Monday, January 24, 2011

Fun Prize Plus "What Would Your Characters Do?"

Anna Kathryn Lanier signing
at Boomerang Books
 Please welcome contemporary and historical western romance author, Anna Kathryn Lanier. She started writing while still in high school. Her first novel was a futuristic Armageddon tale with romantic elements. She wrote her first romances in her early twenties, but her only submission was rejected. After putting her writing on hold for nearly two decades to raise two daughters and play housewife, Anna Kathryn picked up the pen again, so to speak--this is the computer age--five years ago. She has completed three romance novels to date. She also enjoys writing short stories. Her first short story was published in 2005. She has since published four more. WHAT WOULD YOUR CHARACTERS DO?

Latest From The Wild Rose Press

I came across this book a few years back and referr to it from time to time. WHAT WOULD YOUR CHARACTER DO by Eric Maisel, PH.D. and Ann Maisel is a great little activity book for getting into the heads of your characters. It has 30 “Personality Quizzes for Analyzing Your Character” and discovering “exactly what makes your character tick.”

The quizzes include such scenarios as: Family Picnic, Poolside Encounter, Blowing the Whistle, Flirting, At the Sex Shop, A Moment of High Drama and the one I’m going to talk about today, New Neighbors.

Best Short Romance 2009
Each scenario has a series of questions with multiple choice answers. After you’ve decided what your character would do, you get to find out what that action/reaction means, as the Maisels give an explanation for each multiple choice answer. The choice reveals something about your character.

In Scenario No. 9: New Neighbors, you are first to think very clearly in your mind what the neighborhood your character lives looks like. “Is it urban, suburban, rural? Is it a small town where Main Street is a fast highway flanked by gas stations and fast food joints? Is it a different country and/or a different time?”

Anna Kathryn on a trail ride at the spring 
Wild Rose Press author retreat at
Silver Spur Ranch, Bandera, Texas
Once you have decided where your character lives—think about the least likely person, couple or family who would move into the neighborhood. Examples from the book: A young couple in a neighborhood of retirees; a biker family moving into an upscale suburban neighborhood.” Once you have the new neighbors clearly in your mind, go over the questions and answers given. I’m only going to go over the first of the six questions the Maisels give for this scenario.
From The Wild Rose Press
Question 1: When your character looks out the window and sees his new neighbors moving in, what are his first thought?

A) “What are they doing here?”
B) “How interesting that they chose this neighborhood!”
C) “I’d like to get to know them.”
D) “I hope they keep to themselves.”
E) “That one looks attractive.”

Now that you’ve picked your character’s reaction to seeing his new neighbor, let’s find out what the reaction tells us about your character.

A) Thinking “What are they doing here?” is consistent with an intellectual character who is genuinely curious about his neighbors’ choice or, alternatively, with a prejudiced character who is territorial, small-minded, and generally critical.

B) Thinking “How interesting that they chose this neighborhood!” is consistent with a character with a sense of humor and a whimsical nature who is amused by life’s oddities, including people making bewildering choices as to where to live.

C) Thinking “I’d like to get to know them,” is consistent with a character who is genuinely open, compassionate, and good-natured, and who might get romantically involved with someone very different from himself.

D) Thinking “I hope they keep to themselves,” is consistent with a close-minded character who may publicly express tolerant beliefs but whose true bigoted attitudes are likely to leak out at the least provocation –or with no provocation at all.

E) Thinking “That one looks attractive,” is consistent with a character who even if prejudiced and close-minded, is nevertheless more interested in sex and romance than in his own biases.

Following this question are five more asking how your character would act/react to: the neighbor knocking on his door; what happens if he invites her into his house; the neighbor makes a reference your character does not understand; the neighbor invites your character over for a visit some evening; your character spots the neighbor in some trouble. There are 5 choices after each question and then the explanations of what those choices mean for your character as exampled above.

Also included in this chapter is a list of situations to consider, such as: the neighbors ask your character for a big favor; the neighbor hides out from the mob in your character’s house; the neighbors let their property run down; or how about, your character is the new neighbor.

The authors also note that in most novels, characters do not move, however in the year 2000, about one in six Americans moved. That equals about 15% of the adult population changing its address annually. Does that reality have a place in your novel?

So, which scenario did you pick for your character?

Oh, I have a special prize for one of today’s commentators. One lucky person will win the 2011 Studs and Spur Calendar, 12 sexy cowboys to help you through the year. So be sure and leave a comment!

Thanks for having me today, Caroline. It was a great excuse to check out this book again!

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Facebook, MySpace
Anna Kathryn, thank you for sharing with us today. I hope readers will pick up your books from The Wild Rose Press. Thanks also for offering a prize to one lucky commenter. Readers, please include your email in your comment in case you're the lucky winner!

Anna Kathryn dressed for
the Beaumonde Ball at
RWA National Conference
Anna Kathryn lives in Texas with her husband and two cats. Her daughters are grown and she now has two grandchildren and another on the way. She is also pursuing a bachelor degree in history at a local college. 

Easy to see she is one busy lady! But there's more: Until this month, she has been President of the Hearts Through History online RWA chapter, as well as active in her home RWA chapter in Houston, Texas. Her SALVATION BRIDE won Best Short Romance of 2009 in the Preditors and Editors Poll. Her brand, "Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats," always makes me smile. I also love the quote by Bud Gardner that Anna Kathryn has on her website and blog, "When you speak, your words echo only across the room or down the hall. But, when you write, your words echo down the ages." Ann Kathryn not only writes many words for The Wild Rose Press, she is active on the blogs Seduced By History and Sweethearts of the West as well as her own blog, "Chatting With Anna Kathryn." She's offering a fun prize to one commenter, so please leave your email in your comment. Here's Anna Kathryn to speak for herself.



Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Good morning. As I was reading what Caroline wrote about me, I see I need to update my blog. I have three grandchildren, now, the youngest is 3, so yeah, need to do that updating!

Thanks for having me today. I really enjoy this book and writing about it. It's fun to think about what your character would do in different situations. I'm working today (subsitute teacher), so won't be able to check in until this afternoon. See ya then!

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Oh, yeah, the prize - One lucky commentor will win a 2011 Spurs and Studs calendar....12 sexy cowboys to help you through the year.

AnneMarie Novark said...

Great post, Anna Kathryn!!! This book sounds like one I need when I'm doing my prewriting before starting a new WIP.

Happy Writing!!!

Morgan Mandel said...

Sounds like great exercises to learn how your characters tick.

Morgan Mandel

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Anna,
Sounds like a fun way to get to really understand your characters. There are so many books out there that don't really work it's hard to know what to buy. Thanks for recommending it.

Vonnie Davis said...

What an interesting post. We do need to know our characters and the ways in which they view the world around them.

Anonymous said...

How absolutely fun! Have to find the Maisel book. Love much of what he writes. Great info, Anna Kathryn. Thanks for posting this.
Liz Arnold
Message to Love
The Wild Rose Press

Caroline Clemmons said...

Anna Kathryn, I hope you're rested up now. You are so busy, I don't know how you had time to do such a great job as President of HHRW! I'm ordering your book today. Beautiful cover.

Sandra Crowley said...

Hi Anna, I hope you have a good day at school. Thanks for introducing us to Maisel's book. Amazon loves me this week, and so does my credit card company. Probably not so much my husband. LOL

Celia Yeary said...

Anna Kathryn--I like writing exercises, but only in teensy doses. Like, you, I have a favorite book on writing and she gives exercises at the end of each chapter. I've worn this book out--title: No More Rejections by Alice Orr. A judge who critiqued one of my entries years ago told me "I was ready for publication with only a little more tweaking." She recommended this book. It may have been coincidence, but I got my first contract right after I bought the book!
Thanks for the lesson--it's definitely a good one.
(don't put me in the win pool--give your book to another very deserving visitor--I'm already sold on you!) Celia

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, everyone. I'm back from my subbing job, High School English. They had a test, so it was an easy day, if a little boring. I would much rather teach than just sit and watch them.

I am not much on reading all the 'how to (over 25), but I do like this book and it's fun to blog about. I'm going to have to do one on the "Visiting a Sex Shop" scenario one of these

Judy said...

I'll definitely be checking out "What Would Your Character Do?" Sounds like a good book to refer to when I'm stuck with a character's development--which, alas, happens frequently!

Anonymous said...

High school English!? Yikes. You're a brave soul.
Joy Held
Writer Wellness, A Writer's Path to Health and Creativity
Who Dares Wins Publishing

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Judy and Joy. Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, the kids could be a asked to go to the restroom, and never returned. LOL. Like I wouldn't notice that. Left a note for the teacher. Nice thing about subbing, usually, someone else has to handle the problems.

Margaret Tanner said...

Great blog Anna Kathryn, some very worthwhile suggestions there.



Paty Jager said...

Great info! It's always a good exercise to put your character's in places they wouldn't go in your story and see their reactions.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi Margaret and Paty. Thanks for stopping by. The more I look at this book, the more I like it.

Carol Burge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carol Burge said...

I have this book (among other's by Eric Maisel) and LOVE it! It really get's you thinking, doesn't it? Oh, and also love those Studs and Studs calendars, too. I have a couple of them from years back. Gotta love those cowboys! :)

carol writer AT Comcast DOT net

Caroline Clemmons said...

Anna Kathryn, you are such a delightful person. Thank you for sharing with us on this blog. Please come back again soon.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

A few days late, but I finally drew for a winner....congrats to Joy! She won the 2011 Studs and Spurs calendar....twelve sexy cowboys to help her through the year.

Thanks to all who stopped by and chatted.