Harperpages

The blog of author Harper Alexander


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Writing Main Characters – My New Secret

I discovered something interesting the other day. For awhile now, I’ve struggled with my main characters. I have trouble developing them, liking them, making them even the slightest bit interesting at all. I really try, I follow all the formulas, I sit and I daydream and try to get in their heads, try to think about what I’ve loved about past MC’s of mine, try to remember what my secret used to be when I LIVED to sit down every day and get in my MC’s heads… All to no avail. They continue to fall flat, like I’m just out of juice.

Meanwhile, however, there’s always some side character that just happens to sort of steal the show. Their lines are funnier, or cooler; their personalities are edgier; they’re the ones that spark with potential chemistry with the love interest… I’m not sure how or why it happens, but it’s been happening in every story lately. I lifted my pen the other day to point this out to my writing mate, and suddenly realized the key to the problem might lie within the problem. There I was, unable to force the character I was trying to force, while another character stole the spotlight with ease. There I was, beating my head against one and denying another that I desperately wanted to write instead. And I finally realized…if one character is speaking to me, demanding the spotlight, why don’t I give it to her?

I think sometimes, getting ‘serious’ about writing and all of the research that comes with that, all the tips to hone your craft and polish your work, can really work against you. My struggle with main characters these days definitely correlates to realizing their importance. Obviously, they’ve always been important. But you don’t get very far into honing your hobby as a craft without having it officially preached that your main characters really carry the story. So, yeah, somewhere along the way I definitely psyched myself out with the pressure to make them great. It used to come naturally, because there was a time when I wrote purely for fun, purely as an escape, without deadlines or rules or any of these other formulas or pressures to write for an audience. I’ve never done well under pressure. Apparently, neither do my main characters.

So I’m planning an experiment. How interesting would it be to plan a plotline, throw some players onto the board and see who ends up standing out? I don’t think I’ve ever started a story without coming up with the main character first, so it’s going to be interesting. I’m not really sure how to do it, and it might be a disaster. I’m sort of envisioning just writing a chapter from each character’s perspective, and seeing who shines above the others. Seeing whose perspective I’m most drawn to writing. It may require writing continuous chapters from all of their perspectives as the story progresses, and cutting the less relevant ones later, but I’m thinking it might be worth it.

Who knows, I may have just found a loop hole in my characterization struggles. If I can trick myself into cultivating awesome little upstarts on the side, I’m not going to deny them their glory.

How do you deal with mental blocks where your MC’s development is concerned? Are there any tricks you’ve found to work better than others? Leave a comment and let me know!

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There will be no Summer Bummers Here

Back at it again with another chapter! Let’s just say it was a good thing I aimed to give myself plenty of time with Wonderland, and said it would have a summer 2016 release, because whew, has life continued to foil my greatest efforts to write.  Before this week I hadn’t written a stitch in months (yet again) and I’ve been falling deeper and deeper into despair that somehow the whole summer will pass and not only will I have not released Wonderland as promised, but I won’t have made any progress either. None. Zero. Zilch. Natta.

Last time my excuse was my sister getting married. This time, it was planning my own wedding. Probably an even better excuse, but at what point is my life going to open up like a flower blooming in spring for me to just write, and write, and write, unhindered by storms and the sweltering heat of life’s pressures?

Don’t tell me the answer is never. I refuse to believe it.

In the meantime, I happen to still be on track with the generous deadline I gave myself for my current project’s release. I only have 5 chapters to go, and a couple of them are going to be pretty darn short.

I took vacation for my wedding, and made sure to give myself extra time so I’d have a few days to do nothing but write before going back to work. I have about three days left, and hope to do at least a chapter a day.

Once the book is done, I’m somewhat confident editing will be something I can balance easily enough with work. Let’s hope that’s true! There will be no summer bummers here, folks. Wonderland will make its own party, if it kills me!


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Paradise – Now Available!

Paradise 3D Rendering

Paradise is live! I was supposed to promote it all day, but got tied up in some other obligations. Normally I’d insist on making a book release more of a priority, but since this IS the re-release, I was persuaded to let it slide a little. Not to say it doesn’t deserve a little noise, because I’m really excited for the makeover it’s had under new editorship, and am ready to scream from the rooftops THIS IS THE VERSION I WANT THE WORLD TO READ.

I almost feel like this is my writing debut, just because I took the time to make sure this one was done right. MANIACAL GIGGLES.

Okay, back to business (or in other words, back to working on the sequel!) For those of you interested in purchasing Paradise, you can do so here.


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Hurrayzies and Fancy-Shmancy Interior Book Design

Paradise Chapter Page

I’VE DONE IT! Paradise is officially, OFFICIALLY complete, and ready to be re-released for the last time – professionally edited, tediously polished, and wrapped up in a nice tidy bow of OFFICIALISM. This is it, guys. The most official one of my books has ever gotten. I decided this was the year I was going to get serious about this writing stuff, and in only the second month of the year, I have followed through with that resolution. I could not be more excited or proud of myself!

So the epic re-release is going to take place on February 29th (spread the word!). The kindle and paperback versions will both be available via Amazon.com. I got both files formatted today, and one thing I’m really excited about and had to give you a sneak peak of is the interior design for the paperback! These are the gorgeous chapter headings gracing 31 lucky pages of the book:

Paradise Chapter Page

Totally cool, right? I can’t wait to hold a copy in my hands! I hope you’ll pick up a copy of your own and join me for an adventure in Paradise – I have some great things planned for this series!


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Matchy-Matchy and Deadlines

Book Hands

Today I was reading a bit more of The Night Circus, when I closed the cover and was delighted by the sight you see above. I hardly ever paint my nails, and while I wear rings now and then (they are my favorite piece of jewelry), I tend to get irritated with how much they get in the way of functioning and I don’t end up wearing them as often as I’d like to if style were the only factor. So I was quite tickled to find I’d randomly done my nails (while waiting on my silly ancient computer to snap out of its ‘Not Responding’ vacation) and put on a ring that matched the color scheme of the cover perfectly. I had to snap keepsake pic.

In other news, the re-release of Paradise is right around the corner on the 29th, and I still have two scenes to edit. Every single time I sit down to edit them, something else waltzes in and distracts me. And not just frivolous distractions, but actual events that prevent me from editing. I’m feeling a bit cursed, but am determined to get at least one of the remaining scenes edited tonight. Worst case scenario – I’m going to take Friday off work in order to finish, so I can format everything Saturday and get all the files submitted no later than Saturday night, which does still give me a day’s leeway.

Wish me luck!

Book Hands


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Editing and Epiphanies

I’m on track with edits for the re-release of Paradise, so expect to see that out by the 29th.

In other news, while I was trying to get to sleep last night, I finally had an epiphany about a big fat plot hole that’s been looming at the end of this series. I’m happy to say I know how I’m going to solve it! Now I just have to figure out how to explain it in scientific terms. (Or maybe I don’t, because there’s really only one sciency guy in the book, and if he’s the one explaining it to everyone else, he’d probably have to dumb it down and explain it with other concepts and metaphors anyway, so maybe I’m off the hook… But still, I’d kind of like to explain it to MYSELF scientifically, just so I have a thorough grasp of the concept. It probably won’t be believable unless I do.)

Anyway, I’m stoked. And now I’m not dreading Book 3 like I have been, because it was this big vague thing that was supposedly going to wrap up the series and magically tie off all the loose ends.

But, well, now that’s exactly what it’s going to do!

In other OTHER news, I’m about to start reading The Night Circus. So excited!


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New Paradise Release Date

Paradise 3D Group Book Rendering 1

Paradise is back from the new editor, and I’m hard at work applying the suggested edits. Based on the scope of what needs to be updated, and the rate I’m getting it done so far, I have planned the release date for February 29th! Remember, the first edition of Paradise is already out, and this will be a fresher, more polished version replacing the old one. But as far as I’m concerned this might as well be the official release, because I can confidently say this round of edits has helped fulfill the vision I intended for the story, and now everything will be staged as necessary for finishing the sequel. So there you have it! The ‘official’ version of Paradise will be hitting shelves (and e-readers) on February 29th!