Featured Fiction Friday with Cynthia Ruchti

Today we’re continuing our Featured Fiction Friday series, and celebrating one of the authors that helped make the our contest possible. Introducing Cynthia Ruchti!

Q: Cynthia Ruchti, can you tell us a little bit about your new book?

On the way to Christmas with his extended family, Micah asks Katie to marry him. She says no, but there is no getting out of Christmas now. The Binder family celebrates every Christmas as if it were their last. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it’s Christmas.

Q: Do you have any writing advice for the MBT Audience?

Don’t give up on stories that languish in a computer folder somewhere. Reader interests change. Publishing climates change. Styles and trends change more quickly than Kelly Ripa changes shoes. God accomplished some of His most stunning work at the end of a long delay–for Eve who waited for the Redeemer she didn’t see born before she died, for Moses as he served in other roles before the role of a lifetime, for Joseph who was in and out of prison for 13 years before he stepped into his hero costume… The other day I dragged out a manuscript I loved but thought would never find its way into the pages of a book because of both plot and character flaws. A brainstorming session with a new friend brought breakthrough on both counts. The novel releases in 2016! And I’m excited to finish writing it. So, even though you may need to set a project aside–maybe even for years–don’t make the mistake of shredding it. Your breakthrough could breathe new life into it.

After three decades writing and producing a 15-minute radio drama/devotional program, Cynthia Ruchti now tells stories hemmed in hope through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotionals, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women or writers. Her work has been honored by many key honors in the publishing industry. Her constant prayer is that readers will read the final page of her books with renewed confidence to say, “I can’t unravel, I’m hemmed in hope.” www.cynthiaruchti.com

Letting Your Protagonist Be Super and Human

Did you see the movie, Avengers? Did you like it? I love the movies even though I wonder how many blow-up New York City movies there can be.

I think Hollywood needs to get more creative, but hey, that’s me. Poor NYC if anything ever happens to them as depicted in movies!

Back to The Avengers. Besides Ironman, Thor, Hulk and Captain America, there are new-to-me super heroes in the movie¾Hawkeye and Agent Natasha Romanoff.

Natasha was one bad mamajama! She had “super power” out the wazoo. Meaning, she could do anything and everything. Like defeat her Russian torturers/interrogators.

Jump onto a flying machine and take out a bad guy.

All the while having neat hair and gorgeous make up!

Unfortunately, Natasha had no real flaw, no Achilles heel. Nothing that made her weak and need others. So wasn’t warm, likeable, or vulnerable.

In her opening scene, she’s being interrogated by Russians (so 1970s but whatever) tied to a chair. She appears vulnerable, weak, at the mercy of evil men, but we soon see she’s toying with them. When she gets a phone call (yea, I know, who answers a phone during an interrogation?) and learns she’s needed for a special assignment, she breaks into action, defeats the two bad Russians, all while tied to the chair.

Throughout the movie, she has no fear. No hesitation. No doubts.

And I didn’t like her.

Yeah, great she could take out a dozen of the enemy before drawing a deep inhale, but what made her like me? Nothing

Nathasha Romanoff needed a real, human side, a flaw, a weakness, a man she loved who was captured by the bad guys. Or who didn’t love her in return.

On the contrary, some Christian heroines are weak, flawed, mealy mouth protagonist that seem to barely lift their heads off the ground.

Some of the heroes too.

If they are not too sweet and always apologizing, they are too boisterous with bravado and sarcasm.

What these protagonists need is a super power. A strength that keeps them going. A talent, gift, ability that gets them through a hard time.

A super power makes the protagonist “cool,” likeable and competent, allowing the reader to think that even though she may have just lost the love of her life to war, she’s going to make it through to the other side.

She has a “super power” too.

In Siri Mitchell’s “A Heart Most Worthy,” the protagonists are poor immigrant Italians in the early 20th Century America. They are living in a brand new country, can’t speak English, are at the mercy of their families, their customs and cultures, societal prejudice, yet they have a super power!

It gives the reader hope. “They are going to make it.”

What was the heroines’ super power? They could sew. It’s their avenue to confidence and freedom.

In The Wedding Dress, Charlotte Malone lived a lonely existence since being orphaned at the age of twelve, but she was good a running a bridal shop and has the amazing ability to dress any bride from the inside out.

This ability was what made her competent to the reader. It gave us confidence Charlotte was going to be all right.

The “super power” did double duty, letting the reader believe it was why the antique wedding gown was given to Charlotte.

The super power actually ties the story together in a small way.

What is the super power?

The thing your protagonist can do that no one else in the story can do. The thing that makes them unique and competent. A feature that is stabilizing to the protagonist or to others.

In Dining with Joy, Joy couldn’t cook but her super power was her charm, charisma, and the fact she was so good in front of the camera. It endeared her to people. It was why she did the show in the first place.

So, what’s your protagonist super power?

What can he or she do that shows competence?

What talent or ability do they have that gives them confidence?

What can super power will have the reader cheering for them?

How to create a super power

  1. Think of your protagonist. What are her unique skills and talents? What can he do that no one else can do. How does it relate to your story?

Go deeper than “she can love the unlovable.” That’s swell but will probably get her into trouble more than show her competence.

How about if she can detect lies and truth in the midst of the hurting? She is hard to bamboozle.

  1. What kind of story are you trying to tell? Develop a super power that resonates with the theme or goal of the story.

In the Avengers, Natasha Romanoff needed to be super human at some level, about to defeat her enemies while tied to a chair. But she also needed to be vulnerable in an area.

Charlotte needed to be good at dressing brides or she’d not be fascinated with the wedding gown when she discovered it.

Joy had to be fab at entertaining viewers or she’d not be a TV host.

See?

So, spend some time musing over your characters and assign him or her a super power. You’ll find it adds a layer of insight into your character and creates a multi-dimensional protagonist.

Go write something brilliant!

 

Note: This is a repost from an early MBT post because Rachel is on two deadlines. 😉 Pray for her.

 

3 Idea Sparking Tips To Jumpstart Your NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is just around the corner and it is time to prepare to complete the rough draft of your novel in a month. Maybe you’ve never tried to write a novel in a month before. This year is the perfect time to start flexing your writing muscles with a new challenge.

If you’ve tried before and failed, this is your year!

What makes this year different? You. You are stronger than the last time you took this journey. More resources are at your fingertips.

It is never too early to plan for a success. Time to brainstorm what you need to finish a novel in thirty days. You’ll need more than caffeine, bon bons, and popcorn.

A support team, resources, and a game plan are all essential. Here a few ideas to get you started.

3 Idea Sparking Tips To Jumpstart Your NaNoWriMo:

Gather your team of supporters and look at your calendar. Each week find ways to have them help you along the thirty-day novel journey. Here are a few ways they can help.

*Gather an Encouragement Task Force- Have family and friends sending encouraging cards or letters during November. Assign weeks so you have at least two encouraging notes a week to read when you are struggling, or have them send to you at the beginning of the month and choose when you need them most.

*Gather a Family Task Force- Recruit a few friends or family members who could help with household/family responsibilities. A few hours of babysitting, dinner duty, cleaning, car pool, etc. Plan these things ahead by calling them in now.

*Gather a Writing Craft Buddy- Find a writing buddy to travel the journey with is huge. Someone to hold you accountable and encourage you not to give up on the really low days is often the difference between quitting and reaching “The End.” Together you can celebrate the successes and talk all about the voices in your head.

Are you planning to join NaNoWriMo or the thirty-day novel journey this year? What do you plan to do to prepare?

Looking for more Idea Sparks to help write your novel in a month?

My newest release: Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month is a great way to help you spark your novel.  Why?

Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month accompanies an author on a thirty-day novel journey. Daily idea prompts assist authors in finding the inspiration to write. With personal experience insights and goal setting reflections, this book is the perfect resource for the writer who wants to write a novel in a month, or the author looking for a resource for their everyday writing journey. What you will find in this incredible resource:

*A weekly inspirational focus to get you ready to write

*Daily Idea Sparks to spark your creativity and get you writing

*Mini writing craft tips that enhance your writing

*Daily Mid-day Milestones with thought-provoking questions to improve writing habits

*Weekly Check-Ups to retune your process to set you up for success

RAFFLECOPTER – Prizes are $50 Amazon Gift Card and 1 hour phone brainstorming session with Michelle Lim

Join the Idea Sparking adventure:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*      *      *

Michelle-Lim-blog-pixAuthor Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s Genesis winning romantic suspense is represented with Books & Such Literary Agency. Michelle’s New Release – Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month releases October 27th. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories. Connect with Michelle on Facebook, Twitter at @MichelleLim24, or my blog at www.thoughtsonplot.worpress.com .

Da, da, da, da, but, da, da, da, da, da, da until…

Rachel Hauck, How To Catch A PrinceStories have a rhythm. A melody. And once you figure that out, the whole picture becomes clear.

I’m working on a new story and I have all these ideas, what I want to do and where I want to go, working with characters I kind of know, but after a week and a half of fuzting with it, something was still missing.

This morning, at 3 a.m. I woke up and heard the song…

Da, da, da, da, but, da, da, da, da, da, da until da, da, da, da, da. Can he da, da, da, da, da?

It’s that hook, the one or two sentences that defines your story.

I thought I had my hero and heroine all worked out. He was a dutiful son following his dad into the family business.

She was a new college graduate helping her mom run the family restaurant after the sudden death of her father.

And oh, he’s a prince living 4000 miles away.

This will be my fourth royal story so I was trying to stay fresh, not go to the same well of troubles, so I didn’t want to over focus on my heroine being a foreigner.

My mind was twisting and turning with ideas.

I did the story equation.

Dark wound, lie, fear. What did they want. What could they do in the end they couldn’t do in the beginning.

What was the secret desire.

Since this is a shorter romance, I don’t have a lot of room to create layers, and I wanted to focus on the romance but still, I was somehow shorting myself on the story.

That’s when I heard the rhythm of the pitch/hook/summary.

He’s always wanted to do WHAT but his father convinced him otherwise until She came back into his life and love awakened his dreams. Can he be honest with his father and be his own man?

I was missing the “what.”

Until my heroine comes on the scene, what does my hero want?

I had to go back to work but suddenly the story opened up and I could see farther down the line.

It didn’t feel so awkward, like something was missing.

Remember the movie The Holiday?

Amanda makes movie trailers and she hears her life in movie sound bites.

“Amanda Woods is proud to present, her life. She had it all. The job. The house. The love. Until…”

When you’re working up your stories, find the rhythm. Find the magic.

For my upcoming The Wedding Chapel, it went like this…

“For sixty years a wedding chapel sat silent, waiting for love. BUT times have changed and he hour has come when it might just be too late.”

Until….

Photographer Taylor Branson comes along.

“Can she find the truth hidden in the stone walls?”

Am I making sense here?

If you’re stuck in your story. do the beats.

Da, da, da, da, da, but, da, da, da, da, da until…

What’s the irony. What’s the want? What’s tugging internally at your characters?

Now, go write something brilliant.