Tuesday, June 21, 2011

K. Dawn Byrd is here with a giveaway!


I'm so excited to feature author K. Dawn Byrd today! K. Dawn Byrd is the author of several novels, including Mistaken Identity, Killing Time, and Queen of Hearts. In addition to sharing her wisdom about the writing process, she's also giving away a gift certificate for a free download. Which means this giveaway is not restricted to US residents - yay!

To get yourself entered, leave a comment below either answering Ms. Byrd's question or asking her one of your own. Contest closes Tuesday, June 28th.

From K. Dawn Byrd:

Some writers start with a character. The character enters their mind and they can't rest until they're written their story. Most of my novels start with a plot. Yes, I'm a plotter. For example, in my new young adult romance, the thought entered my mind, "What would happen if a Christian teenager and her non-Christian best friend fell in love with the same guy?" Would the good girl get the guy or would he be attracted to the girl who wore the skimpiest clothes and would do whatever he asked?

I then took it a step further by thinking about the characters. What would the Christian girl be like? What would her best friend be like? I found some character worksheets on-line and filled them out and Eden (the Christian) and Lexi (the non-Christian) were born.

As I filled out the worksheets, I began to wonder what they looked like. To add to the excitement, I made Lexi drop-dead gorgeous and Eden kind of plain. I then began to think about what effect this would have on Eden? Of course, she'd feel like she didn't have a chance because Lexi was popular with the guys and always got her man.

I then began to sketch out scenes by writing topics, such as 1) first meeting, 2) first date, 3) first kiss, etc. You get the picture. I normally write suspense, so I had to throw in a few things to get the plot moving such as an alcoholic mother who ends up in rehab and a classmate who is injured while car surfing.

I'm not the greatest in the world at writing description. Having a photograph to look at helps. For example, I scoured the internet for the perfect prom dress and then wrote about it what it looked like. Sometimes, I'll dig through magazines until I find photos of how my characters look in my mind and then I'll place them on a cork board so I can view at them when I write.

After the story is finished, I put it away for a while and then approach it with a fresh perspective. I usually do this twice and then it goes through two edits at my publishing house.

That's how I write. It's important that you find what works for you and stick with it. What have you found that works for you or what would you like to try?

26 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for hosting me! I look forward to interacting with your blog readers.

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  2. This is my first time writing something bigger than a paragraph. I am doing a short story about a girl put in the foster system. I pretty much have had this scenario in my mind for a long time because I, myself, am a foster sister. So I really don't know what works for me and what doesn't.

    Alyson :)

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  3. That sounds like an interesting story.I'd lie to read it.And of course win :) I started out with a plot kinda like The Princess Plot(it was written in Germany and then reprinted here, I believe.Really good story).I was thinking like two girls separated have to save their kingdom.Which was really close to the actual plot of the other book.Since then it has changed and now it's the heirs of the kingdoms are going to an academy to train.And then their is going to be a crisis that turns out to only be a test.Then a real bad guy arises...maybe.I'm still working the ending out.My biggest problems are developing the characters(do interviews with them and pictures help?) and I worry about finding stuff to go in between.I am going to take some archery so I will be able to relate and really know how it will feel when my character learns.
    This was a really helpful post, because of the character talk.That is my biggest problem.I'm going to go work on the prompt now Stephanie :)
    Sierra

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  4. Hey, Alyson!I'm a huge plotter. Maybe it would help if you jot down a few ideas you'd like to see in the book and then check them off as you add them in. When I write, I have a notebook handy that has a list of scenes I want to include. I've never tackled a short story though. Good luck!

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  5. Hey, Stephanie! Characters are like friends. For example, if I asked you to write about three girls, but you didn't know one of them very well, you'd have a hard time writing about her. That's why I fill out a couple of character charts before I start writing. The better I know my character, the better I'll be able to tell her story.

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  6. I'm not really sure what works for me. Ideas just come to me at the most random times. It usually comes when I hear a name I like, so I then try to write a story about the person with that name, or I see people in a store, or restaurant, and make up a story about their lives. I had never heard of looking to see what your character "looks" like by googling it before, but it sounds like a great idea to me. I would like to try that.

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  7. Good day, K. Dawn Byrd, I really, really like the way you develop your story, and this one sounds especially brilliant. I normally just get an idea and try to build around it with characters, plot, etc. but it really depends. I've always wanted to be the type of person that plots things all out, but I don't think I'm coming to that yet. By the way, I love your last name! The main character in my "work in progress" name is Byrd.

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  8. For me I like to plot to some extent, but not every scene or every character. I like them to "surprise me!" So I guess I'm a plotter/panser. I like to know where I'm going but not the whole of the how. If that makes any sense. Great post! Looks like an awesome book. Can't enter though. Don't have electronic reading device.

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  9. I don't really plot. I get an idea and then I add to it as I go along. The story I'm working on right now I expected to be a cozy story, but it's turning into a secret agent story of sorts. Probably that's because I just finished reading a secret agent story. :)

    What do you do when you get bored of the story you're writing? When I continue, it feels like my writing isn't as good as it was when I was happy with the story, though right now I'm not bored of my novel, which is actually a first, considering how far I am into it.

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  10. Hmm. I think I usually start with a name -- but not the actual character. Naming is my favourite part!:D I usually get my idea -- ever since forever, I have so not been a planner! Like, in school, I can't plan. So I write it first and then "plan" it. :P I just... write. That's what a seat of the pants writer is, right? Or maybe I'm confused. :)

    It's weird. I started out sort of knowing who my character was -- but then she changed! Was quite annoying:P But hey, I just go with it.

    Like to try... I guess I'd like to try getting through draft 2. Or maybe I should go back and actually finish draft one. You know, the conclusion. :D

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  11. Emii:
    I think it's fun when I know what I want to write when I start and then my characters take a life of their own. Sometimes they take me down roads I hadn't planned to travel.

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  12. Book blogger:
    When I get bored with a story, I put it away and work on something else. Who says you have to finish that particular story right now? Write something you're excited about and go back to that one later. It works for me.

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  13. Faye:
    You can download the Kindle app to your computer and read Kindle books on it just like you would a Kindle. Just go to Amazon and you'll see a link to download it. The great thing is that there are lots of Kindle books out there for free!

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  14. RainbowJoy:
    I start out with a very loose plot and somtimes my characters take a life of their own. Starting with a loose plot allows me to let them do that. It's fun!

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  15. Tabitha:
    When I run across a name I like, I add it to a little list I keep of names I might want to use in a book one day.

    When it comes to character development, I've been known to keep a "story board." It's a bulletin board with items pertaining to my story attached to it. Once I find a picture in a magazine that looks like my character, I'll pin it up. I've also been known to pin up pictures of what I think their cars and houses look like.

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  16. I love the idea of having a story board. I'd like to plot more, but it usually doesn't work -- I always end up straying from whatever plans I had down. So instead of doing anything very extensive, now I just make a short (sometimes ridiculously so) bulleted list of what should probably happen in each chapter or scene. It's working for me so far -- I still have enough room for off-the-cuff change to satisfy the pantser in me, but I don't have to go through and rewrite half my book in edits because I didn't have a clue in the first draft.

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  17. I get a theme in my head, like hard work pays off, or God's love conquers fear. I come up with a plot to fit, and then I develop my characters a lot like you - with sheets and thinking and cutting out pictures. I also draw cartoons of my characters and a map of the main setting - so I don't get lost in the story :) . While I'm making the map I'm usually inspired with different plot twists and so on . . . I'd like to try being more character focused because those are the books I love to read - ones with really full and deep characters. Being inspired with a character first would be nice . . . :)
    - Bebs (can't get into my account :) )

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  18. I have found most recently to not have anything in rock solid when your writing your first draft, because I like changing things up a lot and I'm recently editing a book I wrote.
    And also I find that outlining each chapter as I go REALLY works too! It keeps me rolling on through, and I've found that I finish the chapters a LOT faster now that I outline everything I write. :D I have a basic outline of the whole book in my head, but I only outline the chapters as I go. :)

    jazzdivagirl(at)suddenlink(dot)com

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  19. I have found that for me, I come up with a plot and the characters appear to fill the roles. In my book The Destiny of One (www.thedestinyofone.com) I got a great plot idea and as I started writing Maria and her friends jumped off the page. By the middle of the book, I felt as if I was watching to story unfold and just trying to keep up.

    Sarah

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  20. I'll share with you something that helps if I have a complex plot. I take index cards and write a short description of each scene on a card, such as "first kiss," "first date," etc. I then place these in order on my bulletin board under a tab for each chapter. If I end up having to move scenes around, I move them on my board so that I can see what chapter they're in and make sure they are flowing in the right order.

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  21. Pooh, I love the idea in your last comment. I recently did Script Frenzy and had an extremely complicated plot, but we just moved to New Zealand and I didn't have a place to put up a corkboard. Fortunately I found an app for a virtual one and used it in exactly the same way you described! It was perfect!

    However, back on topic. I actually don't have a consistent way to start a book yet. My first one I thought, "If I ever met a fairy, I would name her First Laugh." And the plot came after that. However, for some of my other stories, I'll think, "What if......." and go that route. But for the children's stories, I'll remember a Bible verse and think, "Oh, if this and this and then this happen, it would demonstrate that perfectly."

    A mishmash way to write, but I kind of like it, because I really never know when an idea will hit me.

    Tiffany

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  22. I think I tend to start with a plot and an idea of who is going to be the main character.

    Sarah

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  23. Emii, I adore the naming part, too! :-)

    Sarah, you're right! You do have a really great plot! ;) <3

    Someone already said this, but I usually start out with a name (keeping pen and paper in my purse is mandatory now, because I have to be ready to jot down names). Somehow the story always comes wrapped in the name ~ though that by no means I plot everything out at the beginning. I do outline chapters, though, following coming up with the five main "acts" in my story.

    So that's what works for me!

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  24. 'Morning ...
    Great post! Enjoyed it immensely.
    The five act structure - first used by the Ancient Greeks and Shakespeare, is a great framework for an idea ... start, a middle, and an end.
    I tend to sketch out my WIP in a notebook. The characters, the primary buildings, even a map of the town. From there I can plot all I want, going back to the sketch of my characters - changing what I have to if the characters demand. Some characters have even become uncomfortable with their given names.
    Of course what I write is on the same level with Nicholas Sparks, but from a Christian perspective ... like Melody Carson, but a little heavier.
    So glad I stopped in, and thanks again for your tips.

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  25. I used to think I was a character writer, because I came up with really deep and complicated characters. However, lately I have been creating basic plot ideas before creating the characters to bring them into reality. My current WIP actually grew from a math phrase. Your post made me think a great deal about the process of creating a story. Thankyou so much!

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  26. Hi,

    I have a question... when you have writers block how do you get yourself writing again???
    and also...
    What is the best way to get your book published???

    Thanks

    Loren :)

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