Monthly Archives: March 2014

Main Characters…

Main Characters: You do everything you can to raise them right, and as soon as they hit the page they do any damn thing they please.

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March 31, 2014 · 9:18 pm

Glimpse into a Writer’s Mind

Do you visualize what your characters do as you write about them? Do you change how they act as you are writing?

 

On the lighter side of writing, The Playwright, a sketch performed on The Carol Burnett Show, exemplifies what it looks like when a writer writes. It is a hilarious glimpse into the mind of the writer.

 

As Harvey Korman writes in the background, Carol and the gang act out exactly what Harvey writes. They acclimate themselves to several plot changes and pre-act on actions when Harvey hesitates. In less than six minutes, the viewer sees what the writer and the writer’s characters go through during a writing session.

It is a wonderful display of the writing process. It is a comedic look at how the imagination and creativity that goes into writing a particular scene and how the characters may feel about that.

 

Characters have feelings? Of course they do. As the writer, it is your job to incorporate those feelings into them so that your reader may feel something as well.

 

Characters also have a way of doing their own thing. Which is not bad. It can sometimes lead you in new directions or give you new ideas about the story you’re writing.

 

But the next time you’re working on a writing project, picture in your mind how your characters are acting out what you write. It might make you a smile.

 

Oh, and if you must take aspirin during the writing process, do give the characters a heads-up.

 

Watch The Playwright on YouTube:

http://bit.ly/1fxtzhy

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We don’t create…

We don’t create a fantasy world to escape reality, we create it to be able to stay.

Lynda Barry

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March 31, 2014 · 9:16 pm

So what? All wr…

So what? All writers are lunatics!

Cornelia Funke

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March 30, 2014 · 12:33 pm

Writing the Demons Away

If you’ve ever watched The Twilight Zone (1985) there was one episode particularly poignant to writers. 

Personal Demons was a story about a man who was a writer. A writing man, you could say. He found himself plagued by these little hooded creatures. They followed him everywhere, creating chaos and mayhem along the way. He tried to talk about these creatures with other people but, of course, no one could see them except him. 

One day he looked up and there were those creatures standing around him looking at him. He asked them “What do I have to do to get rid of you?” 

One of the little demons stepped forward and said, “Write about us and you’ll never see us again.” 

That’s how it is when a writer first gets a glimpse of an idea. It begins as a thought. That’s all, just a thought. It begins to build. Characters show up who act out what you’re thinking. Next thing you know, those characters invade your life. 

It’s like having a bunch of little creatures follow you everywhere, wrecking your thought processes, interfering with everyday tasks, sometimes even influencing how you act and interact with other people. 

It isn’t until the writer begins the actual writing process that the characters settle down. Once those characters come to life upon the page, they’re still with you, every day and in every step you take. But they’re not clamoring for your attention because they have that now. 

I suppose, in a way, a writer can think of it as a birthing process. The characters creating their mayhem are contractions. Putting them on paper is giving them life. 

It may seem a bit on the macabre side but it’s part of the creative process. Personal Demons illustrates it in a total of twelve minutes, presenting it as an almost frightening experience. 

It can be a little frightening. Until the writer learns and understands that she or he must write stories and characters into being, must breathe life into them so that others can experience them as well. 

That’s all characters, ideas and stories want: to be given life. 

Watch Personal Demons on YouTube.

Personal Demons, Season 1 Episode 44:

http://bit.ly/1mAd2B3

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Writing is a so…

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.

E.L. Doctorow

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March 30, 2014 · 12:30 pm

Reading is the …

Reading is the perfect escape from whatever ails you.

Jessica Spotswood

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March 24, 2014 · 7:09 pm

Using Backstory to Enhance the Story

Delving into a character’s past can be a complicated, tricky endeavor. Spreading details throughout the story keeps it interesting and keeps the reader reading.

 

A method to tell the past of my characters which worked well for me is using the backstory.

 

I was inspired to use this method by the ABC television series Once Upon A Time. The show is very adept at using the backstory of fairy tale characters to present them in a more realistic and imaginative light.

 

In Sword of Tilk Book One: Worlds Apart and Book Two: Strange Land I used the backstory told by Jean, grandmother of the twin Queens. The events related in her narratives were relevant to situations currently faced by the characters. Both narratives were a story within the story.

 

In Book Three: At Sword’s End, I used the memories of evil witch Desdemona to enlighten the reader about the backstory. Desdemona also used “earth memories” which she could conjure at will.

 

It isn’t a good idea to create detailed backstories in each and every novel, except for the purpose of knowing what your characters have gone through to get them to where they currently are.

 

In the Sword of Tilk Trilogy, including the backstories was instrumental to the story itself. The Tilk family history was an essential part of the story illustrating how those past events affect current events. It also displayed the characters at a different point in their lives and explained the people they became.

 

Creating the backstory within the story can add a layer of intrigue to your characters as well as to your plot.

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You’re a writer…

You’re a writer, the ‘normal’ ship sailed without you long ago.

Terri Main

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March 24, 2014 · 7:05 pm

Writing the Slow Build

A common mistake made by beginning writers is trying to tell the entire story in the first chapter. Or even in the first paragraph. 

By giving your novel the “slow build” you give the reader a better opportunity to be enchanted with your story and your characters. 

A prime example of this slow build process is Lindsay Buroker’s The Emperor’s Edge series. 

While most authors write a single novel, Ms. Buroker takes her readers and her characters through a series of seven books (thus far). This affords her the luxury of building on her characters with each series entry. She has mastered the slow build. 

I’ll use the character of Akstyr as an illustration. 

When we first meet Akstyr he is in the stockade for practicing magic. The Turgonian Empire denies the very existence of magic. Anyone practicing it is punished. Amaranthe Lokdon, the heroin of the series, enlists Akstyr’s help in a plot to thwart the assassination of Emperor Sespian. 

From the moment we meet him, Akstyr displays contempt toward everyone and everything, with the exception of studying magic. One wonders why he chose to throw his lot in with this band of miscreants. He keeps himself distanced from everyone in the group, even plotting to turn one of them in for the bounty. He’s one of those characters you want to like but his attitude and his actions leave you shaking your head. 

Once we meet Aktyr’s mother in Blood and Betrayal (Book 5) we begin to understand the young man’s attitude. We also realize his attitude is a defense mechanism: he uses it to protect himself against getting hurt. 

We also find out he cares more than he lets on. 

By presenting him as a lackadaisical character Buroker piques the reader’s interest about him while also tweaking just a touch of frustration with him. 

Once his true nature is revealed, all is forgiven. Almost all. 

It’s almost like knowing a real person. 

The slow build process Ms. Buroker spans over several novels can be achieved in one. It’s all about timing: When, where and how you choose to divulge the essential aspects of your character so your reader gets to know that character gradually. Just like getting to know a real person. 

Give the reader just enough to keep them wanting more.

 

 

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