M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

One Character, Two Characters, Three Characters, More?

How many characters should appear in your first chapter? It's a question I'm  sweating over since I have an agent interested in looking at samples of Dark Solstice. Yeah, I gotta write a whole new chapter from scratch. The second chapter, the much-revised original first chapter, was rejected, partly, because it had too many people in it. Guess I'll have to revise it too and take out some of the named characters.

The "Ugh" reaction is so big, I doubt I'll do it. The above publisher-attitude makes me wonder how much the mental abilities of the "American public" have been "dumbed down".

Old Haunts by E. J. Copperman is one of the books on my stack of "read, but not reviewed". Haunts is a well-done ghost-story mystery. The premise is neat: the ex-husband of one of the ghosts haunting Alison Kerby's guest house is found buried on a beach, murdered some years ago. 

Amateur sleuth Kerby reluctantly agrees to investigate when someone wants to hire her to investigate, and the dead ex-wife of the victim, who lives in her guest house, convinces her to take the job. The major complications arrive in good time to compel the reader to keep reading: the arrival of Kerby's own ex who pretends to want to reconcile and the arrest of the ghost's mother for the murder when Kerby investigates.  The resolution flows well from the incidents, both major and minor, in the story line.

So, how are the characters introduced? Copperman involves three characters in the first chapter -- the owner and the two ghosts who were killed at the guest house -- plus a fair amount of back story. I didn't consider the information an info-dump, but then, I'm tolerant of background. [If you've read any of my stories, you know just how tolerant.]

Copperman is an American, so she follows the American short-chapter pattern. She includes a few characters and sets up a complication at the end of the chapter. In this case, the complication was the arrival of the MC's ex-husband, "The Swine". The "Guaranteed Smile" here would raise the sympathy quotient of many female readers. [Yeah, I know females can be swine too. Got one in the extended family.]

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Have you heard about Pinterest yet? Have you explored it? I'm trying to limit my social networking ... but I find the concept intriguing. Jeff Bullas at jeffbullas.com discusses Pinterest plus gives some tips on using the site in your marketing. If I don't have to visit the site every day, I might put up the covers of my two free Half-Elven stories.

Speaking of social media, do you use a Facebook author's page? I have the Far Isle Half-Elven up there as well as my personal page ... or whatever they call it. Chanced to Google "Half-Elven" while checking my daughters new promo pics. Was surprised to see I've three links to pages on my website on the first page, including an earlier version of The Foiling Gorsfeld from Renna's point of view

If you Goggle "Far Isle Half-Elven" I've got the monopoly on the first page of listings. Now, I have to spend time exploring the links. Would you believe Chinese search engines have found my website?  -- And, no. The listings haven't increased the downloads of my free stories on Smashwords or the sales of Taking Vengeance

Though I'm beginning to wonder about Smashwords' statistics. I know four people who say they boought the novellette on Smashwords, and their statistics say I've only sold one. Good thing I don't care that much.
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