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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Building Block: The Five Bones (#AuthorToolboxBlogHop)

During my time at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, I had a professor who taught me something he called, "The Five Bones." Basically, it's a way to get to know your characters, particularly your main protagonist. 

What are "The Five Bones?" They are the things that make your character tick. "The Five Bones" are what makes your character who they are. When Professor Pritchett first told me about his building block theory, I thought it was crap. But I found myself using it in order to better understand my characters. Using "The Five Bones"has really added a depth to my story that wasn't there previously. 

And here are "The Five Bones"
  1. Desire - This is what your character wants now and will want five years now. It is one of the things that drives them.
  2. Fear - This is what terrifies your character and again, will terrify them five years from now. It also is one of the things that drives them.
  3. Strength - This is what will help your character accomplish their desire.
  4. Weakness - This is your character's suffering. It is the thing which will stand in the way of your character fulfilling their desire.
  5. Action - This is what your character is doing about the other four bones. This is what defines your character. This is what makes your character lovable, relatable, and revered. 

This building block technique has helped me give purpose to aimless characters. It has helped me discover what exactly my character needed to be doing in order for my story to feel complete. I say, give it a try. Use it to outline, at least, your protagonist and antagonist. See if it helps you get out of writer's block.

Let me know if "The Five Bones" works for you in the comments! 

Have a great week everyone!!

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Fifty Shades of Once Upon a Time

I want to preface this post by saying that I am not anti-fanfiction. In fact, my current obsession, The Dorothy Must Die series, is fan fiction. But, I sometimes wonder... do authors (including myself) have no more original stories to share? I'm sure that isn't the case. I mean, borrowing from other authors is a tale as old as time. Yet, I can't help but notice, even with TV and movies, everything seems to be a retelling or re-imagining these days...

I feel like Hollywood has always had a penchant for reimagining previous movies and remaking them or turning them into TV shows. The writing world may have done the same thing, but more in the form of publishing new editions of novels, not reworking them. But, it feels like the moment Fifty Shades of Grey was published and the moment Once Upon a Time hit the small screen, that stories started to be reimagined. Especially fairy tales...

I was browsing books at Barnes and Noble the other day and noticed that there were so many books based on fairy tales. My mind immediately went "this is the Once Upon a Time effect." Disney has a set of novels written from the villains point of view. (I will be reading Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen, thanks to Prime Reading.) I saw Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles which twists fairy tales and makes them as dark as they were originally. I picked up Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige because I'm a sucker for all things Wizard of Oz and was intrigued by an evil Dorothy. I also saw The Storymakers books by Betsy Schow (these seemed ridiculous to me and the back matter put a nail in the coffin of me reading it,) where Dorothea wears Hans Christian Louboutin heels and her parents are stuck in Kansas. As much as I liked the play on words with the shoes, the reimagining felt like it was just along for the fan fiction ride.

So, have we gone too far? I mean, at least Fifty Shades of Grey tried to distance itself somewhat from it's source material. Honestly, if I hadn't known it was fan fiction, I might not have put it together. I love that fan fiction has opened a path to creativity for so many, a path that has lead to some amazing writing and original stories. I don't want it to go away, but should we, as authors, try harder to make sure our stories can stand on their own even if they are a result of fan fiction?