Thursday, January 17, 2013

GUEST BLOGGER CARRIE FANCETT PAGELS, Ph.D.: How to Interview Like a Psychologist and Why Back Story is Important (and Giveaway!!)

Okay, everybody, couch time, but not the potato kind. Julie, here, and does anybody else get a wee bit nervous around a psychologist? I mean as a CDQ, I'm so squirrely most of the time that when I find out someone is a psychologist, I kinda squirm, like maybe somebody's gonna cuff me and cart me off to the funny farm, you know? So when I met today's esteemed guest, Dr. Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., I was totally blown away at how sweet and down to earth she was, completely disarming me with her kind manner and keen intuition. And, without question, Carrie is one of the kindest and most giving humans I have ever met. So I invite you (or your characters) to lay down on the couch and get comfortable to enjoy this "session" with one of my dearest friends and fellow writers, Carrie, Fancett Pagels.

How to Interview Like a Pysychologist: Why Back Story is Important!
 
by Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D.

I write “romantic” historical fiction (while I realize historical romance and historical fiction are two different entities, I manage to blur the two lines—more than “with strong romantic elements.”). But before I wrote, I was a licensed psychologist for 25 years. And a huge part of therapy is figuring out what is behind the present condition. How did this person get to where they are now? I propose that in most genres/subgenres of Christian fiction, it is helpful to interview your characters like a psychologist would. I would make a few exceptions—while thrillers might not need background history to move the story line and enhance the plot, most other genres do. I am also going to use a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy model in this post.

So some questions you might ask your characters are:

Why are you here?  Add another similar question—how did you get to this point in your life? Tell me about your parents. Your grandparents.

Maybe your characters will blink at you, like a client in therapy might. What does that have to do with what is going on now?  Might not have a whole lot but it could and furthermore, the characters’ reactions to the present situation will be affected by previous experiences.

A Rational Emotive Cognitive Therapy approach.

Our reactions to situations affect our feelings.  If you look at the diagram below, I will give you an example. You will see Event or Trigger written first—so in your writing that would be what is happening in the scene. Previous Experience your characters have had with something similar will affect their emotions.  They might have had a positive, negative or neutral previous result from a similar event in the past.  And what they've experienced previously will impact their emotional response to the current event.




Let’s do an example of three separate characters developed by Julie Lessman:  Charity, Faith, and Emma.  Let’s say they are currently older teens being introduced to a long-lost family member (the Event or Trigger.)    

SPOILER ALERT—don’t read if you haven’t already consumed Julie’s wonderful stories. Given Charity’s history of sexual abuse her filter will be—this is a relative, I was abused by my uncle. Emma, despite having a bad marital history did not report a bad experience with an extended family member—so she may have the filter of—this is a long-lost relative, I’ve had no issues with my relations. Perhaps Faith has had very positive experiences with long-lost family members. She might think—how fun, I get to meet more of the family!

The section of this model is giving voice to how the previous experience may impact the upcoming encounter, i.e., self-talk or belief.  Charity may say, “No way am I about to hang out with some old pervert who I might have to run from.”  Emma might think, “Could be fine to spend some time with this person and ask them about some of the other family members because I don’t see what it could hurt.”  Faith might tell her mother, “I am so excited to meet more of the family—more to love!”   SAME EVENT, remember—DIFFERENT previous experiences and DIFFERING beliefs about what is likely to happen.
 
Some therapists, including myself, believe that the next result is LABELING our emotions based on our experience and by what we tell ourselves (not shown in the diagram below.) In the case I outline above, the characters will all have a different emotional reaction to the SAME experience—with a different label to the emotion that they give the situation. Charity says “Awful, grim—I feel angry and irritated at being asked to join in.” While her sister Faith doesn’t understand and says, “This will be so fun. I’m so happy and excited.” And Emma opines, “I don’t truly care one way or another. I’m fine with an evening together.” For each of these emotions there is a different consequence—Charity may isolate and miss out on meeting a truly kind great-uncle, Faith may experience a disappointment if the present relative is a prickly pear, and Emma may have the consequence of not experiencing the pleasure of anticipation for what turns out to be a lovely family member who is great fun.  Just an example, but I hope you see how our experiences and thoughts affect our feelings and our outcomes. 

If you were looking at a character arc, you’d look at challenging the character’s perception that because of her previous experience that this current encounter will result in similar feelings.  So a therapist might be asking if there is validity in the current belief or are they reacting irrationally, based on previous experience that may not apply to the current situation.  You see this over and over in fiction—a previous bad result, in particular, causing a character to believe something untrue and irrational that has negative consequences for them. Perhaps Charity has believed all men are pond scum and want only one thing—so they are to be manipulated and controlled.

All of this model contributes to POV.  So to get to the POV voice of your character you must know what their previous experiences have been. And the reader needs hints of that to explain why the character feels the way they do. But you as the author have to assist your characters in getting past their irrational beliefs, if they hold any.

If you ever get frustrated with your character because you don’t know why they do something they do try this exercise—sit them in the chair across from you. Visualize them.  Make them comfortable. Offer them a Seekervillian tea and some cake. Then ask them and don’t be afraid. I think we get fearful of requiring our characters to explain themselves. Too much back story we think. Waste of time because it can’t all go on the page. You don’t need it to all go on the page, but I argue that you need to know what drives your characters if you want the storyline and characterization to ring true.

Behavioral Observations by Psychologists:

Why do you do that?  Does your character have an action beat they frequently do?  Find out why.  Usually it is related to some emotional event in their past.  Not always, but frequently.  For instance, the girl who was slapped by her stepmother whenever she displeased her may now, as an adult, press her splayed hand across her cheek when she is embarrassed or has made an error.  And she might, if she realizes why she does the behavior, try to curb the tendency.  So she might shove that hand into a pocket once she realizes she’d been pressing it to her face and recalls the many slaps she received as a youngster.  Make sense?  As a therapist we’re trained to observe every behavior and investigate whether there is a link to something in the past.  The client who tugs at their collar or one whose voice chokes off when they are highly emotional may be someone who has been strangled at some point. Sad but true.

Patrick O’Conner, as we know from reading Julie Lessman’s recent release, A Light in the Window, was quite the lady’s man himself.  So when young men come calling on his daughters, he’s no slouch when it comes to recognizing another rogue like he had been.  And with his background as a rejected and emotionally abused son, he has that hair-trigger temper that simmers beneath the surface and is only controlled by God’s love, especially as manifested through his marital relationship. So anything that threatens that marital love affects his mood in a big way.  So we have the why of Patrick’s periodic curmudgeonly behavior. That doesn’t all get dumped into the story. But the writer needs to know.

Question: Did you learn something in this post that you can apply to your writing?

Giveaway:  Leave a comment and answer the question for a chance to win a lovely gift basket with a  Swarovski crystal heart necklace and earrings set with “Faith” on a silver charm that drops from the necklace, a colonial finger vase from Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia, a beautiful ornament of the Great House from Shirley Plantation, where Carrie’s last completed manuscript was set and chocolate, of course!

Bio – Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D.:
Carrie Fancett Pagels (www.carriefancettpagels.com) writes “romantic” historical fiction.  She is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. She is owner/admin of two group blogs: “Colonial Quills” (http://colonialquills.blogspot.com) and “Overcoming With God” (www.overcomingwithGod.com). She is a contributor to a nonfiction anthology God’s Provision in Tough Times by Cynthia Howerter and La-Tan Murphy, releasing in May 2012

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154 comments:

Tina Radcliffe said...

WELCOME, CARRIE.

This is a wonderful way to look at your manuscript! I am printing this off.

And this is also one of those times that it really is a bummer that the Seekers can't win prizes on our own blog.

Wow, what a prize.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Good morning all!

This is overwhelming - ditto the printing off, Tina. Will take some study.

I've heard the term "subtext" used. Sounds like you're explaining that here. Very much appreciate it!!

Here's some hot chocolate, we're expecting snow!

Jackie said...

This is definitely a keeper.

I like the entire concept of sitting down with my character and looking at how his/her background affects the decisions they make today.

Thanks so much for sharing.

Please toss my name it for the drawing. Thanks.

Jackie L.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

And yes, I did learn something. I learned that I don't know much, but will keep at it!!!
Thanks Carrie!

Jenny Blake said...

first what does CDQ stand for?

makes sense about the behaviours. I know when i am stressed I shake.
dont enter me.

Carla Olson Gade said...

Dr. Pagels, you amaze me!! You certainly are in your element. You insights on character motivation are just remarkable and so helpful. Carrie, you made my day! Many blessings to you, my friend. Congrats on the anthology you are contributing to!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Such a great post!!!

Will have to read it through again right before I start to edit.

Dorothy Adamek said...

WOW, that was so interesting! I love the idea of sitting a character down with a cup of tea to really nut out their story. Thanks for sharing your brilliance, Carrie, and for your great big heart. You're a real gem. xx

Cindy W. said...

This is definitely a 'keeper' post. Yes, I did learn quite a bit and will learn more I am sure as I read it again later on today when i come home from work. I find that I observe people's behavior all the time and sometimes to the point I feel I'm almost intruding.

Would love to be entered into your wonderful giveaway. Thank you for your generosity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cin dy W.

karenk said...

a wonderful posting, carrie...thanks for sharing

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Debra E. Marvin said...

Carrie has a condition called A BIG HEART and I think it gets bigger all the time. Her energy for reaching out and blessing people amazes me.

If anyone has not checked out Colonial Quills, I think you'll enjoy it, even if you just stop in to see the talented crew who put together a Christmas Serial story over the last two months.

Another printer-outer! I'll be back after work to read the comments over dinner.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Carrie, thanks so much for being here today! What a treasure trove of information. God bless you for sharing all that with us!

Hey, coffee's ready.... We've got straight joe and vanilla biscotti flavored "RICH" tone, none of those panty-waist vanillas here!!!

And strawberry custard croissants today.

Yes, we should be dieting.

Whatevah!!!!

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Carrie! I loved your post!!! Just seeing one event from three different Points of View is a great reminder of the importance of knowing our characters' back story.

Janet

Melanie Dickerson said...

Wow, what a great and insightful post, Carrie!!! Wonderful that you were able to explain all of Julie's characters, and she probably hadn't thought about them exactly that way, but she wrote perfectuly insightful and varied characters, probably from instinct. Really amazing!

And I agree with everything Julie said about you, Carrie! You are sweet and generous, for sure!!!

You made me think about my characters a little more deeply. It kind of makes therapists of all when we start writing novels! Since I started writing, I feel like I understand human nature more and why people react the way they do! Pretty cool.

Melanie Dickerson said...

I meant to say, Being novelists makes therapists of us all! We do learn to see how people's past experiences affect their behavior and their perspectives later on. It's truly fascinating.

pol said...

I see many have came to sit on the couch early, get it done and on to the day ahead huh??
good to see ya here Carrie, Bud on FB. always good to hear your comments.
Your giveaway of the jewelry sounds fantastic, whomever wins will be delighted..
Off to dental app. today (just a cleaning) and that is bad enough so hope everyone is enjoying all the goodies today after they open their hearts on the couch..hahaha

Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

Bridgett Henson said...

What a great reminder to dig deep into my character's motivation!!!

Just what I needed to read this morning.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

TINA, wow, I am really honored! Thank you all for having me visit on Seekerville today! So glad Julie wasn't "too afraid" to deal with a former psychologist lol!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

KC, I have some nice dark chocolate cocoa that you might like. Marshmallows? We are building an ark here in Virginia!!! A couple of shots of espresso in there and this will all make sense, lol!

Connie Queen said...

I don't think my hero cowboy/ex-Confederate Captain would sit on my couch for tea. He MIGHT ride down the creek w/me if he thought there was strays there and IF I could persuade him to share from my picnic basket...maybe.

Carrie, this post is another reminder to make the motivations strong. To make my characters real. I know I need to go back and look at each scene.

My current herione carries her Pa's bone-handled knife, the one he refused to use to save his own life with, to remind her to fight for what she wants. No matter how irrational, she will never give up. But her thoughts are too shallow and I need to go back to make sure all those deep seeded feelings are there.

Thanks so much for the post.

Connie Queen

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JACKIE, I am grateful that so far no one has thought I was nuts for suggesting that we are sometimes afraid of asking our characters these questions. Probably because we feel compelled to type all their backstory down, but we don't have to--we just need to store it in our heads and trickle it into the story as we write.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Oh, don't say that KC--you're probably one of those writers who just intuitively knows all this stuff and never thought about it! Blessings!

DebH said...

ooo, you're in Virginia? me too. yep, very rainy today. dreary weather.

i've heard of interviewing your characters to get to know them better. i learned from you how to take that past and produce a character "quirk" that rings true. very cool. your explanation will help me be a better interviewer of my characters. awesome!

thanks for sharing. i'd love a shot at the giveaway.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JENNY, I can't wait to see you in Virginia!!! And I pray your trip over here goes great!

CDQ is caffeinated Drama Queen. That will be in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders when they next revise it, lol! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diagnostic_and_Statistical_Manual_of_Mental_Disorders And they will credit Julie Lessman with that new diagnosis!!!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

CARLA, you blessed me so much on my birthday post on Colonial Quills in which I got to churn butter (atop an airplane wing no less!), weave baskets,and rock and roll with a 60's band!!! http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/2013/01/favorite-colonial-friends.html

All great activities for a psychologist no longer practicing lol!!! Thanks so much for coming by!!!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

VIRGINIA, I would RX that you re-read this before you start your story. When you are thinking about the plot and the characters. When you are percolating them. BTW, would you like some coffee with French Vanilla creamer? And cinnamon oatmeal with walnuts?

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

I love those Aussie expressions DOTTI!!! Nut them out, ok!! Well, you've had a first hand experience looking at the REBT model for one of my characters. We had a hero with all kinds of issues who had experiences that caused him to believe irrational things that weren't true. And it upset him. This is similar to what some people call "THE LIE"--what lie the characters believe. But in REBT we see much of that stemming from previous experiences.

Misty Russon said...

I'm printing this post and yes I learned something. Our characters are based on real-life emotions, and I think I've been successful in that area, but I stopped there. I didn't really think about what experiences in their life brought them to the exact moment they're in other than just enough to develop the character. I think it will make them seem even more 'real' to visualize them and expect a personality to emerge. Awesome post!!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Cindy W., Observing is great! When we really listen we can hear what people believe and sometimes they will even tell us why. But the why is often what we have to get from our characters if readers will believe what we write. Well, not in a thriller though. Who cares why that angsty hero acts like he does as long as he saves the world, lol! But even some of those types of stories will offer some background.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

KAREN!!! Good to see you over here! Have a blessed day!

Jeanne T said...

What a great post, Carrie! I'm just starting to craft characters for my next story, and this is a perfect thing to do to get to know them better. I've begun asking them questions, but you're helping me figure out others I need to ask.

I'm definitely printing this post out. Thanks for sharing your insights today. And thanks for the chance to win that beautiful basket. It sounds amazing. :)

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

DEB MARVIN!!! Great to see you here! Thanks for the plug for our Colonial Quills Anthology--that was a lot of fun.
http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_4.html

Hmmm, I don't have the latest DSM version but I don't think they have Big Heart Syndrome in there, Deb ;)
Thanks!!!

DebbieLynne said...

Omgoodness, Carrie! I am so intimidated by you now. I mean I knew you were a Dr of Psychology but I never thought about it. Now next time we talk on the phone I'm going to be tripping over my words. You analyze with such expertise that I'm going to be afraid to talk. heehee...or...I could lay on the couch next time we talk. ;o) Oh, oh! I know, I will put my character on the couch and you can tell me what he is thinking! Oh I love that idea. Be expecting a phone call. Love you, Carrie. You are my hero!!

Judy said...

I'm not a writer but I did enjoy this post Carrie. Of course I would back anything you posted because I know it is God given. I did learn something. I've always wondered why past history was so important. Now I know what is wrong with me!! Just kidding! Seriously though, past history does play an important role. It is needed to be revealed for healing purposes in some cases.

Thanks again Carrie and Wow! you are an amazing woman!

Blessings!
Judy

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Thanks, Ruth! I hope "treasure trove of info" isn't Seekerville speak for TMI, lol! I have switched from my one half cup of coffee to black tea with honey. If anyone else is allergic to milk and wheat, like me, they are welcome to the oatmeal and walnuts, too!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JANET, When I was first instructed in this model, as a grad student, the professor first put an event up on the board. And she made us write down how we thought we'd feel about that happen. And what we'd likely do. Then she went around the room for volunteers to tell what they wrote. That was eye opening!!! It really helped me understand what the REBT model was about. The reactions to one simple event were ridiculously diverse and it got me out of my own head and thinking about other people's reactions--particularly the irrational ones!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

I totally agree, MELANIE! When I was reading Julie's novels, I thought--wow, she really has got it--she totally understands the "why" of all her character's behaviors and irrational beliefs and Julie gives us just enough information to make the presentation seamless. I think that is why I love her stories plus of course her "passion with a purpose," too! Okay, and as you said, if she isn't at all thinking about it, she intrinsically is able to capture it in her writing. Early on, I resisted writing anything from a psychological perspective for writers--because you are correct--most already do these things and are therapists for their characters already!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

PAULA, great to see you here!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

BRIDGET, I am so GLAD I could help! Happy writing!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

CONNIE, oh yeah--take him down to the creek with a picnic basket!!! Let him get all comfy. Give him a refill on his lemonade (make sure it isn't the kind they used during the Civil War down south though--yuck, vinegar is not a good substitute for lemon!!!) Once he has his guard down... Seriously, though, I find if I have deep questions about my characters, I keep them active in my head (the characters). This will sound nutty, but they hang out with me wherever I go when I am working up a story. I love to take them, er I mean I like to go visit, where the story is set. And I pray about a problem with a character before I go to sleep--and often wake up with the answer in the morning! Best wishes!

Donna said...

Carrie, this post is right on target for me! I have two new characters who will not reveal their inner conflict. I'll be trying this approach on them today!

I forget the irrational reactions, that you mentioned above. I need to start utilizing those, as well.

Donna said...

Speaking of irrational reactions to something in a characters backstory, should those be introduced or 'shown' differently?

Diana Lesire Brandmeyer said...

One of my best friends is a psychologist and she can make me squirm with just one question. ;)
I'm learning her techniques to use on my characters. It's fun!
Diana
www.dianabrandmeyer.com

Diana Flowers said...

Fascinating article, CARRIE! My goodness! When we talk on the phone I am just thinking this is my bestie here...not thinking psychologist. Hmmm, now paranoia is setting in and I'm wondering what you have observed about me. Ha! She's crazy as a loon, probably... :)

I thought it was interesting what you mentioned about how someone has been treated makes them do certain things like put their hand on their face or whatever. Paul said he notices that I run my hand through my hair alot when talking to people and I'm not even aware of it. Or at least I wasn't til he said something. So I need some free psychological advice...why do I do that? I was frequently made fun of as a child about my hair b/c my mom used to put those funky perms in my hair and it was UGLY. I was called Bozo the Clown, etc...ok my time is up! Off the couch, Diana. Oh yeah and I talk to myself, too. LOL

I agree with what Julie said. You are sweet, kind, and generous, and I'm so blessed to have you in my life!

Teresa Mathews said...

CARRIE thanks for sharing this with us. Now that you have shown me what a remarkable Psychologist you are I am going to keep looking over my shoulder for the guys in white coats that I know are coming for me. At least Julie won't be alone at the funny farm!:D Thanks JULIE for having our sweet CARRIE on here.

Mary Connealy said...

Carrie this is a great post. I think a lot of this I do sort of instinctively, but doing it more thoughtfully, writing it down, keeping track, would help when I'm looking back at a character in the middle, when I'm not sure quite how to have everyone react.

Thank you.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

DEB H, I am in Hampton Roads. Need to go out to the garage shortly to get out the wood and nails for the ark. If you see me floating by, wave!!!

Kara said...

Carrie!! So good to see you on Seekerville!! And what a GREAT article this is, I felt really encouraged by it :) Please don't enter me in the giveaway, just wanted to say hi. My favorite part was to sit your character down if they have frustrated you and figure them out as you would a real person, brilliantly spoken and so unconventional yet practical :) You are such a blessing and I appreciate your wisdom, big time hugs to you!

Mary Connealy said...

Here's an experience I had at a boot camp for plotters this weekend that I think is REALLY fascinating.

I went with a book I haven't begun yet. I recently had the proposal accepted for the next three book series for Bethany House and I rewrote the proposal several times trying to get a really well formed character description and to get a focus on the basic plot and moral premise.

So, I printed out the proposal and took it with me but didn't look at it until I got into the session and was ready to go to work.

OOPS, I printed out an earlier version of the proposal.
I knew the heroine and hero in the first book and been substantially changed.

So, okay, I could NOT find the final proposal on my really new laptop I'd brought along (don't get me started on window 8!)

So I just went to work with what I had because I wanted to work on the plotting technique even if it wasn't going to really ultimately work for the story I was writing.
But I also had internet access so I emailed my agent, Natasha Kern and asked her if she had a copy.

So I'm working along and enjoying the plotting exercise and then I check a while later and BAM there it is. Natasha had it and emailed it to me. Bless that woman!!!

Then I opened it and read it and what I had was so so so so wrong and I had to start all over (I wasn't that far in so no big deal) and that new proposal just changed everything!

The updated characters had completely different reactions and motivations and attitudes. Shifting gears like that was, for me a fun look into what goes into creating a character.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

MISTY, I don't write my characters any more until they are "real" to me. Which is why I often have them in my head for six months or more and I "talk" to them. Thankfully my family doesn't find this unusual. Well, maybe they do, lol! When I first started, I struggled and struggled with a heroine and then I had an epiphany and understood who she was and her back story and secrets and all that and finally I was able to get her right, on the page!

Mary Connealy said...

I think the stumbling block for me in interviewing a character is, I don't necessarily know all this stuff when I start writing.

So to interview them ... while it's interesting and gets the creative juices flowing, isn't something I can write in stone because I discover the characters as I write and this pre-ordained THE WAY THEY ARE can be a stumbling block when the story leads me AWAY from THE WAY THEY ARE.

So you need to leave room for flexibility but also, if you change their psychological backstory, you then need to go back to the intervew and change that or later, if you forget how you changed them and consult your interview you might... well ... the thing is ...
............
..............
...............

this is how Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was born actually!!!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JEANNE T, It is so fun developing those new characters, isn't it? I am brewing my next batch and can't work on a new WIP until after I complete the current one. But I am dying to spend time with them. And I really do use the REBT technique to flesh out their personalities!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Love you too DEBBIE LYNNE!!! You are such a sweetie. If you want your characters to chat with me sometime, just put them on the phone, lol! Here's the thing--when they are behaving a certain way, look them in the eye and ask them "why?" until you get to the bottom of it. Or you may want to ask their friends and family. Since I am acting like our characters are real, you might want to line up a couch for me, lol!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JUDY!!! You are so sweet! Thanks so much! I totally agree--if we can show how healing comes about through confronting those lies or irrational beliefs then perhaps our readers will benefit as well. That is one reason I look for bibliotherapy aspects in the books I read! Blessings!!!

JoAnn Durgin said...

Wow, Carrie. I enjoyed this blog so much. Lots and lots (did I say LOTS?!) to chew on in terms of character development, motivation, history, you name it. You've touched on it all. I love getting into the heads of my characters and drawing on their insecurities and vulnerabilities. I can't wait to read one of your published novels, and I'm sure it won't be long. And you must know how much I adore those very strong romantic elements in a novel, whether historical or contemporary. Many blessings to you as you continue to write for His glory, Carrie.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

DONNA, you need to get those characters nice and comfy and do the "Come to Jesus" speech with them. Why are they holding out on you? Don't let them go until they've answered all your questions!

Here is what I like to see--Tamera Alexander does a great job with this btw: Give the situation and first give one character's POV reaction, preferably the one with the irrational fear. Then follow that with POV shift to the other character, preferably with a more "normal" reaction and have that character observe the other one's reactions--such as sweating, jerking at their collar, etc., that gives clues that they have some insight into that character's emotional reaction.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

DIANA, I am glad you have a psychologist friend, everybody needs one, lol ;) And you don't sound afraid of her like mine are sounding! The thing is, when you are a newbie psychologist, your supervisor trains you to be able to ask questions that definitely would make people squirm if they were asked in a "normal" conversation! And they teach you how to cut people off--I was a great listener and had to learn how to get control of the therapy sessions.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

DIANA!!! I am so glad that my own therapist showed up!!! God blessed me when he brought you into my life--you are an angel! Hugs!!!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

TERESA, you are such a great poet and as I understand a great singer. Which is probably why that song came up in your head. There was a song that went "they're coming to take me away away" or something like that, some silly song a few decades back! You're another angel that God put in my life! Hugs!!!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

KARA, it is a good thing none of my psychologist friends have come by because they might consider my unconventional approach rather wacky! But writers are such imaginative creative folks, they understand what I am talking about. You're a blessing!

Julie Lessman said...

OMIGOSH!!!! Carrie, PLEASE forgive me for being so late this morning. I actually read all the comments early on and was getting ready to respond when a minor emergency popped up.

My hubby is reading the ms. that is due to my editor this week, and he walked into the room and said, "People are going to hate you."
"What?" I say, totally caught off-guard and forgetting everything else. "What do you mean, people are going to hate me???"

Turns out this sweet, funny ms. I've been touting to my blog readers as having little or no angst, just lots of fun and funny head-butting, has made him a nervous wreck. Which just goes to show, I may know my characters, but apparently I don't know my readers very well because I honestly thought this was a relatively calm and angst-less read, unlike my other books. Uh ... apparently I'm wrong. :|

Anyway, he started spouting all these things he thought I should fix, and since he's usually right, I immediately dove in to fix just one thing and gut sucked in to fix all the others. Sigh.

But ... it's pretty obvious you don't need me here, Carrie, because this place is JUMPIN'!!

Thanks to RUTHY for the vanilla biscotti flavored "RICH" coffee and strawberry custard croissants. I brought warm peach cobbler with whipped cream or ice cream or both and caramel brulee latte, so dig in!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

I so agree with Tina, May, Jackie, Cindy and whoever else said this post is a "keeper" that they intend to print off. I find that A LOT of what Carrie says is a "keeper," be it advice or encouragement. She has a gift and she's a giver, so between the two, her friends and readers are immeasurably blessed!!

And ditto with what CARLA said, too!! Dr. Pagels "amazes me" as well, not just with her insight, but with a generosity I have seldom ever seen and trust me, I've lived a long, L-O-N-G time ... ;)

Love you to pieces, Dr. P.!!

Hugs,
Julie

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

MARY, Thanks for sharing your experiences! I do think for most writers they are already doing these things but calling it something else or not even thinking of the process. I admire pantsters who can get a cohesive plot without writing a synopsis or doing character sketches. But let me give you an example of why knowing someone's background or their parent's background makes a difference. I have a heroine in a particular setting and in a certain time frame. And her father is on the page periodically and is intrinsic to the plot. His life affects his daughter's life because his belief system cause him to behave specific ways. So I need to know a lot about him. Did he serve in a war? Did some huge regional event affect him? What is the biggest blow he experienced growing up--or were there none? So even those secondary characters need a lot of thought. And characters who never make it on the page but affected the H/H's belief systems...

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, JENNY ... as Carrie explained, CDQ is "caffeinated drama queen," a phrase I coined to help people understand just exactly what they were dealing with when they first meet me because believe it or not, I have been known to scare people away ... ;)

Yes, yes, YES!! DEBRA MARVIN nailed it to the wall -- Dr. P. DOES have a condition called "BIG HEART," and like Deb, I worry about it getting bigger and bigger and possibly causing her problems ... like not enough hours in the day to do her OWN work rather than promoting/blessing others. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MELANIE D. SAID: "(Julie) probably hadn't thought about (her characters) exactly that way ...

LOL, MEL ... you got that right!! Carrie is the analytical one, I'm afraid. Me? I just write and emote, write and emote ...

But good point about "being novelists makes therapists of us all," because it is true. After writing about Charity, I felt like I was qualified to hang out my shingle! ;)

PAULA ... happy cleaning, girl. Heaven knows I prefer that kind of "cleaning" to the vacuuming and toilet-cleaning kind ...

LOL, CARRIE ... I doubt this CDQ will make it into Wikipedia's treatise on mental disorders ... or at least not because I'm a CDQ ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

LOL MARY!!! I guess from interviewing thousands of people one of the things I've learned is that with something deeply ingrained it is going to take God to bring healing. Which is why Christian fiction is great, because the character's story arc will reflect how God is working in their life. If you know at the outset what your character's background is, you go from there. Sounds like you are fearless at editing and having changes occur mid-stream doesn't slow you down.

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, DEBBIE LYNNE!!! So now you're intimidated by Dr. P. too now, huh? Glad somebody else will be "tripping over their words" on the phone with her now besides me ... ;)

WOW, CARRIE ... I cannot tell you just how HUGE a compliment it is that Dr. P. thinks I understand the "why"s of my characters. Uh ... can you explain it to me, please??? :)

DIANA B. ... good to know I'm not the only paranoid person around psychologists ... or at least me and Debbie Lynne!!

DIANA FLOWERS SAID: "You are sweet, kind, and generous, and I'm so blessed to have you in my life!"

DOUBLE DITTO!!!

HUGS,
Julie

Amy Campbell said...

Hi Carrie! Great informative post. I learned not to put so much past of the character. It isn't always necessary. Thank you!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Thanks so much, Julie!!! Very glad to be visiting on Seekerville, and I do remember "when" you all started up five years ago.

For those who are gluten-free and dairy-free like me, and are in the Eastern time zone, perhaps you'd like a nice bowl of soup and a sprouted bread sandwich? It's still raining here. But there will be snow just in time for my flight to Florida, lol!

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, TERESA ... between you and me, we'll keep those "guys in white coats" busy, I suspect. Mmm ... let's hope they're cute ... ;)

Okay, DR. P. ... I'm leaving the blog in your VERY capable hands to actually take down my Christmas decorations and clean my house since my prayer partners are coming over. Sadly, that's the only time I clean, when people come over, so maybe THAT'S why poor Keith goes out into the highways and byways to bring people home ... :|

Hugs,
Julie

CatMom said...

Welcome Carrie! Wow!! This is fascinating to me---a keeper post for sure. Thanks for taking the time to share with us today. Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo
p.s. Since it's cold, windy and rainy in my part of Georgia, I baked a Peach Cobbler, warm from the oven (actually ANY kind of weather is "peach cobbler weather" for me, LOL).

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JOANN, Keep those prayers coming! And thanks for coming by!

Jan Drexler said...

So much good stuff in this post, where should I start?

One of my favorite things about writing is finding a character's back story. Sometimes I find it while doing research, sometimes while musing, and sometimes when a character does something off the wall during a scene.

That's when I sit them down and have them tell me why they act that way.

I'm currently wrestling with a minor character about this. She won't let me into her past, so I'll have to use your hints during my next interview with her :)

Thanks for stopping by Seekerville, Carrie!

susanngarrylee said...

I'm not a writer, just a reader. However, I did find this interview interesting. Blessings, Susan Fryman

kaybee said...

Carrie, this was fascinating. It's exciting to get to know a character, and these are good tools. I am working on the sequel to my last first novel and have a man and a woman, the main love interests, whose backstories influence the way they react to everything, including the Oregon Territory. They literally can't be anyone else. I will use these tools to give them even more complexity. And to understand my own relationships. Thanks.
Kathy Bailey
Unpubbed in New Hampshire

Jodi Janz said...

This is definitely a keeper. Thank you for the breakdown of character and backstory. It comes in handy at a perfect time. My current WIP has a character that grew up with a mother with severe OCD. I am continuously looking back at her childhood to frame her adulthood. It is a complex adventure. Thank you for putting words and steps to my process.
And like Mary I am a pantser that has to figure a lot of the history out as the story progresses. I've tried to plot it all out first and the write and ended tossing most of it a long the way - as the story disobeyed my plotted outline. Anyway, thanks a million for this treasure that will go in my special information folder.
Jodi

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

AMY, you need to know about their issues and past but it doesn't always have to go on the page. Maybe a little here and there. Thanks for stopping by!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

PATTYJO, Boy that peach cobbler is tempting. Maybe I will take some peach slices and make a low-gluten version with oats in it! Stay warm!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JAN, I see we think alike!!! Those tight lipped characters give us fits. Ya know in therapy, I'd have people who would drop stuff in out of the blue. I mean huge stuff like childhood sexual abuse. And I'd not have seen it coming. Those were the people who I think about now when I am writing and have a character that is closed-mouthed. Do they have something big and that is why they are so adamently tight-lipped?

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

SUSAN FRYMAN, you are such a sweetheart. There would be no need for Christian writers if there weren't wonderful readers like you! Thanks for coming by!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

KATHY, that is neat you have that insight into your characters. And now you get to help them change! That is the really fun part!!! God is so good and we can show that in our stories. Blessings!

chaplaindebbie said...

Hello Carrie and Julie! Great interview. I am not a writer, but I found this very informative. I am sad to say that I have not been able to acquire any of Julie's books yet, so I had to skip portions of this post.
It totally makes sense to me that where we are today has a lot to do with our past.....being a psychologist must have helped a lot in building your characters' personalities.
Have a blessed day, ladies and please enter me in the drawing...the basket sounds wonderful!

P. Creeden said...

This looks a wee bit familiar, but it's cool to have it in writing. Stay dry!

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Carrie! I had no idea you'd been a psychologist! I should've asked you about one of my main characters in the suspense novel I just wrote! I did lots of online research, though. I've kicked around becoming a counselor many times, but just when I think I have things together, my own marriage/parenting hits a bumpy patch and I think "What was I thinking! I probably NEED a counselor!" Hee. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on writing today!

Rita Gerlach said...

Thanks for sharing with us, Carrie, about characters and their emotional reactions. I'm currently writing a novel set in 1908-1909 Washington DC. My hero experienced the San Francisco earthquake, and your points about emotional reactions to past experiences will help me bring this part of his life out in the book in a profound way when the woman he loves goes through a traumatic experience. When someone else goes through something similar to what we've been through, we can relate to that person, understand their pain and anxiety, and help them through it. So, your lesson here reinforced where I'm going with this story. Thanks!

Anne Payne said...

WOW! This is just one more reason I am SO thankful for writers. Y'all have such a gift for delving deep into your characters lives (maybe without even knowing it) and their attitudes and circumstances seems to reflect so much of real life that it is truly a ministry to readers! Thanks so much, Carrie, for pouring your heart & soul into your writing, and multitudes of gratitude to your family for the hours they give up with you so you can be such a blessing to others!!!

jackie777 said...

wow awesome strategy, I have been wanting to write a book and this helps alot.
Jackie Ramsdell
joyofchrist777@gmail.com

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JODI,yes absolutely--knowing the mother of the heroine had severe OCD will tell you so much about her. And the neat thing with the REBT model is that several different writers could get several different versions depending upon the reaction the character had to the mother's condition. For instance, one person might have grown up thinking "That's just mom--no big deal." Another might have gotten maudlin--"My mother is so disturbed and she'd destroyed my chance at a normal life." Etc. Which is why you see the therapists portrayed on t.v. asking things like "and what did you think about that?" and "how did that make you feel?"

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

DEBBIE!!! And what a kind reader you are, too! Thanks SO much for being a beta reader for me!!! Thanks for coming by! Blessings!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

PAULINE, It wouldn't surprise me at all if our wonderful pastor Larry Jones has preached on something similar! He is so great at including so many perspectives on things. And he has an aunt who is a psychologist.

Janet Grunst said...

A great post, Carrie. I've already printed it. You never cease to amaze me.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JULIE, LOL, I was just looking back over your comments. You DO understand your characters and what makes them tick and you've given enough detail to explain their motivations and the whys of their behavior. And thank you for your kind words! Love you, too! And that scratching anyone hears in the background while we are talking is NOT me taking notes, lol! I hate to break it to you, but the guys in the white coats probably aren't too cute unless you write them that way in your books! I am taking my daily dosage of GRINCH medication, I hope you'll be glad to hear--and I dropped one big responsibility that was weighing me down. Am trying to build some more margins into my life.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

HEATHER, I was a psychologist for 25 years! Not any more! I am glad you didn't know that, lol! When I was younger, I quickly learned that you did NOT disclose that until well after you'd gotten to know someone!!!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

RITA, you are such an insightful person that I imagine this type of thing comes as easily to you as breathing! Thanks for coming by! So glad to be blessed by another Colonial American Christian Writer member today!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

ANNE! I love hearing from you--you are such a sweetheart and encourager!!! I will be honest--I am at home full time unlike many writers. So most of the time my husband and little man are not suffering from my writing time. Sometimes. I try to only write at night if they are otherwise occupied for instance. And summertime is spent schlepping poor sweetie boy around to historical sites for research usually but he is happy to do so! For now lol!

Virginia said...

Seekerville you picked a great one to write this.....I don't write, but I read ALOT....and I have thought with some, "what made him do that?" or "why is she so scared?" so the readers do examine the characters that they've jumped into the book with. and Carrie I found myself not only reading your article concerning books but it made me think about people around me and the why's of their lives. great article. and JULIE LESSMAN...I wish I were there to read that book and chirp in...LOL

Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Carrie and Julie and all my Seekerville Friends!
Thsi was a great post! So many interesting questions I can ask my characters to understand their backstory and how that will impact their actions. Wonderful info! Thanks so much!
Carrie

Jeanne T said...

CARRIE--You and I have something in common. I am also unable to eat dairy and wheat/gluten, among a host of other tempting foods. I'll commiserate with you. At least all the food here at Seekerville won't affect our bodies in real life. :) Again, I loved this post today.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JACKIE, I am so glad it was a helpful post!

JANET--my husband says that sometimes but I think his tone of voice is different. I think he stresses the second word "You NEVER cease to amaze me." LOL. Usually after I've done something stupid. But he'll usually kiss me after he says that, so it's all good!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

VIRGINIA--absolutely!!! My MIL is an AVID reader and has been a volunteer librarian at a school. She was reading my most recent full MS, out on submission to some publishing houses. And she kept asking me "Why did she do that?" And I said--"Keep reading!" But the reader needs to find some answers that explain the behavior--or you feel cheated!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

CARRIE T, your name just came up in conversation with someone yesterday. A friend was saying what awesome novellas you write! And you're just such a lovely person. Blessings!

Jenny Blake said...

Carrie not long now my tour is now confirmed as definite departure. Its so exciting. I just checked. this time in 4 months I will be somewhere near Gettysburg.

Ok now I know about CDQ you know when you dont drink coffee at all (hate the taste) you dont think of things to do with caffine etc.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Thanks Jeane T! Almonds and soy are another couple of huge culprits for me. And soy is in everything. I doubt the ladies of Seekerville every try to slip soy into their yummy desserts or coffees, though!!!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JENNY!!! Yes, let's pray you get AWESOME weather when you are on your tour here of the east coast! Hoping we'll get to meet up in Hampton Roads when they bring you through here!

MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA said...

What great info, Carrie! And we got to lie on the couch for free! :) Thanks for your generosity! You are a blessing to us!

MaryAnn

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Espresso sounds good about now. We had a little sleet, but that's all so far. And yes, marshmallows too. Yum.
Hope you're having a fun day in Seekerville. It's da bestest! :)

Virginia said...

this article has grabbed me....even telling FB friends and other authors about it....thanks again.....

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

DR. DIORIO, I did not renew my national provider i.d., lol! No fees! Although I really enjoyed that dark chocolate!!!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

KC I suspect Sweetie Boy Son is gonna want something sweet when he gets home!Yes, Seekerville is so fun!!!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

VIRGINIA, thanks for spreading the word!!!

Myra Johnson said...

Arriving late today--so many errands, so little time--but what a fascinating post! Thanks, Carrie! And what a fun look inside Julie's cast of characters!

I love delving into the whys of characterization--real people or story people. A few years ago a ms. I was working on required the expert advice of two psychiatrist friends (father and daughter). They even let me borrow a huge desk reference. Much of it was WAY over my head, but such interesting info!

You know, I doubt there isn't a person alive who couldn't benefit from at least a smidgen of psychotherapy. ;-)

Melody said...

With your educational and professional experience there is no ending to what you can bring into a story!

missionwife@hotmail.com

Kathleen Maher said...

I love this post! My problem is that I love back story so much I've always had to trim and start with the action. It took me a long time to master dripping little drops of it throughout the story.
I am an arm-chair psychologist, and I have had plenty of practice with eccentric family and friends. Ha! I work out my own psychoses through my characters, but that's a post for another day.
Thank you for sharing your expertise with us. I know when I read, I love authors who hint at and explore a character's motivations. Can't wait for the day when I'll be reading your published works!
no need to enter me--just wanted to say hi!

Pat Iacuzzi said...

Hi Carrie, & Seeker Gals--

WOW! This blew me away Carrie--what a way to get to Deep POV in characters! You've given us gold!

No wonder this country won its liberty--your relatives fought in the Revolution--and we can see those same gifts of incredible energy and generosity of spirit in you!

Praying this will be a stellar year for you Carrie! <>

Susan Anne Mason said...

Fascinating topic! Thanks for bringing it up.

I wish there was a website where we could go and plug in our characters past issues (ex. beaten as a child) and find out how that would manifest in an adult. Fears, physical reactions, etc. Hmmm.... Think I need to cultivate some therapist friends! LOL.

Cheers,

Sue
sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Barbara Shelton said...

Julie, you always bring the best to be interviewed and thank you for bringing Carrie. Carrie, I'd love to be laying on your couch...I think..LOL..I'm such a talker I'd reveal all my hidden secrets! I will print your advice and follow it as soon as I write my story. Hoping to start anytime now.Thanks for this fabulous giveaway and the chance to win a beautiful gift. I hope I win!!

In Christian Joy,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

MYRA, I am proud of you that you consulted experts before you proceeded with your book. I am astonished by some stuff I've read where the fiction author obviously never did so. It's so easy! People love to help. Usually, anyways--ask psychologists who aren't neck deep in their own MS, lol!

But people might not realize this--psychologists who don't have experience with a certain disorder will either refer to someone who does or determine if, with consultative support, they are capable of treating the client. They are supposed to, anyways!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Melody, I find it funny that your comment repeated four times because I have a manuscript I've been working on reducing number count on, a novella I just completed, a WIP I am 52K into, and I have another story percolating in my head that has to wait till I finish the other stuff. So, yes, I am always coming up with ideas for stories and I hope my background helps! My endorsers, like Julie, seem to think so!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

KATHY!!!!!!!!!!! One of my favorite people in Christian fiction! I just love what you did for the CQ anthology and that attention to motivation and back story paid off in the serial! CONGRATS on your representation by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary, I am so happy for you! Big hugs!!!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

PAT!!!!!! You make gorgeous dolls for museums (and us at CQ, thanks so very much!!!) and you are a DOLL!!!

Thank you for your kind comments! Yes, absolutely, these are the questions you have to ask to get to deep POV, the whys, the history, the reaction, the beliefs... What is lovely with writing historical fiction is that we can "cheat" if we get ahold of fabulous real life back story like I got at Shirley Plantation! The staff there was so wonderful. Reading real letters written to family members at Shirley during that time frame was so helpful to me.

Cara Lynn James said...

Great post, Carrie! I learned a lot today. It's a keeper. Thanks!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

SUSAN, it would be difficult to get generic responses to a trigger event. With the REBT model, it would be really important to know what the person told themselves and how they dealt with the trigger event and their reaction. For instance, you could have someone abused who coped by distancing themselves so much from the event that is is unreal. Repeat instances of that reaction could lead to dissociative personality disorder. That person will likely have different symptoms from someone who fully experienced and reacted to the trauma with terror.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Hey BARB, great to see you here and thank you for your comments! I am honored that Julie had me visit here! I'd love to hear what you would have to say, Barb!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Thanks, CARA!!!

Pam Hillman said...

Oh, my, what an eye-poppingly wonderful post.

And those prizes....

Carrie, darlin', you've outdid yourself!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Thanks, PAM! I hope it didn't make your eyes bug out, though, lol! I LOVE doing research and part of that is visiting the museum STORES!!! Great for giveaways!

Helen Wakefield said...

Hi Carrie, I love this psychological angle to characters :) My current heroine is dealing with her mother and grandmother's past and grappling with how that affected them and the impact it has on her. In the end she will emerge with her own identity - at least, I hope she will!

Waving at Julie, too!

Walt Mussell said...

I've thought about this before, and tried the interviewing, but never thought of the differences in a family would make all three women react differently.

This is going to take some time to digest. :-)

JoyAnne said...

What you said about the behaviors was very interesting!

Sarah Ladd said...

Carrie! LOVED this post ... so many interesting things to think about! Thank you for being so generous and sharing some of your insights and knowledge with us!

Julie Lessman said...

Christmas decorations down and put away, house cleaned on first level, prayer partners prayed with, dinner made, dishes done ... and now I'm back for Seeker fun!! GREAT JOB, Carrie, keeping the party going!!

And, goodness, you probably told me, but I suffer from colander brain, so I apologize, but I did not fully realize you are gluten-free and dairy-free, but not taste-free, God willing!!

And, uh-oh, PATTI JO ... I'm going head-to-head with a Southern girl on peach cobbler since I brought some too. But maybe I can lure folks away from Patti Jo's with the ice cream and whipped cream I brought along with it! After all, all is fair in love and cobbler, right? :|

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SUSAN FRYMAN ... thanks for sharing this post and coming by, sweetie!! Well worth it, right??


CHAPLAIN DEBBIE ... we are going to have to remedy that, you sweet thing, you not having read of any of my books, that is, so be sure to stop by next month for my blog on Wed. 2/13 when I will be doing a giveaway, okay?


CARRIE SAID: "I hate to break it to you, but the guys in the white coats probably aren't too cute unless you write them that way in your books!"

LOL ... come on, Carrie, this is me we're talking about ... the gal who won't write a hero shorter than 6'1" or without a chiseled face!! Of COURSE my men in white coats will be cute, girl, are you kidding???

AND CARRIE ALSO SAID: "I am taking my daily dosage of GRINCH medication, I hope you'll be glad to hear--and I dropped one big responsibility that was weighing me down. Am trying to build some more margins into my life."

YES, I AM glad to hear that, my friend, so when you get that down, you give me a call and tell ME how to do it too, okay??? ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

VIRGINIA SAID: "And JULIE LESSMAN...I wish I were there to read that book and chirp in...LOL"

Oh, me too, girlfriend, truly because I could use a female opinion ... :) And speaking of that book, while I was taking the Christmas decorations down, I was on a chair, unpinning greenery from over our porch French doors while my hubby was dismantling the tree. He turned to give me a kiss, and I teased him by toppling against chest and falling into his arms, quoting the lines from a scene in my book he just read where the heroine does the same exact thing. Soooo fun to write ... and then to re-enact it, too, so I sure hope it's fun to read it as well!! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, BARB ... I do have some pretty awesome guests, if I say so myself, and YES, I hope you win too, darlin'!!

Hey, HELEN ... waving right back, girlfriend!! How's that editor job hunt going, girl??

Hugs,
Julie

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

HELEN, that sounds like a really interesting women's fiction story! I love stuff like that! Great to see you here, my friend!

WALTER, I think that it is pretty scary to think of having three females in the house who are all reacting a different way. Sounds like a nightmare for a dad!!! Blessings!

Megan Parsons said...

Wow I have always wondered how authors have such great detail in their characters. I learned that you have to get in the head of the character to figure them out! This will help my writing in the future! Thanks for sharing with us!
makeighleekyleigh at yahoo.com

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JOYANNE, glad you thought so!

SARAH, it was really fun to visit over here today and I hope what I shared blessed someone! Great to see you here! We just have one of our accountability partners still missing, lol! Maybe she is actually writing--like we are supposed to be doing!!!

Helen Wakefield said...

Julie, I'm just looking for freelance work, anything I can grab my hands on! But it's so hot here at the moment I'm a bit thankful right now to not have any commitments. I am about to start another course - an online one this time, specifically on editing fiction :)

I do have one manuscript lined up to start work on shortly, and God willing with a reference afterwards, hopefully more work will come along!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Hey MEGAN--you were just a winner on Overcoming With God. Great to see you here!

I imagine there are many writers who do not ascribe to really getting into the heads of their characters--but I don't like to read their books. I can't write any other way than attempting to write "in character."

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

JULIE, you are so funny! So sweet about your husband reenacting a scene with you!!! We had yummy pumpkin pie filling (no crust!) for our treat tonight. But that peach cobbler still sounds tempting.

Grinch formula--keep reading and re-reading "The Well" and pull out those "NO" sticky notes again and put them all over the place. I should rename that from Grinch to "Expanding the margins in your life" formula. Helps make room for the things God really wants us to do. Like spend more time reading Julie Lessman books!!!

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

This is a msg from my FB Friend, Julie, that would not post from work. This article was excellent. I am not a writer but am a reader and as a reader, you know when a character responds in a way that you know is real, that you can relate to. So for the author, digging into the character's "tells" or backstory makes the character's reaction to a situation that much more realistic for the reader."

Thank you JULIE!!! And you are entered for the drawing! My freelance editor for the second novel I wrote would hammer me if I had anything on the page that was inconsistent with what she knew about the character. She taught me a good lesson!

Marianne Barkman said...

As my friends here know,i am not a writer, except my review blog, but i have been thinking that i read and review novels from my own experience, as well, just as my memories of things will be different than anyone else of the very same memories because of my own experiences. So, my reviews are unique to me as i see those characters through a different set of eyes than anyone else.
i was beginning to worry about Helen, but i see she made it...where is Vince? i know i'm late, too, but had a great shopping trip - didn't see any novels by my favorite authors in Costco, though

Marianne Barkman said...

oh, as for the giveaway...i kind of feel like i did when i was 4 years old ~ my great aunt offered me a candy and i said "i'd rather have a dime". Now i'd probably say 'i'd rather have a book'.

Mary Preston said...

Such an interesting post thank you.

Count me in thanks.

Debra E. Marvin said...

Great wisdom today, all around. Congratulations, Carrie. I'm so glad you came to Seekerville and got to spread those blessings around.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

MARIANE, Thanks for coming by! I don't review the way most others do, either! Whenever I read a book I look for how it can be useful as a bibliotherapy tool. Whether an author realizes it or not, any well-written novel has something useful in it for therapeutic reading purposes.

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Ohhhh, thanks, DEB, you are such a sweetie! Very grateful to have this opportunity to visit on Seekerville!

MARY, thanks! Will do!

KayM said...

I'm not entering the contest, but just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the post and all your comments!

Crystal Benedict said...

What an interesting post. I'm not a writer but I sure do love to read what all you wonderful authors write.

I would love to be entered in the contest.

MinDaf @ Aol.com

Janet Kerr said...

What did I learn from this blog? That I can go deeper into my characters.
So, I printed this one to study it.
Thanks so much for the great information.
& WoW that is some prize!
Jan

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

KAY and CRYSTAL, that was so sweet--thank you!

JAN, Thanks so much! I really DO think if you try these techniques you will go so deep into your character's minds that it might scare you, lol!

Blessings!

Cheryl Hart said...

Love this post. Being near someone who's studied psychology fascinates me!

In answer to your question--YES! You've filled my thoughts with great additions to my current MC. Thank you!

Please include me in the drawing. :)
nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

chaplaindebbie said...

Thanks Julie! I will try to get over to your blog next month. I would love to read your books. God bless!

chaplaindebbie said...

I joined this blog and signed up for the newsletter, so that I won't miss any good posts!