Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Let’s Role-Play! A Guest Post by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

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Have you read this book yet? If not you’re definitely missing out! You can find my full review here if you missed it but it’s a awesome read! I’m excited to have the wonderful ladies behind this great novel on the blog for a fun guest post on how they created these characters together! First, in case you live under a rock and missed what this book was all about:

Let’s Role-Play! A Guest Post by Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerThese Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on December 10th 2013
Genres: Sci-Fi, YA
Buy on Amazon

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

Guest Post by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Let It Play Out: Role-playing scenes to establish characters

One of the challenges in any story is ensuring that every character her their own very definitive point of view. They need opinions, a backstory, goals and their own personal motivation to do whatever they’re going to do to move the story forward. It’s when a character starts acting a particular way because it’s convenient that the story starts to feel weak, or unlikely.

A character also needs a definite voice. You should know, especially if you have more than one narrator, who that character is. For example, in These Broken Stars, Tarver has a wry sense of humor, and an inner monologue that frequently dips into black humor, often at Lilac’s expense. Lilac speaks in longer sentences, is more formal (especially at first), to the point that she even uses fewer contractions than Tarver. All these little touches ensure that your characters feel real, and three-dimensional.

When we’re co-authoring, all these challenges are uppermost in our minds. Firstly, we need to make sure each character is following their own path and motivation. Secondly, we need to make sure each character speaks with their own voice.

But how do you do that? Perhaps it’s easy enough when that character’s the narrator, but what about when they’re not? When we were writing These Broken Stars, Amie took primary responsibility for Tarver, and Meg took primary responsibility for Lilac. And we found a system that worked!

When approaching a scene, each of us would consider it from our character’s point of view. What would they naturally think of it, what would they do, and why? What would they say and what would they keep to themselves? Focusing on just one character allowed us to go deeper into their heads, which meant we could really capture them authentically. Then we’d jump online and if we needed, role-play out the scene.

Taking it in turns, we’d note down what each character would do—words, gestures, tone, the works. Working our way through the scene, we’d let it progress, and depending on what the other did, things might change. Say I thought Tarver was going to stay pretty calm and argue his case—the moment Meg decided Lilac was going to take a jab at him about something that really mattered, that plan went out the window. Her jab was exactly what she would do, and I’d then consider Tarver’s response—a silent joke at her expense, a snap in reply, or one of the grins he knows drive her right up the wall—and throw it in. Like a tennis match or a duel, back and forth. Occasionally we’d drop in a little note about what someone was thinking/feeling, particularly if we knew our character would be narrating the scene, and therefore we’d be more inside their head.

When it came time to write a scene, each of us had a roadmap. We could take it from our character’s point of view, but be confident the other character’s responses would be consistent and authentic, because they were produced by an expert!

As we get deeper into a book we can often write scenes without this sort of consultation, as we get to know the characters better. Similarly, the better we get to know them, the easier it is for us to get our stick fingers all over each other’s chapters, tweaking and revising with confidence, because we know the characters well. At first though, assuming that one character is incredibly valuable, and with each of us keeping the other on their toes, it means the story never takes the easy way out!

About the Author

Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are longtime friends and sometime flatmates who have traveled the world (but not yet the galaxy), covering every continent between them. They are sure outer space is only a matter of time. Meagan, who is also the author of the Skylark trilogy, currently lives in Asheville, NC, while Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia. Although they currently live apart, they are united by their love of space opera, road trips, and second breakfasts.

Visit the These Broken Stars website for the latest news on the series and follow the authors on Twitter at @AmieKaufman and @MeaganSpooner. You may also sign up for their newsletter as well! These Broken Stars will be available in North America on December 10, 2013.

This post is part of the These Broken Stars blog tour.

Monday, 11/11     The Midnight Garden
World-Building for the Future

Tuesday, 11/12     Love is Not a Triangle
Author Interview

Wednesday, 11/13  The Perpetual Page-Turner
Using Technology to Write with a Partner

Thursday, 11/14     Good Books and Good Wine
Audiobook Sample + Narrator Interview

Friday, 11/15          The Starry-Eyed Revue
Character Interview with Tarver

Monday, 11/18       Cuddlebuggery

Tuesday, 11/19       Books With Bite
Amie & Meg’s Favorite Things

Wednesday, 11/20  Xpresso Reads
Establishing Characters with Role-Playing

Thursday, 11/21     Great Imaginations
Co-Authoring Books

Friday, 11/22          Nawanda Files
Lilac’s Gorgeous Dress: A Look at These Broken Stars’ Cover Art




Thanks to Disney Hyperion, you can win yourself a copy!

  • Open to US and Canada only
  • Full contest terms and conditions found on Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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40 Responses to “Let’s Role-Play! A Guest Post by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner”

  1. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    I know when I’m writing short stories for school, the characters start saying words themselves and it’s easier to get the right tone from a certain character. Tarver’s personality had to be my favourite. Love him.

    Thanks for sharing, Giselle! <33

  2. Ann

    Role-playing characters? This is really interesting. I like how you guys try to understand the characters better using this technique.

  3. Jessica

    I usually don’t like books set in other places other than Earth (and sometimes fantasy worlds) but this book seems super intriguing.

  4. Sophia Rose

    I love the background info of how the two characters came about and how two authors work together on a joint book.

  5. Lindsay Galloway

    I first fell in love with the cover. Then, after reading the synopsis, I was drawn to the book as a whole. My first book love was reading my dad’s sci-fi books, classic space travel tales. The great galactic unknown will always hold a special place in my heart <3

  6. Josiphine

    I love reading about how they worked together! I don’t think I would ever have the patience to write with someone else, :D.

  7. Pili

    I just can’t wait to read this book! All the info I keep on getting on this blog tour is making me more impatient till my preorder gets here!!

  8. Raquel Romero

    First off, the cover is AMAZING!!! The floating green dress? Love it! Second, the synopsis sounds great! I don’t read a lot of space novels, but this one definitely piqued my interest! And third, I read your review on it and you rated it at 5, so that’s a definitely yes for me!

  9. Andrea

    I really like that they each took on their own main character. I think she got it exactly right that “focusing on just one character allowed [them] to go deeper into their heads.” I can see how that would truly allow them to explore these characters and their motivations behind when they were doing.

    I do like the imagining them role playing parts of the novel. That sword fighting picture really puts some interesting pictures in my head! I can’t wait to read the book and guess which scenes the role played

  10. Ashley D.

    Great post! I really enjoyed reading about how the two authors worked things out in figuring out their characters. It’s really important for each character to have unique personalities so that they don’t all just seem like the same person. This is so much more important when there are multiple povs. I’ve read books where each character reads like the same person and it can get really confusing!

  11. Lauren

    What an awesome guest post! I always wonder how authors divide up the writing and work together, especially if they aren’t in the same place. It sounds like they pulled it off marvelously. Can’t wait to read this! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Aman

    I’m still amazed that 2 authors wrote this book and that too, so wonderfully seeing that so many people loved it. I’m so excited to finally read it next month!

  13. Michele Piedrahita

    OMG i love this world and i cant wait to jump right back in!!!!!! i an in love with this series!!!!!!

  14. Morgan Faufaw

    I have been wanting to read this book, it looks truly amazing! It has been on my to read list on Goodreads for awhile. Thank you for the amazing giveaway!!!

  15. Bonnie Hilligoss

    This whole writing process just boggles my mind and I give heaps of kudos to these two authors! Their system seem to work for them, even if I can’t quite get my head around it. But then, I’m not a writer, just a reader. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of this fabulous book!!

  16. Nicole Hewitt

    Wow! This is such a unique way to go about creating your characters! I love that they have such rich histories and thoughts and that the authors put so much time into making sure their characters were fully fleshed out!

  17. Sarah M

    I think role playing is a really good idea. If you get into the minds of your characters, you can write things that better suit their personalities. You need to have the right word choices when anything comes from the characters, even thoughts or their description of what’s around them. Having things sound like they fit the characters throughout the book makes for a more empathetic cast!

  18. Mollydee

    I am a huge sci fi fan and the new YA is growing on me. I will read most any book. And I mean that in a good way. I enjoyed the synopsis and this seems like a book I would really enjoy.

  19. Larissa

    The roleplaying technique seems to have paid off aha (: I used to roleplay a lot,and I can definitely see how it has helped me with characterization!

  20. Jaime Lester

    The role-playing is such a brilliant idea. This was just a fun stop to read altogether. Still can’t wait to read this. Getting more excited!