calm down a bit, but calm doesn’t seem to be in my cards. And I guess that’s ok, because the only way we’re going to improve and grow and achieve awesome things is by challenging ourselves and getting outside of our comfort zones. If you’re up for a bit of challenge yourself, let me tell you what’s happening with this month’s Critiques 4 U contest.

Last week, I posted about the importance of log lines and challenged you to write one for your story. I hope you were able to come up with something interesting, because I’ll be choosing today’s first-page critique winners based on those log lines. If you didn’t get a chance to write one up, don’t worry. I’ve extended this month’s contest to two days rather than the usual one, to give you some extra time.

To enter, just leave a comment with…

  1. the log line for your story. Make sure that it contains the three elements mentioned in last week’s post: protagonist, goal, and stakes. If you have multiple stories and you’d like to leave a log line for each one, go for it, but please only enter one log line for each story. 
  2. your email address. Some of you have expressed concern about making your email address public; if you’re sure that the email address associated with your WordPress account is correct, you don’t have to include it here. But if you do win and I’m unable to contact you through that email address, I’ll have to choose an alternate winner. 

And that’s it. The three log lines that intrigue me the most will win a first-page critique.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

I know I’m asking more from you this week than usual, so it’s only fair that I offer a bit more in return. Along with a first-page critique, each winner will also receive a one-month subscription to One Stop For Writers! Holy buckets, folks. That’s a sweet deal. I honestly don’t know how many people will enter this month’s contest, so if you do enter, you might also have less competition than usual. 

So get those log lines written and load ’em up. The contest ends Thursday morning, as soon as I can drag myself out of bed and close it out. Good luck!

Posted in Uncategorized | 43 Comments

1000 Reviews Winners & Our Charity of the Year

1000 giveaway

Ready to get to the winners? We are!

Congrats go to:

R.W. Foster, Amy Morris-Jones, Tom Wood, Celia Lewis, Dee Wilson, Nina Falkestav, Marcy Kennedy, Carolyn McBride, Sallie Yonce, Patrick Witz, Monique Loubert, Duane Wiley, & Lou W. Sytsma

Watch your mailbox, winners–I will be in touch! :)

Also before we go, an introduction.

Each year, Becca and I donate to a charity of our choosing on behalf of Writers Helping Writers. To date, we’ve given $3500 to different worthy projects, so know that when you buy one of our books, you’re helping to pay-it-forward into the world. This year our chosen charity is Room to Read.

rtr_logo_color_smallThis organization has two main focuses: literacy and gender equality in education. Their mission statement: We envision a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.

Becca and I are so excited to be able to help this organization, and it’s only through your support that we’re able to do it. So THANK YOU!

And congrats again to all the winners. Happy writing, all.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Emotion Thesaurus Celebrates 1000 Amazon Reviews

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000046_00058]Wow, 1000 reviews. It’s incredible to think that our unusual little book on emotions would win the hearts of so many people. Heartfelt thanks go out to each one of you who took the time to review us on Amazon, on Goodreads, at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and other e-tailers.

You might not realize it, but each one of these reviews is incredibly important.

As writers, we all understand an idea can’t be copyrighted. That’s how it goes. And while in fiction the same idea can yield vastly different stories, this is not always the case when it comes to nonfiction.

When Becca and I first started writing these thesaurus books, there wasn’t much out there that we could compare ourselves to because our list format made our descriptive resource somewhat of a hybrid:  part tool, part book.

Now? There’s quite a few description-focused writing books using lists (some similar to our topics here at WHW). And if you ran a search for titles, well, let’s just say you’d find more than a few with the word “Thesaurus” in them.

This brings us back to the huge role reviews play and why we cherish each one so much.

collage_4_Descriptive Thesaurus Books

With each review, you’re helping our Writers Helping Writers brand of thesaurus books stand apart from all others.

WHW_400So THANK YOU. Becca and I are so lucky to have such great readers! Your incredible love and support is what drives us to create books that help writers in the ways they need most.

To celebrate this awesome milestone, we have a fun giveaway for you! Your reviews and recommendations helped us get to 1000 on Amazon, so we’re spreading the book love. Here are some of our favorite ebooks, all up for grabs:

1000 giveaway

  1. Becca’s Favorite Stephen King book: The Stand (Survival/Horror)
  2. Angela’s Most Dog-Eared Book: The Eye Of The World (Robert Jordan – Epic Fantasy)
  3. Becca’s Favorite Banned Book: To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee – Drama)
  4. Angela’s Favorite Australian Author Read: Midnight Serenade “Luna Tango” (Alli Sinclair – Romance)
  5. A Book That Made Becca Laugh Out Loud: About a Boy (Nick Hornsby – Contemporary)
  6. A Children’s Book Angela Wishes She’d Written: The Cabinet of Wonders (Marie Rutkoski – Middle Grade Fantasy)
  7. Becca’s Favorite Zombie Book: Ashes (Ilsa J. Bick – Dystopian)
  8. Angela’s Favorite End Of The World YA: This Is Not A Test (Courtney Summers – Horror/Survival)
  9. Stand-alone Book That Becca Wishes Had a Sequel: The Wicked and the Just (Anderson J Coats – Historical YA)
  10. A Book That Gripped Angela & Becca From First Page To Last: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor – Fantasy)

And it wouldn’t be right to not give away a few Emotion Thesaurus Books, right? So in addition to the above, we’ll also give away 3 ebooks of the ET.

Fleuron*Want to win one of these terrific e-reads?

Just comment with your top 4 choices. We’ll use our friend Random.org to select winners. Contest closes midnight EST Friday January 15th, and winners will be announced Saturday, January 16th. As always, social sharing is appreciated but never a requirement to enter.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS SO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR COMMENTS!

*Must be 18, no purchase necessary, open to all unless prohibited by law. For the full legal rules and disclaimers, go here.

What’s your favorite book in one of our categories? Let us know so we can check it out!

Happy reading, and good luck!

~ A & B

 

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How (and Why) to Write a Logline For Your Story

UntitledI’ve been thinking recently about loglines (I’ll tell you why in a bit) and why every author should have one for his/her story. We haven’t talked much about this at the blog, so I wanted to briefly discuss what a logline is and why you should have one.

What is a logline?

A logline is a one- or two-sentence pitch that explains what your story is about in a way that makes listeners want to read it. Loglines are important because people will always be asking you: What’s your book about? Sometimes, those people will be influential folks, like editors, agents, publishers, etc. Sometimes they’ll be other important people, like potential readers who might buy your book if it catches their fancy. The tricky thing is…this question is usually an impromptu one. It comes up unexpectedly, and if you’re not prepared, it can catch you off guard. So it’s always good to have a logline prepared.

Another good reason to write a logline is because it defines your story. If you can’t write a good one, it may not be the logline that’s the problem, but your story itself. Writing a logline can help you see potential problems or gaps within your story that will need addressing in order to get you back on the right track.

Here are a few examples of loglines from movies you might recognize (and they’ll also hint at how old I am):

A small time boxer gets a once in a lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect. (Rocky)

A young man is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, and must make sure his high-school-age parents unite in order to save his own existence. (Back to the Future)

When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist, and a grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. (Jaws)

What should a logline include?

Each of these loglines contain three things: the protagonist, the overall goal, and the stakes. Let’s look at them again to see the breakdown:

A small time boxer (protagonist) gets a once in a lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ in a bout in which he strives to go the distance (goal) for his self-respect (stakes).

A young man (protagonist) is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, and must make sure his high-school-age parents unite (goal) in order to save his own existence (stakes).

When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity (stakes), a police chief (protagonist), a marine scientist and a grizzled fisherman set out to stop it (goal). In this example, the stakes are implied rather than stated outright, but mentioning that a gigantic shark is menacing a small island is enough to show what’s at stake.

It’s important to be able to narrow your story down to these three elements. It’s also important to phrase them in a way that creates interest and intrigue. If you can accomplish this, you’ll have created an honest and catchy pitch to give to anyone who might be interested in your story. And that could pay off in book sales, manuscript requests, and editor/agent interest.

Another way it could pay off is with this month’s Critiques 4 U contest :). Instead of randomly choosing winners like I usually do, I’m switching thing up and am going to choose based on your loglines. The ones that include the three required elements and intrigue me the most are the ones that will win a first-page critique. I know I’m asking for more this time, because instead of simply entering, you’ll have to do some work in advance to prepare your logline. For this reason, I’ll be leaving the contest open for two days instead of the usual one, to give you some prep time. And to sweeten the pot, the three winners will ALSO win a one-month subscription to One Stop For Writers

So get to work on those log lines and come bacon the 19th, when the contest begins. Winners will receive a critique and the gift of One Stop; and those of you who don’t win will have created a tool that can be used to pitch your story to anyone who’s interested.

Best of luck!

Before You Go…

Angela is posting over at TheWriteChris today. So, if you’d like to catch her 3 Brainstorming Tips for Writing Fresh Body Language To Describe Character Emotion, stop on by!

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Emotional Wound: Finding Out One Is Adopted

When you’re writing a character, it’s important to know why she is the way she is. Knowing her backstory is important to achieving this end, and one of the most impactful pieces of a character’s backstory is her emotional wound. This negative experience from the past is so intense that a character will go to great lengths to avoid experiencing that kind of pain and negative emotion again. As a result, certain behaviors, beliefs, and character traits will emerge.

adoptedCharacters, like real people, are unique, and will respond to wounding events differently. The vast array of possible emotional wounds combined with each character’s personality gives you many options in terms of how your character will turn out. With the right amount of exploration, you should be able to come up with a character whose past appropriately affects her present, resulting in a realistic character that will ring true with readers. Understanding what wounds a protagonist bears will also help you plot out her arc, creating a compelling journey of change that will satisfy readers.

FINDING OUT ONE IS ADOPTED

NOTE: We realize that sometimes a wound we profile may have personal meaning, stirring up the past for some of our readers. It is not our intent to create emotional turmoil. Please know that we research each wounding topic carefully to treat it with the utmost respect. 

Examples: being told by one’s parents once reaching a certain age, discovering by accident (overhearing a conversation, finding one’s birth certificate, being contacted by a birth parent or sibling, etc.), finding out because of an illness that requires knowing one’s medical history, confronting one’s parents because one does not look like one’s family, finding out after the death of one’s parents

Basic Needs Often Compromised By This Wound: safety and security, love and belonging, esteem and recognition, self-actualization

False Beliefs That May Be Embraced As a Result of This Wound:

  • I’m obviously defective, or why else would my real parents give me up?
  • Everything I know is a lie; after all if my parents lied about this, what else is untrue?
  • I don’t belong anywhere; no one wants me
  • I probably should never have been born
  • I don’t know who I am
  • I can’t trust anyone
  • Anyone I get close to will sense there’s something different about me
  • If I get into a serious relationship, I’ll only be abandoned
  • I can’t show my true feelings to anyone

Positive Attributes That May Result: adaptable, analytical, appreciative, centered, diplomatic, empathetic, happy, honest, introverted, mature, kind, loyal, philosophical, private, sentimental, supportive, wise

Negative Traits That May Result: abrasive, addictive, confrontational, cynical, defensive, disrespectful, gullible, hostile, manipulative, materialistic, needy, oversensitive, pessimistic, rebellious, resentful, self-destructive, suspicious, uncommunicative, ungrateful, withdrawn, workaholic

Resulting Fears:

  • Fear of abandonment
  • Fear of trusting the wrong person
  • Fear of vulnerability
  • Fear of meeting one’s birth family and being rejected a second time
  • Fear of being loved less than one’s siblings
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of relationships

Possible Habits That May Emerge:

  • mood swings (anger, betrayal, gratitude, mistrust, guilt, confusion)
  • examining all of one’s relationships with family, searching for indications that one is being treated differently or loved “less”
  • refusing to seek out one’s roots or past, living in denial
  • growing obsessive about one’s past; asking constant questions, needing to know one’s roots
  • difficulty trusting people
  • over-concentrating on the differences between oneself and one’s adopted family
  • having a hard time saying goodbye or letting people go
  • going out of one’s way to prove one’s worth to friends (worrying about being abandoned by them)
  • questioning what people say without cause, looking for or expecting deceit
  • pulling back from adopted family members, becoming uncommunicative and isolated
  • angry outbursts; a short temper
  • medicating through alcohol
  • experiencing anxiety or situational depression
  • double checking facts rather than taking someone at their word
  • developing insecurities about one’s performance at work or school
  • feeling relieved as one has felt on some level that one was different, then feeling guilty for the relief
  • rejecting adoptive family mementos or heirlooms, feeling unworthy of them
  • refusing to tell even a white lie
  • Having a negative outlook; cynicism

TIP: If you need help understanding the impact of these factors, please read our introductory post on the Emotional Wound Thesaurus. For our current list of Emotional Wound Entries, go here.

For other Descriptive Thesaurus Collections, go here.

Image: thetruthpreneur @ Pixabay

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