The Physical and Psychological Story Journey

by Rachel Hauck, @RachelHauck 

One of the ways you an improve the appeal and power of your characters for the reader is to create a realistic psychological journey that is mirrored some how in the physical journey of the protagonist.

Is your heroine learning to trust? Then show how her external world challenges her trust issues. Maybe she has a job where her colleagues constantly let her down. Perhaps her family says one thing but does another.

Every reader will be able to identify with not being able to trust someone.

What if your hero is dealing with identity issues. He’s a failure. He believes he can’t succeed at anything. Develop a world around him that proves, at least for a little while, what he believes is right.

In the movie Die Hard, John McCain is a tough NY cop who wants to do what’s right. He’ll fight for justice. When he decides to fight for his marriage – a bit of justice going on there – he finds himself defending a hostage company against terrorists.

John McCain’s psychological journey is mirrored in his physical journey. At first, it’s easy for him to play the hero, fight for his wife, until the battle intensifies and ultimately he has to make a decision to save himself or save his wife.

We see and feel his psychological, or inner journey, come to life when he’s willing to give everything for love. The external journey pushed him to make that choice. And we cheered him for it.

In The Proposal, Margret Tate’s psychological journey to love and trust is mirrored in the physical, external journey, when she convinces her assistant editor to marry her in order to keep her in the country.

She doesn’t realize it but she’s leaping before she thinks. Her heart is leading her mind and body in to a place she’s not quite prepared to endure.

But as she physically acts out the plan, she psychologically – emotionally – changes. She cannot lie to the people she loves. She cannot trap a good man like Andrew Paxton in to marrying her for her own gain.

We love her for this. She’s chosen the right thing to do.

In my book The Wedding Dress, the 1912 heroine, Emily, is marrying the man she thinks she’s supposed to marry. This external journey reflects her internal belief that she must marry well, take her place in society and honor her family.

But, she knows deep down her fiance is not the right man for her. This psychological element is reflected in the physical element as Emily fights to get the wedding dress of her choice. In doing so, she crosses the very social and cultural boundaries she claims to be abiding by in her marriage choice.

We cheer her for this. We love that she wants to make her own choices no matter what society says.

Take a look at your characters. Are you mirroring their physical and psychological journey? This is one of the major issues I see when working with new writers.

Many times my main input from a therapy session is to work on the “story spine.” In other words, line up the physical and psychological journeys.

How do you do this?

  1. Spend some time thinking about your character. What do you want him or her to accomplish in this story? How is it best reflected externally?
  2. How is your story goal best reflected internally? What internal conflicts will the protagonist bear?
  3. Sit down with your favorite books and movies and write down how the psychological journey was reflected in the physical. Start looking for these things as your read and watch.
  4. If your protagonist is bad at love, create a world that reflects her weakness. Look at Bridgett Jones in Bridgett Jones Diary. She was bad at love, bad at her weight and eating goals, bad at her job, but she stayed with it.
  5. Create a “story spine” where you create a high level outline of what you want to happen in this story. This is the physical journey. Then create a corresponding psychological journey and attach it to your story spine.
  6. Keep it simple. Write a log line. Write the positive and negative virtues of your character. “Leslie was bad at love but she never turned her back on a friend.”
  7. Take your time to develop this. Improve it as you work on other parts of your story. These interlocking elements will make your story shine.

THE WRITING DESK

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year. A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel at www.rachelhauck.com.

The Writer’s Water Cooler

by Rachel Hauck, @RachelHauck 

Social Media. For all of it’s pros and cons, champions and naysayers, social media is a powerful tool for authors. Not only can we shout out book news — our own and of those authors we adore — but we can keep in touch with the world.

Social Media is the author’s water cooler.

You know, that work place gathering where co-workers congregate, shoot the breeze, talk about last night’s The Voice episode.

“Wow, Blake and Adam’s teams are so much stronger than Pharrell’s and Gwen’s.” (True, IMHO)

Or maybe to talk about that certain work project that has everyone scrambling. Or catch up on the fam. “How’s your grandmother? Is she healing okay?” Maybe to make plans. “We’re going to Captain Katanna’s for lunch. You in?”

Life!

The work place is about more than “getting the job done.” Though that is certainly 95% percent of the purpose.

It’s also about community. Relationships.

When I was in the corporate world, I had true friendships and connections with my co-workers. The day I finally turned in my resignation to writer full time was a powder keg of emotion.

I’d formed a pretty tight bond with a brother-like co-worker. About ten years older, he was already working at the company when I joined and over the years had proven to be a pain in the backside as well as a mentor. Ha!

He’d gone been through the ringer in his marriage and the day the divorce went through, he came into my office and just sat, slightly weary and red-faced.

I waited. Then, “You okay.”

“It’s done,” he said. “Twenty-five  years over like that.”

“Ah.”

We talked for a few minutes then we were back to work.

But that “water cooler moment” actually allowed us to do our jobs.

What if my friend had to leave campus to seek council or consolation? He’d have been gone probably for hours. But he came “home.” Well, to his “other home,” the work place.

And he talked to a friend right there who he knew would listen, understand, and guard his back throughout the days as he adjusted to his new single life.

And I did.

So when I walked into his office to tell him next Friday would be my last day, I burst into tears. I couldn’t control it. Poor dude. But he sat, waiting and listening.

I love that I was sad to leave. Because that meant my time there was well invested. I gave myself to the job and I was leaving a better woman for it. All of which molds me into a better writer.

Back to the point here.

Don’t be afraid of social media. See it as your water cooler time. A place to catch up, see what others are doing, share stories and frustrations.

One day I tweeted how frustrated I was with WordPress for losing my personal blog post! And I got help, answers, sympathy on Twitter.

When it’s college football Saturday, I’m ALL over Twitterville.

It’s like being in a virtual stadium with fellow Ohio State fans. Their sharing and analysis of the game comforts me. And when we win, I have someone to cheer with besides my hubby!

As writers, we can follow writing news, the goings on of fellow authors. Pre and post pubbed. What is happening with authors? My Book Therapy? Posts here on @NovelRocket?

Tweet those out. Share them on Facebook. Let your friends know what’s going on.

Water cooler time also includes good news and wows!

That’s what social media is for us.

So use it. Use it well. Use it wisely.

What about Skype and FaceTime? Or texting. Or the good old fashioned phone call.

I FaceTime with Beth Vogt once a week or every other. I talk to Susie about four or five times a week on the phone. I need that for my emotional health, you know.

Writing is a solitary life but we are not supposed to be completely alone in our journey. Even Jesus had His twelve and His intimate three. And at the foot of the cross He had the one.

So, build those relationships.

Use social media.

But guard against distraction and too much procrastination.

You do have a book to write.

A story to tell.

You know in the Old Testament where  God honors those men and women who feared His name? Let that be me and you. We fear His name and so we do the work He’s given us to do. Let it go so far as impacting your family. God even honors and calls out the families who “feared His name and obeyed His commands.”

So let’s use our writerly time well, with honor and in the fear of the Lord. He is with us!

So see you around the water cooler.

Now, get some work done.


THE WRITING DESK

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year. A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel at www.rachelhauck.com.

Never Miss An Opportunity for A good Argument

by Rachel Hauck, @RachelHauck

Zap-Pow! Then What Happened?Tension is king.

Definition: Most of us hate conflict and confrontation. Even in our books. But tension is king! Donald Maass suggest tension on every page. Better yet, on every line.

Tension doesn’t mean argument. Tension means “things aren’t going well.”

For example: A conflict arises for your heroine. She gets pulled over for speeding. Instead of the officer letting her off, she gets a ticket. This upsets her. While she’s getting a ticket, her mother calls to say Uncle Ned is coming Sunday and our girl is expected at the house for dinner. She blows up. Why is Mama always so bossy? Our heroine will do what she wants for Sunday dinner. She might have plans already. Ever think of that, Mama?

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