Lanetta J. Sprott

Archive for June 2009

Alternate title: “Letting your character inside your head”.

When I write a story, I totally get in the head of my characters. I touch, smell, hear, see, and taste what they experience. At times, I lose myself and become my character!

I have written of death and dying and, through my characters, I have experienced drawing the final breath. In Finding Closure, I wrote a murder scene. It was not a premeditated act. The “fight or flight” syndrome kicked in for my character so I was able to write the scene without too much difficulty.

A pivotal character in Ella is a killer. How do I effectively and totally get inside this character’s head? How do I plot and plan and write this character’s five senses when kidnapping and committing murder? How do I let this type of character inside my head?

I know authors do so effectively.

Even with chills crawling up my spine, I can only hope to do so as well. Any suggestions anyone can offer about how to work this uneasiness out of my system will be greatly appreciated!


I tried various pen & paper methods to keep up with characters while writing Where Forever Begins – index cards or a notebook with dividers per character, to name a couple. When writing Finding Closure I made a “character” folder in MS Word with a document for each person.

From the beginning of my current project, Ella, I have used MS Excel. With Excel I can open up one document and make however worksheets I need for each character. Tabs are renamed appropriately beginning with Ella’s. The final tab, “Extras” have the names & physical descriptions that are important to some extent, but the characters have minimal speaking roles. I do need, however, to keep up with them!

The individual worksheets contain as much information as necessary to develop and build the character. For example, some of the things I include:

  • A picture of someone (an actor or family member) that fits my mental image of that particular character. All my characters, even the extras, have photographs in addition to written physical descriptions. It makes it very easy for me to click on a character’s worksheet and glance at the picture when I mention eye color or complexion in Chapter 25 and hadn’t since Chapter 10!
  • Dates important to the story, such as birth, marriage, death, or moving are listed.
  • Some characters’ worksheets include a picture of their vehicle, where they work, what their home looks like.
  • Character traits/quirks are also listed on the appropriate worksheet.
  • Minor, yet critical, details to maintain consistency and accuracy, such as a pet that a character may have is also kept on the person’s worksheet. I have had to ask myself, “What was her dog’s name?”
  • A couple of my characters are professionals, with office staff. I place the staff on the professional’s page rather than in the “extras” worksheet.
  • Possibilities are endless. MS Excel works beautifully for me! I love opening one document and having each character at the click of a button!

    FUP – I like this: FUP… My FUP books …..

    The Internet is flooded with articles discussing the pros and cons of Print on Demand (POD). The purpose of this post is not to weigh in on the argument, but to explain why I chose Lulu for all my work.

    Lulu is a free-until-print (FUP) service company. Their site is user-friendly and professional. Once a book is ordered, the costs are reasonable. The shipping/handling charges are similar to other online purchases.

    After I totally completed (including having it professionally edited) Where Forever Begins and had sent out hundreds of inquiries, numerous synopsis, and a few requested manuscripts – all to no avail, I began the search for a POD. It was important (on many levels) to get my book printed without waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the “fifteen year overnight success” story I’ve read about here and there.

    I will admit, every time I sent my work out I would have a mini panic attack thinking how an agent, or publishing house, could change, not only the content, or the title, but also the book’s cover design. Almost as important as the words contained therein, the title and cover I selected have special meaning/significance.

    I certainly am okay with changing grammar or typo’s the professional editor, and everyone else I had read the manuscripts before printing, inadvertently missed. It would be nice to have a “perfect” book. It’s the creative license I do not want someone else to tinker with and change.

    I totally skipped the search-for-an-agent step with Finding Closure and went straight to Lulu. I’ve not regretted my decision for one minute. I intend to do the same with Ella, my current project. Unless another FUP service can show their quality will surpass Lulu’s, I’m staying put! Or, unless, of course, an agent or publisher wants to pick it up as it is… with a few modifications between the covers!

    My father inspired the character of William Dodson in Where Forever Begins. His father’s wisdom and gentleness was also portrayed as Jane’s Grandpa. Both fictional men played an awesome role in her life. With unconditional loving support, the Real McCoy’s were my building blocks for a solid foundation to face life and its challenges. I will be forever grateful and blessed for having these courageous men in my life.

    A couple of weeks ago a friend asked how I marketed my self-published books: Where Forever Begins and Finding Closure. It got me to thinking how lax I had become in that area. Now, finally… I’m back again and doing something about getting my name and the name of my novels out there – at least in cyberspace.

    It’s not that I’ve aspired, or ever imagined, becoming a well-known author such as Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, or Candace Havens. I don’t expect to ever sit on Ellen’s stage or be interviewed by Oprah. I write because I believe in the stories I share.

    It doesn’t matter in the whole scheme of things, but it took me four years to write Where Forever Begins, A Simple Love Story. Between living life, learning the “do’s and don’ts” of writing fiction, the historical research, and the professional editing process, the story finally came forth into print.

    Finding Closure didn’t take as long to write, maybe a year. I began the story while WFB was in the editing process. A stolen moment of writing here and there, then participating in “Fast Draft” – developed and coordinated by Candace Havens – took it over the finish line.

    Hundreds of thousands of articles on marketing are out in cyberspace… so much to read, so little time! I will come back here and post links to my favorites!

    Upcoming post: why I use Lulu for all my work.

    I’m basically writing two books and will merge together once both are finished.

    The main book is written in 3rd Person with multiple characters and the chapters are numbered.

    The other book has only one character, written in 1st Person (and I’m using a different font type). I have numbered the chapters, but when I merge (inserting each chapter separately, where needed), it will throw both off….

    So… what I’m thinking, wondering, what if I don’t number the “1st Person” chapters at all, or use alpha rather than numeric, along with the different font? Would the reader find this too confusing? I want the “mind’s movie” to continue without too much distraction.

    Of course, when the merge happens, I could go back in a change all the chapter numbers… but would be a pain in the butt!

    What do you think?

    Two characters in Ella are “genderless” – at least for a while, or maybe forever. I haven’t quite decided yet. Actually, when the mystery is solved… that one character… but, oops, it doesn’t necessarily mean …. Oooh! Just thought of something, another twist…. I love “talking” things out!

    But, wait, hold on… readers want to know “who dun it?” ….don’t they? Yet, the “Lone Ranger” came to mind… he always rode off in the sunset and we never knew who he really was… he was a good guy, however…. What if the bad person is never identified? Would the reader throw the book across the room? Or, gently place the book in a friend’s hand to read?

    Anyhoo… another thing for me to work out! Back to my original issue…because of my strong feelings of keeping gender out of the mix, it is a challenge to write pieces without using the typical he/she or his/her pronouns. It will only be a smidgen here and there from their POV so it won’t get boring or monotonous when I don’t mix in a pronoun with their proper name.

    Native Texan living in the Hill Country writing and experiencing life one day at a time.

    Novels by Lanetta J. Sprott:

    Where Forever Begins Finding Closure

    Where Forever Begins, A Simple Love Story and Finding Closure are available online at Lulu and Amazon.


    Read a preview of both novels here.


    New goal (to finish book): 95,000

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