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Sneak Peek: Characterization
from Accelerated Getting Started in Writing
Once you've determined who your characters are, what they look like and why they act the way they do, you'll need to find creative ways to get that information to your reader. The use of a variety of techniques to portray your characters to your reader is referred to as "characterization."
There are three primary methods of characterization: description, action, and dialogue. Description is narrative that simply tells your reader something about your character:
Larry was a tall, unhappy man with short brown hair.
A more dynamic method of characterization is to show your character in action or in dialogue with another character (we'll discuss dialogue in more detail shortly). The words and actions of a character--particularly when enhanced by description--can tell your reader a lot about who that character is. Here, for example is Larry in action:
Larry shuffled into the kitchen, ducking instinctively as he came through the doorway. The dishes were piling up and the floor needed sweeping, but he couldn't find a reason to care about that right now. He pulled a beer from the fridge and sat at the table without opening it.
From this passage, we get an impression of Larry's height from the fact that he needs to "duck" through the doorway. His unhappiness is hinted at by his shuffling, and his apathetic reaction to his surroundings. In a similar way, dialogue can characterize by letting the reader see the
character relating to someone else:
Beth clicked on the light and jumped when she saw Larry slumped over the kitchen table. "Jeez, Larry, you scared me half to death. What the hell are you doing, sitting in here in the dark?"
"I don't know. Nothing." Larry ran his hand over his head, spiking his short brown hair.
"Did you go to work today?"
Beth laid her purse on the table and sat down. "Now you're really scaring me. Tell me what's wrong."
Not only does this brief dialogue passage show us a picture of a despondent Larry, it introduces a second character and gives us some indication of the relationship between the two characters.
All three methods of characterization can be effective. How you use them, and in what combination, is a matter of your personal style and the needs of your story. You should practice all three, and study them in the published works of writers you admire to see how each contributes to the overall style of the piece and to your understanding of the character.
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Just wanted to share the news that my book has been nominated for an award in the Romance Category. Take a look, http://readerviews.com/Awards2009Finalists.html. Winners will be announced next month. :)
Author, Wildfire &
The Butterfly's Dance
My New Book Unintelligent Humans will be released officially in July of this year. Check out detailed info at my website.www.UnintelligentHumans.com In addition, my last book Eastern Wisdom for Your Soul has recently been sold for translating to an E-Book publisher in Italy.
Richard Singer, Author, Eastern Wisdom for your Soul, Unintelligent Humans
Allbooks Review wishes to thank all of the authors that purchased our promo package in 2009, making this our best year ever. We have grown over the past 10 years and will continue to provide excellent service for reasonable fees. Our goal is to make your book sell !
Allbooks Reviews INTERVIEW:
Please state your name and location. (city and State or Province, Country)
Sherry Jones Mayo
Tell us the title and publisher of your book:
Confessions of a Trauma Junkie: My Life as a Nurse Paramedic
Modern History Press
Tell us about yourself:
Depending on the day and situation, I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, nurse, writer, cook, confidant, or crazy cat lady. No matter which hat I’m wearing, after 20 years in emergency medicine and working with a paramilitary organization, I’ve accumulated enough experience to lend a more qualified hand in crisis response; my focus remains on continuing in the helping professions, but lately it is through another door. I find myself looking backward as much as forward, stopping to think, “Wait, I’m not entirely done with that yet, I still have something to say.” Knowledge gained while working toward the Health Psychology degree is giving me a clearer voice, and I hope to share those lessons and thoughts with my readers.
When was the book released?
Paperback edition was June 1, 2009. The publisher plans a hardcover edition for June 1, 2010.
Give us an overview of your book.
“Confessions” reflects the innermost feelings of emergency services workers as they encounter trauma, tragedy, redemption, and even a little humor. I have worked as an Emergency Medical Technician (Paramedic), Trauma Nurse, and on-scene Critical Incident Stress Debriefer for Hurricane Katrina, and following small-airplane crashes. Most people who have observed or experienced physical, mental, or emotional crisis have single perspectives. This book allows readers to stand on both sides of the gurney; it details a progression from innocence to enlightened caregiver to burnout, glimpsing into each stage personally and professionally.
What inspired you to write this book?
A lot of people today are interested in the true ‘story behind the story’, especially when it comes to true-life situations that touch so closely upon what they or their family members may experience. Whenever I tell people what I do, they focus on the gory side of life, and the type of incidents that catch folk’s attention and prevent them from looking away. What they don’t realize, until it happens to them, is that those horrible things happen to someone who is loved and cherished, especially the children. I want people to see the world, for a moment, through my eyes, to walk with me through the broken glass, to sit next to me and hold the hand of the sick or dying, to fight against death. And then I want them to see the lunacy of it all and laugh.
How is your book different from other books in this genre?
Many books about emergency medicine and true life situations present the hero perspective, a viewpoint of glamorization and drama. This book presents the raw and honest feelings of people without (much) censure or euphemism. Love us or hate us, this is how we feel. My slant is in telling the side of the story you may never know: how the emergency services worker feels about his experience, how it impacts him (sometimes for the rest of his life), what he is thinking as he works his calls, how he internalizes most of the negative thoughts and experiences lest his coworkers or family see him as weak, and what happens after the call is over.
Where can people buy your book?
Ordering from my website allows readers to get an autographed copy (or not, as they choose) through http://sherryjonesmayo.com. Readers may also order from Amazon (which offers a Kindle version), or ask major bookstores to order the book for them.
Are you working on another book? If so when do you expect it to be published?
I’m gathering materials for another book, but it will have to wait until grad school is complete, so I’m only writing short pieces for the next couple of years. I’m working on a master’s degree in Health Psychology, which offers a different perspective than my medical training offers. Nurses and Medics respond to the affects of injury and illness, I’d like to focus on a more proactive vision of promoting wellness, and future books may represent that bio/psych/socio vision.
If you self published, what advice can you give to fellow writers?
If published traditionally, tell us how you benefited:
A publisher who provides services beyond editing and printing books is invaluable. My publisher, Modern History Press, gives writers tools for self-marketing and promotion that are beyond our experience and expertise, and regularly links writers to other writing opportunities (which in turn promote books). I wouldn’t have known where to begin without that service, and the book may never have gone beyond family copies and bragging rights. Simply, I’m an expert (of sorts) on emergency medicine and crisis response, not on publishing.
Can you share one of your marketing successes with us?
Recently my publisher provided a query regarding the experience of nurses who transitioned from paramedics. The piece turned into a feature interview on the website, and I was able to establish a writing agreement with the site owner. Now I’m not only getting a lot of publicity about the book every time I write for this site, but I have the opportunity to be a paid contributor.
Initial interview: http://rndegrees.net/confessions-of-a-trauma-junkie.php
First feature piece: http://rndegrees.net/blog/career-development/disaster-relief-a-paramedic-turned-rn-shares-her-story.html
How did you find Allbooks Reviews and what are you hoping for in your relationship with us?
Sherry: I’ll turn this over to Victor, my publisher, he can answer this question the best
Victor: Thanks Sherry! I believe I discovered Allbooks Reviews through a referral from my friend and colleague Irene Watson at ReaderViews. I like the professional and erudite nature of the reviews that AllBooks Reviews has consistently produced. I feel their reputation and influence in the independent review industry will only continue to grow. That is why I have selected Allbooks Reviews for all new titles coming from Modern History Press in 2010.
Was the low cost a surprise? What other things would you like Allbooks Reviews to offer writers?
Victor: Allbooks Reviews is highly competitive and offers an excellent value-for-money proposition. In fact, I doubt you can get reviews of this caliber for less money anywhere. Their service is also quite speedy and customer service always friendly. Probably the next domain for them to conquer would be author-interview podcasts. Ok, I’ll turn the interview back over to Sherry.:
Thank you for this interview and best of luck with your book.
Sherry: Thank you! Selling books is nice, but the biggest joy is when someone has read the book and told me they laughed, they cried, they were deeply touched. Taking people to a place deep within themselves is extremely rewarding. It makes baring one’s own soul, standing naked before the world in one of the most vulnerable ways possible, well worth the exposure.