Friday, February 24, 2017

Writing Exercise #4: Fictional Sibling Relationships

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a love of all things literary. When she isn’t writing, she spends her days with her husband, Matt, imagining things unseen and chasing their two children around their home in Northern California. To connect with Shan, check out her website, FB, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

This week has been all about fictional siblings here on Go Teen Writers and I thought we'd have some fun with that by venturing into the world of fan fiction.

For the uninitiated, fan fiction is when a fan takes a work of fiction created by someone else and tells their own stories about those characters or that setting. The Harry Potter books are wildly popular in fan fiction circles. In such stories, you might find Hermione desperately mooning over poor, dejected Malfoy, while characters you long-believed dead, are alive and well and raising their furry werewolf child on a sprawling English estate.

There is really no end to what the imagination can come up with--especially when you start with a delicious prompt full of ready-made characters.

On Wednesday, Jill provided you with 10 Examples of Realistic Siblings in Fiction. Your job today is to choose one of these ten examples and write a scene featuring fictional siblings. If you're unfamiliar with the characters Jill mentioned, of course you may choose another set of fictional siblings, but in the spirit of fan fiction, please choose characters from a published story written by someone other than yourself.

In your scene, one sibling must be teaching the other--or others--how to do something. It doesn't matter what it is. In fact, it can be just about anything at all. The goal here is to show off the relationship between your siblings.

Things to consider:

1. Think carefully about which sibling should be giving the instruction. It's possible one sibling makes considerably more sense than the other(s), but what kind of tension can you create by reversing their natural roles?

2. Where will your scene take place? Many of the examples Jill provided us are siblings who traverse several different settings over the course of the story. Put a little thought into which setting will allow you to highlight the relationship.

3. On Monday, teen writer, Abigail Wiley, shared a few tips on Making Sibling Relationships Realistic. If you're stuck, pop over and have a look. Perhaps her thoughts will jump-start your writing.

Please leave your response here in our comments section and be sure to come back throughout the weekend to encourage the other participants. You guys are fantastic at this, by the way. I love the community we've created here and I can't wait to see what you all come up with! 

If you're new to our writing exercises here on Go Teen Writers, give this article a read. It will explain how writing with us can earn you the right to ask us almost any question to be answered on an upcoming episode of Go Teen Writers LIVE.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

10 Examples of Realistic Siblings In Fiction

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books in lots of weird genres like fantasy (Blood of Kings and Kinsman Chronicles), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website. You can also try two of her fantasy novels for free here and here.

Inspired by Abigail's post on Monday in which she gave four tips for writing realistic sibling relationships, I thought I'd give you all a top ten list. If you want to see great examples of realistic sibling interactions, read any of these books (or comics) and you'll be inspired.

1. The Dashwood Sisters
Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret from Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility are one of my favorite groups of siblings. Elinor and Marianne, especially, have a wonderful dynamic. Elinor is "sense," a typical eldest child, overly responsible and careful about everything and almost motherly to her younger siblings. This gives impulsive and free Marianne, the "sensibility" in the story, the freedom not to have to worry about being anything but her own interests. Margaret, much younger, is a lovely and humorous counterpart to Elinor and Marianne's serious conflicts. Through the course of this story, Elinor and Marianne come to grow, value, and learn from each other's strengths and weaknesses. This book (and the amazing movie) makes me cry every time.

2. The Bennett Sisters
I'm sorry, but Jane Austen is just so good at characterizing, and the Bennett sisters from Pride and Prejudice are even more complex and wonderful than the Dashwoods, in many respects. Eldest Jane is a picture of perfection, both in beauty and temperament, while Elizabeth is clever, practical, and quite stubborn. I love this pair because they are so dear to each other. There is never any jealousy or anger between the two. They are stalwart friends, and it's simply lovely. They are not the only Bennett children, of course. In the words of their father, Jane and Elizabeth have "a couple of—or I may say, three—very silly sisters." Mary is bookish and loves to play piano and spout legalistic advice. Kitty is rather vapid, always swept along by the youngest, Lydia, who is spoiled, willful, and altogether brash. How I love reading the dialogue in this book. All of the characters are so wonderful, I often laugh and laugh.

(Honorable Mention)
I must give a nod to Mr. Darcy and his younger sister, Georgiana. Mr. Darcy is a great deal older and plays more of a father figure role to his sister. He is her protector, advisor, and caretaker. He dotes on her. And even more precious, he rescued her from the horrible Mr. Wickham and forgave her with easy grace. And Georgiana loves her brother dearly, is proud of him, and looks up to him as the perfect example of what a man should be. Because of this relationship, readers love Mr. Darcy all the more.

3. The Weasleys
The Weasley family from J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books are one of the most endearing families ever written. The chaos in a house filled with red-headed children, the pranks, the poverty. It's real and picturesque, even in a fantastical home called the Burrow. Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ron, and Ginny make me smile. Fred, George, and Ron, are especially responsible for most of the laugh-out-loud moments I had while reading this series. I will never forget Fred and George trying to enter the Triwizard Tournament and ending up looking like old men. Bill and Charlie are adults, off doing important things. And, Percy, of course, is over-ambitious to make something of himself and instead becomes a traitor to the family for a time. But all of that makes this family even more complex and wonderful. They're just good people.

4. Boromir and Faramir
This pair from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings are the opposite of the siblings I've described so far. These two don't get along so well. They have a complicated past, greatly affected by a father who plays unfair favorites. Oftentimes, for good or for ill, sibling relationships are defined by parents, and that is certainly true of this pair. I have always liked both characters, in spite of how the Boromir allows the ring to affect him, but I particularly enjoy how Tolkien let Faramir, as the underdog of his family, rise above his father's low expectations and become his own kind of hero.

5. Scout and Jem
Parents can have a huge impact upon their children, so when you think of the character Atticus Finch from Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, how could Scout and Jem not be wonderful people on their own and as siblings? A good dad will do that to his kids. I loved reading about raucous tomboy Scout and her older, more reserved brother Jem. A girl wants to look up to her big brother, and Jem's a good brother to have. Even if he doesn't have all the answers, he's always there for his sister.

6. The Pevensies
The Pevensies from C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia were one of the very first group of siblings I ever read about. Since I was the eldest of five children, and I loved the idea of having an older brother like Peter. But I related to the everyday activity of siblings playing together for hours on their own while parents were elsewhere. That's how I grew up, so the idea that my siblings and I might be whisked away through a portal was an exciting one. Just like the Pevensies, we had our different personalities. Peter the take-charge leader, Susan the wise and level-headed, Edmond the once gullible and needy middle child becomes loyal and witty, and Lucy the kind girl with a very big heart. 

7. The March Sisters
Here is another classic group of sisters and one would-be brother. In Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, sisters Meg, Joe, Beth, and Amy grow up during the hard years of the Civil War while their father is off working as an army chaplain. Each sister has a unique personality that shapes her life. Motherly Meg, independent Jo, shy and sweet Beth, and Amy the creative artist. They fight, they make up, they love each other despite their flaws and work together to make their neighborhood a better place. They shine such joy and love that their next-door neighbor, the wealthy boy Laurie, wants desperately to be part of their family. Who wouldn't?

8. Beezus and Ramona
Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series were some of my favorite books as a child. Being the eldest, I enjoyed viewing the world through the eyes of mischievous and creative daydreamer Ramona, but I also related quite well with Beezus losing her temper when her younger sibling's antics went too far. I loved everything about this pair and felt like I knew them well. That is characterization at its finest coming from a book first published in 1955.

9. Katniss and Prim
Katniss and Prim from Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games gives a little bit of a different view at a sibling relationship. This one is a less-than-ideal environment, like that of Boromir and Faramir. Affected deeply by the loss of their father and the depression of their mother, the elder sister Katniss stepped into the void to fill the role of provider that had once belonged to her father and that her mother was currently neglecting. It is this same role that causes her to volunteer as tribute when Prim's name is drawn for the Hunger Games.

10. Lucy and Linus Van Pelt
When I was a child, I read every Charlie Brown comic book I could get my hands on. Some of them went over my head, as Charles M. Schulz often used big words that I didn't yet know. I read the comics anyway, loving the drawings and the characters. Linus and Lucy Van Pelt were two of my favorites. They have a sometimes antagonistic relationship as is bound to happen when a pesky little brother and his friends come around all the time, bothering the big sister. Lucy is quick to put everyone in their place, even charging five cents for psychological advice. She is bossy to Linus, berates him for carrying around "that stupid blanket," and rolls her eyes in disgust at many of his antics. But at the end of the day, Lucy looks out for Linus. In the middle of the night, she brings him inside from the pumpkin patch and puts him to bed. And Linus is sweet to his sister and quick to remind her to count her blessings, one of which is "a little brother who loves you.” Yep. That about sums up the sister and brother dynamic right there. Well done, Mr. Schulz.

Did I miss one of your top literary siblings? Share yours in the comments.

Monday, February 20, 2017

4 Tips for Writing Realistic Sibling Relationships

Today we have a guest post from Go Teen Writers community member Abigail Wiley! Abigail has some suggestions for writing realistic sibling relationships:

Abigail Wiley is a writer, and a self proclaimed bookworm.She also loves making art, baking, drinking coffee, and hanging out with her younger siblings. Her favorite genre to write is fantasy, but she wants to give mystery a try sometime soon.

While every family is different and there are exceptions to all generalizations, here are some ideas for how to keep sibling relationships realistic in your stories:

1. The siblings in your story should pick on each other and look out for each other.

You know the sentiment, “I can make fun of my family, but you can’t make fun of my family?" Most (if not all) siblings make fun of each other to some degree. Usually they are just messing with each other. Depending on the circumstances, the insult may be forgotten almost immediately.

But if someone else picks on a sibling, the others tend to get defensive. Especially if this person is a bully. Unless you have set up a reason otherwise, make sure your siblings know how to tease each other … but also how to protect each other.

    2. Have your siblings push each other’s buttons

Similarly, siblings will go out of their way to annoy each other. Because they spend quite a bit of time together, they can be pretty good at it. Whatever annoys your character, his (or her) siblings already know about it. If your character’s siblings decide to get on his nerves, it shouldn’t take them very long.

3. Don’t forget to create unique personalities and talents for your siblings

Siblings are never exactly alike. They can even be opposites. One can be super introverted, while the other is the life of the party. Or one can be funny, while the other is serious.

You can also consider how their talents may or may not overlap. You could create siblings who are all a little artsy, but they like different mediums or styles of art. Or maybe they’re all athletic, but enjoy different sports.

An idea for showing character development through your main character's siblings is to show how your main character feels about his or her siblings' talents. Does he wish he had the same skills? Does he feel competitive?

4. Even if they don’t say it much, most siblings love each other.

Maybe your sibling characters aren’t the types to talk about how much they care for each other, but the feeling is still there. Consider showing the depth of their relationship through actions. Like a big sister doing her little sister’s hair for a birthday party, or one sibling giving another a pep talk when
they are nervous.

Does your main character have siblings? What's their relationship like?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Join the scavenger hunt. Enter to win two Kindles, an Amazon gift card, lots of books, and more!

The Hunt Is On!

Jill here. To celebrate the release of King’s Blood, I am hosting an online scavenger hunt. There are 18 authors participating and a bunch of fabulous giveaways. It is EPIC. And it's happening right now.

The hunt is happening now and ends Sunday night at midnight,
Pacific time.

The hunt begins at Stop #1 on my blog.

What are the prizes?
First Prize: Kindle Fire or ($50 Amazon Gift Card) and signed copies of King’s Folly and King’s Blood (unsigned if international winner).
Second Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and signed paperback copies of King’s Folly and King’s Blood (unsigned if international winner).
Third Prize: Signed paperback copies of King’s Folly and King’s Blood (unsigned if international winner).
Bonus Quiz Prize: Kindle Fire or ($50 Amazon Gift Card) and signed copies of King’s Folly and King’s Blood (unsigned if international winner).
Bonus giveaways: Look for more giveaways on various participating author sites (see each site during the hunt for details).

Who is participating?

Stop #1 Jill Williamson
Stop #2 Jaye L. Knight
Stop #3 Ronie Kendig
Stop #4 Shannon Dittemore
Stop #5 Kim Vandel
Stop #6 Kerry Nietz
Stop #7 Steve Rzasa
Stop #8 K. M. Weiland
Stop #9 Kyle Pratt
Stop #10 John W. Otte
Stop #11 C. J. Darlington
Stop #12 Melanie Dickerson
Stop #13 Chawna Schroeder
Stop #14 Tricia Mingerink
Stop #15 Gillian Bronte Adams
Stop #16 R. J. Larson
Stop #17 Morgan Busse
Stop #18 Serena Chase
Stop #19 Jill Williamson

How can you play?
Click here to join in the fun.

I hope to see you all on the scavenger hunt. Until next time. Save more. Read more.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Spotlight on Theater, a guest post by Brooklynn Gross

Happy Friday, friends! Shannon here. I've got something fun for you today.

Please welcome Brooklynn Gross to the blog! As a theater lover myself, Brooklyn's article resonates with me. More than that, she communicates clearly how the craft of theater relates to the craft of writing. Even if you've never set foot on the stage, you'll appreciate her advice.  

Brooklynn Gross lives in South Dakota with her parents and younger sister. She enjoys reading, playing piano, and writing poetry for her state’s literary magazine. Someday, she hopes to become a high-school English teacher.

I adore the moments leading up to a performance. 

There’s a buzz of excitement in the air--or maybe it’s just the chatter from the expectant audience. I adjust my costume, whispering my lines one last time before stepping up on stage.

The thrill of performing isn’t the only thing I like about the theater. Whether it’s a skit in drama class or a musical at the local retirement community, my acting experiences--both on and offstage have impacted my writing and the way I see the craft.

This past summer, I worked with a set of directors who stressed the importance of talking like our character, moving like our character, and improvising. Does this rule only apply onstage? I decided to find out.

Talk like your character.
In theater, you’re given a script with your character’s lines already written, but there is more to acting than just saying the right words at the right time. If your line is “Where is the princess?” you need to use your character’s feelings and traits as a guide. Are you the princess's mother, looking for your daughter in the woods? Or are you the evil witch, furious at your henchmen for letting Rapunzel escape?

In writing, it’s the same way. Although your character’s lines aren’t pre-written and highlighted, you still have to take into account how your character feels when she’s talking. Is she exploding at her best friend, using short, choppy sentences and constantly interrupting?

The best way to decide how your character would talk in a situation is to put yourself in her shoes. If she’s excited or scared, think about a time you felt that way. What does it sound like when she’s lying? Are her sentences filled with rambling explanations, or does she fall silent, only offering monosyllabic answers?

Move like your character.
During a one-act play festival at a local high school, I saw a play about three elderly women who all had crushes on the middle-aged detective living across the street. While I was watching, I kept forgetting that the elderly women characters were all played by teenagers. Sure, the fake wrinkles and frumpy dresses were probably a factor in that, but I believe that movement--the way the girls leaned on their canes and walked at half-speed--transformed the high-schoolers into ninety-year-olds. Even the most subtle movements, like the way their hands shook when they picked up their tea cups, showed that the girls were completely in character.

Words that show movement (walk, run, glide, etc.) do a lot more than get your characters from point A to point B. They can show how your character is feeling. Instead of saying, “She was winded from the race” you could let description do it for you, like this:

Lilly stumbled over the finish line and collapsed into the grass. Her lungs inflated like balloons as she gulped down air. Sweat trickled down her forehead in little rivers, drenching her shirt.

During drama class, I learned about a type of acting that doesn’t involve scripts or memorized choreography. It’s called improvisational theater, or improv for short. In improv, a group of actors perform a skit (usually a comedy), making up the plot, characters, and dialogue on the spot, without any rehearsals or practice beforehand. Oftentimes, the actors incorporate the audience’s suggestions to get the skit started.

One time, I watched an improv troupe who let the audience choose quirks for the characters in the skit. They were all silly things; for example, the first character thought he was a dog. The second one had short-term memory loss.

Real-life people have quirks, too. (Maybe they’re not as extreme as the person who thinks he’s a dog, but they’re still unique.) Like your sister, who says nonsensical words whenever she’s angry, or your friend who dips her french fries in peanut butter.

If people in the real world have quirks, shouldn’t characters in your storyworld? It makes them more realistic and helps with characterization. Your characters’ idiosyncrasies and habits can give readers a glimpse of their personalities. If one of your characters constantly calls her friends by the wrong name, maybe it shows that she’s scatterbrained. Maybe it shows that she thinks her friends are too similar, dressing and acting the same way just to fit in.

On stage and on paper, quirky, unique characters are more realistic and interesting.

Being involved in theater has helped me strengthen my characters and their stories. I believe that all writers should consider being involved in theater. But if the notion of auditioning for the school musical makes you feel queasy, fear not. Just pop your head into the school auditorium during rehearsal or cheer on your community theater during their next performance. Maybe you’ll see a writing concept in action.

Or maybe you’ll sit in the darkness, listening to the whispers floating from backstage, wrapped up in the magical moment before the first actor steps onstage.

Because that would be pretty special, too.

Have you ever seen a play or participated in a theatrical production? Did you experience anything that might impact your writing? 
I’d love to hear about it!

Note from Shannon: Yes! We'd love to hear how your theater experiences translate to writing. After you leave a comment, Jill Williamson has another fantastic treat for you that includes Kindle giveaways and oodles of books up for grabs. Hop over to her blog and bring a life preserver! We're all LOST AT SEA!