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Writing an Eye-catching Proposal (Part 3)

 Character Sketches and the Backdrop

So far in our review of what makes an eye-catching proposal, we’ve looked at the Title Page, the Table of Contents, the Synopsis, and the Author Bio. Today, we’ll review Character Sketches and the Backdrop.

As previously mentioned, editors and agents might offer different guidelines for their proposal’s components or they might have the components listed in a different order. Always ask for their guidelines before you spend much time writing your proposal for a specific request. However, I think it’s a very good idea to get a proposal ready with the basic components as soon as you start working on a new fiction manuscript. It’s much easier to tweak a 60 plus-page proposal than start from scratch, especially if the editor or agent wants the proposal ASAP.

Below I’ve included samples of some character sketches and backdrop. The character sketches are “sketchy,” which might be adequate for some editors, but for others, might not be. Perhaps they’ll request a full-page sketch of the main character or a few of the secondary characters, as well. So be prepared and give the editors what they want.

LOVE SONG FOR LOUELLEN 

CHARACTER SKETCHES

Louellen Bidleman Friesen – twenty-five-year-old Amish woman unhappily married to Eli Friesen, a mid-twenties Amish man. Louellen feels trapped in her life for two reasons: she craves love from her husband, which she is not receiving because she can’t give him children, and she is questioning her Amish roots and belief system, which leaves her empty and with no assurance of God’s love or her eternal destiny. Louellen is a beautiful woman, slender with long wavy auburn hair, green eyes, and a rosy complexion.

Eli Friesen – mid-twenties six-foot-tall Amish farmer with thick, brown wavy hair, dark brown eyes and curly eyelashes. Eli is a troubled soul, who publicly fits into the Amish mold but in his heart questions his Amish beliefs and longs to know God more intimately. Eli also guards another secret well that only he and his medical doctor know – Eli is the reason he and Louellen have no children, but his pride and bitterness cause him to resent Louellen and ignore her longings to have an intimate emotional relationship with him.

Dr. David McAndrew – 40 years old; gentle brown eyes, wavy blonde hair, tall, and handsome; doctor of obstetrics; not a Christian; bitter at God for taking his wife; performs abortions; finds himself romantically attracted to Louellen Friesen.

Andrea McAndrew– 18 years old; blonde hair, brown eyes; slender; interested in spiritual matters but doesn’t tell her father because of his bitterness toward God; would love to see Louellen and her father get together; a freshman in college.

Jenna McAndrew – 16 years old; blonde hair, brown eyes; slender; interested in spiritual matters but doesn’t mention it to her father; would love to see Louellen and her father get together; a junior in high school.

Cheryl Whentfield – 32 years old; RN who works in obstetrics with David; divorced with two boys, Brent, 15, and Conrad, 13, and would like to connect with David; deep blue eyes, long styled black hair (bottled because of premature gray); shapely and very attractive; wears make-up fashionably; not a Christian.

Louellen’s family :

Dad Bidleman – thin mid-forties Amish farmer; graying beard; brown eyes; leathery skin

Mom Bidleman – plump mid-forties Amish housewife and mother; graying auburn hair in bun and kapp; green eyes and rosy cheeks

Zeb Clouser – brother-in-law; blonde hair, blue eyes; thin farmer with weathered skin; 28 years old; farmer

Esther Bidleman Clouser – 27 yrs. old; same features as Louellen; often mistaken for her twin

Rebecca Clouser – seven years old; looks like father; blonde hair; blue eyes

Sarah Clouser – six years old; same features

Joseph Clouser – four-year-old nephew of Eli and Louellen; the boy Eli idolizes

Samuel Bidleman – Louellen’s brother; typical Amish man; auburn hair and brown eyes; 29 years old; farmer; kind

Marie Zook Bidleman – Samuel’s wife; 28 years old; plump; dark hair; brown eyes; pregnant with third child

Samuel Bidleman – eight years old; looks like his father, Samuel. All boy

Adam Bidleman – five years old; rosy cheeks; brown hair and brown eyes; plump

BACKDROP

Mapletown – fictitious small town in central Pennsylvania where the story takes place

Presbyterian Community Hospital– where Dr. David McAndrew works

Washington High School– where Jenna McAndrew attends

Wellington State University– where Andrea McAndrew attends

Bald Eagle Valley– where Friesens and other Amish families live; west of Mapletown

*****

In an Amish/Mennonite fiction novel, in which family is so vitally important to the storyline, it is expected that you would include the family members of the main character. However, in most other subgenres, the editors would probably not ask for such detail.

Next time, we’ll discuss the last components of a good proposal: the Sample Chapters (or the entire manuscript), Marketing Information, and the Date of Completion.

Happy writing!

Marsha

http://www.montrosebible.org

http://www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

http://www.marshahubler.com

 

(More shameless promotion)

A HORSE TO LOVE

BOOK ONE IN THE KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES

Keystone Stables Book 1

Foster kid Skye Nicholson hates everyone and everything until she meets gorgeous show horse, Champ.

http://www.amazon.com/Horse-Love-Keystone-Stables-Book-ebook/dp/B002U80FZK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1456791070&sr=1-1&keywords=A+Horse+to+Love+by+Marsha+Hubler

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December 14, 2015

Fiction That Wows Your Reader (Part 10)

Character Sketches Build Character

cartoon-worker-flexing-his-muscles-isolated-37246000

Several blogs ago, I discussed creating characters and plots outside the box. In other words, you should create unique characters and plots that are different from the norm; yet, your reader would be able to identify with or feel sympathy toward at least one of the characters and would want to jump right into your book and be a part of the “scenery.”

Today, let’s discuss the importance of keeping good notes such as character sketches. Whether you’re writing juvenile fiction with a handful of characters or you’re tackling adult fiction that might have a dozen or so characters, you need to “know your people.” This is so vitally important if you’re going to write adult fiction with different points of view. (POV) You must know the character like a brother or consider him your best friend so you can get inside his head.

While writing ten tween books and just recently an Amish romance for adults, I found the biggest difference in how I handled writing the manuscripts has been character development. With tween books, character development can be shallow. Basically, all you need are five or six poignant details about the main characters, and you can fill in the blanks as you go. However, with an adult fiction manuscript that could be 50,000 to over 100,000 words long with multiple scenes in each chapter and numerous POVs, I discovered I had to have more detailed descriptions of all the characters, which included not only how they looked (appearance) but also how they felt about certain issues (philosophy or religious beliefs), why they thought or acted certain ways (background), and their circle of influence. (In Amish fiction, each family member is vitally important so I had to almost make a family tree for each main character.)

I’ve heard of authors who write such details about their characters that they give them a birth date, birthplace, and an actual family tree. They list their characters’ likes and dislikes; they name their characters’ best friends and enemies; they list the places the characters have visited, the education they’ve received, and the foods they like and dislike. Yadah, yadah, yadah.

“Whoa!” you might say. “Enough is enough. I’m not going to all that work before I even start.”

Well, those authors who do that are some of the best-selling ones. They know their “Bill” and “Susie” inside and out and no trouble writing what “Bill” would do if he saw a baby sparrow fall out of its nest or what “Susie” would do if her husband came home without the milk she reminded him to pick up at the store.

So how far you want to delve into character development is your choice. I have found that the more prep time I take to get to know Bill or Susie, the less time I waste with hashing out all those details when I get to crossroads that require the characters to act a certain way. In the long run, I think detailed character sketches make a writer a better craftsman all around, no matter how much time it takes.

So, weigh the work involved, and, maybe, just for practice, try writing a detailed character sketch. You might just enjoy yourself and find a brand new best friend!

Next time we’ll discuss the difference between “theme” and “plot.”

Happy writing! Marsha

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

Montrose Christian Writers Conference http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

 

(More Shameless Promotion)

 

SNOW, PHANTOM STALLION OF THE POCONOS

 SNOW

Dallis Parker copes with bullying at school by dreaming about owning Snow, a wild Mustang,

who most folks believe doesn’t even exist.

Then she actually touches the horse, and her life is changed forever.

http://www.amazon.com/Snow-Phantom-Stallion-Marsha-Hubler-ebook/dp/B013GUF078/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449523382&sr=1-1&keywords=Snow%2C+Phantom+Stallion+of+the+Poconos

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Fiction That Wows: Character Sketches Build Character!

 Several blogs ago, I discussed creating characters and plots that are outside the box. In other words, you should create unique characters and plots that are different from the norm; yet, your reader would be able to identify with or feel sympathy toward at least one of the characters and would want to jump right into your book and be a part of the “scenery.”

Today, let’s discuss the importance of keeping good notes such as character sketches. Whether you’re writing juvenile fiction with a handful of characters or you’re tackling adult fiction that might have a dozen or so characters, you need to “know your people.” This is so vitally important if you’re going to write adult fiction with different points of view. (P.O.V.) You must know the character like a brother or consider him your best friend so you can get inside his head.

While writing ten tween books and just recently an Amish romance for adults, I found that the biggest difference in how I handled writing the manuscripts has been character development. With tween books, character development can be shallow. Basically, all you need are five or six poignant details about the main characters, and you can fill in the blanks as you go. However, with an adult fiction manuscript that could be 50,000 to over 100,000 words long with multiple scenes in each chapter and numerous P.O.V.s, I discovered that I had to have more detailed descriptions of all the characters, which included not only how they looked (appearance) but also how they felt about certain issues (philosophy or religious beliefs), why they thought or acted certain ways (background), and their circle of influence. (In Amish fiction, each family member is vitally important so I had to almost make a family tree for each main character.) 

I’ve heard of authors who write such details about their characters that they give them a birth date, birthplace, and an actual family tree. They list their characters’ likes and dislikes; they name their characters’ best friends and enemies; they list the places the characters have visited, the education they’ve received, and the foods they like and dislike. Yadah, yadah, yadah.

“Whoa!” You might say. “Enough is enough. I’m not going to all that work before I even start.

Well, those authors who do that are some of the best-selling ones. They know their “Bill” and “Susie” inside and out and no trouble writing what “Bill” would do if he saw a baby sparrow fall out of its nest or what “Susie” would do if her husband came home without the milk she reminded him to pick up at the store.

So how far you want to delve into character development is your choice. I have found that the more prep time I take to get to know Bill or Susie, the less time I waste with hashing out all those details when I get to a crossroad that requires the characters to act a certain way. In the long run, I think detailed character sketches make a writer a better craftsman all around, no matter how much time it takes.

So, weigh the work involved, and, maybe, just for practice, try writing a detailed character sketch. You might just enjoy yourself and find a brand new best friend!

Next time we’ll discuss the difference between “theme” and “plot.”

Happy writing! Marsha

www.marshahubler.com

www.susquehannavalleywritersworkshop.wordpress.com

www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

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