The Three Fingered Hand

Creating Memorable Characters

Today, I’m going to talk a bit about characterization. This particular post has brewed in my mind for about a week. Characterization is one aspect on the craft of writing that I love! So, let’s dive in.

This article sprouted from a childhood memory.

Last week, my wife told me about a childhood memory, and I found it very interesting. The more I thought about her story,  the more it became crystal to me  that it had value to aspiring authors.

The story went like this.

When my wife was entering the 7th grade, she had to change schools. As the new kid in a crowd of old friends, she did what we would all do, she evaluated everyone and struggled to find her place within her peer group. One classmate stood out in particular. This girl was smart, funny, outgoing, friendly, slender, athletic. And, she had beautiful silky blonde hair, creamy white skin, and vivid green eyes. (true story)

She was the most popular girl in the class.

Now, in order for you to understand some of the irony in this story. You need to know a couple of facts.

First of all,

My wife is Argentine.

Argentina was primarily populated by immigrants from Spain and Italy. But, there were also a few Germans, English, and French immigrants along the way. And of course, there was the aboriginal population.

(Interesting fact- an Argentine invented the ballpoint pen!)

In northeastern Argentina, where my wife is from, 80% of the population has amber skin, black hair, and brown eyes. This meant… that the blonde haired green-eyed beauty really stood out in a crowd.

What began for my wife as the casual, and calculating, observations of a girl; quickly turned into a jealous obsession. This girl; (this “character”) had it all. My wife’s feelings of inferiority festered for two years.

Jump ahead to the fall of the 9th grade year

My wife’s entire class was in the lunchroom. She sat with her best friend staring at the green-eyed girl across the room. The gregarious beauty had a crowd gathered around her as she told a story. The children were laughing hysterically. Suddenly, the girl began waving her arms around in the air, and my wife’s jaw nearly hit the ground.

She turned to her friend, and exclaimed, “She’s only got three fingers on her right hand! When did that happen?” (of course she said that in Spanish.)

Her friend hushed her angrily, told my wife that she was weird, and pronounced that the girl had always been like that. How could she not have noticed?

It was in that moment that my wife came to a realization. In the two years that she’d known this girl, she’d been so obsessed with what she saw as unreasonably perfect attributes, she’d never noticed that the girl had a deformed hand. (and to her classmate’s credit, the little girl never let it hold her back) Realizing this fact somehow made my wife feel better, better about herself, and better about the other girl. Because…

as perfect as this girl was, she wasn’t completely perfect., and that’s good characterization.

  A Pivotal Point – Give Them Something Memorable

When you’re creating your characters they should be well-rounded. They should have positive attributes and negative attributes. No antagonist should be completely malevolent and no protagonist should be completely pure. This includes personality, physical appearance, and emotional stability.

Consider my wife’s story. The blonde classmate (the character) became deeply embedded in my wife’s memory because of her deformed hand. A memory that brought  strong emotional feelings along with it; so strong, that she was recounting the story to me two decades later. If this girl had been physically perfect; she would be nothing more than a vague memory. The Barbie Doll from grade school.

The Hit Man

Take a moment, sit back in your chair, and close your eyes.

I want you to imagine a story in which a hit man and his partner are conducting a hit, and they must collect an object for their boss. In the process things go terribly wrong, and they encounter dangerous situations around every corner. What would your hit man do? What would he look like? What kind of personality would he have? What would he like about his life? What would he hate?

I’ll give you a moment

Dum Dum Dum Dum… Dum Dum Dum… dum… da dum… dum… dum dum dum


Clock’s Ticking

Now, I would like you to consider this man.

Jules Winnfield is a character from the movie, Pulp Fiction. The movie is a critically acclaimed American crime drama written, and directed, by Quentin Tarantino. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and it won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay. I personally believe that Tarantino is one of the best, and most unique, writers in his industry when it comes to characterization.

If you’re not familiar with Pulp Fiction, or the character of Jules Winnfield, you can see a clip here.


(warning- this clip does contain violence and foul language)

So, what did you come up with for your hit man?

Well, let me tell you a little bit about Jules.

He’s as hardcore, and violent, as they come (just as you might imagine a hit man to be). But, he’s also a man who quotes the Bible. He’s well-spoken and at times soft spoken, he dresses well, he’s concerned about the needs of his friends, he’s extremely loyal to his boss, he cares about what he eats, and he would like to travel to Europe. Even when facing the possibility of death, Jules grants his potential killers a second chance. He decides to let them go, unharmed, despite the fact they are attempting to rob him as he eats his breakfast. Jules has a heart: (although, he does ask for his wallet back before he sends the criminals packing. He claims the wallet has sentimental value.) A memorable statement from a cold-blooded killer, don’t you think?

Jules is a well rounded character!

I’ll hope that you’ll ponder these ideas as you proceed down your path to publication. We at want to see well rounded characters with interesting plots in your submissions. We want our readers to be excited when they read your book, and I’m sure you do to!

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, 3024AD, by DES Richard and edited by Corissa Poley

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.



Testimonial from Web3Box

“Novelnook, a platform for authors and writers”

Novelnook’s web development company, Web3Box, recently released an article detailing unique features and developments of our site.  We took the liberty of publishing it here all to see.  A special thanks to Web3Box and their team led by Sorin Dinca for their devoted efforts to supporting Novelnook.

Testimonials – Projects
Novelnook – It’s a no-brainer, we’re free and it takes just 10 minutes.” Yet, another challenging project developed by our team here at Web3Box Software. An interesting concept based on a prolific cooperation between Web3Box Software  and our customer, Novelnook.Based on Joomla 2.5 and Virtuemart features as well as on a specific custom coding made by Web3Box development team, Novelnook is a platform for authors and writers to publish their eBooks free of charge.

Design and Concept

Authors are able to publish their books, by chapters or entirely, at desired price. Each author can edit its own page in order to add social media links, advertise to their blogs or websites, track visitor traffic, monitor purchases, add a biography, view their points, message other users, browse various features that are unlocked with points, and more! And, all these through the Author Module developed by Web3Box Software.

Web3Box Software Web Design and Development

Right from the home page you will be able to easily access the module you’re interested in. Once you’re logged in, both as author or reader, you can check the unread messages from your inbox or to simply search for the Genre, Author or Title you’re interested in.

Another interesting module, developed with PHP and jQuery, is the slider you’ll notice right from the first visit. Here you will find newest books, featured books, featured authors or the best sellers, all in such an easy manner to look for.

Web3Box Software Web Design and Development

The featured authors can also be found in the front page in a custom developed section. This module lists up to 8 authors and provides the preferred genre of the author based on the number of the books he wrote in a specific genre. It also provides the rating the author received.

Web3Box Software Web Design and Development
Most websites view readers as customers. One of the main concepts was to involve the readers being a part of Novelnook community through a ranking system. If they want to place the ratings for the books they purchased, the readers should enter their profile, in the purchased books section, choose the book they want to rate and place any comments to the author, reviews or ratings.

Another Web3Box Software custom developed section you can find in the front page is the “New to Novelnook” module which lists the new members of the Novelnook community, both authors and readers. They can be easily identified by the “glasses” or “pencil” signs placed in front of their names.

Web3Box Software Web Design and Development

“Selling Points”

One of the selling points of this project is “the points system”, is a 100% PHP solution developed by Web3Box team which allows the authors and the readers to accumulate points based on their activity within the website like the ratings (placed or received), comments (placed or received), the books they buy and read or the books they publish.

What do points do?  They unlock a variety of features used to help authors promote and market their eBooks, you can take the benefits of having followers or so called “bookworms”, an interview on the Novelnook blog or you will receive a Novelnook social media marketing campaign. The points each reader or author collected can be seen in their private profile.

Web3Box Software Web Design and Development

Another selling point of the project is the “one move payment”. This means that a reader can buy several books at once from different authors with one payment only. Each author receives its related amount via PayPal.

Earlier we have mentioned the so called “bookworms”! What is all about? It is a custom coded module which allows the subscribers to closely follow-up all the moves of their preferred authors such as new published books or activity of the author within the site.

Web3Box Software web design and development team invites you to check the functionalities of the project we’ve developed together with our customer in order to have a clear view of the all custom components we created for this interesting and challenging project.

And remember, it takes roughly 10 minutes to sign up, submit an author application, and start uploading eBooks at Novelnook!

Novelnook Upgrades Itself

New Features have arrived, and more to come!


We have recently implemented a few of the features we have foreshadowed in previous posts.  Here’s a list of what to expect on Novelnook:

1) Frontpage – Our blog, featured authors, featured eBooks, a new login module, FAQ module, and the newest users, are all live for your viewing on our home page.  We are working to develop a component that will allow us to display our wordpress blog directly on our site – more to come on this.

2) “Bookworms” – We have added a feature that allows authors to be “followed” – simply click “become a bookworm” on their profile page and you will instantly be notified of any updates or additions the author makes via your inbox!

3) Publishing – The “publish” function is now more obvious in the authors dashboard.  There is a large blue button that is always showing – simply click this to bring up the eBook upload form.

4) Logo – To keep things fresh, we will be updating our logo with the seasons, holidays, and special occasions.

5) Author Custom URLs – We’ve done some thorough research and discovered that we have the most simplified version of custom URLs out of all eBook publishing websites.  Here’s an example:

6) Point System – The point system is online.  You are now able to earn points in the appropriate amounts and we have updated all current member’s point totals.  Please see the how-to-guide / points tab for more information.  We will be moving the points article to its own menu item soon to make it more user friendly to access.  Features are still being developed (for you to unlock via your points).

7) Number of Purchases – Each eBook now has a number of purchases tracker for all to see.

8) Bugs with Author Application – We have fixed all known bugs with the author application and registration process.  We will handle all errors and issues as soon as we receive them, so please continue providing us with feedback.

9) Popularity – To give our readers an update on our rise in popularity, we have over 1,000 followers and around 100 published eBooks from over 70 active authors since our BETA launch on October 2nd.  We’ve reached 500 unique visits in just one week since activating google analytics and we have yet to begin our marketing campaign in full force.  These numbers are purely based on word of mouth from our users!  We thank you for supporting us and look forward to growing our user base through aggressive marketing in the future.

We have been hard at work – improving our site to meet authors needs.  Expect many more updates this month as we continually add and modify our services in preparation for our official launch in November.

Have a suggestion? Shoot us an e-mail and we’ll respond immediately…

– Colton Joseph (CEO & Founder)

Novelnook Points

Get Rewarded

Our point system is designed to give users something in return for their time spent on our website.  We believe that game dynamics play an important role in today’s websites by keeping users engaged.  The reward system creates an environment that keeps users coming back for more.  We made it easy for you too, you don’t even have to “spend” your points – features are unlocked automatically.  Your points accumulate over time, through website interaction, and even when you share Novelnook with friends.  When you reach certain point totals you will unlock new and exciting features.   Some are even recurring – i.e. every 2,000 points.  These features are mainly for authors but can also benefit readers.  So, how can you earn points? And what are the features that you can unlock? We put together a little teaser for you below.  Check it out!

Earning Points

Many of you may still be confused what the entire system is for, which leads us to to…

What are points for?

Keep in mind that the list above is designed to be a teaser and our full point system consists of far more than what is displayed here.  There are over 15 different ways to earn points and dozens of features to unlock.  Our entire point system will be fully operational near the end of October.  We are currently testing the system on our beta users and have been receiving great feedback.  If you have any questions please feel free to ask.  Check back for more updates.

From Conception to Completion in Just 12 Weeks

Where on Earth did Novelnook come from?

Forming an idea into a tangible product can take huge amounts of time and energy.  This discouraging fact is near and dear to many entrepeneurs, inventors, and authors, especially self-publishers.  Though this blog will be in regards to how Novelnook was developed, it will demonstrate not only the determination of our team but also our faith in the self-published writer.

Yes, Novelnook was created in it’s entirety in just 12 weeks.  Even more interesting is that our website was completed to it’s current state in just 8 weeks and our social networks have been live for only 18 days.  In those 18 days we have garnered over 500+ followers through various social networking websites and over 150 authors interested in self-publishing on Novelnook.  The timeline below will help you visualize our progress.

  • 1 July 2012, The general idea behind Novelnook was conceived.  All social networks, .com’s, etc. were purchased.
  • 15 July 2012, Work begins on the Business Plan – the bread and butter behind Novelnook
  • 20 July 2012, Novelnook logo and other copyrighted material created
  • 1 Aug 2012, Business Plan / Trademarks / LLC / Patent etc. are finalized and completed
  • 2 Aug 2012, construction by Web3box starts
  • 15 Aug 2012, General outline of website completed and reviewed
  • 30 Aug 2012, Basic functioning of website finished
  • 13 Sep 2012, First Facebook post.  Outreach programs through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. started.
  • 29 Sep 2012, Over 500 followers and over 150 authors interested in self-publishing on Novelnook.
  • 1 Oct 2012, BETA test launch for – 20 registrations in the first 10 minutes of launch.

Obviously this is a never-ending process, we will always be innovating, expanding, and modifying our approach to obstacles, but we are proud of how far we’ve come in such little time.

Our eagerness to launch as soon as possible was fueled by our respect for determined self-publishing authors.  There is no reason why authors need to pay someone else to sell their work.  Personally, I was appalled when I realized how much publishers and eBook stores take from authors.  I recognize that publishers are essential for hardcover printing and distribution, but in terms of eBooks, they aren’t as effective.  I come from a very different industry by study and trade and I am vexed by the need for a service that charges you to sell your work online.  The internet has enabled us to “do-it-yourself” with almost anything, so why not publishing?

Novelnook was created to free up an author’s brain power for…well, writing.  Writer’s write.  Stop worrying about where you’re going to find readers, how much in fees you will be charged, how you will be able to afford to publish your work, and how little you’re going to get for your battle with the blank page – and write! We’re giving you the tools to focus on your novel in as much capacity as possible.  We offer a free, simple way to self-publish your work and receive all of your sales in full.  Stop messing with the middle man and connect directly with your readers.  Receive instant feedback, praise, comments, and suggestions.  For those writer’s who are passionate about marketing their own work, we provide numerous features for this as well.  Some of you are saying, “I am willing to pay to get ahead” and that is completely understandable.  But if you do pay, pay for something that is above and beyond.  Don’t pay for basic services.  If you’re going to invest, let it be in a premium service like personalized marketing for your eBook or a customized eBook cover to catch a reader’s eye.  Don’t get mixed up in paying seller fees or startup fees to an eBook store or publisher if you don’t have to.  As an author you respect your work and are proud of it; we know this.  Get out what you put in, at Novelnook.

Based on our projections, the savvy authors will “funnel” readers to their Novelnook page.  It will only benefit you as the author.  You will receive 100% of your sales, our process requires less work from your end, we do the marketing for you, and you can set your own prices and adjust them whenever you please.   Readers can even “subscribe” to authors for a fee and receive all of his/her published works on Novelnook at one time.  Got a favorite author? One click and you’ve got it all.  What more do you want? Please tell us and we’ll do it – that is our goal.  Author’s can even “unlock” special features simply by spending more time sharing their author page, their eBooks, inviting friends, commenting, selling, and more.  These are things you would do on any other site and we’re giving you access to more advanced features for it.

As we project into the future we have many goals and plans to enhance and develop the online reading experience.  We seek to improve above and beyond what current eBook stores provide.  As our reach grows, so will our services.

We ask you kindly, please spread the word about Novelnook and it’s quick rise to the forefront of the self-publishing eBook world.  We’re here for you, and we truly mean that.

Join our Beta Testing

– Colton Joseph (Founder & CEO)

Novelnook BETA

Please join us this Monday for Novelnook’s Beta testing @ We are open to all authors and readers alike. Most of our features will be available for the beta but there will be a few that are still in development (i.e. point system is being expanded, social network feeds, and others). We would greatly appreciate your feedback on our project. Our team will be on standby for any bug fixes, errors, or anything of the sort. Please use our “feedback” sticky button on the right side of the screen to offer advice, suggestions, or comments. Thank you for your participation!

– Colton Joseph (CEO & Founder)

Novelnook Answers It’s Followers

Q & A

We have received some fantastic questions regarding our services over the past few days. Our hope is that by answering we will clear up any uncertainty of what we’re offering here at Novelnook.

Why would I publish on Novelnook when I already have my eBooks on Amazon?

“I’m not sure I see much incentive to making, say, $400 at Amazon in a month, and then -maybe- $5 at this place”

A very valid question and concern as a self-published author. First, this statement is based on very little factual data, as we haven’t even launched yet. We understand Amazon will get much more traffic but this comparison is highly debatable.

There are dozens of reasons why Novelnook should be chosen in addition to your current eBook seller sites.

1) To start, we encourage authors to post their material wherever possible. It only increases your target audience. Common sense.

2) Our services are FREE. If you are not willing to take the 15 minutes to post your eBook on our website, then self-publishing may not be for you.

3) Publishing your material on Novelnook doesn’t hurt you in any way. You have numerous options of sharing the link to your new eBook on your blogs, social networks, etc. which gives you a chance to earn more for your products by “funneling” users to your Novelnook author page.

4) Our website is designed to encourage reader and writer interaction. Amazon and other eBook stores have recently undergone scrutiny regarding their user ratings and reviews. Unfortunately, there are claims of “fake reviews and ratings”. This lends little faith to Amazon’s rating and review system. Check it out here . Novelnook avoids this issue by requiring a user to purchase an eBook prior to commenting and rating the material.

5) We also provide initiatives for authors to increase their exposure WITHOUT paying. Most eBook sites require additional payments to take advantage of their marketing services. However, by earning “points” on Novelnook, you will be eligible to unlock features which help with advertising your eBook – free.

Will Novelnook market my eBook for me?

Along with the above marketing features, we spend the majority of our funds marketing our own website and its authors. We have designed our entire business model to bring in large amounts of traffic. To name a few measures; our web development team has gone to great lengths to ensure SEO rules are applied to the entire website, search engine friendly URL’s are in place, and META tags and keywords are properly configured. The more traffic we get, the more you get.

What is Novelnook’s marketing strategy?

Our marketing campaign consists of numerous social networking initiatives in addition to Google Adwords, StumbleUpon, Facebook Advertising, PPC campaigns and much more.

How does Novelnook make money?

Novelnook is an investment. We are investing in the idea that authors will want to earn more for their hard work. As we grow, advertising, investors, and special features will keep Novelnook profitable. Not to mention, our operating costs are very minimal.

Do authors retain the rights to their eBook(s)?

Absolutely, it’s your material – we believe that you should receive 100% of the profits and maintain all rights to your eBook. We are merely a marketing outlet for the author. You may also remove your eBook whenever you choose.

How many eBooks can I publish?

As many as you can write.

Does Novelnook offer editing or formatting services?

Currently, we do not. However, this is something we are very excited about providing and we will DEFINITELY have formatting options available post-beta testing.

Editing services will be offered in the future as well.

Will Novelnook publish hard copies of my eBook for sell in retail stores?

We do not currently offer this service – this is something for much later down the road as we are focused on the expansion of our eBook store.

Can Novelnook copyright my eBook for me?

Unfortunately, we cannot provide this service. We do, however, supply many helpful resources to guide you through the copyright process. Note that in order to post your eBook on our site you must have it copyrighted first.

So publishing is free, but what if I want to pay for premium services on Novelnook? What do you offer?

Professionally designed eBook covers are available for a fee.

Sometime after our beta testing, specialized marketing options will be available for authors to purchase. It is important to note that this will not take the place of our free marketing features we already offer.

How do authors receive their money?

Paypal is our current platform for transactions. Authors receive direct payments from customers into their paypal accounts – much like eBay – except no seller fees are charged by Novelnook. The only fees are those that are incurred by Paypal (typically around 2.9%). We recommend authors apply for a FREE business paypal account – which will further lower your fees.

We will be adding major credit cards in the near future.

So, what’s the catch?

We love hearing this question asked because it means we’re on to something. There are no catches. Publish your eBook for free and receive 100% of your profits direclty to your Paypal account.

We hope this answers your many questions and we welcome further discussions regarding Novelnook – don’t hesitate to ask.