Friday, March 30, 2012

A Marvelous Work and Lizards

While eating a mid-afternoon snack yesterday Truck Boy and Pretty Girl were distracted by a lizard on the window.  I found myself telling them to forget the lizard and please just sit down and eat their snack.  After several renditions of this I asked myself why this was important, and truth was, it wasn't.

The truth is that the snack would still be there when the lizard was gone. And let's face it, the windows are already so dirty their sticky little fingers couldn't have harmed them. Think of the wonder and excitement of seeing a lizard.  I'm only being slightly sarcastic here.  Lizards are everywhere and we see them all the time but to a almost two and a three year old they're always marvelous. (I don't plan on marveling over the ticks, fleas and mosquitoes which are starting to make an appearance and are supposed to be especially bad this year)

As writers we need that wonder in our lives.  It's what tells us there are stories in everything.  Most of all we need that wonder in our WIPs.  Take a break, come back and marvel at your ideas, your words, and descriptions. It's not just a time line, a project to be completed on your way to publication.  It's a marvelous creation that we should delight in. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Writing About Writing

The other night I watched an episode of Frasier where Frasier and his brother Niles try to write a book together.  It was frustrating yet amusing at the same time.  I'm not trying to publish non-fiction but I've read enough to know that the situation was unrealistic (shocker, I know).  It made me think back to Steve Martin's remake of Cheaper by the Dozen.  It's been a long time since I've seen it (I prefer the original movie, and the book is hilarious) so correct me if I'm wrong but in the movie doesn't she just write it up, send if off, get published then go on this huge book tour ending up in an interview with Oprah, who was coming to their house?  How often does that happen? There's also The Shining, which I REALLY hope isn't an accurate portrayal of a writer.  

I'm sure the process is abbreviated or altered for different reasons, one to fit in the time constraints, or for comedic purposes like the Frasier episode.  And really who wants to watch a movie about the But In Chair method of writing anyway?  The only portrayal of writing I could come up with that seems realistic, if atypical, was in the book I Capture the Castle.  A book I love.

Can you think of any portrayals of writing in film or book?  Are they realistic or hilariously off track?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Picture It

Anne Gallagher has a post about characters for a new book.  She has pictures for each one and talked about how she doesn't like to write a character until she can find a picture of who represents that person.  I've seen a lot of bloggers post pics of their characters. I know these pictures aren't the characters themselves, maybe more inspiration for them.  And it could be anything in the photo, the physical appearance, expression on their face, or the emotion portrayed. 

I've never done the picture thing.  Maybe I'm odd.  Especially since I realized my mom (love you mom!) had come across pictures she thought of as my characters.  I posted here about people watching, but even that doesn't give me characters.  It might give me mannerisms, or motivation but not a character.  At least not yet.

Sometimes my characters come fully formed.  They walk up to me, figuratively speaking, and tell me who they are, and what they are looking for.  Sometimes they are a little harder.  I know their public persona but they hide their feelings and motivations from me.  As to inspiration for them, it's often an emotion, or maybe a snapshot picture in my mind.  A picture of a girl crying, a man wondering if his wife loves him, a woman on a cliff looking out to sea, the back of a van covered in a destroyed wedding cake.  Then I have to figure out what is going on. 

I'm sure there are just as many ways to find characters as there are authors.  How do you find/see your characters?  Do you look for pictures of them on the web? 

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Focus on the Good" Day

Sorry for not posting Wednesday.  It was such a crazy, busy day.  Life has really been a little overwhelming recently.  It was one of those days where you focus on what's not getting done rather than what is.  Add to that some discussion about feedback and how it affects our writing in the monthly goals thread at compuserve and then this post here

Why is it so gosh darn easy to believe all the bad things about us or our writing but not the good?  Why focus on what we didn't get done instead of what did?  (Not on Wednesday though, because nothing got done.  Really.)

Today I declare "Focus on the Good" day!  What do you do well in writing?  What's one thing of importance you've accomplished?  And yes, feeding your family is important, even if that's all you did.

This morning I went to four stores.  With two toddlers.  We made it home hungry but happy.  Doesn't matter that the dishes are waiting or laundry isn't done, that was an accomplishment.  And I'm good at dialogue.  At least in my later drafts. Nothing's good first draft.  So, what about you?  What good are you focusing on today? 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Main Character Dilemma

There’s a book I love.  The first time I read it there were parts where I was so angry with the MC I could only read for 15 minutes before I would slam the book down in a huff.  But, half an hour later there I was, picking it up again anxious to see what would happen next.  I love that book, now.  I think one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is because it creates such a strong emotional response in my.  It isn’t always a happy, fluffy feeling but it’s real and it’s strong, and it pulls me in.  I lived in that world, I didn’t like her choices but I lived them. 

I think that’s the best kind of MC, one that creates a range of strong emotions in us as they struggle and grow.  But I have to ask myself, why do I like the book when I disliked so much of the character?  How far can an author go before they have an unsympathetic character that no one will read?

There’s a variety of reasons it worked in this book.  First, motivation.  For all the choices she made we understood exactly why she made them.   We knew what she was thinking, why she thought it would work and it was all true to her character.  If the author was visible in the book, leading the character from bad choice to bad choice, for the sake of plot alone, with no motivation I can guarantee I would not have finished the book.

Second, sympathy.  Though I was angry at her, I knew her past, I knew her frailties and weaknesses and how she was trying to hide those weaknesses.  So in some ways I felt sorry for her. She was a sympathetic character. I also knew that if I was in her situation I would most likely make some bad choices too. Though maybe not the ones she made. 

Third, growth.  Through the book we could see her grow and change.  She realized she made mistakes, she tried to fix them the best she could and she truly learned to care about others.  In the end she was someone I could emulate and admire.  Who doesn’t want to see someone triumph over difficulties?

For all the roller coaster ride this MC puts me on she’s one of my favorite characters.  She evokes such a strong response in me that I can’t help but get emotionally involved, and after all, isn’t that what a book is supposed to do?  One things for sure, the MC can make or break the book.

What do you think of MCs that drive you nuts?  Would you keep reading?  Who is the MC that creates the strongest emotional response in you? 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Entropy is still Happening

I've been tagged a few times recently and I decided just to do them all in the same post.  Hopefully this  won't get too confusing.  First I received

from Linda at Writers Do Laundry, Too.  Thanks for thinking of me.  This is an award for people who have less than 200 followers to help build a following. I didn't want to limit it so I give it to anyone who doesn't yet have 200 followers.  Just leave a comment and we'll all come over and check your blog out! 

Next was

From Cynthia at Read is the New Black.  For this award I'm supposed to share 7 interesting facts about myself.  I don't know if there are 7 interesting things about me but here goes.

1. I'm about to get my first root canal.  Yep.  Good times.
2. Both our children are adopted. We want more, so if any of you know of children looking for a home keep us in mind.
3. See, I'm only on three and I'm out of interesting things.  I need chocolate to help me think.
4. I used to fence in college.
5. I desperately want to know how to play the bagpipes.  I have a chanter and a book I've been using to teach myself, I just don't have time.  It's top of the list for when my kids get a little older.
6. I studied Russian at college.
7. I was in color guard (the flags with marching bands) for two years in high school and four years at university. 

There that wasn't too painful.  At least for me, sorry to those that are reading it.  This can go to anyone who wants to post interesting things about themselves.  I love reading them so I hope some of you take it.

The other tag was the lucky 7 meme.  This was from Julia at Writing Jewels.  The thing is I think I got this from someone else too, but I can't find where I wrote it down.  I'm so sorry to whoever it was, and hope you can forgive my swiss cheese memory.  You can leave a comment and I'll get a link to you set up.  I'm supposed to turn to page 77 of my WIP, go to line seven and post the next seven lines.  I'm using the sequel to the MS I'm hoping to query this summer so it is VERY rough.  So here it is in all its Nano glory.

“Can’t that wait until morning?”  Ginny asked, “You look exhausted.”
Maddy shook her head.  I’ll be baking all morning tomorrow anyway, I want to get this done tonight. If you want to help there’s butter that needs churning.”   She was relieved to get rid of that chore.  “Tell me about the store.  Did you have problems when Da left with Samuel?”  One more thing to feel guilty about. 
“No.  It was doing fine but Mama was so sick.  I needed to bring her home and the only way I could do that was to sell the store.”  Her voice choked up.  “It wasn’t easy.  It felt as if I was selling my life with Alex.” 

And that's that.  Whew.  Hope some of you stuck around.  Enough about me.  Why don't you tell me something about you in the comments?  Please?