Firefly Friday – Keeping Foreshadowing in the Shadows, guest post by Jim Ross

Today we have a guest blogger for Firefly Friday, where we examine a writing tip using the TV Show Firefly to help illustrate. This is my first guest blogger, so am excited! He’s a regular commenter on the Firefly Friday posts and graciously agreed to write a post for me. Thank you Jim Ross!

Jim Ross is a prolific reader who recently decided it was about time he tried his hand at writing. On his blog (www.jimrosswriting.wordpress.com) he is slowly working through the world-building for his first novel. He lives in Cambridge, UK and is a big fan of sci fi/fantasy, martial arts and cheesy films – the cringeworthier, the better. He enjoys kayaking, nature programmes, and is currently being distracted by Mass Effect. Again.

You’ve all seen it before. The hero appears to be disarmed but then pulls out a gun from the ankle holster that hasn’t been mentioned until now. The villain grabs the heroine in an attempt to use her as a human shield, only for her to throw him to the floor and put him in a complex arm-lock, despite having shown no previous knowledge of martial arts. Events like this will shake a reader’s immersion in the story, and it’s so easy to avoid. Perhaps earlier on the heroine mentioned that her father was in the military and wanted his girls to be able to take care of themselves? Even James Bond gets a quick run-through of what curiously specific gadgets he has available before they invariably come in useful later in the film. Openly setting things up in advance runs the risk of revealing the plot too early though. Foreshadowing works best when you hide it.

While it has an underlying plot, Firefly’s mainly a show of stand-alone episodes. Consequently, most of the foreshadowing of events happens in the same programme. River muttering “Two by two, hands of blue” in The Train Job sounds like crazy Riverspeak, and only takes on its full significance when we see the two sinister, blue-gloved agents searching for her at the end of the episode. In Shindig, Kaylee admiring the dress in the shop window looks like a bit of world-building and character-building for her and Zoe until she gets to wear the dress to the ball and when, in Safe, Captain Reynolds jokes to Simon “Don’t worry, we won’t leave you behind”, it feels like just the sort of thing he’d normally say – and then events force him to do just that.

Disguising the foreshadowing stops you from giving away the rest of the show.

Unusually though, Firefly also hides some foreshadowing that crosses the episode boundary.  For example, when the port compression coil fails in Out of Gas, on first watching I thought it came from out of the blue.  Certainly they hadn’t mentioned it recently.  When I rewatched the series though, it’s there right in the pilot.  When they land on Persephone, Kaylee asks for a new one, saying “if the compression coil busts, we’re drifting.”  In the next episode, The Train Job, we see her makeshift repair: “Were there monkeys? Some terrifying space monkeys that maybe got loose?” “…someone won’t replace the crappy compression coil!” It gets put away and enough episodes go by for the viewer to forget, and then… BANG!  They’re drifting, just as Kaylee said they would be all that time ago.

Then you have Shepherd Book.  In the first episode he disarms and knocks out a Fed in seconds, yet this clear indication of his fighting ability isn’t mentioned again until War Stories, where he displays impressive knee-capping skills with a rifle. Perhaps he has a reputation in some circles for being skilful – in Objects in Space, Jubal Early makes sure to drop him with the first strike before remarking “That ain’t a Shepherd.” All the other crew Early intimidates or beats up quite easily.  Perhaps he knew that Book would be a more formidable opponent? And just why did Book’s ident card get him preferential treatment on the Alliance cruiser in Safe?

We don’t get answers in the series, but perhaps that’s part of the reason Firefly became such a cult success. There are so many unanswered questions that make you want to know more, and the hidden hints to the future prompt you to speculate about how things might turn out. Why not try hiding your foreshadowing behind world-building or character development and seeing what a difference it makes? A bit of leftover mystery might even sell the sequel for you…

Have you noticed any other foreshadowing in Firefly done well?

Oh, For A Title…

Next to perfecting my query, coming up with a better title than TO OUR FUTURE is a big one for me. I thought summarizing the story into one sentence was hard, but now I need to do it with a title.

I did some brainstorming exercises yesterday to try to come up with some possibilities. By the end I was getting pretty silly. I thought I’d let it stew in my head and let my subconscious work on it for a day or two, but just now, when I turned off the TV after watching Castle, an alternate title for this blog post popped into my head: Oh Title Where Art Thou?

No, no, no! Stupid subconscious! Work on the title for my book. Argh!

Anyway, a full day’s gone by and not a peep from my creative juices for the book title. I finished the 3rd draft in the beginning of October and thought it would be good to take a break from it so that I could see it with fresh eyes when I got my betas’ feedback. But now I’m thinking I’ve been apart from it for too long and have lost the thread of it. So I think I’ll  reread it straight through over Thanksgiving break and see what might pop out at me for a title.

Are you also struggling with a title?

I know that some say you shouldn’t get too attached to a title, because the publisher might change it. But I’ve also read that agents can be drawn or repulsed by a title. If we can have a strong title to help sell it, why not, as long as we know it might change. Here’s some links I found that helped me brainstorm.

  • Agent Rachelle Gardner’s How To Title a Book
  • I love Katie Macalister‘s titles, so I added her name to my search parameters and came up with this post: Finding the Perfect Title
  • Someone on critiquecircle.com had a great brainstorming list, but since that’s password protected, I just googled and found the same list here. By the time I tried this though, my brain was pretty fried and I couldn’t come up with numerical much less ironical versions.

Titles need to set the tone

Besides all the other reasons why nailing the title is important, there’s also setting the expectation for the reader with the right tone. A quirky, fun title for a dark horror story would just not work.

My story is light and funny (mostly), and I’d like the title to reflect it. I’ve revised my query down to this so far:

Isabelle Rochon has met the man of her dreams.  There’s only one problem: he lives in a different century.  Talk about a long-distance relationship!

A modern American working at the British Museum, Isabelle just wants to know what it was like to live ‘back then.’  But not really. When a silver card case strands her in 1834, she must navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, find out how to get back, keep her origins a secret, and, oh, resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot he curls her toes.

To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than to keep his distance from the strange Colonial. However, when his scheme for revenge reaches a stalemate, he needs her to masquerade as his fiancée. A bargain is struck. What he did not bargain on is being drawn to her mentally as well as physically. Now, nothing makes more sense than to make their engagement official. Except to his fiancée.

Isabelle must find the case, or she’ll be stuck in 1834 where they haven’t heard of toilet paper or women’s lib. The fact that she’s falling in love with Lord Montagu isn’t helping either. Staying would be the ultimate follow-the boyfriend move and she can’t go through that again.

TO OUR FUTURE is a 95,000 word novel featuring such historical figures as Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. Fans of LOST IN AUSTEN will love the modern woman’s fish out of water foibles, while experiencing a more scientific and mechanical London. It is similar in tone to THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE PINK CARNATION, and Katie Macalister’s contemporary romances. It is a standalone novel with the potential to be a prequel in a series of steampunk romances.

So here’s what I’ve come up with so far, from the okay, to the bad, to the just plain silly:

  • A Viscount In Time
  • Man from Another Century (the literal approach, lol!)
  • A Kiss in Time
  • Soulmate in Time
  • Time for a Soulmate
  • Lord Drool-Worthy (that’s her nickname for him in the beginning)
  • Timeless
  • London Calling
  • Dang This Corset
  • Worlds Apart
  • My Historical Hunk
  • Sweet Adorkable You
  • To Love is to Embrace
  • Like Water for Corsets (I know, bad!)
  • Isabelle’s Excellent Adventure
  • The Once and Future Dork
  • Should I Stay or Should I Go
  • Time’s Embrace
  • Embracing Corsets
  • Ripping Breeches for Fun and Profit (this one was so silly I had to tweet it to some tweeps I knew would appreciate it)
How about you? How do you come up with your titles? Do you have your title before you even start writing, or do you struggle afterwards like me? Please God and all that is holy, do you have any ideas for me? :D Do you have any authors you love who have great titles?

Six Sentence Sunday – 11/20/11

I thought I’d start participating in #sixsentencesunday (#sixsunday) with a snippet from my time-travel romance WIP. I currently have this out to Beta readers for feedback and hope to be in a position to query for agents in the new year. Here’s my working query hook for it: Isabelle Rochon has met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem: he lives in a different century. Talk about a long-distance relationship!

He suspected that the device did much more than what she had revealed, and she held back for his sake. A chasm opened in his mind’s eye, Isabelle occupying the other side and retreating. How could he hope to bridge the gap?

Miss Byron interjected to relate other wonders it performed, confirming his suspicion. “And that is not all. She captured a likeness of me at the ball, and I saw myself in there, in my dress…”

To see snippets from others who are participating or to sign up yourself, visit here.
Have a great Sunday!

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to a Steampunk Mister Potato Head

Writing:

Books:

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

Firefly Friday – Are you giving readers an excuse to put your book down?

Welcome to the next installment of Firefly Friday, where we examine a writing tip chestnut and marry it to my favorite TV show Firefly to illustrate the tip. Today’s topic: Scene and chapter breaks.

One of my favorite writing craft books is James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure: (Techniques And Exercises For Crafting A Plot That Grips Readers From Start To Finish). It is so useful in understanding the framework necessary to construct a plot. One of his tips is to make your scenes HIP. That is, start with a Hook, amp the Intensity during, and end with a Prompt. Note that he’s not talking about chapters, but scenes. Sometimes you could have several scenes in one chapter, and it’s important to make these HIP too. I added this to my checklist I inserted before each scene during revision, and checked off if I had each. If I didn’t, I dug back into the scene to figure out how I could.

For prompt, Bell advises that you have a “read-on prompt” which could be one of the following:

  • impending disaster
  • portent
  • mysterious line of dialogue
  • a secret revealed
  • and several more, but I’m not sure of copyright laws on this, so I won’t copy any more from his book.

The point is, you want to give them something that will make them want to keep reading. This is especially important when the scene ends a chapter.

So, to illustrate this lesson, here’s a scene from the episode Out of Gas. In this scene we start with Mal left alone on the ship. Their ship had a part blow, which knocked out their life support. The others have left in a last ditch effort for help and he waits onboard (the captain going down with the ship) in case their distress beacon is heard out in the middle of nowhere. He’s freezing, he’s fallen asleep, and then a call comes through.

In the commentary, show writer Tim Minear talks about how he wanted to break for commercial right when the rescue ship looms into view (3:35). Joss Whedon disagreed. Tim says that he fought hard with Joss on this, but that Joss insisted he keep going. There was no “jeapordy” at that point. Joss won out, and Tim agrees it was the right choice to end it where they did, which is when they hold him at gun point (5:09).

Now Mal’s in jeopardy and the viewer wants to come back after the commercial to see what happens. The earlier spot, while dramatic and a great tight shot, held too much hope for the scene. Too risky for the viewer to think “oh yep, he’s getting rescued, what’s going on in baseball world? {click}”

The other part of this scene that is useful to watch is how it illustrates Mal’s character and their world. Tim Minear talks about this in the commentary: Mal’s almost out of oxygen but he’s still suspicious and has the strength to stand up to them while discussing arrangements: “and I do expect to see that engine part before I open the door” (4:40)

Fan of the show? Have you learned any good lessons from the show I haven’t covered?

First stab at a query letter – whatcha think?

This past Sunday, I posted about my struggles to boil my novel down to one sentence: the dreaded logline. Since then I’ve researched some more and have discovered that I’ve conflated the hook for a query letter with the logline. According to Janet Reid at Query Shark, the logline should not be the hook. So, since I’m wanting to work on perfecting my query, I’ve been working on the hook and the rest of the letter. My goal was to write in the tone of the novel (hers and his). Here’s what I have so far:

Isabelle Rochon has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem: he lives in 1834. Talk about a long-distance relationship!

A dorky Southern gal, Isabelle works at the British Museum. She just wanted to know what it was like to live ‘back then.’ But not really. Stranded back in time, she must navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London on the cusp of the Victorian era, find out how to get back, keep her origins a secret, and, oh, resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot he curls her toes.

To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than to keep his distance from the strange Colonial. However, when his scheme for revenge reaches a stalemate, he needs someone to masquerade as his fiancee. Who better than Miss Rochon? A bargain is struck. What he did not bargain for was the irresistible attraction that flares between them. Now, nothing makes more sense than to make their engagement official. Except to Miss Rochon.

As Isabelle searches for the silver case that transported her back in time, she is drawn to a man whom she cannot have. And his enemies want the case for their own purposes. If Isabelle can’t find and keep the case out of their hands, the future could be their playground. And she’ll be stuck in 1834 where they haven’t heard of toilet paper or women’s lib. The fact that she’s falling in love with Lord Montagu isn’t helping either. When she triumphs and gains the case, she’s faced with an awful choice: return to the comforts of the modern age, or do the ultimate follow-the boyfriend move and stay in 1834.

TO OUR FUTURE, is a 95,000 word completed time travel romance. I envision this as a prequel to a series of steampunk romances, since Isabelle befriends Lord Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace (who many consider to be the first computer programmer) and created an alternate timeline whereby Charles Babbage completed his Analytical Engine and ushered in the computer age 100 years earlier than it really did.

What do you think? My next goal after getting this query sharpened is to come up with a better title!

Some links I’ve found since Sunday in case you’re also struggling like me (bless you!):

My takeaway this week is that when you do your research on the agents you want, see what styles they prefer as well. Janet Reid definitely didn’t like certain things that Kristin Nelson did, etc.

Are you in the process of querying? Have you written a successful one? Do you have any advice for us?

Books vs. e-Readers: Both are here to stay

At the end of last month a blogger I follow posted 8 Reasons Regular Books Will Become an Endangered Species which touched on what many people feel is the way of the future: the many conveniences of having an e-Reader. This caused another reader to post Why eBooks Won’t Replace Real Books.

I think I tend toward the latter poster, though I also agree with some of the advantages of the first poster. I guess I’m a tweener. Last January, I broke down and bought a Kindle, and I still own it. In fact, one of the books I’m currently reading is on it. I’m tempted to sell it though when I replace it with the Android tablet I plan to buy soon. That way I can still read e-books, but I get the additional functionality of a tablet (minus the e-ink).

Here’s some of my likes, not mentioned by these two posters…

Why I like my Kindle:

  • One advantage not mentioned in the first post is when you’re sick, the e-reader comes in handy. Last year, I was horribly sick but had blown through my TBR pile. So I shlepped to the bookstore and stood in line dripping and wheezing and about ready to pass out, to buy a stack. Now if I’d had my Kindle then, I wouldn’t have had to put myself through that and also perhaps not have spread my germs. (I told the clerk to disinfect the credit card swiper).
  • Another advantage not mentioned is the cover shame some feel when reading Romance books. I’m guilty of feeling this way. I find most covers insulting and cheesy, and so I can read these in public without worry. I thought it would actually replace most of my Romance buys because I usually don’t keep them, but it’s actually not. I still like browsing in a store and seeing what pops out at me, and I quickly realized I couldn’t trade them in at the used bookstore. Now I’m only buying the ones that I can only buy digitally.
  • I do like getting classics I’ve been meaning to read for free on my Kindle, and seeing the passages highlighted that others like too.

Why I love physical books:

  • I’ve found, to my chagrin, since I’m having to buy the paper versions to replace my e-book versions, that I don’t like digital writing craft books. These are the only kinds of books I do mark up and highlight and dog-ear. I can’t seem to “get my bearings” in an e-version. Sure I can highlight passages on my Kindle and then see an index of them, but it’s not the same. Especially if I’m needing to look at two sections of the book at the same time. I guess like editing my drafts, I like to have the paper version in these instances.
  • I also, like the second poster, LOOOOVE the physical version, which I can smell, hold and admire. I love being surrounded by them visually in my room. They’re comforting. It’s probably why I hardly use the library. I like to OWN my books.
  • As mentioned above, I can trade in those Romances to get more, or sell them if they’re still fetching a good price on Amazon.

I guess I thought the money I saved (I stupidly thought e-books were cheaper) would offset the cost of the Kindle. Not sure that it has yet, hence why I think a tablet will be the better answer for me.

Which brings me to my prediction: e-books will will endanger the mass market paperback trade not physical books in general.

As mentioned above and by other posters, owning the physical book is something tactile, something you can sense with other senses besides sight. But usually it’s the hardcover books we love to collect. And if it’s possible, get signed. However, it will become more costly to produce these printed books. So, my theory is that books will revert back to what it was like before paperbacks came around–owning a physical book and having a library of them will be a sign of wealth… Mass market paperbacks came about to satisfy the emerging middle class and the literate poor who wanted to read, but couldn’t afford the cover price. And, oddly, the self-pubbed and indie pubs are mimicking the cheaply produced chapbooks and pamphlets that were cranked out by local printers and bookshops toward the end of the 1800s: if you had something to say, you just found someone to do a small print run for you and hawk it on the street or from the bookstall of a bookseller that printed it for you. That ability has now returned, but electronically. Funny how things have come full circle. Perhaps the books that used to just go straight to paperbook, will now just go straight to e-form.

Some final thoughts

I remember reading recently (but now can’t find the link), that younger people are eschewing e-books and seeing physical books as a chance to escape from the constant use of electronics in their lives.

I also thought e-Readers were more environmentally friendly, but apparently that’s not the case?

What about you? How have you noticed your book buying habits changing?

Boiling down a plot into one sentence – argh!

I know why I’ve been procrastinating lately. I’d purposely chosen to not participate in NaNoWriMo in order to concentrate on the final stage of my current WIP: querying agents.

But, Holy Swiss Cheese On A Stick With Sprinkles, no wonder so many writers are opting to go indie! Researching this phase over the weekend (because I finally made myself get off my tuckis– and is that how you even spell that word?) was enough to make me want to go curl up in a dark corner and rock back and forth.

I started last night and found the very helpful PDF created by YA author Elana Johnson.  Other helpful links I’ve found in this vein are Crafting a 25-Word Pitch, Kristen Lamb’s Structure Part 5–Keeping Focused & Nailing the Pitch–Understand Your “Seed Idea” and agent Kristin Nelson’s series on query pitches, starting with Pitching And All That Jazz (look on right-hand sidebar for the rest in that series). This is when the ‘flight response’ triggered.

After twiddling around since early this morning on the interwebs, I finally put on my big girl panties and tackled it in earnest. The way I figure, if I’m scared and daunted, so must a lot of other writers. Perhaps many won’t go further, so if I push forward I will be part of a smaller crowd. Maybe? Anyway, that’s the positive spin I’m going with – picturing another fearsome black gate to pass through and many folks milling around outside.

So, I’m going to tackle this a step at a time. First, the hook. In one sentence, preferably in 40 words or less, I need to encapsulate my story in such a way that an agent will want to keep reading my query letter. It needs to also be done in the style of the novel.

Here’s the back cover copy I came up with a couple of months ago:

Isabelle Rochon is an American museum curator working for the British Museum. When she finds a mysterious silver card-case, she thinks it a perfect accessory for a reenactment ball. But what she thought would be an exciting lark, fulfilling her desire to “live a little history”, becomes more than she bargained for when she realizes that the attendees are a little too realistic: she is truly in 1834 London, England. There she meets Lord Montagu, who’s so hot he curls her toes. A thief steals her silver case, stranding a feisty, modern American in a stiffly polite London on the verge of the Victorian age. She finds it hard to resist her growing attraction for Lord Montagu, known even to his relatives as the Vicious Viscount.

Can their love overcome the biggest barrier of all – time? And what difference will a working model of the Analytical Engine make to the next two centuries?

Hooks, however, need to be short. Elana Johnson gave an example of one of hers:

Jonathan Clarke has everything a seventeen-year-old boy could want—except for a beating heart.

That would definitely make me want to keep reading! Michelle Maclean, in her helpful post How To Write A Hook Line Or Logline, says that it needs to contain characters, conflict, setting, distinction, and action. She cites several movies’ loglines as examples, like:

When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by an insane and corrupt prince, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge. (Gladiator)

But she cautions that it should set the right tone, and shows how that can be so different for the same piece:

  • After a twister transports a lonely Kansas farm girl to a magical land, she sets out on a dangerous journey to find a wizard with the power to send her home.
  • Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.

So, with that in mind, I took a stab at it. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

A modern American girl is stranded in 1834 London and must find her way back to her own time – and, oh, she meets a hunky lord – talk about a long distance relationship.

Would that grab you? Does it have the elements needed? This is in the tone of the novel and I’m pulling a little bit from a line in the novel, when Isabelle, the heroine reflects on Lord Montagu:

Man, talk about a Long-Distance Relationship; chronologically rather than geographically undesirable.

Anyone else struggling with their hook? Put yours in the comments too!

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Darth Vader’s Love Life

It’s getting colder down here in Mobile, brrr! Here’s my roundup of of blog posts I found helpful this week, plus my geeky obsessions that I came across. Enjoy!

Writing:

Ada Lovelace:

Austenites:

  • Where was this six months ago? As noted in my recent post Tomato, Tomahto, I’d created a Austen thesaurus when editing my hero. Now there’s a handy one online! Just type in a word and presto! Write Like Austen

Browncoats:

In Geekdom:

  • George Takei posted this on his facebook page last night, giving me a good snort/groan:

Have a great weekend folks! Stay warm and safe!

Smash That Mirror! Why Self-Referencing Critiquers Could Be Dangerous

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I’ve had a blog post in mind for a while on the dangers of critiquers that self-reference motivations for your characters and a post I saw yesterday helped sharpen my thoughts. So, today I want to explore why some critiques we receive might not be the best advice and could actually turn your unique voice into a pile of pablum. Yum. Yeah, not so much.

The kernel of my epiphany started when I read Amanda Quick’s Scandal a month or so ago and I had a reaction to the heroine along the lines of “Man, I would NEVER do that…” and at first thought her actions weren’t realistic because it was so different from what I would do. Then I stopped myself and realized that it was TOTALLY what the heroine would do and it made it more interesting to see how her decisions and outlook would work for her.

It got me thinking, since I was also receiving inline critiques at the time, about some of the feedback we receive when we submit our work. It also made me better understand articles I’ve read that said that readers are harder on heroines in Romances than on the hero, precisely because they insert themselves into the heroine’s shoes and so resent it when she behaves in a way they don’t like.

I feel like I’m rambling, so here’s my point: when we receive critiques, are we sure the critiquer has the character and story arc in mind, or are they basing the character on themselves?

I’ve received critiques myself that have made me wonder. They usually are along these lines: “If this were me, I’d tell that guy…” or “I would never react that way, this doesn’t sound believable.” These I used to heed blindly and is one reason I worry that my first chapter has been over-critiqued and become a Frankenstein mash-up of every critiquers’ POV. Earlier this past summer when I started getting inline critiques on critiquecircle.com, I was so new at this, I didn’t know how to evaluate comments. I hadn’t learned to match it against what I knew about the character. I remember one critiquer rewrote almost every sentence in my first chapter, stripping it of its rhythm and of the POV characters’ voice. One particular line I remember her saying, “get rid of this,” and yet it was something that was so how Isabelle thinks. All the other critiquers commented on that very line about how they loved it. Luckily, I did pay attention to my gut and the majority on that one, but I did rewrite a lot of sentences per that critiquer’s feedback. Sigh.

Sometimes, the feedback we receive from these types of critiquers might still be important, but am wondering if comments starting with “I would/would not” could be a useful indicator to take the comment with a spoonful of salt and really be extra vigilant about comparing it to the character’s motivations and outlook. I fear I also might have been one of these types of critiquers when I first started, yikes!

Why might heeding these types of critiques be dangerous? Everyone’s different (thank God!) and so if we end up conforming our character to each critiquer, we’ll end up with a non-character – all the things that made that character unique are gone. I touched a bit on this last month in a blog post on daring to defy 30% of the population.

But, if the critiquer writes, “This doesn’t sound like her. Up until now, she’s been feisty…” or some variation that shows that the critiquer is basing it on the past actions of the character and not on how they themselves would react, it’s more like gold. Especially if they have thought of the character in a nuanced way that you didn’t want. Their feedback might not be right for your character, but at least you know the critiquer is referencing it against the character and not self-referencing.

Yesterday’s post that shed an extra dimension to this realization was Lauren Harris’ The Four Temperaments (for You and Your Characters) – Part I. I almost skipped it because I’ve seen and read before about using the Myers-Briggs types to help with character development. But she did more of a big picture take on it (Sensing types vs. Intuitives) and with examples (love examples as they help my poor brain get it better) that showed how these two types would convey description and exposition.

Well, it made me wonder if this could be a way to look at critiquers as well. Wouldn’t one type be more apt to find the actions of the other type less believable? A sensing critiquer would be frustrated at the intuitive character for not taking note of certain things right off the bat, for instance. My heroine, Isabelle, is definitely an intuitive, and now I remember that I got some critiques where the critiquer said something along the lines of, “How could she make that hunch? Have her make note of certain things in the environment to justify this conclusion.” My thought when I read it, was, well, because she can. Doesn’t everybody? (Obviously, I’m an intuitive). Does this mean the critiquer was a sensing type and had a hard time getting that intuitives can come to conclusions in a different way than them?

Which brings up an interesting question. When I posted my comment on Harris’ blog, she said:

I hadn’t thought of turning the idea around and applying it to readers and critiquers, but that’s a very interesting point! I suppose it works if you know your critique partner quite well, or well enough to know their personality type. ;) It could also help in figuring out how NOT to alienate readers who are a different temperament from the character (or you), in figuring out what kinds of details matter to a wider scope. (bolded by me)

How far should one go in calming the anxieties of the readers’ of the other type?

Anyway, this all goes back to the caution you hear in many places about critiques: know your story and your characters WELL before you start this stage in your novel process.

I know for veteran writers, this is no new revelation, and you’ve probably already stopped reading this post. But for a new writer, this is a huge realization to come to, and I know there are other writers at the same stage as myself, so I thought I’d share. If any veterans have stuck it out with me (bless you!), I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.

New writers, have you received critiques that were waaay off base for your character? Were you able to recognize it as such? Veterans, do you have any other advice for us new novelists on receiving critiques?

Do you know if your heroine is sensing or intuitive? What are you?