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TIP TUESDAY #159 AND THE FALLEN STARS GIVEAWAY

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hi Everyone! Natalie here today. Today I have author Stephanie Keyes here to share her tips on developing your characters. Stephanie is the author of THE FALLEN STARS, a YA fantasy and book 2 in The Star Child series, that released on April 12, 2013. Details on the giveaway are at the end of the post.

So here's Stephanie!

After you've identified which characters will take on starring roles in your work, one of the most challenging aspects of writing comes in being true to him/her. Understanding how that person would react and respond in any given situation and infusing that knowledge into your work is key. It helps set the context for the story to come, but also defines that all-important world. I'm not talking about Fantasy worlds per se, but the world in which your characters and their central conflict exist.

How do you get into your character's heads? Here are a few common ways:

• Character Interviews: There are dozens of character interview questions which can help you get on your way towards understanding your character better. Just Google "Character Interview Questions" and dozens pop up.
• Biographies: Write out your character's history. Even a two-page summary of her background will go far, as you formulate your ideas.
• Re-write Existing Content Through New Eyes: In this scenario, you would take a fleshed out section of work and rewrite it as though it were coming from the new character’s perspective. How would she react differently?

Every writer attempts to get inside their characters' heads by applying their own unique approach. There isn't a ‘‘one size fits all’’ fix. For me, although each of the above exercises is valuable, they're generally solitary approaches. In my mind, the term ‘‘‘solitary’’’ equals "not talking". As anyone who knows me will attest, I can't do anything without talking - that includes writing.

For my latest book, I decided to add a third point of view, Gabe. I pictured him as having a surfer-style voice, blond, blue-eyed good looks, with a teddy-bear personality. This character is also loyal and intelligent, though the latter doesn't always come across because of his conversation style and word choices. I envisioned the character in his early twenties, a Yale graduate and Harvard Law student from an affluent family. Gabe was worlds away from a Pittsburgh mom of two who'd been married for eleven years, so how would I get into his head?

Role Play

Since I like to talk, why not play to my strengths? That night at dinner, I started participating in the conversation as Gabe. It went something like this.

Husband: "How was your day?"
Me: Shoulder roll. Looked at my plate. "It was okay."
Husband: "Just okay? You seem like you're in a bad mood tonight."
Me: "Whatever."
Husband: "Are you mad at me? What's going on with you?"
Me: "Just chillax, okay? Don't be a hater."
You can imagine how this went down with my husband. However, after a few more exchanges, he asked, ‘‘Channeling Gabe, huh?’’ He’s pretty slick, that husband of mine.

Problem Solving

Whenever a problem would come up during my day, I would try and approach it from the character's perspective. How would he respond in any given situation? I recognized beforehand that I would, in most cases, probably not achieve the same outcome. However, I could try. For example, when preparing my tax documentation, I actually read the instructions for each form, including any disclaimers, the way a law students might've. Continuing my role-play efforts, I called the accountant and said, "Dude, this is like...messed up" before putting everything in a neat pile and covering it over. I will admit that I did go back and retrieve it later.

Time Management

On the first Saturday morning after I'd begun this project, I slept until noon and ignored my husband's pleas to come and help with the children. I didn't make any plans, but instead spent the weekend suggesting random, previously unplanned activities. This stressed my husband to no end, but again, this was Gabe's approach. Not mine.’’

Reader Engagement

Of course, these situations are funny, but they ended up being highly valuable. After four days of living in Gabe’s shoes, I knew everything about him, from his deepest, darkest secret, to the ringtone he had on his phone. Maybe I walked a mile in his shoes, or maybe only a few feet. However, by the time the exercise ended, my husband and kids got involved.
"Gabe would never say that. He'd say 'Dude, you're a hot mess', my husband informed me one day at lunch. Now imagine if every reader could be so invested in your characters. Wouldn't that be fabulous?
These are just a few examples of the steps I took to try and get inside the head of my character. So if what you've been doing isn't working for you, consider changing it up. Try a role-play and spend some time in his or her shoes. How would they respond? There's no right or wrong - just what works for you. Either way as Gabe would say, ‘‘Just chillax. Don't be afraid to try something new, dude.’’

The Fallen Stars



by Stephanie Keyes

Paperback, 530 pages| Expected publication: April 12th 2013 by Inkspell Publishing





When all is lost, he will have to make the ultimate decision.

Kellen St. James was just your average seventeen-year-old prodigy, until he eighty-sixed the Lord of Faerie and proposed to the Celtic Goddess, Calienta. But then everything in Kellen’s life gets turned upside-down when he and Cali end up on the run from a seriously irritated group of faeries. The worst part? They have zero idea why they’re being hunted.

Suddenly, Kellen is stuck in the middle of another prophecy that foresees him turning away from Calienta and embracing the dark. He’ll be forced to take sides in a struggle to claim his birthright, while discovering secrets about his father’s past. Meanwhile, his passion for Cali grows stronger, even as the prophecy threatens to tear them apart.

In the end, will Kellen and Cali survive the fates? When the ultimate power is within reach, which side will he choose?



Stephanie generously offered a copy of THE FALLEN STARS for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on April 27th. I’ll announce the winner on April 29th.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Hope to see you tomorrow for my interview with agent Jill Corcoran about her new A Path to Publishing workshops and of course I asked her what submissions she’s looking for right now. There’s a giveaway too!

60 comments:

  1. Now that's dedication to your characters! Love it!

    I'm a follower. This is an awesome giveaway! :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Cait! Glad you could stop by and enjoyed the tip. Thanks for taking the time to comment! :)

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  2. AWESOME! Love the role play, LOL! I've never tried that (apart from talking to myself); my family thinks I'm quite mad already so that might be the final straw but it sounds like lots of fun. Brilliant that you have such a lovely supportive and understanding husband, he rocks! Great feature, thank you for posting. X

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    1. Thanks Nicky Wells! My family does think I'm insane but they haven't asked me to move out. I take that as a good sign. :) Yes, hubby is a rock star. :)

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  3. Aw, bless that husband! Nicky, it really helps to be a little bit mad, you know. Fab post, Stephanie! :) xx

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  4. The role play thing is so funny. Steph, your husband is a very cool.
    x

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    1. Thanks Sue! It helped the most, honestly. It's easier to spot inconsistencies in the character's narration and dialogue now. Yes, he is. :)

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  5. I really the cover of this book, good job for the designer :)

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    1. Thanks so much Eli! That is the work of the talented Najila Qamber. @designmeahuman She did the cover on my first book as well. She's amazing.

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  6. I am in awe at how you've immersed yourself (and hubby!!) as Gabe, Stephanie!! And it's worked!! Yay!! Take care
    x

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    1. Thank Old Kitty! We have lots of fun. Plus it's a learning experience and I dig those. Thanks for visiting! :)

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  7. A big thank you to Natalie and Casey for hosting me today. It's great to be here. :)

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  8. I had a long comment written and then lost it because of not being signed in. Very frustrating. Loved your article though, Stephanie.

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    1. Hi Anneli,
      I am sorry to hear that, but glad you could stop by and enjoyed! :)

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  9. Yes to role play. I love that, and, as I said on another blog just a bit ago, I try to always do it when I'm alone. Obvious, right?

    Thanks for the post.

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    1. Ha! Yes, it's definitely easier when no one is staring back at you like you've lost it. :-) Glad you enjoyed and thanks for visiting Lee!

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  10. Really funny post, Stephanie, and full of great advice. I usually role play in my head, but now I think I am going to try out some of my characters on the family, too.

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    1. Thanks very much for visiting Melissa! Yes, we give so much to our families. Why not keep them guessing! ;) plus, look at the benefits!

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  11. Great post Stephanie. I don't talk only to myself often snd even more often to my computer... :) Not only that my husband thinks I'm a little bit insane (and he loves me for it...) bit my colleagues at work too... :)

    You know I say - I talk to myself when I want an inteligent talk and I tslk to my computer when I don't need a reply or don't want it... :)

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    1. Ha! At least you keep them on their toes. Thanks for dropping by, Petra!

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  12. Loved this "amped up" post. Looks like you didn't "wipe out" when you assumed the dude’s persona. I'll take your tips for a ride. My main character in my manuscript is an 11 year old girl. I'll have lots of fun and break all kinds of rules. I’ll stay up late and have extra helpings of ice cream. Thank you! And congrats! :)

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    1. Hi Heather!
      Thanks for visiting! This day has been, like, "epic"! Seriously. :) Good luck channeling the eleven year old! I'm all for the extra ice cream. I think I'll switch to middle grade next. :)

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  13. HaHa! That's one cool husband you have, Stephanie. My husband would know something was up, too, if I started talking like that - he's smart that way. Thanks for the tips!

    Hi Natalie!

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    1. Hi Gwen,
      Yes, he is a keeper! Glad you enjoyed. :)

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  14. Wow, yes, you do have a cool husband (and I've met him so I know that he really is awesome!)but now I'm envious. I so wish my darling other half could be so in tune with me while I'm so *emersed* in my character's heads. Perhaps it's different when you write romance...?

    Janice xx

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    1. Hey Janice!
      Ah, thank you. I don't know...mine is YA paranormal romance so I there is stil hope!

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  15. Great post and I appreciate the advice. I write character journals, a few pages per character, but I'm always looking to do new things.

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    1. Thank you so much Medeia! Sounds like a great approach. There are so many cool tricks.

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  16. What a great post. I will be linking this on my blog this week.

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  17. Oh, and I also tweeted it: https://twitter.com/rosihollinbeck/status/324388484309737472

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    1. Thanks Rosi! I'm pleased you enjoyed. Thanks for the linkback! :)

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  18. Aw, love this post :) Awesome tips! Thank you both so much for sharing. <3 And omg. I would love to win that book :D Sounds amazing. Thank you for the chance :)
    Love, Carina

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    1. Thank you so much Carina! Glad you enjoyed the tips. Good luck in the giveaway!

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  19. That's got to be one of my favourite tips ever!! Although I think my hubby would back away slowly if I tried it! :)

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    1. Thanks Jemi! Ha, at least it keeps the mystery alive, right? :)

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  20. I love the tip on actually being your character and "forcing" those around you to accept this new person in their home! Great advice. I'm going to try it.

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    1. Thanks so much, Stacey! Good luck. I'd love to hear how it turns out. :)

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  21. Stephanie has such courage to delve so deeply into a character! Based on how well she got to know Gabe, I know when I read her book, I would feel as if I knew him well too. Inspiring! I would love to try this on my family. I will post a link on Facebook. Thank you for the interview.

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    1. Thanks for visiting Danielle! I hope you enjoy meeting Gabe. Best of luck with the experimentation. :)

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  22. Thanks for the great post! I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. Hi Julie!
      Glad you enjoyed. Thanks so much!

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  23. What a fabulous post. I love your interactions at the dinner table.

    GFC: Mary Preston

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    1. Thanks Mary! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :-)

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  24. Thanks!

    GFC: Darith L.

    Email: Darith8ly(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  25. Thanks for the tips, Stephanie! Role playing ... hadn't really thought of that one before.

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  26. Great tips! Love the role playing! :D

    GFC: Veronika
    verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com

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  27. love the cover ;) nice color !1

    gfc : mariska h


    uniquas at ymail dot com

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  28. you HAVE A VERY AWESOME HEART ♥

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  29. thanks for the tips!
    GFC: Jeanne
    Rathouska(dot)jana(at)gmail(dot)com

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  30. I've used character ineterviews and backstory writing exercises for every character I've ever written, even the tertiary ones get a little something behind them. But I've never rewritten a scene from another character's POV. That siggestion I LOVE! And since it was a new one to me I mentioned it on my blog ;)

    Thank you!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kiera! I'm so glad that you enjoyed the post.

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