Want A Filmed Reaction of Your First 1500 Words?


Writers of teen and YA fiction: I am looking for the first 1500 words of a manuscript
to critique via video. I think it will help authors to see a reader’s initial reactions to their work–in this case my reactions (I’m also an acting coach and theatre director so there WILL be accents and lots of drama). Whoever comments first will receive a filmed reaction and review, as well as a written one via my blog. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments! Happy helping! -Natasha

Blog Schedule

Hey, writers! I’ve got a new blog schedule mapped out so you know what’s coming:

MC [Main character] Mondays –
Advice on creating great main characters.

Writing Craft Wednesdays – Tools to make your writing more dynamic.

Critique Fridays –
Email the first 1,500 words of your teen or YA fiction piece and I’ll critique it!

Soul Food Sundays –
Posts to strengthen your spirit.

If you want me to critique your first 1,500 words, send your piece to NatashaSapienza(at)gmail(dot)com. First come first serve! If you’re second, you’re getting critiqued next week, so act fast!
And make sure you follow my blog to stay in the loop! Happy helping!

Is Your Hero Worthy of Readers?

When it comes to writing fantasy, you can have the most epic world with ridiculously cool creatures, edge-of-your-tush action scenes, and magic galore. But if your main characters are lackluster, you’ll lose your readers.

World-building and all that good stuff is certainly important, but even a good story can’t survive without a hero worth rooting for. This is one of the reasons I greatly dislike jerky heroes, like Captain Kirk from Star Trek. He’s an immature womanizer who doesn’t really grow out of these fatal flaws until what, the third film? I’m not saying you should write a perfect character (although my hero is morally perfect because he represents Christ), but write a hero we will want to cheer on, and quickly come to love.

In my opinion, this does mean he has to be pretty up-there on the moral scale. There does need to be something human about him. He can have a physical struggle or be torn between two characters, or insecure in the beginning. As long as it isn’t a major immoral issue that causes us to dislike the guy (or girl)l right off the bat.

Give your hero room to grow so your readers have something to look forward to. For instance, my hero is perfect in the moral sense, but he has yet to become physically perfect, and because of that, he needs help to survive. He is also completely aware of this fact so he’s at times haunted by the thought of failing his friends. Another flaw can be just that—fear of failure. It’s human, but your hero can conquer it, and he eventually should.

Let your hero be bold. Let her always tell the truth, even if it gets her in trouble. Find a way to use her moral strengths against her. This makes for awesome tension, something necessary to have if you want to keep your readers flipping the pages.

Your hero doesn’t have to have a romantic love-interest (mine doesn’t), but there does need to be a love-interest. It can be maternal; daughter and mother, paternal; son and father, a brother and sister, or simply two best friends. Showing that your hero has sacrificial love for another person is much more powerful—in my opinion—than a romantic physical attraction, though an element of guy-to-girl romance is good for your lady readers. But again, your hero doesn’t have to be romantically involved with anyone as long as he holds a deep love for someone.

So a quick overview.

If we’re gonna keep reading your fantasy novel, your hero needs:

1.) High moral standards.

2.) Room to grow.

3.) Struggles brought on by their values.

 4.) A love-interest (does not need to be a romantic one).

Apply these aspects to your hero and he will become a person we want to keep reading about until the end.

How about you? What makes you want to keep following a main character?

Why You Shouldn’t Fear Making Your Hero Like Jesus – Repost I wrote for Bryan Davis’ blog

Yup, I have a hero who is like Christ in character, and unwittingly in power—for now. I’ve heard it often, “don’t make your characters perfect or your audience won’t relate!”

This can be true I guess, but then what about the thousands who got to know Jesus while He walked this earth, and the billions who’ve known Him since? Jesus was contrary to everything the world had accepted as truth and believed. He was/is a total anomaly. Many were confounded by His antics, yet eventually, loads of people came to understand and love Him. Who’s to say the same can’t be true for your character? Jesus is the most loved person in existence. He’s also the most hated person in existence.

Just as in real-life, people either love or hate Jesus, in real-life, people will either love or hate your character. Making your hero like Jesus isn’t an automatic character fail. Every character is like someone: yourself, your mom, your dad, your sister, your husband, your role model, Gandalf, Luke Skywalker. No one character is completely unique. That character is usually a reflection of a real-life person, animal, or thing. The world has plenty of wrong ideas, and not making your character like Jesus because He’s supposedly not relatable is one of them.

Jesus projected Himself and the Father in many stories He told: the father in the parable of the prodigal, the man who found treasure in a field and sold all he had for it, the master who forgave his debtor, the vineyard keeper, the list goes on. In fact, God would use the life-stories of actual people to reflect His Son millennia before He made His earthly appearance. He did this so as to stir up a reminder to the Jews about what the Messiah would do and how He’d be.

I never liked anti-heroes. They’re reflections of our weakness and inconsistency as human-beings without God’s redemption. Lukewarm water, broken and messy, doing good deeds, only to have them polluted by our sins and constant back-sliding.

But I love heroes with a beautiful morale, with strong character and nobility. I find their sacrifice inspiring; reflections of the redemption we have in Christ, what we can be in Christ.

We don’t have to be anti-heroes and semi-heroes. We can be heroes because of the Holy Spirit God graciously gives repentant sinners. Just like the heroes in Bryan’s stories with special abilities and supernatural powers that help them save their worlds, we as Christians have incredible power in Christ to save souls in our world.

God roots for us as we root for the heroes we read about. He’s writing our story, and trust me, He sees greatness, strong warriors of Light. When He looked at seemingly weak and incapable Gideon, He called him a mighty warrior, and He indeed made him one. When He met Peter, He called him a rock, and used Him to kickstart the Church. He made Saul the powerful Paul we read about in the New Testament. God is in the business of writing noble heroes, not anti-ones. And if we are to be His representatives and be like Him, why not make our characters the same, make them what we all can be in Christ?

Enough of the compromising, weak characters who stay in that state and never become like Jesus. Where’s the hope in that? Where’s the power in that? Let’s write the way our God does, and really impact this world with His love and power, letting them know that we don’t have to just read about amazing heroes, we can be amazing heroes.