Thursday, December 23, 2010

108 Ways to Have Your Hero Demonstrate a Sense of Humor


Where Women are Experts!

Women are experts in knowing what women want in a romance hero. However, there is almost always one weakness and that is giving the hero a sense of humor. A sense of humor always ranks in the top five things women find sexy in a man. I think this is a shame because heroes with a sense of humor, like Richard Castle in the TV show Castle are very popular with the ladies. I know editors don’t want writers trying to be funny unless they are real pros at humor. But humor does not have to be only jokes.

Not all humor has to be in the form of jokes. Consider the different types of humor mentioned below and see if any would be fitting for your hero.

Please note that the intention of this checklist is to stimulate ideas that you can use in your story.

1. Slapstick: these are physical jokes like pratfalls. Hero likes to pretend he is falling down or actually falls down. The key here is picking the right situation for him to do this.

2. Puns may be the lowest form of humor but for the right hero, the right puns it can work well. “When it comes to drinks, citrus fruit juices are always in the limelight.”

3. Form jokes, like knock-knock jokes, might work well. This might work well when it ties in to a profession.

4. Profession jokes might work. Like lawyer jokes but make them up yourself. Don’t use one that everyone knows unless the hero is known for telling old jokes.

5. Funny props: hero might employ props to be funny. Like funny eye glasses or rubber snakes. It has to be done in the right situation.

6. Puzzles that are funny might show the hero’s intelligence and humor.

7. Cute or funny repartee can work. (This is very much liked by readers). Think of the TV show “Castle” and the old show “Moonlighting”.

8. Use of double entendres. These usually are suggestive but when done in a lighthearted manner can add humor to a hero.

9. Quotes that are funny, interesting, or sarcastic can work very well. Get a good source of quotes.

10. Point out billboards, one on top of the other, that when read together can be quite funny. Make these up to fit the storyline.

11. Hero can read funny newspaper headlines when looking at the paper. These should tie-into the story. There are books of these headlines and these could well give you an idea of your own for your story.

11. Point out funny road signs when on a drive. There are also books made up of photos of these signs. See if you can use one in your story.

12. Have hero say something funny in a stressful situation to relieve tension.

13. Have the hero make a deliberate misunderstanding to create the funny situation. This happens when a sentence or group of words can have two meanings.

14. Quirky habits can provide humor. These are even funnier when they play into another funny situation. The quirky habit needs to be established first. You might have two people with established quirky habits who meet up in a situation where their habits compliment each other. The reader could actually be waiting for the quirks to coincide.

15. Have hero tell funny one line jokes to fit given situations. (These are best kept as short as possible.)

16. Hero makes funny faces behind other people’s backs to embarrass heroine or make her laugh when laughing would be inappropriate.

17. Phone gags might work. Like when someone calls at the heroine’s apartment and the hero answers and says: “She’s in the shower. I’ll go get her out.” (It could be the heroine’s mother or pastor.)

18. Use a funny situation. Like having the heroine lock herself out of the house while she is wearing a belly dancing outfit.

19. Have hero sign songs that annoy the heroine because the lines are always apropos to the heroine’s situation: “Who’s sorry now” and “The party’s over.”

20. Hero uses a kind of sign language that he invented but is easy to understand. He uses it so that the heroine can see him but the party she is talking to cannot.

21. Use things that the hero wears like a button that reads: “Kiss Me I’m Italian”.

22. Use a key chain which reads “Of Course I love you.” (Girls like to hear that.)

23. Use quirky behavior with little kids. Hero kneels down and asks the kid an adult question like: “Do you know when the next bus for Detroit goes by?” (They are in Tulsa.)

24. Wise cracks. For example, when looking at a gangster type person who looks ugly, have hero say something like: “But I bet he loves his mother” or “yes, but doesn’t he have pretty eyes?”

25. Add on to any funny situation with a second joke: Hero wears a button that says: “Kiss my I’m Irish”. Heroine says, “But you’re not Irish”. “I know but I won’t tell if you don’t”. The heroine says: “But that would be getting kisses under false pretenses.” Hero says: “I know. Don’t you just love the forbidden fruit aspects of this?”

26. Think of funny phone messages for the answering machine for the hero to use.

27. Have hero use a voice that sounds just like a recording when answering the phone: “Hello, this is a live person. In a moment you will get a recording machine. Please leave your message with the machine and not the live person.”

28. Give the hero a supply of martyr medals to give to people who complain a lot. These look like real military ribbons and have the letter “M” embossed on them. (The situation will come later in the book where the heroine will say in panic: “Don’t you dare give that lady a martyr medal.” Does he?

29. Have gimmicks for the hero to use like the fake book which is blank inside. The title is: “All I know about the Stock Market” by Jim Jacks. BTW: Jacks is a potential or past boyfriend of the heroine.

30. Have funny bumper stickers: “Of Course I Love You”. (This is for a story where the heroine’s biggest complaint is that the hero cannot say the word ‘love’.)

31. Have a funny screen saver on the hero’s computer. “Loving you is my default. If I change my mind, I’ll tell you.” (Perfect when the heroine is always trying to get the hero to say he loves her.)

32. Hero has small noise maker in his pocket. When heroine starts to babble he takes it out and makes noises.

33. Hero has practical joke items around the house that can come into play at the right time in the story. (He has rubber item that looks just like spilled wine which he can put on the heroines expensive white jacket.)

34. Hero was a student magician and can pull objects out of the heroine ear. He does this at the most annoying and funny times.

35. Hero was or is a stage actor and he has wigs he wears to unsettle the heroine.

36. Hero can throw his voice like a ventriloquist which he does in restaurants making the heroine laugh against her will.

37. You can leverage the joke if you can make the heroine laugh when she is furious at the hero for doing the funny thing or some prior funny thing.

38. Hero can make a voice as if another person is talking to him on his cell phone. This lets him conduct the craziest conversations. This drives the heroine nuts until she figures out what he is doing.

39. Hero has habit of asking jokes in the form: “How can you tell an x from a y”. The jokes are always different and the heroine never gets them right. These should all tie into what is going on in the novel. Like the heroine is a writer and the hero says: “How can you tell an agent from an editor?” Heroine says, “I don’t know”. Hero says, “I suggest you find out before you go to that writer’s conference.”

40. Hero wears funny hats. Get the right hat to go with the story line.

41. Hero wears funny watches; some that talk, some that run backwards; some with no numbers on the face; one that looks like a sun dial but still works because the shadow moves correctly.

42. Hero has a very good foreign accent: pick the language to meet the storyline. The heroine hates this when she introduces him to her friends and colleagues.

43. Hero has very real looking candy cigarettes that he puts into his mouth in places where smoking is very much forbidden.

44. Hero has a funny door bell or door knocker.

45. Hero has a portrait in his living room of a relative. When you walk close enough to it a voice says: “What are you looking at?”

46. Hero uses legal postage stamps with his picture on them or heroine’s picture on them.

47. Hero, who cooks, has funny apron.

48. Hero has funny car horn that is only funny when he wants it to be. Otherwise it is normal.

49. Hero can do very funny dance steps which he can do in a split second every time the heroine’s back it to him.

50. Hero has a waiter bring him an old style phone while at the table with a date. She says, “That phone has no wire attached?” The hero says, “I know, that’s why I keep a cell phone inside it.” He opens the phone face and takes out a cell phone. There needs to be a reason for this like when the hero is telling the heroine that she has to think outside the box if she wants to get ahead in her job.

51. Make up: “Do you know why?” jokes. “Do you know why it was so important that someone invent blinds for windows?” “Otherwise it would be curtains for all of us.” Make the joke fit the exact storyline.

52. Make up: “Do you know what you get when you mix x with y?” jokes.

53. Make up an if x married y joke: “If Olivia Newton John married John Travolta, she be Olivia Newton John-Travolta.” Make this so it fits into the story.

54. Hero can sound just like a transistor radio giving a newscast. He does this at inopportune times. Used to do it in school and the teacher could never find the radio.

55. Hero can tap dance and does so when he is happy.

56. Hero speaks in spoonerisms to be funny. Like saying ‘fighting a liar’ for ‘lighting a fire’. Also: A radio announcer once introduced Herbert Hoover as "Hoobert Heaver".

57. Hero makes up four line ditties, little poems, to spoof a situation.

58. Hero with help of buddy does a routine where they each finish each other’s sentences.

59. Hero breaks out into a Shakespeare quote at just the right time in the story. He quotes it like a ham actor. (He could be a Little Theater ham actor.)

60. Hero makes up limericks on the spot to make the heroine laugh in serious situations. There was an Old Man who supposed,

That the street door was partially closed;

But some very large rats,

Ate his coats and his hats

While that futile old gentleman dozed.

By Edward Lear.

The above is an example of a limerick.

61. Hero and buddy seem to spontaneously break into Shakespearian dialogues when something happens in the story that gives them an opening.

62. Hero learned to play one classical piece on the piano which he does from time to time in public places to great applause. He can’t play anything else. (This may infuriate a heroine who can actually play the piano.)

63. Hero has trained his dog to do a few stupid pet tricks and he has dog do funny tricks whenever the heroine wants to have a serious talk.

64. Hero has fun with speech and numbers like saying: “There were between one and four thousand people at my speech last night.” He really meant one, as in one person, and what he said was a true statement. (There were between 1 person and 4,000 people there.)

65. Hero is always sending heroine funny greeting cards and post cards. Get ideas from read cards in a store or make up a card idea to exactly meet the needs of the story.

66. Hero gets band at night club to change the word to a popular song to impress his girlfriend. Changes “Sheri” to “Mary” when girlfriend is named “Mary”.

67. Hero leaves embarrassing or strange magazines on heroine’s desk at work.

68. Hero orders newest book by heroine’s favorite author from Europe where it is published six months before it is in US. He reads it and asks her how she liked the book.

69. Hero has restaurant sing happy birthday to heroine when it is not her birthday. This is at restaurants where they make a big production of singing Happy Birthday.

70. Hero shows up in a Santa Claus outfit to take her on a date to a very nice restaurant at Christmas time.

71. Hero rents billboard for a month near heroine’s job which reads, “Of course I love You, Mary” after she complains he does not say “I love you enough.”

72. Hero can make his voice sound just like a woman’s. He can say things when heroine is only woman in the room and everyone will think she said it.

73. Hero leaves pregnancy tests on people’s desks where the heroine works.

74. Hero rewrites cartoon captions that appear in magazines to apply to the heroine and which are funnier than the original captions.

75. Hero has plastic bugs he puts in his top desk draw in order to hear the heroine squeak when she is snooping.

76. Hero has funny phone answering messages or he records the heroine’s phone message and puts it on his answering machine. When she calls him, she thinks she got her number by mistake.

77. Hero has a little kid go up to heroine while they are seated at an event and the kid says, “Mommy, that’s not daddy.” (This is a romance cliché twist. You know what I mean.)

78. Hero makes heroine a crossword puzzle on his computer with all terms that apply to them or just her. These can be funny in referring to embarrassing moments that have already happened in the first part of the book.

79. Hero is always hiding little candies that the heroine likes at her place, at work and in her car. She never knows when one up turn up.

80. Hero has fun with silly fortune cookies. He writes and inserts the fortunes.

81. When heroine asks for a cup of coffee, hero brings her a cup of ground coffee beans. He does things like this. “Well, it is a cup of coffee. Women.”

82. Hero burns a CD with every song he can think of that has heroine’s name in it and plays it in the car when they are on an extended trip.

83. Hero sends a love letter by certified mail that she has to sign for at work.

84. Hero’s phone ring-tone is: “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You.” This is also for when the hero can never say the word ‘love’. It drives the heroine nuts.

85. Hero subscribes to Cosmopolitan magazine. When asked why, he says: “Know your enemy.”

86. Hero keeps a box of different lipsticks in his car. He says at right time: “If you need some lipstick, check the glove compartment.”

87. Hero has the six most popular perfumes in his medicine chest. “Women like it when you can identify their perfume. Like when they change from x to y, it’s cool if you notice it. They think you are just infatuated with them.”

88. Hero creates a funny ‘Top 10 Reasons” list about heroine and sees she gets it at the perfect time.

89. Hero has a paper in his wallet with the heading “Before You Get All Upset Read This” and it’s all mushy things the hero has done in the past for the heroine.

90. Hero has wedding ring in his wallet he wears at the worse times: Like when meeting the heroine’s mother for the first time.

91. Hero has picture of him with his arms around an attractive woman and two little children all sitting on a soft like a family portrait. She is his sister and they are her kids. He loves to watch a new girlfriend when she first sees that picture. It tells him a lot about her interest in him.

92. Hero has a picture of himself, bare-chested, holding a baby. “I’m told women like that stuff,” he says. He has this photo on ‘business cards’ that he saves to give dates.

93. Hero has romance books with his picture on the cover as the hero. He should have a job in printing or advertising to make this work best.

94. Hero finds out that the heroine likes romances and who her favorite authors are. He gets those authors to autograph books saying nice things about him and he let’s the heroine ‘discover’ these books at just the right time in his house, office, or car.

95. Hero finds out heroine is reading a romance with a cowboy on the cover. He shows up for their next date wearing the same outfit the cowboy on the cover was wearing. He bought the book and took it to a Western wear store. She can’t believe her eyes!

96. Hero has his mother drop by while hero and heroine are having lunch outdoors in park. The mother is in on it and she says: “He speaks about you all the time. How was life in the convent for those five years?” Perhaps it’s not his mother but a friend. He could do this three different times before heroine meets his real mother. (At this point she does not believe hero has a mother.)

97. Hero has the art department put his picture on a box of cereal which he just keeps out in the kitchen without saying anything about it. (Breakfast of Champions.)

98. Hero has a parrot but he can sound just like his parrot so depending where people are in the room, they can’t tell if the parrot spoke or if it was the hero. Of course, it is possible, for a little while, for the heroine to not even know hero can speak like the parrot. This could be quite funny if the parrot answers the heroine’s questions. Like “What time does Castle come on?” The parrot says “Nine o’clock Sweetpea.”

99. Hero asks tricky questions the reader will like: “Name the only two presidents who had ‘Thomas’ as a first name”. Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson. Almost no one knows that Wilson’s first name was Thomas.

100. Hero mixes real fruit in his bowl of artificial fruit. It’s hard to tell which is which.

101. In a cafeteria while eating with heroine, he has people come up to him and give him a dollar bill. He says thanks and they walk off. When the heroine asks about this, he says: “I don’t know. All my life people have come up and given me dollar bills.”

102. Hero does obscure jokes that are easy to miss. In his office he has a poster framed with this logo: “GM Mark of Excellence”. When you look closely you see that they word “Excellence” is smudged.

103. Hero has an old 1943 Calendar in his office because it’s the same as 2010. He actually uses the calendar.

104. Hero has laughing record he plays in his car when heroine is upset with him. She can’t help herself and always laughs, too.

105. Hero pulls gags like this: he asks the heroine if it would be OK for him to give her a ring at 8:00 am tomorrow. The next day he gives her a little box with a costume jewelry ring in it. This is extra funny when she was wishing for an engagement ring but all she got was a gag.

106. Hero can play guitar and he sings songs with the wrong lyrics to make heroine laugh.

107. Hero buys the Italian edition of a romance novel the heroine wants to read. He tells her, “Everyone says it’s better in Italian.”

108. Hero has his photo taken with the bride at a wedding. He was best man so he is also in a tux. He likes to see how women react when they see the picture hanging in his home or office.

That’s just a few.

Good luck.

Also See: 111 Ways to Add Conflict to your Scenes 

Monday, December 20, 2010

111 Ways to Add Conflict to your Scenes


Think of tensions as conflict. Think of having a series of small conflicts snowball into greater conflict.

1. raise or lower the stakes.

2. switch the conflict to something else.

3. remove the conflict to show alternative is worse.

4. change the stakes.

5. have someone wearing something that is annoying or threatening.

6. reduce the time left to finish task.

7. have someone with a habit that drives the other person crazy, like snapping fingers.

8. have someone who talks too low or too fast or too slow to be heard or to be understand. Speaker could be just sing-song: something that will annoy the other party.

9. have someone break something; messy or of sentimental value.

10. place a small obstacle in front of a big one: person can’t find his keys when he must rush out to his car because of an emergency. He could even then drop keys on the law in the dark.

11. have person get a traffic ticket, followed by having an expired license, etc. parlay problems.

12. have person’s long-talking mother call at the wrong time -- when character is busy and under stress.

13. when in a car have traffic jams, accidents, painting dividing lines on the road, resurfacing parking lot and so on.

14. embarrassments: “Jones, you left your resume in the copier again”.

15. lost items, wrong items, wrong files, make problems worse.

16. have car make a strange noise, smell, or red warning light come on.

17. car problems of all types: tire problems, water leak; fan belt.

18. late charges on credit cards because check was delayed in the mail.

19. have the conflict just be a symptom of a bigger problem: this can be a variation of increasing the stakes.

20. have person lose a filling or break a tooth.

21. have the new boss be someone who hates the main character from past dealings.

22. have person win an award that another person wanted to win and that the other person does not value.

23. give a reason for person to have a strong dislike for another person: perhaps he learns a person is a bigot; perhaps a whole group is full of bigots; gut that person or group’s help is needed.

24. make the character physically uncomfortable: music too loud, road construction too loud, room too hot, too cold, person is hungry, has blood sugar that is getting too low.

25. get an incorrect bill for a utility: one of those crazy ones like $56,000 for a month’s water bill.

26. have someone find out someone they trust has been lying to them. Could be on an unimportant matter but a lie none the less.

27, have someone find a book in the other person’s car about some topic that is scary: living with AIDS, etc.

28. have a dog or cat get lost.

29. have a child or relative’s child go missing.

30. have person or whole meeting be evacuated when there is a bomb threat.

31. have person in hurry denied entry to an airplane because they are mistakenly on the no-fly list.

32. person forgets to take his medicine.

33. a raise goes to co-worker but not you.

34. you hear there is going to be a 10% reduction in force. This is something for the character to worry about.

35. person has small house fire. It may look suspicious.

36. someone has tried to break into character’s home but didn’t get in.

37.the mosquito spray truck goes by while characters are in a tense moment on the front yard.

38. there is a small earthquake – 2.9 not that uncommon in the area -- but is a bigger earthquake coming?

39. talk about your employer being taken over by global company.

40. IRS audit.

41. big increase in ad valorem tax.

42. reveal small area where parties have conflicting interests: even likely different sport teams. Things that make the other uneasy.

43. fight over a political view, candidate or referendum.

44. one party is always late for dates and this time it causes problems, one party blows up.

45. Freudian slip made by party; how can it be fixed? Once you said it?

46. awaiting test results: could be a school exam or medical test.

47. have credit card rejected at restaurant while on date.

48. being bumped on an important airline flight.

49. party makes comment that the other party sees as a disqualifier as a future mate: something like not wanting to have any children. May not be what other party really thinks.

50. date has an annoying habit of speech as in saying “You know” all the time.

51. party contributes money to organization other party hates.

52. strong difference of opinion on aspect of how to raise a child: perhaps on corporal punishment.

53. party does not take seriously something the other party does; one party just brushes it off like it is of no consequence.

54. party breaks a confidence and is caught.

55. party is caught snooping; perhaps it only looks like snooping.

56. party is caught listening to other person’s phone messages.

57. the newspaper boy did not stop paper as he was told to do; 14 newspapers are in yard.

58. someone runs a red light, almost kills character, and gets away with it.

59. person is losing money at poker game when he gets emergency call taking him away.

60. character can’t keep herself from crying and looking weak in a given situation.

61. someone borrowed car and left it almost out of gas.

62. character was not asked to attend business meeting; this could be nothing or it could indicate a loss in status.

63. locking oneself out of one’s house or apartment for the second time in a week.

64. seeing that someone has damaged your car in a parking lot and took off.

65. character’s child has problem; not selected for cheerleading team; did not make the baseball team. This is now your problem too.

66. lawnmower catches on fire as you are cutting lawn.

67. you see you neighbor face down on his front lawn.

68. character’s mother is dating a con man or bum.

69. unexpected bills create short term money problems.

70. character overhears others saying unkind things about her; perhaps her hair or clothes.

71. your doctor or dentist is retiring.

72. you wear the wrong eyeglasses to work and are annoyed all day.

73. neighbor is painting his house an ugly iridescent color.

74. just when problems are getting worse, you are called out of town to solve a business emergency.

75. you were given a wrong prescription at the pharmacy and it made you act weird at an important meeting/. You are not sure why it happened.

76. a killer is being sought and you look just like the artist’s drawing they are showing on TV.

77. last minute changes prior to a stressful event; like change in speaking order before important talk.

78. you scratched your ear and find out it is bleeding.

79. getting laryngitis before an important talk.

80. twisting your ankle going into an important meeting; walk with limp; look less powerful.

81. something you are putting together has missing parts so you can’t complete the job.

82. garbage strike and you have lots of garbage.

83. you break a bottle of something that smells real bad before guests arrive.

84. your internet website goes down because someone forgot to renew your domain name.

85. you think someone is stalking you.

86. you get hate mail.

87. you find a pregnancy test in your girlfriend’s bedroom, daughter’s bedroom, you name it.

88. your icemaker floods the kitchen.

89. your garage door remote does not work.

90. your automatic window won’t go up in your car.

91. you’ve erased all the photos from your vacation trip.

92. someone has stolen your identity.

93. your condo association comes out with a big special assessment.

94. the self-checkout at the grocery store won’t work right. You are in hurry. No live people available.

95. the shoplifter alarm goes off when you go out the store door.

96. there is a horse loose on the highway.

97. there are several strange cars in your driveway when you arrive home.

98. your blind date does not speak English.

99. you set the alarm off on a car you try to enter just because it looks just like yours.

100. a letter from the IRS says you made a mistake and you must send $1,200 to them.

101. Your bank deducts $500 from your checking account because they credited one of your deposits twice.

102. your golf shot breaks a car window in the parking lot near the pro shop.

103. parking lights are out and you have to walk to your car in the dark. Long scary walk.

104. elevator is out of order and you have to walk ten flights down to leave work (in the dark because power if off).

105. you take a wrong turn on expressway and find yourself in a gang infested neighborhood.

106. a lot of scary people get on your subway car, train car, or bus. This is stressful even if nothing happens.

107. your cab driver does not match his picture.

108. someone at work gets an envelop full of white power.

109. your new car has been recalled.

110. you find out your lover has a twin he or she did not tell you about. Why?

111. you see what looks like a drug buy going down and hope they don’t see you.

Also See: 108 Ways to Have Your Hero Demonstrate a Sense of Humor

Aslo See: Over 100 Examples of Physical Proxies!

Over 100 Examples of Physical Proxies!

Physical Proxies Are Ways To Convey Emotion! Silently and Without Dialogue.

Note: All the below actions can be taken when someone else is talking to a character or walking away from or towards a character.

Some of the below examples can conjure up more than one emotion. Some can even elicit contradictory emotions. Read these to experience an emotion you need for your story.

1. turn your back on the speaker.

2. turn an empty coffee cup upside down while other person is talking.

3. look at your foot while moving it like you were rearranging dirt or sand on the ground.

4. blow on a pencil eraser like you were blowing out a candle.

5. when on a beach pick up handful of sand and let it run through your fingers.

6. take a golf swing with imaginary club as another is talking.

7. tie your shoe.

8. look at your watch. Look repeatedly.

9. cross your arms across your chest and tilt your head upward.

10. scratch behind both your ears at the same time.

11. doodle on envelop as someone is talking.

12. take your keys out of you pocket. Put keys back and do this again. Take key off the chain and put it back on the chain.

13. pick up a handful of hard candies that were on your desk. Make excessive noise as you open unwrap a piece of candy. Either offer or not offer candy to speaker.

14. on golf course, bend down, pull some grass and throw in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. Do this when there is no wind or when to wind will blow the grass toward the other person.

15. in kitchen…get up and water a plant.

16. in kitchen…empty coffee filter with used coffee grounds in it. Make face at the mess.

17. brush some lint off the other person shirt as he is talking to you.

18. Get up and turn off the radio.

19. get up and open sliding glass door to let air in room.

20. swirl the last bit of coffee at the bottom of your coffee cup while looking intently at it.

21. stretch both arms outward along your sides and then move them backward as far as you can.

22. gather some papers on your desk and throw them in your trash can. (Obviously, this could be a way of showing what you think of the other person’s ideas.)

23. go over and look into a mirror.

24. take off your tie while being spoken to.

25. outdoors: take off you cap and then put it back on. You can repeat this many times.

26. offer the person who is talking some gum, or hard candy. Place candy in person’s top pocket even if person does not want it.

27. bend down an pull up your socks.

28. put hand in pocket and rattle the change that is in there. Take out a coin and look at the date.

29. scratch both elbows at same time.

30. look up at the sky as if you see something there.

31. look up into a high tree as if you see something there. Point finger up towards tree top even if nothing is there.

32. get up and straighten a picture on the wall. Picture can be left crooked.

33. pick up a book and put it back into a bookcase. Spend time finding the right place for the book. Leave book facing outward as if you intend to send a message.

34. get up and get a glass of water without offering one to the speaker. Put some of the water into a plant that is on your desk.

35. look at the family pictures you have on your desk.

36. listen extra close to sounds coming from the parking lot outside your window.

37. looks at watch, then get up and move the clock on the wall five minutes ahead.

38. while riding in car, change radio station or turns radio off as other person speaks. This could be his car or your car.

39. sitting at a desk, absent mindedly stick a pencil erase in your ear. (Remember: these actions can be both emotional and symbolic.)

40. while talking on the phone in bed to someone else do this:

A. throw pillow against wall

B. kick all the covers off

C. look at a framed photo and turn it face away from your bed

D. hold the phone six inches from your ear

E. start reading a magazine, flipping through pages looking at pictures

F. pretend to be throwing darts at the wall

41. while sitting at desk and talking to someone, kicks shoes off. Work on shoe to the top of the toes and flip it off. Smile.

42. while leaving a movie theater, pick up a trash paper on the ground and put it into a trash can.

43. while walking to your car in a parking lot, look in the windows of all the cars you pass (maybe looking for kids locked in cars).

44. while at restaurant tap the fancy water glass with spoon to hear it ping as the other person is talking.

45. while in sport’s bar, keep moving your eyes from one TV to anther, while someone is talking to you.

46. while talking to another, take off watch and put it back on the other hand.

47. while walking in a park, jump up like you are making a basketball shot.

48. While outside, take your sunglasses off while the other person is speaking to you.

49. while talking to someone, do a knee-bend or several knee-bends.

50. while talking to someone, remove a small band-aid from behind your ear.

51. while talking to someone look at the ceiling or sky as if you were reading something written up there.

52. while sitting outdoors, sit on your hands , off and on.

53. while outside talking to someone, wave to someone you see who is quite far away.

54. while talking to someone in a living room, just lay down on a sofa and continue talking as if nothing happened.

55. when entering an apartment, stand on your hands and walk up to the dog and introduce yourself, eye to eye with the dog.

56. when talking to someone, raise your arm and pull down like you are pulling a rip cord.

57. if someone takes a little too long to answer the front door, sit on the flood so they see you there when the open the door.

58. if you see a chess set in a room, go over and put the queen on her color if the pieces are set up wrong. Don’t ask permission.

59. when speaking to a person of opposite sex, take their hand and look at the wording on their class ring. Move hand up to eye level if necessary.

60. when opening a car door, jump up in the air and do a 360 degree spin around acting like nothing unusual happened.

61. when walking in a park with a lake, quack like a duck. Pretend you didn’t do it.

62. when opening a car door, move to brush off the seat – even though there is nothing to be seen on the seat.

63. behavior when a character is alone and does not know he is being watched:

A. makes the sign on the cross.

B. keeps looking in a handheld mirror.

C. pretends to kick football.

D. places hands on hips.

E. pretends to be smoking a cigar.

F. does a few jumping jacks.

64. someone yawns while you are speaking.

65. using breath spray, freshener, while someone is speaking.

66. you fail to tie your necktie right several times in a row.

67. you tie shoelace in a knot and can’t untie it.

68. someone tries to look emotionless like when they have a good hand at poker.

69. drops wallet, then keys to house, picks them up with no sign of emotion.

70. person forgets if he locked the front door of house and has to go back and check.

71. can’t remember if she left the hair roller heat on; has to go back to house and check it – even if she has driven miles from the house.

72. keeps checking email every few minutes.

73. fidgety while waiting on line to talk to a talk show host on the radio.

74. balling up paper sheets and throwing them into the trash can.

75. eating the ice in a glass that once held a soft drink; making noise and perhaps faces.

76. pick up a cat and pet it – even when cat does not want to be picked up.

77. pick up stones and throw them; this is good thrown into a river or lake.

78. at table: keep adjusting your napkin on your lap. Have napkin fall off several times.

79. get up and lower the light on a 3-way bulb.

80. loosen or tighten a belt buckle.

81. in hospital room: go over and smell flowers.

82. in hospital room: look closely at the IV bag. Try to read what is written on it.

83. in car: click over-drive button on and off absentmindedly.

84. keep checking to see if wallet is still in your pocket.

85. hold object in hand, light a lighter, and hold that hand behind your back. Like you are hiding something. Symbolic.

86. sit down when someone is talking to you or if seated, stand up. Aggressive: move closer to that person.

87. when seated at a desk, spin around 360 degrees as someone is talking to you.

88. if talking to someone near a computer, tap the space bar every time the screen saver comes on.

89. at computer, put your hand on the mouse and absentmindedly click the wheel button.

90. in restaurant, keep looking often for your waitress or waiter.

91. smile like you know something the other does not; make the other person nervous.

92. when putting on shirt, get the buttons unaligned.

93. when opening the door, use the wrong key when by now you should know the right key.

94. bump your head on something you should know was there; hit your elbow on something you also knew was there.

95. try to start your car when it is in gear.

96. try to start your car while it is already running. Makes terrible noise.

97. drive off the curb when leaving a parking lot.

98. drive into a one way street the wrong way.

99. forget you pin code at check out counter.

100. forget to sign your checks that you just mailed to pay bills.

101. read five pages before you realize that you can’t remember a thing you read.

102. throw a book or magazine you were reading across the room.

103. stir your coffee with your finger.

Also See: 108 Ways to Have Your Hero Demonstrate a Sense of Humor

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Power of Romance Lifts the Spirit in this Debut Novel!

 The Rancher’s Reunion” Combines Power with Sensitivity to Deliver Exceptional Reading Enjoyment!

I’d be tempted to say that “The Rancher’s Reunion” is better than a first novel has any right to be – except for the fact that the author, Tina Radcliffe, has won countless writing contests, regularly writes romances for Women’s World” magazine and is one of the most creative bloggers on the internet.  

So while I knew this novel would be good, I didn’t expect “The Rancher’s Reunion” to exhibit such powerful writing!

What makes “The Rancher’s Reunion” so powerful? Consider how power is generated in nature. When cold Canadian air meets warm moist Gulf air over Oklahoma nature just explodes! The results are thunder storms and tornadoes.

This same type of thing happens in romance writing when two very strong opposing forces clash.

The First Force

The first force is the conflict keeping the hero and heroine apart. This conflict needs to be both credible and seemingly insurmountable. The problem with this, from the author’s point of view, is that the stronger the conflict, the harder it is to come up with a believable solution to it.
In “The Rancher’s Reunion” there are many conflicts keeping the hero and heroine apart.

The Second Force

The second force is generated when the author creates a hero and heroine so sympathetically that the reader becomes strongly motivated to root for them to overcome their difficulties and get together. In "The Rancher's Reunion" the hero and heroine are worthy people who really deserve happiness. They are perfect for each other: except! There is a problem. There is conflict.

In “The Rancher’s Reunion” both the hero, Will Sullivan, and heroine, Annie Harris, are worthy people who deserve happiness. 

The Fully Invested Reader

When these two powerful forces are in play, the reader becomes fully invested in seeing the conflict resolved successfully.

The “One-Two” Punch

This ‘one-two’ punch is especially powerful. Many romance stories don’t try to do this. Often the conflict is mild – even just a misunderstanding. Sometimes the hero and heroine just aren’t that sympathetically drawn. While these less powerfully written novels can be perfectly delightful romances, really powerfully writing, like found in “The Rancher’s Reunion” is uncommon.

About the Story

In “The Rancher’s Reunion” the hero, Will Sullivan, has very good reasons for never wanting to get married. In an important sense, the reader may not even want the heroine, Annie Harris, to marry this hero. It’s a real question. There are even ethical considerations that you don’t find in the typical romance.

Credible Conflict

The conflict keeping the Will and Annie apart is very real and it has great credibility because the author is an RN who utilizes her detailed medical knowledge to create a heart wrenching dilemma. These details are very important.

Power Requires Attention to Details

Writing with power is like working with water under pressure. Evan a small leak can cause major problems. It is very important for an author working in a high powered situation to get all her facts and details right. In an easy-going story getting small details wrong may not be a big deal; but when the whole emphasis is on the seemingly insurmountable conflict keeping the hero and heroine apart, any mistake will be magnified. It may even make the reader think the author is cheating.

“The Rancher’s Reunion” & Authentic Details

St. Francis Hospital
 Much of the story takes place in Tulsa where I have lived for over 30 years. All the facts are spot-on. From getting off the plane at Tulsa International Airport, to driving to Woodland Hills mall, to entering St. Francis hospital, everything is depicted the way it really is. While I am not a medical expert, I have had my share of major operations at St. Francis Hospital, and I can say that all the medical situations accorded with my experiences.

Tulsa International Airport
A Really Heroic Heroine
Annie Harris is a wonderful person who is just back from Africa where she was injured in a terrorist attack while serving as a missionary nurse. Annie loves Will but she grew up in the Sullivan family home pretty much as his ‘little sister’. Annie’s mother abandoned her at the ranch for her own good.

While Annie is now grown, Will still sees her as his 'little sister'. Adding to this problem is the fact that there is a ten year age difference between Annie and Will. More importantly, there is a devastating medical secret that is keeping Will from considering marriage to anyone. Annie provides a solution in true heroic fashion.

Power Requires a Credible Solution!
“The Rancher’s Reunion” is a powerful story and as I was reading the book I kept wondering how the author was ever going to work this out?

Not What I Expected!
What happens in “The Rancher’s Reunion” is not what I expected! In fact, several times, when Annie and Will were having critical ‘talks’, I thought I knew what was going to happen next. But things didn’t happen that way! Not only was I surprised by the unexpected turns in “The Rancher’s Reunion”, so were the characters!

Did She Really Say That?

A few times, as I was reading, I said to myself, “That’s not what I expected Annie to say.” Then within a few lines, Will would say the same thing in the story! At one point Will says “This isn’t going the way I expected.”

And I thought, “Tell me about it!”

Usually I don’t talk to the characters in the book I am reading but “The Rancher’s Reunion” will do that to you. The author likes to be quirky and pull surprises on the reader. This works very well and it makes “The Rancher’s Reunion” so much fun to read.

Sequel Awarded Before Initial Release!

“The Rancher’s Reunion” is so well appreciated that the publisher ordered a second book, (“Oklahoma Reunion” for an October 2011 release!) even before the first book was released. The Sullivan Ranch even has its own web site already:

Tina Radcliffe is a very creative person. You can read her upcoming romance in the “Woman’s World” December 27th issue.

Please note: while “The Rancher’s Reunion” is a January release, you can buy it right now at the eHarlequin bookstore. You do not have to wait!

Lifting the Spirit with the Power of Romance!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reviewing “A Match Made in Winter”

“A Match Made in Winter”
  Tina Radcliffe

Soft, Subtle, and Oh So Cute

I think writing for Woman’s World is like making a perfect soufflé. It may look easy but it takes great skill and any disturbance can make it fall apart.

In analyzing over 100 Woman’s World Romantic Fiction stories I have concluded that they don’t do different or dramatic. What Woman’s World likes is the commonplace done uncommonly well. And what every story must have is an abundance of ‘tugs’. 'Tugs' are emotional pulls on the old heartstrings. I’d say you’ll need a minimum of one ‘tug’ per 80 words to have any hope of being published.

“A Match Made in Winter” starts with the heroine, Lacey, shoveling snow. In just a few words the reader gets to feel the cold, hear the snow crunch under foot, see the snow on the walkway, hear the scraping of the snow shovel, feel the effort as the snow is tossed to the side, and hear a door squeak open. Talk about five-sensing copy! This is how to do it.

When the door opens an old lady, thankful that Lacey is helping her with the snow removal (tug) offers her a hot cocoa (tug).

It’s freezing but the cocoa mug is steaming. It tastes delicious. (Another sense. This is a story you experience with all your senses.)

The special chocolate is “Timmy's” favorite (tug). Timmy is a cousin of David! (tug) David is a blind date gone wrong. The old lady is a matchmaker. (tug) They reminisce about the ‘date’ (tug). The old lady wants to set Lacey up with Timmy.

At this point we are just getting into the story.

There are many more ‘tugs’ to come. You'll just have to read the story.

When you watch the wonderful job of 5-senseing the author achieves and you see one ‘tug’ follow another and notice how everything reads so simple and consider how ordinary and downright cute the story is, you have to marvel at how anyone can write this way! But then Tina Radcliffe is not just anyone. Read her wonderful new novel, “The Rancher’s Reunion” for more examples of great writing. But first, pick up the current,  December 27th issue of Woman’s World for ‘the rest of the story’.


Monday, December 13, 2010

“Rocky Mountain Hero” Sings a Love Song to the Majesty, Wonder and Beauty of Colorado!

A Captivating Debut Novel & Love Story!

If a writer’s voice could be heard, Audra Harders debut novel might sound like Enya! It’s unique, spiritual and haunting. Her tone is lyrical, descriptions riveting and the Rocky Mountain setting always awe-inspiring.

I’ve never read an author who so obviously loves this rugged mountain country as much!

Most of “Rocky Mountain Hero” takes place outdoors. Even when the characters move indoors, they can’t wait to go back out for a walk or to enjoy the view from the porch.

As I read and watched the heroine, Melanie Hunter, react to seeing the panoramic beauty of the view from the hero’s ranch, it occurred to me: “She’s having a ‘peak experience’"No pun intended! Maslow came up with the term ‘peak experience’ to describe experiences which were similar to experiencing the world from the peak of a mountain for the first time.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“Peak experience is a term used to describe certain transpersonal and ecstatic states, particularly ones tinged with themes of euphoria, harmonization and interconnectedness.”
What makes reading “Rocky Mountain Hero” so vivid is seeing this emotional reaction through the eyes of the heroine. While she is experiencing this beauty for the first time, the effect is compounded by having the hero, Gabe Davidson, (who has lived on the high mountain ranch all his life) watch her in wonder himself. Sharing in Melanie's experience allows Gabe to re-live the same exhilarating joy for the first time in many years.

I’m not talking just about descriptive words. The true force of the writing comes form the emotional reaction the heroine has to the wonder she is experiencing.  This is wonderful writing!

About the story.

“Rocky Mountain Hero” is a ‘damsel in distress’ theme romance. The heroine is a single mother. When she got pregnant, the father left and her own parents more or less told her to get rid of the baby -- preferably by adoption. Instead she cuts off relations with her parents to raise the child by herself.

As the story opens, Melanie, is seeking a new life in a small town where she can still have a good paying job and her son can enjoy a healthy environment. She is a very interesting character because she is an expert on bugs and plants. This works nicely  into the story. Since there are very few jobs in her field, she really needs a good job interview to win this one.

While going over the mountains her truck slips off the road and needs repairs. The hero's ranch is nearby and Gabe offers to help her get her truck fixed.

Gabe Davidson, is the ‘good’ son who stayed on the family ranch to help his father run the place. His two brothers have had a very interesting life away from the ranch. Gabe envies their 'freedom'. Gabe has been too busy running the ranch to have had time to court a wife. He also has trust issues with women which gives him something in common with the heroine.

“Rocky Mountain Hero” unfolds naturally. It reads like real life. There is no 'artificial hook at the start of every chapter nor a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter'. Rather, the beauty of the writing and the awe inspiring location  holds and captivates the reader’s interest. Gabe and Melanie are very sympathetic and worthy people. You just want to read more. I wanted the book to be longer.

I feel like I was there.

I must say, I was in the same location this summer at the Crested Butte Writers Conference. I felt the same ‘peak experiences’ that Melanie undergoes. This writing is the real thing. I loved it and since the hero has two single brothers, I’m looking forward to at least two more books!

Audra Herders

Making Romance
 a “Peak Experience”!

See this Heartwarming & Inspiring Post at “Seasons of Humility”

If you love our military, see this wonderful post! This is using the Internet at its Best!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Read My Short Review of “The Rancher’s Reunion” on eHarlequin…Comprehensive Review to Come!

There are too many neat things going on in “The Rancher’s Reunion” for a short review but you can read my first impressions now at eHarlequin. (I hope the link works).

Look for a more comprehensive review -- here on this site -- in the near future: after I've had more time to look under the hood.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

200 “Triggers” for creating emotional responses in your characters in 31 Categories.

In order to make writing more emotionally powerful writers like to employ emotional triggers. Below are examples of such triggers. It goal of these triggers is to trigger many more ideas in the writer’s mind in an attempt to create just the right mix of triggers to meet the specific needs of the writer’s WIP.

31 Types of Triggers:

1.Emotions: can trigger emotions in others
2. Senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling and tasting a given stimuli can trigger emotions.
3. Behavior: actions by others can trigger emotions – from nasty to kind.
4. Losing items: money, jewels, sentimental items
5. Breaking items: sentimental items, expensive items
6. Forgetting things: passwords, meetings, birthdays
7. Snafus: doing things backwards, giving wrong directions
8. Computer virus & vandalism
9. Accidents: spilling things, walking into wrong meeting
10. Embarrassments: of all kinds.
11. Insults
12. Oversights
13. Disappointments
14. Insights:
15. Introspection:
16. Anniversary dates: of all kinds
17. Feeling of helplessness
18. Jealousy: of all types, include envy and resentment
19. Projection, interpretation, inkblot effect
20. Bad news, rejection
21. Dreams, nightmares, day dreams
22. Superstitions: seeing black cat, Friday 13th
23. Winning: from big to little: loto, free book
24. Boost to self-esteem, awards, compliments
25. Lyrics in songs: song titles
26. Bible quotes that hit with power
27. Things that are overheard
28. Quandaries: having to face a difficult choice
29. Problems with government: taxes, traffic tickets, fines, zoning,
30. Rude drivers, drunk drivers
31. Injustice: cat and mouse, man teasing a dog, father ignoring little child when he gets home.

Think Parlay: One way to used emotional triggers is to have them cascade into bigger and bigger emotional problems. Woman drops sunglasses getting out of car, they break, she jumps out and locks the keys in the car with the motor running, etc. This is a way to get a big bang with a series of little events which can carry greater credibility.

200 Specific Examples

1. Seeing someone take three newspapers from a vending machine after paying for one copy.
2. Seeing a healthy young person park in a handicapped parking space.
3. Seeing a drunk passed out in an alley.
4. Hearing a song that you last heard played at a funeral of a loved one.
5. Seeing a soldier in uniform who is missing an arm or leg.
6. Seeing someone pick up the phone and then break into uncontrollable sobs.
7. Opening your front door and seeing two policemen standing there.
8. Hearing sirens coming down your street getting louder all the time.
9. See a child pick up a handgun.
10. Dropping your car keys down a drain at the car wash.
11. Finding letter from IRS in your mailbox.
12. Smelling smoke while you sleep.
13. Hearing glass breaking.
14. Seeing a dog dodge cars in the street.
15. Discovering that your wallet is missing.
16. Having the brakes go out in your car.
17. Seeing some bad gang types shoplifting goods in a convenience store.
18. Walking into a convenience store and finding no one there.
19. Discovering your cell phone is not yours.
20. Getting up to speak and forgetting what you were going to say.
21. Friend tells you in tears that her husband has been cheating on her.
22. Being told that your best friend’s husband has been promoted (yours just lost his job).
23. Discovering a person you admired was arrested for being a fraud.
24. Driving your car and noticing the engine is on fire.
25. Being told you have to fire one of your workers.
26. Being told by doctor you need to be tested for having cancer.
27. Very loud noises you can’t excape because of heavy contraction work going on outside your house.
28. Getting a bad test score at school or performance review – both which were subjective and unfair.
29. Being falsely accused by person who probably actually did it.
30. Forgetting important date: birthday, anniversary, etc.
31. Calling wife or girlfriend by ex’s name and not hers.
32. Being in a car wreck: injured or not.
33. Getting unexpected high bill for something: utility (real or mistaken).
34. Showing up two hours early because you set the clock back instead of forward.
35. Coming home and finding that your front door is open. Is someone in there?
36. unexpected toothache or broken tooth
37. you see someone who looks just like someone who has died.
38. learn another one of your friends is pregnant when you are trying to have a child and can’t
39. You see a bad accident alongside the road
40. you trip and fall down: figure where and why
41. you hear gunshots
42. you feel a minor earthquake…one that you can feel but that does not damage
43. lightening strikes a few yards from you
44. you see a family being evicted from their apartment by the sheriff
45. a deer runs out in front of you car
46. you see a herd of deer, several dozen in the morning light, out in a field
47. you see a horse giving birth out in a field
48. a fire starts in the kitchen
49. a neighbor comes banging on your door yelling for help
50. a grass fire is moving towards your home
51. you can’d find you child while in department store
52. you are at the date’s home and you have a sneezing fit over his cat being there
53. you tell an author how much you like her book and you name a title she did not write
54. you see two men chasing two other men down the street and into an alley
55. you see two ambulances stop in front of an old house
56. you look out the ten story window and see an accident about the happen on the street below and there is nothing you can do about it
57. a baby starts to cry very loudling in the middle of an opera
58. you see a three legged dog
59. you see a boy drop a fly ball in a little league game and begin to cry
60. you see three bigger boys bully a fourth boy in a school yard across the street knowing there is nothing you can do
61. you see children walking to the very edge of the Grand Canyon just inches from a drop that is over a mile down
62. you see a dead deer strapped to the hood of a hunter’s truck
63. seeing two kids in a play ground having a fist fight
64. seeing a balloon slip away from a child who starts to cry
65. bags lost by airline, flight cancelled by airline
66. snow storm at bad time
67. mistake made at work
68. you are told a secret which you feel morally obligated to reveal
69. a small victory like winning $25 on a radio show
70. finding something valuable that you thought was lost for good
71. being the only one at work or in a class who knows the answer to a difficult question
72. learning someone at work is having an affair
73. being told that someone you know has died
74. seeing an old couple in a park having a very bitter and loud argument
75. watching a squirrel fall from a tree
76. winning a bet at work or small loto win $50
77. seeing someone famous or having the famous person ask you for directions
78. seeing an eagle soar where eagles are not supposed to be; seeing a double rainbow
79. talking on phone to someone who can hear a tornado outside and must take cover
80. being at a little airport and being told a plane is coming in that is out of gas
81. taking off in a small aircraft when the engine fails
82. hearing a teenage yelling “I hate you” which can stir memories
83. hearing an explosion that shakes the neighborhood – can be a transformer
84. seeing the happy reunion at airport between solider and his family
85. driving by a cemetery and seeing the motorcycle warriors protecting a serviceman’s service
86. seeing a man come home and having him hug and love his dog who runs out to meet him
87. seeing co-worked get flowers delivered to her desk and how she reacts
88. co-worker brings her newborn baby to work with all the emotions that can stir
89. co-worker or friend shows off the diamond engagement ring
90. co-worker has big birthday cake delivered to her desk
91. blackout: the power goes out over a given area
92. seeing something you shouldn’t have seen: like in a window reflection or mirror; boyfriend slipping a business card to woman in restaurant
93. thinking your boyfriend is coming on to your sister
94. meeting ex-girlfriends of your boyfriend in various situations
95. you discover someone has a big talent that you never expected (perhaps you learn something by reading a relative’s diary).
96. you uncover something, an item or letter, from a long dead relative that strikes meaning to your life today
97. you find a very old photo of a relative who looks just like you but who you have no idea who she is
98. you hear a bible quote on the radio that hits home very hard
99. you see someone you know who is in AA and he is in a bar
100. you see a police officer on duty sneaking a drink from a flask

100 Everyday frustrations:

1. locking keys in car
2. running out of gas
3. breaking off key in car
4. frozen lock in car in morning
5. flat tire
6. tire that is too low on air pressure
7. dead batteries just when most needed
8. tv remote no longer works
9. something in washing machine stains the white clothes
10. someone parks in your assigned parking place
11. dog barks all night
12. neighbor plays music too loud
13. road construction and delays
14. long lines, long wait, then windows closes before you get waited on.
15. stopped by police checkpoint
16. have wrong eyeglasses, broken ear piece
17. broken shoe lace, shoe lace tied in a knot
18. take a wrong pill
19. expired driver’s license
20. expired car license, expired inspection sticker
21. credit card rejection in public
22. bounced check: by mistake you or bank
23. show up on wrong day for doctor’s appointment
24. forget to buy what you went to the store to buy in the first place
25. learn your discount coupons have expired at the checkout line
26. run into someone you don’t want to see in line at supermarket
27. have favorite talk show host have substitute
28. have favorite tv show be a repeat
29. have favorite talk show host preempted by sporting event
30. have restaurant be out of the food item you drove all the way across town to eat.
31. spill something hard to remove on new clothing item
32. tear a clothing item you are wearing
33. have you resume discovered in the Xerox
34. bad behaving kids at wedding, in church,
35. paper cut; could bleed on clothes
36. broken finger nail with no way to clip it
37. radio station is off air for some reason
38. ear ache
39. sneezing fit at bad time
40. headache
41. car won’t start
42. wrong pickup order from fast food place learned only after you get home
43. lock yourself out of your house
44. icemaker no longer works
45. horn sticks and you can’t turn it off in public place or late at night
46. false burglar alarms annoy you or yours annoys neighbors.
47. plants die from forgetting to water them
48. unexpected frost kills plants
49. you gained five pounds
50. the furnace is putting out only cool air
51. the air conditioner stops working at very bad time
52. you forget people’s name at a very important time
53. your cell phone rings at bad time even though you thought you turned it off
54. you sit on a sticky seat at the movies
55. the cd will not come out of the cd player in your car
56. red light come on in your car and you don’t know what is wrong
57. watch battery dies and you miss appointment
58. you discover one of your expensive ear rings is missing
59. you dial someone you don’t want to talk to by mistake
60. you are seen buying something in a store that you don’t want the person knowing about
61. you accidentally say something that you are not supposed to know or that was a secret
62. you try to open your car door in a parking lot and it’s not your car…it just looks like your car
63. your newspaper didn’t arrive the one morning you needed it
64. animals have spread your garbage all over your lawn
65. you garbage pail is missing again
66. you can’t open your can of pop when the tab breaks off
67. you can’t open a child proof pill box
68. you get the wrong prescription at the drug store
69. your doctor is no longer seeing patients with you type of insurance
70. you missed an important call: a call to win something on the local radio show.
71. you burn something making a big mess in the microwave because of talking on the phone
72. important letter came back to you because you failed to put a stamp on it
73. change machine keeps you dollar when you most need change
74. your matches won’t light no matter what you try
75. your foot goes to sleep just as you need to get up and do something in public
76. you step off curb and into something messy
77. you hear phone ringing but you cannot find it
78.windshield wipers don’t work
79. heavy rain floods road you need to get out of back country…no easy work around
80. train miles long crossing street and you have to wait for it to pass…rarely ever happens
81. ice storm locks you into your driveway
82. power outage puts your freeze full of meat at risk
83. large flock of birds eat all the grass seed you just put down to start your lawn
84. gas goes up 10 cents over night, while the last donut was sold, and the coffee is making
85. the one open gas pump in a very crowded station is out of order when you get to it
86. your alarm clock comes on super loud at a hotel and you can’t turn it off
87. you leave a message on the wrong phone machine by mistake…it is also someone you know who should not hear the message
88. your bottle of pills does not have top on tight and all the pills fall down the sink and unto the floor
89. you put personal letters in the wrong envelopes
90. dog or cat gets out when you are leaving for work and late for work
91. your child or mother says something that embarrasses you
92. someone trips on something you left where it should not be
93. you say something innocent and someone near you breaks out in tears
94. a slip of the tongue gets you into trouble
95. last two shopping carts are stuck together, wheel is stuck and carts wants to turn in circles, loose cart heads toward your car, you rush to stop it
96. item you bought in grocery was not the item near the posted price – item costs much more than you expected
97. phone bill has expenses you didn’t incur and you’ll have to spend an hour, again, trying the straighten the bill out
98. auto alarm goes off in parking lot or you make someone else’s alarm go off by getting too close to their car
99. shop lifter alarm goes off as you leave a store
100. you accidentally open a personal letter to a co-worker. It was on your desk.

Also See: 100 Ways to Show Character Growth in Your Romance

Also See: 106 Ways To Show Your Hero & Heroine Falling in Love

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Read Them Now! The Long Awaited “Early Bird” Release of Two Love Inspired Debut Novels Happens Today! December First!


“World Wide” Debut – Now Available!

"Early Bird" Release Only Available at eHarlequin!

Click Here and Here!

At Long Last Fans Can Enjoy, “Rocky Mountain Hero” by Audra Harders and “The Rancher’s Reunion” by Tina Radcliffe – A Full 31 Days before the general bookstore release in January 2011.

Monday, November 15, 2010

100 Ways to Show Character Growth in Your Romance

Also See: 106 Ways To Show Your Hero & Heroine Falling in Love

1. Show hero in habit of being impatient. He blows horn at people who drive badly but later in the book he starts to hit horn but catches himself and does not do it.

2. Show hero become more sensitive to others and his environment; have hero hear something in the background noise that he would not have heard before.

3. Same as ‘2’ above but have hero see things in the environment that he did not see before (like how tired the workers on the cruise ship are as they often work 12 to 18 hour days).

4. Where once the hero was hostile to the doorman (for some reason)show him later in the story, for the first time, being nice and giving the doorman a compliment. (Even just calling him by name.)

5. Hero sees the ‘invisible’ people for the first time. Servants, lower level workers.

6. Hero sees something in store, that a minor character in the book would like, (for example: an old neighbor who cannot get out much) and buys it for him or her. (Have this experience make the hero actually feel good.)

7. Hero, who has no use for kids, does something nice for a kid. Maybe he helps fix a bike chain which is loose or shows a kid how to do something he has mastered or have hero do a magic trick he hasn’t done since he was a child. This could be something that his father taught him how to do. (Hero feels for first time that he may be missing something important by not being a father.)

8. Hero sees and waters a neglected house plant that perhaps someone used to take care of(show hero as becoming more sensitive).

9. Show hero, after criticizing the heroine for reading a romance or other genre book, secretly buying the same book which he reads without telling her in order to learn what makes her ‘tick’. Show him enjoying the book but make him feel guilty for doing so.

10. Hero starts listening to College Lecture CDs in his car. Maybe to improve his mind in an area he was embarrassed by being wrong about something in public. Note: hero may have evil intentions to one-up someone who made him look bad. Growth could be shown in this case where hero can use his knowledge but he does not do so.

11. Hero, after being critical of Spanish speaking employee, starts listening to Spanish Language tapes because he begins to feel guilty for the way he behaved – a feeling he has not experienced before.

12. Hero notices things, in a symbolic sense, that he didn’t notice before. This is a knowing kind of seeing, perhaps, even seeing things in cloud formations or ink blots as a kind of Rorschach test.

13. Hero starts hearing specific instruments in classical music that he never took the time to notice before. He had told the heroine earlier that all classic music sounds the same. Now he sees that it dosen't.

14. Show some ways where the hero acts more mature than he did before or ways he acts more childlike in situations where acting childlike is a positive movement for the hero.

15. Hero sends a thank you note in a situation where he never did this before

16. Show hero reacting to something that used to get him upset but now does not. Have hero notice the difference and wonder what is happening to him.

17. Adlai Stevenson said: “you can tell the size of a man by the size of the things that make him mad.” Work this into the story, perhaps, have the hero quote it to heroine at a point where he has gotten better control of his own temper.

18. Have hero, who has been somewhat negative, become a little more hopeful and then more optimistic as the story progresses. Be sure there is a cause for this happening.

19. Show how hero now takes defeats and disappointments better: like losing money on a small football bet at the office.

20. Show hero, who has been afraid to dance, take efforts to lean how. (What caused this change: hero saw 10 year old boy dancing well after only a few lessons.)

21. When once the hero had trouble taking a compliment, show him now doing so with grace. Think: what caused this? Something hero read, a sermon, or admiring someone else who did it gracefully.

22. When once the hero did not want to listen to anyone talking about or showing pictures of their grandkids, now he does so with grace. (Why the change: did he see the reaction of the old person after someone else was kind enough to look admiringly at the photos? Did the hero become jealous of the smile on the person’s face who just looked at the photos?)

23. Where once the hero used to ‘one-up’ or rain on other’s parades, he now lets others rejoice in their victories. Why?

24. Have hero become less stubborn. What made him change. Being stubborn hurt an innocent child as an unintended result.

25. Hero becomes less controlling; more willing to delegate work done or allow a child more leeway to act on her own. What made this happen? Did he see a child restricted in the same way he was restricted as a child? Did he see himself in that child?

26. Hero becomes more able to be by himself. Before he was not good company for himself and would become nervous or get jumpy when he had to be alone. What made him change? How can you show this? Was he alone at night and looked to the stars on a very clear night and for the first time in his life felt the wonder of it all. He remembers a quote from college: we have a whole universe within us. 27. Hero does something he once refused to do, maybe out of principle, and maybe just because he thinks of it as ‘woman’s work’. It might be changing a diaper for a woman who has a broken arm. He finds out it didn’t kill him. He feels how he has changed. He likes the feeling as show by his actions and not his thoughts.

28. Where once the hero would not do women’s work, he now helps out after seeing, up close, how hard a woman he cares for works.

29. Hero gives up some of his use of sarcasm and/or his use of wisecracks after he sees how such remarks really hurt a sensitive person: these could be remarks made by someone else.

30. Hero was picky eater but now will try some food he would never have eaten or even looked at before. Heroine could have cooked it.

31. Where once the hero was closed and did not want to talk about himself or even have his picture taken, now he has become more open. Why? Hero begins to open more because it is the only way he can get the heroine, who has the same problem, to open up.

32. Coping skills of hero are improved. Show hero dealing with objections badly at first and then show improvement. This can come from hero being burnt on a business deal or by direct instruction by heroine with greater coping skills.

33. Hero had often felt guilty or unworthy but comes to feel better about himself because of an incident in his life. It could be a person, a sermon, or reading a biography.

34. Hero once felt superior and impatient but comes to feel less secure when he is proven wrong and his being wrong hurt an innocent person or animal.

35. Hero felt insulted or hurt too easily. He learns to lighten up and not take things so personally when he sees person laugh off something he would object to. “Can’t you tell he’s more mad at himself than you?”

36. (A.D.D.) The hero has a problem concentrating but leans how to focus. Why: is heroine into meditation? Does a child taking karate classes show him the way?

37. Hero becomes more considerate than he was at the start of the story. (Read one of the ‘Acts of Kindness’ books for ideas.)

38. Hero becomes more polite in his dealing with others. Perhaps he calls a homeless man, Mister.

39. Hero becomes more perceptive of others and learns better when not to say something and when not to push something he would have at the start of the book. (A speaker makes a mistake and hero has urge to correct him but holds back this time.)

40. Hero develops a win/win attitude in a given situation as opposed to a zero sum view of world. When problem comes up, hero now thinks of ways that both parties can win.

41. Show a dramatic change in hero’s world view, mindset, or paradigm. Maybe he has to work a full day as a migrant worker.

42. Have hero laugh at himself for the first time in the book.

43. Show the first time that the hero does not take himself too seriously – much to the surprise of the heroine.

44. Show the uptight hero take part in a child‘s game much to his own surprise and enjoyment. Have a prior event nudge him towards this change.

45. Show hero have a growth in tolerance. Maybe he was fast to chase kids off his lawn when their ball landed there.

46. Show hero saying things to children about loyalty and fairness that the heroine wishes he would apply in his business dealings.

47. Show forgiveness in the hero that he has not shown in the past. This should be different as when the hero grants forgiveness without resentment.

48. Show hero demonstrate empathy, wisdom, or understanding for the first time. Reader may not know if this is growth or if the hero was like that to start with.

49. Have hero become a mentor, an encourager to others when at the start of the book he felt doing so would be unproductive.

50. Have hero show respect to one person or thing or organization that he did not do at the start of the story.

51. Show hero display a willingness to sacrifice where before he would not have made such a sacrifice. This can be a series of small events.

52. Orderliness. Where once the hero’s room or desk was a total mess, now he starts to clean it up. Just a little change but the room could get more orderly as the story progresses.

53. Hero overhears someone talking badly about another or bragging, and he sees himself in the role of the person being spoken badly about or the person who is bragging. He doesn't like it.

54. Have wham, bam, thank-you ma’am hero learn to put heroine’s pleasure ahead of his own. What even made him think this way? (He could overhear women putting down bad lovers who have good looks but little else.)

55. Hero learns something about himself by how he is tempted to do something he had not been tempted to do before. Like run his fingers through heroine’s hair – but this is a cliché: think of something else he wants to do or is tempted to do. This works best when he has not experienced the particular temptation before.

56. Hero sees something on a billboard which changes him. Perhaps it is two billboards, one above the other, with headlines that make profound sense when read as one sentence. This is very story specific and takes a good deal of creativity.

57. Hero takes a wrong turn on freeway and enters a bad neighborhood and sees people on the street in a condition that makes him think about his life in a new way. Perhaps these people could have been him if he had not been helped by a stranger as a child. He sees a drunk passed out or a hooker walking in an alley with eyes that see nothing.

58. Hero seeing someone well dressed arrested for shoplifting in his supermarket. What does this do to his thinking?

59. Hero is upset and suddenly a famous scene from a movie flashes through his mind. This makes the hero wake up. It is the cause of the change in the hero’s world view.

60. Hero hears the words to a popular song that filter into the hero’s mind and mean something different to the hero than the songwriter intended. It is like a light going on in the hero’s head. It is a cause of a change in the hero.

61. Seeing a book title might do the job of causing the change in a hero. Think of book titles which could push the hero over the edge. This is very story specific.

62. Show that something the hero eats triggers the ideas which stimulate the change. Maybe he eats a biblical food which brings to mind a parable which provides him with an insight.

63. Have something an animal does, perhaps as seen on a nature show, lead the hero to a new way of thinking. (A mother bird pretending to be wounded to draw a hawk away from her chick.)

64. Hero hears someone say, “think outside of the box” and it actually ‘clicks’ with the hero and he changes his behavior.

65. Hero hears call-in listener on talk radio and thinks host gave a wrong answer. When he hears the host's answer, at first thinks host is stupid, but later thinks it could have been the right answer. As it turns out, it was like a problem hero has been dealing with himself.

66. When hero sees reflections in a lake it makes him think of a cause that makes him change his thinking.

67. Hero sees and hears kids fighting and this lets hero see his own actions in a different light. He vows to change but will he?

68. As hero rushes to his next appointment he sees a very old couple in a park caring for each other (visit to nursing home) and he thinks that he is seeing himself – but alone – in a future that he is mindlessly rushing towards.

69. Hero watches a tv show on which a contestant must make a sourpuss laugh. Seeing how the contestant approaches the problem leads to an insight that changes the hero.

70. Hero watches a security video of himself leaving his office and walking to his car. Just by observing his body language on the tape makes him see himself in a very different way.

71. Hero sees a father shouting at his son in a batting cage and he sees himself or a problem he is having at home or at work in a new light.

72. Hero goes to little league game and the behavior of the parents mirrors faults in hero’s own life. The child in the game is the heroine’s.

73. Hero sees two nuns (in habits) doing something…maybe laughing at a bird in a flower bed… (or something that just shows a pure love of nature and living) and seeing this makes the hero rethink a past action or decision.

74. Hero stops on street and sees a very happy child who looks at him and says: “Don’t you wish you were me?” This could be very powerful in making the hero stop and think about his life.

75. Think of highly emotional situations. A spectacular auto accident happens right before the hero’s eyes or an electrical transformer blows up down the street and rocks the ground. This is a case where the hero did nothing to cause the change.

76. Hero reads a funny newspaper headline like on Jay Leno and while laughing he reads a second and deeper meaning into the headline. Make story specific. It could cause the hero to think ‘what if’ scenarios that he would not have thought of otherwise.

77. Hero sees funny wording on a billboard that makes him think of a solution to a puzzle he has been working on.

78. Hero see a lover’s billboard which reads “Mary Will You Marry Me” and for the first time he begins to consider marriage to the heroine. (Her name could also be Mary if it fits the story.)

79. Hero is playing chess and gets into a situation like: checkmate, stalemate, forked by a knight and sees how he is also in a similar situation. He wonders how great chess champions have dealt with the same situation. A knowledge of chess plus having the right story is necessary here. The hero could be a grand master chess player.

80. After a bitter loss, like losing the state chess championship, hero feels bad but also notices that he doesn’t feel as bad as he thought he would. His new relationship with the heroine has shown him that life offers more than his obsession with chess.

81. Hero starts having daydreams that are different in kind than his usual fare. The hero becomes aware of the change and wonders why this is happening. He asks: are we what we daydream about? 82. Hero has a series of nightmares that changes his view of the world in stages. Hero might have been a daredevil who risked his life as if it meant nothing. With the first nightmare about death he begins to rethink his view of life and its worth. Is heroine behind this change? How?

82. Same as above except the dream is not a nightmare. It is a harmless dream that does not mean anything. The dream’s the thing. While readers are trying to figure the meaning of the dream the dream actually has a no symbolic significance.

83. Make an activity spark the insight or growth. Use something the hero learns while fly fishing. Think what this ought to be. There are actually books about this. (That is, what I learned while fly fishing.)

84. Use nature: have dark clouds broken by a beam of sunlight but make the insight other than light in darkness. For example, have it about penetration or escape not illumination.

85. Hero sees argument with umpire at a ball game. He feels for umpire and this leads to a change in him. It is a change he does not want to admit so when he does the new behavior, which the reader can see, he does not want to admit that he has changed his way of thinking. The fact that he still wants to cling to his old ways or views shows the change in him is in a transitional stage.

86. The hero finds and reads his father or mother’s diary and this very much changes the hero’s views. Nothing was as it seems. How much of life is like that. How sure of his view that 'the heroine is undesirable' can he be of now?

87. When the heroine or someone else reacts in a very different way than the hero expected, it causes the hero to rethink his own views. “How could I be so wrong?” Pick an emotional reaction to fit the story.

88. Have the hero go unshaven for a few days --for the first time in his life -- and let the hero see what he looks like in a mirror. Shocked by what he sees his view of himself begins to change. Change into what and why? Why did he refuse to shave? Despair, daring, desire?

89. Hero has a change of feelings over an event: where once he would have felt differently: where once he felt guilty…he felt proud…etc.

90. In a 'friends to lovers' theme romance have hero see heroine naked for the first time ever. An image he can’t get out of his mind. Cliché but you can make it new if you have a very original reason why he saw her naked.

91. Hero has not seriously considered getting married until he sees heroine playing with two young children. Two things happen – he’s jealous that she is married and that she is a good mother and he thinks what a wondrous thing it would be to have a woman like the heroine love him. What bright children she would likely have as his wife. (The kids are actually her sister’s.)

92. Hero sees a woman in a wedding dress advertisement who looks a lot like the heroine. This gets him thinking along lines he does not like to go. “Don’t go there”, he tells himself.

93. Show hero and heroine coming out of a concert and walking past a jewelry store window. She’s looking for a gift for her sister. They both notice the engagement rings. Show the expression on their faces.

94. While at heroine’s apartment, hero is surprised to see a romance book hidden under a pile of newspapers. The book has ‘bride’ in the title. Have hero look at his own expression in the mirror without saying anything. Let the expression speak.

95. Hero sees a prom picture of heroine, who he sees as just one of the guys at work, and sees her as a beautiful young woman.

96. Hero sees heroine in a YouTube video where she is demonstrating belly dancing. He can’t get it out of his mind.

97. In an older heroine theme story have the hero lose a 2 mile race to the heroine. She is more fit than he is. So what’s the age difference mean then? Maybe he should consider her as wife materal.

98. A little child see hero and heroine together and the child asks the hero: “Is she your mommy?” Hero sees heroine’s hurt expression and feels for her. The experience actually moves the hero into a deeper feeling for heroine and this makes him think of her as something more than a friend. (Older heroine theme, of course.)

99. Hero sees a pregnancy test kit on heroine's desk at work, (It’s for her married sister.) But it makes the hero imagine what the heroine would look like with a baby bump. He may even tell her this. This will be a change in their relationship.

100. Rock the hero's world big time! Have hero mistakenly arrested for murder. Have him booked and placed in the tank with really bad criminals.

Coming: 100 Ways to Add Humor to Your Characters.

Also See: 106 Ways To Show Your Hero & Heroine Falling in Love