|Barbara White Daille|
Barbara White Daille
Hello, Seekers, and thank you for inviting me back again! I always love to spend a release day partying with y'all! While we're hanging out together today, we're also going to get some work done.
As we're only a week into 2014, I'm sure many of you will have set goals for yourself that you hope to achieve in the coming weeks and months. And of course, those of you who are writers know all about setting goals for your characters.
One method of goal setting you've probably heard of uses the acronym S.M.A.R.T. I've seen variations on the meaning of each letter. Here's what we're using today. S.M.A.R.T. Goals are:
Specific – your goal is stated in easy-to-understand language that lays out clearly what you want to achieve.
Measurable – there is a yardstick of some type that will show the progress you're making toward your goal.
Achievable – the goal is humanly possible to accomplish, as well as being something within your control.
Realistic – the goal needs to be something within reason, all things considered.
Time-Bound – there's a deadline by which you want to accomplish your goal.
Now, let's put these steps to work. (A note for this first example: I'm not a medical professional and this is for illustration purposes only!)
You: want to lose ten pounds in the next eight weeks.
Is that a specific goal? Yes. Measurable? For sure. You can see the numbers on a scale. Achievable? Yes. A 1- to 2-pound weight loss per week is not unreasonable. Is it a realistic goal? That depends on your ability to watch what you eat. ;) But yes, in general, it's realistic. And it's definitely time-bound.
Now, your heroine: wants to pay off the outstanding debt on the family farm before the bank forecloses.
Is that specific? I'd say it has a few weak spots but is acceptable. Is it measurable? Though she hasn't revealed it to the readers, your heroine would know the amount of the debt; we'll accept that as a yes. Achievable? The goal might present a challenge, but it has been done before. Realistic? That's a good question. We don't yet know enough about the circumstances. But you as the author should know them. Is the goal time-bound? Yes, if the bank has given her notice of the impending foreclosure date.
For the next example, here's a short clip to introduce you to my hero, Ryan Malloy, from Rancher at Risk. Ryan lost his wife and young son in an accident, and the loss has driven him to the verge of losing his job and his own self-respect.
Despite the breeze blowing in through the open window beside the bed, sweat dotted his brow. Hands hovering above the duffel bag, he paused. Before he could argue or talk himself out of his action, could brush away or second-guess the thought, he grabbed the picture frame from the dresser and slid it, still facedown, under a pile of shirts in the bag.
He would head out in late afternoon today, once he'd taken care of his chores here on the ranch one last time. Once he'd swung by for a last visit to the small churchyard on Hanaman Road.
Then he'd drive to New Mexico.
Only a fool would pass up the opportunity Caleb had given him, one he'd done less than nothing to deserve. Somehow, he had to undo the damage he'd done, to restore his credibility with the boss. To earn back his reputation.
Ryan: wants to regain his boss's trust and be reinstated as ranch manager by successfully completing a job he's been given. He has been sent to a new ranch in another state, where he's tasked with overseeing the establishment of a school for disadvantaged boys, set to open in less than three months.
This is wordier than the previous examples. In S.M.A.R.T. terms, Ryan's goal is specific (laid out in detail), measurable (by the completion of interim projects), achievable and realistic (it's a job that has been done before and he's got the knowledge to handle it), and time-bound (by the opening day deadline).
My heroine, Lianne Ward, is the project manager for the school. She has recently ended a bad relationship.
Here are just a couple of sentences to show what's going to affect her interactions with Ryan. ("He" refers to the man she'd dated previously):
No matter what he thought, she could live in both the hearing *and* the Deaf worlds. And she would fight any man who wouldn't treat her as his equal in either one of them.
Needless to say, micromanager Ryan and independent Lianne are going to clash! That's something to remember when you're setting S.M.A.R.T. goals for characters—separately, their goals work, but put them together and things will soon fall apart. Readers look for and love characters in conflict.
Now, our last example.
Your hero: needs a way to get back to his hometown sometime in the future.
That goal pretty much misses the S.M.A.R.T. scale altogether.
My questions to you are:
How can we S.M.A.R.T.en up this poor hero's goal?
And what goals of your own did you set for 2014? ( Don't worry about measuring your goals against the S.M.A.R.T. scale. We'll just talk about them in the spirit of sharing and cheering each other on.)
Barbara is looking forward to chatting! She will also be giving away an autographed copy of Rancher at Risk to one lucky commenter who responds to either or both of her questions today.
Rancher at Risk
After the loss of his family in a tragic accident, Ryan Malloy has been given one last chance to change his life. His boss sends him to Flagman's Folly, New Mexico, to run his ranch, but unfortunately, Ryan's troubled attitude lands him in hot water with the locals, especially the ranch's manager, Lianne Ward.
Deaf since birth, Lianne has never let her disability define who she is. But, she's yet to meet a man who treats her as an equal. Ryan seems different…that is, when they're not butting heads over the ranch's new school for disadvantaged boys
Forced to work together, Lianne and Ryan discover an unexpected attraction beneath their quarreling. But will Ryan's painful past drive them apart…permanently?
Barbara White Daille
Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the lizards in the front yard but could do without the scorpions in the bathroom.
Barbara's newest title, Rancher at Risk, was just released in both paper and e-book formats. An earlier book, Court Me, Cowboy, has just been re-issued as a Cowboy at Heart Special Release, available as a standalone e-book (at your favorite retailer) and in Larger Print (exclusively at www.Harlequin.com).
Barbara would love to have you drop by her website: www.barbarawhitedaille.com
and to see you on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BarbaraWhiteDaille
and Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbaraWDaille
and Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbaraWDaille