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Monday, August 16, 2010

Writers Movement Guest Blog Appearance: Jacqui Murray

Jacqui Murray is currently on a Virtual Book Tour. Today she will share with us some information on building characteristics for our characters and her book. So lets welcome Jacqui Murray!


Jacqui Murray's Bio

Meet techno non-fiction writer, Jacqui Murray, born in Berkley California to Irish-German parents. After receiving a BA in Economics, another in Russian and an MBA, she spent twenty years in a variety of industries while raising two children and teaching evening classes at community colleges. Now, she lives with her husband, adult son and two beautiful Labradors. She writes how-books, five blogs on everything from the Naval Academy to tech to science, as well as a column for the Examiner on tech tips.

Guest Blog Post

If your story sounds stilted or scripted, the believability of your characters might be the problem. Readers get to know them through your words, how they participates in the plot, and their introspective comments. Readers don’t like when the protagonist or antagonist or any of the individuals they’ve spent hours getting to know and love act, well, out of character.

Get to know your character–intimately–before you cast them. Know their favorite colors, movies, songs. Know their morals, educational background, weaknesses and strengths. Know them as though they were your child, or your best friend.

I’d suggest writing a profile. Not just a few paragraphs, but pages. Once you’ve completed that (see below), throw the character into situations and see if you can predict how they would act. If you know them well enough, you’ll find you can keep all of their thoughts, reactions, and movements, in character.

In my case I write a prequel to my story so I can flesh out the characters, their actions, thoughts, feelings. It’s not for publication (well, maybe as a prequel after people have met the characters in a later time frame. I’m still pondering that.) but it makes me comfortable that even the surprises in my novel are in character.

I’m a little crazy about getting them right. You might be able to do it in a shorter amount of effort.

You can get lists of background questions from the books in this blog’s sidebar. Here are traits I use to flesh out my characters:

· What is their ruling passion–what makes them tick?

· How old are they?

· Describe them physically including abnormalities, allergies, scars, deformities, posture, bearing.

· Describe them psychologically, including their fears, manias, inhibitions, patterns of behavior, special abilities, soundness of reasoning, habits. Are they irritable? Are they sensible? What are longings, aptitudes, special talents?

· What are their emotional firestorms, like ambition, love, hate, greed, vengefulness, lust, envy, malice?

· What is their purpose in the story?

· What is their position in the story–antagonist, protagonist, confidante?

· What are their speech patterns?

· How does their voice sound? Breathy? Gravelly? Mellow?

· Do they have nervous ticks, gestures, mannerisms (everyone does–what are theirs?) Do they tug on an ear?

· Take the time to go through their typical day–work, jog, visit the health club, drink coffee at Starbucks. Then when they do something out of this routine, you can explain it.

· What are their strengths and weaknesses?

· What is their work life like?

Enough? You’ll know when you write the character into a scene. Is there any time that you aren’t sure how your character should behave? If there is, add more detail to your list.

Do you have any other questions you ask of your character? I’d like to learn from your experience.


How to Reach Jacqui Murray


Anyone interested in my books, here is where you can find them:

· My six technology workbooks are available on Amazon.com and the publisher's website. The ebooks are available on Scribd.com.

· My two computer lab toolkits are available on Amazon.com and the publisher's website. The ebooks are available on Scribd.com.

· My Computer Lab Toolkit and Technology Workbooks site is Ask a Tech Teacher

· My writing tips blog is WordDreams

· I also write a column for Examiner.com. I invite everyone to read that, add comments, follow me!

· Oh—my Twitter handle is @askatechteacher

Summary of her book, 55 Technology Projects for the Digital Classroom Volumes I and II



The two-volume 55 Technology Projects for the Digital Classroom is part of Jacqui Murray's eight-volume comprehensive tech ed series geared for both the classroom teacher and the homeschooler. They include one hundred and ten simple-to-follow projects that integrate technology into language arts, geography, history, science as well as life skills such as problem solving, research and critical thinking, using student-centered lessons that meet NETS-S national guidelines and many state standards. Each project includes software required, time involved, suggested experience level, subject area supported, tech jargon, step-by-step lessons, extensions to dig deeper, troubleshooting tips, reproducibles, grading rubrics and many samples. Tech programs used include Microsoft Office, Google Earth, keyboarding, email, Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, internet start pages, social bookmarking and photo storage), Photoshop and Celestia. Also included is an Appendix of over 200 age-appropriate child-friendly websites. Skills taught include collaboration, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, creativity, digital citizenship, information fluency, presentation, and technology concepts. In short, these two volumes include everything you need to integrate technology into the twenty-first century classroom. See the publisher's website at structuredlearning.net for free downloads, access to their virtual classroom, help from their on staff tech teacher (via her blog) and more details.

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