Occupation Thesaurus: Wedding Planner

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Is your character's job a wedding planner? Find out all the different traits, skills, and attitudes they will need to come across as realistic.

Occupation: Wedding Planner

Overview: A wedding planner’s job is to take the stress off the engaged couple as much as possible by taking the time to understand the type of wedding they are looking for and the budget for the event, and then bring together options for venues, entertainment, decor, ceremony options, and vendors for the wedding couple to consider. The hundreds of small decisions and pressure to make the day memorable can lead to huge amounts of stress. A planner can help by narrowing the options for the wedding couple in a way that aligns with their vision , making the decision-making process much more manageable.

A wedding planner can use their vendor contacts to find vendors (entertainment, music, caterers, cake decorator, flowers and decor, photos, a videographer, etc.) to make the event not only special, but affordable. They can help out with the delivery and tracking of invitations, offer counsel on the best way to navigate difficult family dynamics (parents who are divorced, feuds in the family,  controlling in-laws, etc.), reserve a venue, manage seating, arrange for tasting or menu viewing with caterers and bakeries, create timelines for the days leading up to the wedding (and the day of), and even help plan the travel afterwards for the honeymoon. On the day of the wedding, a planner will be onsite to ensure the ceremony, photos, and reception all proceed as planned, managing all the moving pieces and taking as much responsibility and stress off the wedding couple and their family as possible, leaving them all to just enjoy the experience. It is the wedding planner’s job to ensure the event is as close to the wedding couple’s wishes as possible, handle any problems as they crop up, and protect the wedding couple from any forces (relatives or otherwise) who seek to interfere or take away from the “specialness” of the big day.

Necessary Training: Wedding Planners usually take a wedding planning course or diploma program certified by the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) that covers all aspects of wedding planning and client relations. In many cases, this course can be taken online over several months.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, blending in, charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, enhanced sense of smell, enhanced taste buds, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, haggling, hospitality, making people laugh, multitasking, photographic memory, predicting the weather, promotion, reading people, repurposing, sewing, strategic thinking, swift-footedness, throwing one’s voice, writing

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, analytical, calm, centered, charming, confident, cooperative, courteous, creative, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, easygoing, efficient, focused, friendly, honest, hospitable, imaginative, loyal,  observant, organized, patient, persuasive, proactive, professional, proper, protective, resourceful, responsible, supportive, thrifty, tolerant

NEGATIVE: workaholic

Sources of Friction: interfering family members who don’t respect the wishes of the wedding couple, in-fighting among the bridal party, a problem at a venue (a fire, a flood, a foreclosure) that makes a booking suddenly unavailable, a vendor going out of business or being unable to follow through with their service (such as a musician being hospitalized and unable to perform, a mishap with the bridal wear (lost during shipping, a mishap during alterations, etc.), a cake that falls apart as it’s being delivered to the reception, feuding family members who disrupt the service or reception, an unwanted guest showing up (an ex, a deadbeat parent, a trouble-making sibling or cousin), going over budget, the couple having huge expectations but a tiny budget that makes meeting their needs almost impossible, problems with getting paid, checks that bounce with vendors, a bride or groom that disrespects a vendor and damages the planner’s professional relationship with them

People They Might Interact With:

The wedding couple, family of the wedding couple, vendors, caterers, photographers, ushers, venue management and staff, guests, musicians, staff at the church (if the ceremony is in a church), vendor employees, delivery people, limo drivers for the bridal party (if applicable), travel agents and hotel staff (if honeymoon planning is part of the role)

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Esteem and Recognition: A character who grew up in a controlling family may seek for a way to be in charge not only to regain that sense of control and responsibility denied them, but also to ensure they advocate for others so their wishes are respected and catered to.
  • Love and Belonging: A character who has not yet found a life partner may draw a lot of satisfaction in seeing (and being an important part of) the happily ever after of others.

Common Work-Related Settings: black-tie event, church, community center, flower shop, golf course, hair salon, limousine, mansion, park, parking garage, parking lot, rec center, upscale hotel lobby, wedding reception

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Satisfaction of Excellence: The Growth Mindset for Writers


If someone had asked me in my early days as a book coach what quality was most critical to a writer’s success, I would have said perseverance. It was the thing that most obviously separated the writers who made it from those who didn’t. After all, in order to succeed, you have to finish, and in order to finish, you have to stick with it, day after day, month after month, year after year, whether the writing is going well or not. Perseverance trumps procrastination and doubt – the two things that tend to derail a great many writers.

While I still consider perseverance to be paramount, another quality has risen to the top of my list of qualities critical to a writer’s success: the ability to receive feedback.

In my early interactions with a potential client, I can tell what their general stance is on feedback. They fall somewhere on the spectrum from closed and defensive on the one side and open and willing to learn on the other.


Someone who is closed and defensive thinks they already know it all. They are hyper protective of their idea and their vision and if they seek help at all, it is under the guise of wanting confirmation that what they have written is already great. They don’t really want feedback; they want a quick “win.”

But winning is not a place you arrive; it’s a way you behave. And the most successful writers behave with a growth mindset.

That’s the term coined years ago by Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford professor of psychology and author of the book, Mindset. A growth mindset is the opposite from a fixed mindset. It means you are flexible and open, always willing to learn:

“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”

Here’s what a growth mindset tends to look like in writers:

  • The writer is open to improving. They are not afraid to look at their skills and to assess them. They acknowledge the areas where they could be better. They welcome honest feedback.
  • The writer is willing to learn. They read in their genre to see how writers they admire approach a character or a scene or a structural element. They read books and blogs about writing to learn from wise teachers. They go to lectures, partner with other ambitious writers, seek out a coach to help them get strong.
  • The writer wants to know how their work impacts their readers. They want the outcome to be effective and make an impact. They consider the end-goal of the work, not just how it makes them feel as they write.
  • The writer works hard to bring their vision to life, focusing on the work and not on external measures of success. One of my clients recently finished a draft of a novel; it is her second, and her first did not sell. She was starting to feel closed and fearful about the new book, until she recognized that feeling, and made a switch. She began to focus on what she calls “the satisfaction of excellence.” The satisfaction of excellence has nothing to do with landing an agent, getting a big book deal, or making a lot of money. It has to do with mastering the craft.
  • They are grateful for the chance to write, the time to write, the space to write. They are grateful for the people who support them and for their readers, no matter how small or large the number.

Good writing takes a very long time to develop – 10,000 hours spent trying to spin a tale or an argument, trying to find your voice. Having a growth mindset means that you don’t just sit alone during those 10,000 hours, banging away and ignoring the rest of the world. You seek to get better every time you write. You seek the satisfaction of excellence.

jennie-nash_framedJennie has worked in publishing for more than 30 years. She is the author of four novels, three memoirs, and The Writer’s Guide to Agony and Defeat. An instructor at the UCLA Extension Writing Program for 10 years, she is also the founder and chief creative officer of Author Accelerator, an online program that offers affordable, customized book coaching so you can write your best book. Find out more about Jennie here, visit her blog, discover the resources and coaching available at her Author Accelerator website, and connect online.

Twitter | Instagram

Posted in Motivational, Resident Writing Coach, Revision and Editing, Writer's Attitude | 9 Comments

Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Business Tycoon

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

The Occupation Thesaurus can help you discover the perfect job for the cast members in your story.Occupation: Business Tycoon

Overview: A business tycoon is someone who is extremely successful in their industry. Tycoons tend to be entrepreneurial, coming up with innovative ideas or solutions that help them rise to the top in their fields. Some (Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet, etc.) are so famous as to become household names to the general public, while others are simply well-known by those in their fields. A person can become a mogul in any industry—automobiles, banking, social media, finance, media, real estate, etc. Because of their success, these leaders tend to be very wealthy.

Necessary Training: This will depend on the industry. Many successful business people have degrees—sometimes, multiple degrees—from institutions of higher education. Others are entirely self-taught. But most of these individuals share a drive to learn, grow, and improve through whatever means will enable them to keep moving toward success.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for making money, exceptional memory, haggling, multitasking, promotion, strategic thinking

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, adventurous, ambitious, analytical, bold, confident, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, efficient, industrious, intelligent, meticulous, passionate, patient, persistent, persuasive, talented, wise

NEGATIVE: Confrontational, devious, disloyal, greedy, materialistic, perfectionist

Sources of Friction: The competition threatening one’s position at the top of the chain, bad PR, rushing to sale with a product or service that isn’t ready, losing a great deal of money in a bad investment, being sued, being blackmailed, long work hours creating conflict with family members, being unable to solve a particular problem, gold diggers and opportunists making one doubt the motives of others, being hounded by paparazzi, one’s personal life becoming the topic of tabloids and national headlines, changing regulations that create problems for one’s production methods, a whistleblower exposing the company’s dark side, unethical practices from the past coming to light and threatening one’s reputation

People They Might Interact With: Other business people, investors, board members, employees, news reporters, personal secretaries or assistants, celebrities

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: A business person finding themselves doing things they never intended (acting unethically, becoming a workaholic, engaging in unhealthy relationships due to their wealth or prestige) may find their sense of self-actualization is at risk.
  • Esteem and Recognition: A tycoon who started their business out of a need to prove themselves (to themselves or others) may find that, despite success, that need is still lacking. This revelation may drive them to find the true root of their esteem problems.
  • Love and Belonging: This need can be impacted if the business person has difficulty connecting with others due to lack of trust, time constraints, or some other underlying reason.
  • Safety and Security: A wealthy business mogul’s safety could be impacted if he becomes the target for a stalker, rival, disgruntled employee or client, or some other dissatisfied or unhinged individual.

Common Work-Related Settings: Airplane, art gallery, ballroom, bank, big city street, black-tie event, boarding school, boardroom, limousine, mansion, penthouse suite, ski resort, sporting event stands, upscale hotel lobby, yacht

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: Business tycoons are typically portrayed as greedy, unethical, heartless, and willing to do whatever it takes to further their bottom line. Twist this stereotype by creating a different kind of mogul—maybe one who is humble or who stumbled into success rather than fighting for it all of her life.

This occupation can also be freshened up by thinking outside the typical billionaire box. Instead of your tycoon being successful in banking or real estate, how else might she achieve greatness? Growing exotic trees and plant hybrids? Revitalizing the public education system? Inventing a food source that burns calories?

Lastly, consider your business person’s appearance. People with a lot of money tend to be more attractive than most, due to the money they’re able to spend on their appearance. Consider giving your rich business mogul something that others would consider to be a physical shortcoming—one they choose not to correct once the have the money to do so.

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Diving Deep into POV

You guys! The extraordinary Christina Delay is back, not only with some excellent advice on writing Deep POV but also an opportunity to win a FREE writing cruise…

Thanks to Angela and Becca for having me on their fabulous blog once again!

Last time I was here, we spoke about how to Dive Deep With Emotion. One of the key takeaways was the necessity of vulnerability to write authentic emotion.

What’s cool about authentic emotion is that it is also a key ingredient of writing deep POV. Deep POV is simply a “through the eyes” point of view. It can be written in 3rd or 1st, but the point is that there is no separation between the reader and the character.

Easy, right?

Ha. Ha. Ha. Ahem.

What your character has experienced and how they have processed those experiences is just as integral to writing deep POV as is writing authentic emotion.

The Sum of our Experiences

Our experiences and background color our view of the world, and your character’s background will do the same to her world outlook. Deviate from your character’s experiences, and your readers will perk up—and not in a good way.

One of the reasons I am so thankful for Cruising Writers is because of the opportunities to travel, broaden my experiences, and widen the lens in which I see the world. Travel is also a great way to add firsthand knowledge to your character’s world and backstory.

What your character has experienced and how they have processed those experiences is integral to writing deep POV.Do you know the key parts of your character’s backstory that have made them who they are today? If your character has a specific hobby—like skydiving or scuba-diving —do you bring that into the story in their language and what they notice about the world?

A skydiver is going to pay more attention to the weather than your typical character. He’ll know how to determine which way the upper winds are blowing, about how fast the ground wind is, and know within an instant if it’s a good skydiving or swooping day.

Meanwhile, a scuba-diver will probably only pay attention to the sky as it relates to stormy seas or calm seas.

Emotional Responses

Emotional responses are key to writing authentic characters that connect with readers. Margie Lawson, our December Immersion Writing Cruise instructor, has some amazing courses on writing real emotion—she’ll be teaching this in depth on the cruise!

But what’s critical about writing an emotional response that connects is staying true to your character in that response.

For example, on one of my recent edits of my WIP, I stumbled across this line:

“My heart starts back up, speeding fast, too fast, cocaine-fast.”

Only problem is, this character had never used cocaine. So how would she know that?? Additionally, why would she even think that if she had no history of drug use?? It made no sense to my character or the story. If it made me stumble, you can be sure a reader would go cross-eyed trying to figure that one out. So I changed it.

“My heart starts back up, speeding fast, too fast, explosion-fast.”

And this works. Because she has just realized that there’s a bomb on board, that she brought it, and that she has no recollection of doing so.

Do your emotional responses stay true to your character and story? It’s easy to come up with descriptions for how our characters feel, but to write authentically, we must make sure those descriptions are aligned with our characters’ backstory, beliefs, and current point in the story.

Character Lists

I picked up on this gem from the fabulous Jaye Wells. If you’ve never read her Sabina Kane or Prospero’s War series, I highly recommend them.

Character lists are exactly what they sound like. They are lists for your characters. You can use a themed-word list, a senses list, a noun list, etc. that are all unique to your character.

I’ll stick with the skydiver character, since I’m married to one and at one point was licensed myself. A skydiver would have a themed-word list with words like altitude, rig, DZ, blue skies, velocity, fun jumps, hop and pop, tracking, low-altitude, and also an extensive knowledge of the different type of jump planes. Their senses list might have things like the smell of jet fuel, the reek of the Caravan before opening the airplane door in the summer, the buzz of manifest, the weight of their gear on their back, the feel of weightlessness when they first jump out of the plane. Their noun list would include specific types of planes, skydiving gear, weather terms, and skydiver vocabulary.

These lists can take some time to build and, if you’re a pantser, may be best to create as you go and refer back to during edits. But building lists like these are a great tool to make sure you stay true to character.

Diving into Deep POV

Deep POV is a wonderful way to create a close relationship between your character and your reader. Staying true to your character’s backstory, interests, beliefs, hobbies, and experiences go a long way to pulling off deep POV successfully.

How many of you like to write in deep POV? How many of you haven’t tried it yet? What are some tips you may have to write authentic, deep POV?

Upcoming Contest Alert – #BestWritingRetreat

Wanna win a free writing cruise with Cruising Writers?

I’m excited to announce a fun contest with a pretty sweet giveaway. If you’ve ever wanted to cruise with Cruising Writers, here’s your chance to cross it off your dream list! Check out all the details at Cruising Writers!


Christina Delay is the hostess of Cruising Writers and an award-winning author represented by Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency. When she’s not cruising the Caribbean, she’s dreaming up new writing retreats to take talented authors on or giving into the demands of imaginary people to tell their stories.

Cruising Writers brings writers together with bestselling authors, an agent, an editor, and a world-renowned writing craft instructor writing retreats around the world.

Cruise with us to Grand Cayman this October with Kristen Lamb (Bestselling Author and Marketing Jedi), Rachel Caine (Bestselling Author of 50+ books), Deidre Knight (The Knight Agency), and Alex Sehulster (St. Martin’s Press).

Or get ready to Dive Deep and join us on a 7-day Immersion Cruise with Margie Lawson this December to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel!

Posted in Point of View, Writing Craft | 13 Comments

Watch Out! Avoiding Sneaky Plot Holes

jami-goldWhen judging a story’s quality, one of the first questions we might measure against is “Are there any plot holes?”

Plot holes can cause a loud *record scratch* “Wait, what?” reaction in readers, pulling them out of a story, sometimes irreparably, as they protest the impossible or unsuccessfully try to get the illogical to make sense. Like typos and grammar issues, plot holes are easy to point to as evidence of poor writing in a review or a warning to stay away.

Obviously, we want to do everything we can to avoid plot holes in our story—but some types of plot holes can be sneaky.

What Are Plot Holes?

According to Wikipedia:

“In fiction, a plot hole…is a gap or inconsistency in a storyline that goes against the flow of logic established by the story’s plot. Such inconsistencies include such things as illogical or impossible events, and statements or events that contradict earlier events in the storyline.”

However, the Oxford English Dictionary gives a much broader definition than just those plot and event issues (emphasis added):

“An inconsistency in the narrative or character development of a book, film, television programme, etc.”

Understandably—given the name—when we think of plot holes, we think of inconsistent or illogical plot events, but the same “record scratch” reaction applies to inconsistencies and impossibilities when it comes to characters or other story elements as well. So we should broaden our thinking when it comes to finding (and fixing) plot holes.

In fact, those non-plot-style holes can be extra tricky to identify simply because they’re not what we think of when searching for plot holes. Yet they’re just as important to watch out for and resolve.

Sources of Plot Holes

Are Plot Holes a problem in your story or novel? Jami Gold is here to help you understand where holes in your story might be found!Whether we’re looking for plot holes in our own stories or we’re helping edit our friends’ work, we’ll have better luck if we know the different sources of plot holes that can lurk in our stories:

  • Plot Holes: Inconsistencies in the plot and/or plot events. For example, in one scene, a group of characters might split up, and in the next scene, a character who was with the first group suddenly participates in the second group’s conversation in a different setting.
    Plot problems can be:

    • related to time and place—who’s doing what when
    • illogical or lacking story-plot flow—events or character actions have no reason for happening, or they couldn’t happen due to other events
    • gaps—questions are left conveniently unanswered (“Wait, how did they escape?”)
  • Character Development Holes: Inconsistencies in characters and/or their development. For example, a character who’s deathly afraid of snakes is suddenly fine with handling one—and there’s no explanation for the change of attitude.
    Character problems can be:

    • contradictory—their behavior or knowledge doesn’t match previous information (with no explanation for the difference)
    • puppet-like behavior—characters’ actions are too convenient, lack motivation, or make sense only from the perspective of plot requirements
    • broken arc—characters’ goals, stakes, or motivations are forgotten, ignored, or change with no explanation
  • World-building Holes: Inconsistencies in the world we’ve build for our story. These can be shallow—such as how many bullets our hero’s weapon can hold versus how many they’ve shot—or they can be deep—such as understanding why something in our story world works the way it does.

World-building holes might not be something we’ve thought of before, and they’re often the trickiest to find and fix if we’re not aware of the possibility.

What Are World-building Plot Holes?

Every story contains world-building, not just sci-fi and fantasy tales. Even stories set in the “real” world have to build their specific setting, from a New York City neighborhood to a ranch in Australia’s Outback.

Are Plot Holes a problem in your story or novel? Jami Gold is here to help you understand where holes in your story might be found!No matter the type of story, we also have to be consistent with our characters’ names and physical descriptions. Their hair or eye color shouldn’t change…unless that ability is part of our world-building. (I do write paranormal romance, after all. *grin*)

Sources of World-building Holes include:

  • Explanations of why something is important or can’t be done
  • Inconsistencies in characters’ backstories (and in how it affects the plot and/or story)
  • Settings, props, or science/religious/cultural details (places/things characters interact with)
  • Political, power, or magic systems (and how they affect the characters, plot, and/or story)
  • Character details (name, age, job, physical description, personality details/quirks, etc.)

When we check for plot holes, we need to question more than just the plot details. Whether we revise by building a plot/subplot outline and character/worldbuilding story bible or by relying on the help of beta readers/developmental editors, we want to broaden our scope of where we’re checking for inconsistencies and logic issues so we can find them all—even the sneaky ones.

Do you have any questions about plot holes—or the different places they lurk?

jami-picture-200-x-300_framedAfter muttering writing advice in tongues, Jami decided to put her talent for making up stuff to good use. Fueled by chocolate, she creates writing resources and writes award-winning paranormal romance stories where normal need not apply. Just ask her family—and zombie cat.

Find out more about Jami here, hang out with her on social media, or visit her website and Goodreads profile.
Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Model

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Model

Overview: The career of a model can look very different depending on the type of modeling they do and the level of their success. Most modeling falls into two categories: editorial (magazine spreads in higher-end magazines, fashion catwalks, high-end makeup ads, etc.) and commercial (catalogs, print ads for non-fashion products, commercials, and even showroom work where they work with the fashion designers as a form for the clothing being made). Models who are editorial often have a very distinctive look (something different or striking) and are often quite tall and adhere to very specific weight and age ranges. They also will clearly display their personality to prospective agents and clients in their look, but are expected to be flexible and unopinionated—to do as they are told. Those in commercial modeling may have a variety of sizes and heights, be of different ages, and would have more of a “girl (or boy) next door” appeal because commercial modeling is more about the product than the model.

Most models do not make a living wage and only model part time or have another job to supplement their income. The hours are very long and demanding, and it isn’t uncommon for an editorial model to be paid for their time with a lunch or a gift of clothing rather than a cash payment if they are in the building stages of their career where they are striving to build a portfolio and gain recognition. Those who are at the top of the editorial modeling world can make millions, but this is the exception, not the rule. Commercial modeling can be more lucrative including residuals from commercials, but neither avenue comes with job security or medical benefits unless the model is in high demand. The competition is very high and the industry is saturated with criticism and rejection, so having a strong mindset and being determined is crucial.

Typically modeling starts in the teens and goes into the early twenties in editorial modeling, but a greater range is common in commercial because it is more about what a specific brand is looking for as a match for their product, catalog, or commercial. Models may also only use one of their features, such as a hand (jewelry, skincare products, accessories) or foot (shoes, socks, accessories) rather than their whole body.

Much of a model’s time is spent off-camera waiting for interviews, going to castings or auditions, fittings, spending time in hair and makeup, going to the gym, and rushing between appointments. Because the industry has a huge power imbalance, there is a lot of additional pressure on models. Some may deal with inappropriate touching, sexual advances, and pressure to have sex. Because modeling can look very different depending on the type of work being done and the success level of the model it’s important to do your research for this type of character.

Necessary Training: Models may take classes to become more comfortable with the business (understanding how casting and callbacks work, fittings, dealing with criticism, the role of agents, the importance of building a name, how to create a strong portfolio, working with photographers, etc.), but it isn’t a requirement. Maintaining strong hygiene, maintaining good health, and controlling one’s weight are all key for this profession.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, a knack for making money, a way with animals, charm, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, making people laugh, mimicking, multitasking, parkour, photographic memory, promotion, strong breath control, super strength, swift-footedness

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, adventurous, ambitious, bold, centered, charming, confident, cooperative, creative, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, easygoing, empathetic, extroverted, flamboyant, focused, friendly, funny, imaginative, independent, industrious, intelligent, mature, meticulous, obedient, observant, organized, passionate, patient, persistent, persuasive, professional, sensual, sophisticated, talented, thrifty, tolerant, uninhibited

NEGATIVE: perfectionist, subservient, workaholic

Sources of Friction:

Untrustworthy agents, being taken advantage of as a minor in the industry (exploitation), people in positions of power using intimidation and threats to get what they want, pressure to have sex or allow sexual advances, struggling to pay one’s bills, the pressure to maintain an unhealthy weight causing eating disorders, being worn down by criticism and suffering from anxiety and depression, a health crisis due to the stress and strain of work but not having medical coverage and so going into debt, clients who refuse to pay in a reasonable amount of time and having to chase down payment, having one’s hair damaged by over-processing in hair and makeup prep, struggling to make ends meet due to low pay, one’s look being cast aside for a fresher look in a fickle industry, difficulty forming relationships or making time for family and friends because one’s work and exercise & hygiene routines take us so much time

People They Might Interact With: Agents, other models, model advocates or parents (for underage models), photographers, designers, high level executives (clients and VIPs) from different companies, celebrities, journalists, artists, delivery people, hair and makeup artists, clothing stylists, assistants and consultants

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Esteem and Recognition: So much emphasis on the physical appearance can cause esteem issues. Criticism from professionals, models comparing themselves to others, and the constant focus on physique can negatively impact the way they view themselves
  • Love and Belonging: Very attractive people often struggle to know if people interested in them are only there because of their looks. This can lead to relationship issues and difficulty opening up to others.
  • Safety and Security: Modes who are highly visible are easily recognizable to the Average Joe and can become targets for stalkers and other unstable individuals
  • Physiological Needs: When body image issues become serious enough to birth mental disorders like bulimia and anorexia, the person’s very life may become endangered.

Common Work-Related Settings: Ballroom, black-tie event, hair salon, waiting room

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: 

  • Models have historically been presented as superficial and vapid, to the point of this stereotype becoming a trope. Make sure your model, like every other character, is well-rounded and multi-dimensional.
  • Models in fiction are almost always female. And while female models outnumber their male counterparts in the real world, there are enough male models to make this a viable option for male characters.

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Boost Your Creativity Mindset Naturally

Hi everyone! Happy to welcome author Chrys Fey to the blog who has brought a few ideas along with her on how to do small things to help with your creative mindset. Please read on, and enjoy!

Writers live in the world of creativity. We thrive off it, seek it, and use it. But sometimes, creativity can be hard to come by. Our imagination can diminish, our ideas can disappear, our productivity can plummet, and we can suffer from writer’s block, the inability to produce new work. Wikipedia even defines it as a writer who “experiences a creative slow down.”

Let’s do all we can to prevent those slowdowns!

Here are 3 ways to boost your creativity naturally:

  1. Colors

Colors have been associated with emotions for ages; pink with love and friendship, red with anger and passion, green with wealth and health, white with purity and protection.

You can use color to heighten any aspect you want, especially when it comes to your career. Think about your office and desk for a moment. Better yet, if you are there, take a look around. What colors do you see in the artwork and décor? What color is painted on the walls? Those colors could be influencing you while you work, either positively or negatively. And what colors you should have around you depends on your goal.

Take a look at the colors below and some of the things they can increase.

Pay special attention to the ones with asterisks (*) in front of them.

*Yellow – creativity, ideas, happiness

*Royal Blue – imagination, insight

*Indigo – mental power, serenity

Purple – ambition, wisdom

Red – courage, passion, energy

*Gold – business endeavors, financial gain

Orange – confidence, attraction

Green – growth, wealth

Pink – friendship, love, sociability

Black – power, wisdom

Brown – grounding in the physical world

Add art and décor to your office or to your desk in a color that symbolizes what you seek. For example: pale yellow walls for creativity, a royal blue candle for imagination, a gold vase (business endeavors) with indigo flowers (mental power).

Experiment even with wearing a color you want to associate with. If you want to attract new ideas, wear yellow. I even painted my nails yellow once and asked for ideas to help me with my current work-in-progress with each brush stroke. And it worked for me! Whatever you need, turn to the color chart for help.

For a deeper look into colors and their meanings check out:

Color Psychology and Art Therapy

  1. Aroma

Aromatherapy is a real thing. The smell of lavender can calm a stressed mind. The smell of rosemary has been said to alleviate headaches, and eucalyptus is known for its healing properties in sick rooms.

I use aromas all the time to invigorate my brain and writing power. One of my favorites is cinnamon. This smell (as well as the spice) has been researched extensively and has been found to aid with memory and learning. My favorite method is to pour a few drops of cinnamon oil into an oil burner. This is the best way to get that mind-awakening scent in your office or throughout your house. But you can use candles, wax melts, or room spray.

TIP: Add a dash of cinnamon to your coffee grounds for a boost of mental power with your morning or afternoon cup of coffee.

Here are some aromas and what they can attract/stimulate:

Apple – happiness

Cedar – courage, protection

*Cinnamon – career success, wealth

Clove – prosperity, sexual desire, aids memory

Frankincense – psychic awareness

Gardenia – harmony, love

Ginger – balance, awareness

*Honeysuckle – mental clarity, communication

Lavender – relaxation, peace of mind

Pine – strength

Rose – love, lifts your spirits

*Rosemary – memory retention, mental sharpness

*Sandalwood – knowledge

For Example: if you need to remember answers to a test or words to a speech, burn rosemary oil or simply sniff a rosemary sprig every few minutes while you study.

Use aromas to get you into the state of mind you need.

TIP: You can even add a few drops of essential oils to your bath!

For more about aromas and their benefits check out:

Aromatherapy.com and Aromaweb.com

  1. Gemstones

Stones harbor magical properties. Ancient civilizations used the power of crystals to release mental, physical, and spiritual blocks. And you can use crystals and gemstones for their energies, too. I have an amethyst on my desk that I like to hold whenever I sit down to write to clear my mind and prepare me for my task ahead. I even ask it to help my words flow. I also have a tiny clear quartz that I carry in my purse. I put this quartz in my pocket before I had to give my first speech as a writer, because clear quartz can help you to transmit ideas.

Below are some gemstones and a few of their associations:

Amber – protection, self-confidence

Amethyst – for meditation, calming emotions

*Aquamarine – stimulating creativity, for clarity and mental awareness

 *Coral – enhance intuition and creativity

*Quartz (clear) – retain information, to transmit ideas and energy

*Amazonite – concentration, creativity, attract success

*Aventurine – creativity, motivation, imagination, business success

Bloodstone – organization, courage

*Calcite – creativity, luck, problem resolution

*Carnelian – concentration, focus, action

*Citrine – creativity, clarity of thought

*Emerald – memory, business success, insight

*Garnet – inspiration, business success

Jade – concentration, wisdom

*Malachite – inspiration, money, success

Moonstone – hope, good fortune, new beginnings

Tiger Eye – communication, luck

Topaz – focus, power, clarity

Turquoise – courage, romantic love, healing

Put a crystal or two in your office near natural light so it can release its vibrations into the space. Or put some on your desk that you can touch or look at. While you hold them, think about which of its powers you need to call upon. For Example: hold garnet for inspiration or citrine for creativity. You can even wear one of these gemstones as a piece of jewelry.

TIP: If you buy a crystal or piece of jewelry, cleanse it with water and mild soap to wash away any negativity someone could’ve placed there by touching it before you.

For more about gemstones and their properties check out:

Energy Muse and Fire Mountain Gems

Incorporate one or all of these techniques into your space or writing ritual to boost your creativity naturally. Maybe it’s the law of attraction and positive thinking, or maybe it’s nature and spirit. Either way, if it works, that’s all the matters.

As writers, we can use all the help we can get!

Have you ever used color, aroma, or gemstones? Let us know in the comments!

Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book! From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips.

Fey is an editor for Dancing Lemur Press and runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Goodreads book club. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series.

Visit her blog Write with Fey for more tips. @ChrysFey


If you feel like entering, Chrys also has a nifty giveaway going on right now for some writerly prizes.

Just enter the form below and you’re in the draw!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

The Writer’s Spice Cabinet


Some writers object to thinking about plot and structure because it may lead to formulaic writing. They miss a critical distinction.

Why does something become a formula in the first place? Because it works!

Using both formulas and personal touches to bring your plot to life

Here’s a formula for an omelet: Crack a couple of eggs. Scramble them. Heat up a skillet. Butter it. Pour in the eggs. Cook them a bit. Add ingredients. Fold the eggs over the ingredients. Serve.

This is a formula that works. But notice the variables. Depending on the cook and the experience level, the omelet can be delicious or a disaster, or something in between. And, with the addition of certain spices, the flavor can vary. It’s still an omelet, it’s still a formula, but it has a whole range of outcomes.

Same with plotting. There are principles that work. But alone they don’t guarantee an original novel. You still have to add your spices, your skills, your talent.

Knowing why plots work is freeing. Master the principles, and you’re at liberty to add all your personal touches. Good chefs have their secret spices, ingredients they use to give their creations something extra and unique. For writers, the spices you add to make your plot your own include:


In his book, The Art Of Creative Writing, Lajos Egri asserts that the key to originality in fiction comes from characters. “Living, vibrating human beings are still the secret and magic formula of great and enduring writing. Read, or better, study the immortals and you will be forced to conclude that their unusual penetration into human character is what has kept their work fresh and alive through the centuries . . .”

Note the word formula! Let’s test this.

What is it that sets Dickens apart in our minds? Fagin and Wilkins Micawber; Uriah Heep and Miss Havisham; Peggoty and Barkis. Characters who sparkle in his plots like jewels. Don’t let any of your characters plop into your plot like plain vanilla. Spice them up.


Can you take us to a place we’ve never been before? That will enliven any plot. And I don’t necessarily mean some place far away from home, although that’s an option. It could mean simply setting your scenes in places that are fresh.

How many times do we have conversations between two potential lovers in a restaurant? Back and forth they go, the only original element being what they are served by the waiter. Why not put them in a tree house? Or on the subway stuck in a tunnel? Or underneath the boardwalk by the sea?

Setting also includes the details of life surrounding the lead character. Tom Clancy created a whole new genre called Techno-thriller because he put his hero, Jack Ryan, into a world of complex military hardware. That was new.

Readers love to read about the details of other people’s working lives. Do research. Immerse yourself in some occupation, either by training for it or interviewing an expert about it. Whatever you do, don’t show characters practicing professions in the same old way. Dig deeper and find original details. You can still write about cops and lawyers and truck drivers, but only if you give them updated challenges and settings. Find out what they are and spice up your writing.


Dialogue is a great opportunity to spice up your plots. Don’t waste it! It helps to originalize characters and move the plot along. If it isn’t doing either of those things, it probably should be cut.

No two characters should sound exactly alike. And the words they use should tell us something about who they are. If a character is the charge ahead type, he’ll speak that way. His words will be forceful, direct. Sam Spade in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon is like that. Here he confronts the odd little intruder, Joel Cairo:

I’ve got you by the neck, Cairo. You’ve walked in and tied yourself up, plenty strong enough to suit the police, with last night’s killing. Well, now you’ll have to play with me or else. 

But Cairo uses fancier verbiage:

I made somewhat extensive inquiries about you before taking any action, and was assured that you were far too reasonable to allow other considerations to interfere with profitable business relations.

We know, simply from the words, that these are two very different characters.

So write your plots, add your spices, and make the story delectable to your readers.


Jim is the author of the #1 bestseller for writers, Plot & Structure, and numerous thrillers, including, Romeo’s Rules, Try Dying and Don’t Leave Me. His popular books on fiction craft can be found here. His thrillers have been called “heart-whamming” (Publishers Weekly) and can be browsed here. Find out more about Jim on our Resident Writing Coach page, and connect with him online.



Posted in Characters, Dialogue, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Setting, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 7 Comments

Occupation Thesaurus: Restaurant Server (Waiter/Waitress)

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Write Your Character's career with authority using the occupation thesaurus. Here's all the detail you need for you waiter, waitress, or server character's job. Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Restaurant Server

Overview: A server is someone who interacts directly with the patrons of a restaurant, bar, cafe, diner, pub, or other location where food and drink is served. They oversee the customer experience, greeting and seating guests, relaying any specials that the establishment wishes to up-sell, answering questions about the menu items, taking orders, relaying special requests or dietary conditions to the cooking staff, serving food and drinks as they are prepared, and delivering the bill when the customer is finished. Wait staff may also be responsible for collecting payment, carrying away dishes, packing up leftovers, dealing with customer complaints, and light food preparation (such as plating salads and premade desserts.)

Necessary Training: in most situations, no post-secondary education is required to be a server, but a high school diploma is often the benchmark for many employers. Depending on the restaurant’s pedigree, extra courses and training may be required or encouraged. A server may also need to take training to obtain a permit to serve alcohol.

Servers will receive onsite mentoring and instruction on specific business protocols, be trained on any technology systems used by the restaurant, educated on food preparation and safety, and taught how to handle and execute customer requests.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, enhanced sense of smell, enhanced taste buds, exceptional memory, good listening skills, hospitality, making people laugh, multitasking, promotion, reading people

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, calm, charming, confident, cooperative, courteous, diplomatic, easygoing, efficient, enthusiastic, extroverted, friendly, funny, hospitable, independent, industrious, obedient, observant, organized, persuasive, professional, proper, quirky, resourceful, responsible, sensible, sophisticated, tolerant, witty

NEGATIVE: Gossipy, perfectionist, workaholic

Sources of Friction: impossible-to-please customers, dine-and-dashers, patrons who have extreme food allergies yet expect food to be altered even if a restaurant is not set up to adhere to specific food safety standards (for, say, serving Celiacs), rude customers, being blamed for poorly prepared food or incorrect orders when the cooking staff is to blame, other servers stealing tips, giving exceptional service but being tipped poorly, management who insist on micromanaging, scheduling inflexibility when one needs time off, not having enough staff working to serve the patrons adequately, being forced to make excuses to customers when cooking staff misses or bungles an order and it arrives late, customers who flirt, are disrespectful, or make unwanted advances, being forced to share tips with those who put in sub par effort, working with people that one doesn’t like or has no respect for, being berated by customers when food is not up to standard or is contaminated in some way (a stray hair, a fly, cutlery that has not been cleaned properly, etc.), struggling to make a living wage, creepy regular patrons who make a server uncomfortable by asking prying or personal questions, or by displaying ownership (refusing to be served by anyone other than their favorite server)

People They Might Interact With: customers, management,  cooking and prep staff, dishwashers, restaurant greeters, delivery people, food and beverage reps, food and safety inspectors, district managers or other people from head office (if the restaurant is a chain)

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Esteem and Recognition: A character who is struggling with self-worth because employment is hard to find, they lack the education needed for other jobs that are available, or they wish to break free of any social difficulties or fears they have may find being a server is rewarding work. Being gainfully employed and growing proficient at what they do will boost their social skills and self-confidence.
  • Love and Belonging: A character who feels adrift in life may turn to serving to feel part of something larger, especially if the establishment is a fun place to work and has a family-like environment among staffers. Here the character could feel accepted for who they are and that they belong.
  • Physiological Needs: In most cultures, survival depends on employment, so a character who was finding it hard to make ends meet to pay rent, put food on the table, etc. may turn to serving as it is work that often doesn’t require specialized education. A serving job may also have evening hours of employment, which may work perfect for a character who needs to bring in extra cash when they already have a day job.

Common Work-Related Settings: bar, black-tie event, break room, casual dining restaurant, coffeehouse, deli, diner, fast food restaurant, high school cafeteria, ice cream parlor, nightclub, pool hall, wedding reception

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: Servers are often portrayed as washed out, jaded workers, or even as “bubbly and not too bright.” In reality, servers have to place a lot of care into what they do to ensure customers enjoy the experience and wish to return, so factor in all the skills required to be an effective server and steer away of these one-note cliches. If for no other reason, consider that a good portion of the server’s income will come from tipping (in most places) and so they are invested in making sure the customer receives strong, friendly service.

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.

Posted in One Stop For Writers, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Use Theme to Determine Subplots, Supporting Characters, and Tension

I recently spoke at the Storymakers conference in Utah, and while I was there, I attended a class on theme. Theme is kind of an ethereal topic, difficult to grasp and even harder to apply. But I was blown away by Amanda Rawson Hill’s breakdown—so much so that I contacted her and asked if she’d write a post about it. Thank goodness, she agreed. Hopefully her words will provide the same clarity for you as they did for me :).

What is theme and how do you incorporate it into your story? How does it relate to the supporting cast, subplots, and tension?

Some of the themes explored in the Symbolism & Motif Thesaurus at One Stop For Writers

Theme is one of the fundamental building blocks of literature. Yet it is something too few writers think about. Part of the reason for this is a strict, purely educational understanding of what theme is. But if we want to fully incorporate theme into our novel, we need to change the way we think about it.

Most of us recognize the theme of a novel as something that can be summed up in a sentence. It is often referred to as the lesson or message of the story—or *shudder* the moral. For our purposes here, I want you to think of this kind of theme as the THEME STATEMENT— the truth the main character realizes during or just before the emotional climax. The best ones are clear and concise—a full sentence containing a noun and a verb.

A few examples of theme statements:

  • Hamilton: You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.
  • Zootopia: Change begins with me.
  • The Greatest Showman: Everything you need and want is right in front of you. (Alternatively, you don’t need everyone to love you, just the few people who actually matter.)
  • A Quiet Place: Who are we if we can’t protect them? (You have to protect them.)

In The Greatest Showman, there are some very strong sub-themes about acceptance and tolerance. And if the bearded lady was the main character, the theme statement would have more to do with that. But because the main character is P.T. Barnum, the theme statement has to be HIS truth.

However, while the bearded lady is interacting with the theme in her own way, it’s just a little bit different than they way Phineas is dealing with it. This is where we think about the theme as a topic. I call it—and I know this is really clever—the THEME TOPIC.

The THEME TOPIC of a story is a little more general—only one or two words. It’s the idea that is being explored. Some examples of theme topics:

  • Hamilton: Legacy
  • Zootopia: Bias
  • The Greatest Showman: Acceptance or Family (there’s a case to be made for both. I haven’t fully decided yet.)
  • A Quiet Place: Protection

Now, you might be wondering why this matters. While the THEME STATEMENT is most important for the main character and their arc, the THEME TOPIC is important for helping us create side characters and subplots.

Every meaningful character in your story should be struggling or interacting with the theme topic in some way. It will not, and should not, be in the same way the main character is interacting with the theme. This will add depth and layers to your story. It will provide a starting point for tension. And it will allow us to think about the theme from more than one angle.

Let’s look at Hamilton as an example of how the supporting cast interacts with the theme topic (legacy) in different ways.

  • Alexander Hamilton is determined to build and control his legacy by not throwing away his shot.
  • Aaron Burr was left with a legacy to protect and will wait for the right moment to do anything.
  • George Washington feels weighed down by the burden of knowing history has its eyes on him and everything he does sets a precedent.
  • Lafayette, Laurens, and Hercules Mulligan all sing about when their children will tell their story.
  • Eliza first begs Alexander to let her be a part of the narrative of the story they will write about him someday. But after he betrays her, she removes herself from the narrative. Then at the end, she puts herself back in. She is struggling with whether or not she gets to, or even wants to, be associated with his legacy.
  • Angelica has a story with Alexander that nobody but her will ever know. Her story will remain unknown and untold.

Now because each character has wildly different views or experiences around the idea of legacy, we are all set up for a lot of tension. The first and most obvious tension is between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Their ideas about legacy are almost complete opposites. And because of those opposing world views, we have, really, the main conflict of the story. Yes, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are also antagonists, but Aaron Burr is the main antagonist. And while it seems to be outward actions that create this antagonistic relationship that concludes with their tragic and historic duel, all of these actions grow out of the clashing worldviews. Their ideas around legacy are at the root of all their tension.

This is how it should be in almost all storytelling. There may be outward things like wars and battles and curses or what-have-you that pit the antagonist and protagonist against each other. But in the end, all of their tension-creating actions should be born of the underlying tension between their two worldviews, or theme views.

Of course, knowing how each of your characters interacts or struggles with the theme allows many other avenues for tension in your story. Look at the problems that spring up between Eliza and Alexander, between Alexander and Angelica, between Hamilton and Washington even. They all have, at their center, the tension and hurt caused because of their struggle with the theme topic.

In your story, think of what the characters’ views on the theme topic will cause them to do in certain situations. How will it make them react? What problems might this cause? When you start considering these questions, you’ll find yourself with the beginnings of subplots that are organic to the story and fit well with the main character’s own growth and arc.

If you start thinking of your novel in this way, with a statement and a topic, you’ll create something much more meaningful and powerful.


Amanda Rawson Hill grew up in Southwestern Wyoming with a library right out her back gate. (Which accounts a lot for how she turned out.) After graduating from Brigham young University with a degree in chemistry, she lived all over the country, finally settling in Atwater, California with her husband and three children. Amanda writes heartfelt middle grade. Her debut, THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC, releases September 25, 2018 from Boyds Mills Press.

Posted in Plotting, Tension, Theme, Uncategorized | 20 Comments