Just a little humor to start your week off right. If you were able to read that without doing a Sir Mix-A-Lot impersonation, then you’ve seriously got to loosen up! When I first saw this on my cousin’s Facebook page, I immediately started to bust a rhyme. Have a great week everyone!
Baby Got Books.
There’s a time and a place for everything. Being politically correct as a human being is great. Being politically correct as a writer is overrated. And boring.
I’m currently reading a throwback novel from the 90’s titled Friends and Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey. This book is chock full of scandalous statements from candidly outspoken characters. I’m constantly raising my eyebrows and shaking my head. But I’m also still reading because I find it absolutely titillating!
One character equated deception by a man she was intimate with to rape. She felt that when a man lies or misrepresents himself to get in a woman’s pants that he is on the same gutter level as a rapist. Is this PC? Um, no. But it does tell me a lot about the character and what she represents. There are other instances in the book that reek of racism, sexism, and bigotry. Still, I can’t help but to remain intrigued because Dickey didn’t seem to write simply for the sake of shock value. I think he did it because he was striving to paint a true picture of the world as he saw it. He succeeded.
Each of the many characters throughout Friends and Lovers reminds me of someone I know or have known. The world is full of less than desirable people. People that are far from PC. If one of our jobs as artists is to portray the world as we see it, then we will have to include characters and phrases that are likely to offend someone, somewhere, at some point. And that’s okay. As long as we do it with grace and purpose.
Dickey’s characters are at times crass, but those same characters also display intense moments of compassion and humanity. It’s all totally believable because that’s how people really are. Hemingway said it best, “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”
So every once in a while leave your political correctness at the door and get down to the nitty-gritty business of re-creating people. No one will bite, I promise. And you might just cause a reader to stop and take a closer look at themselves and the world around them. If they don’t like what they see, perhaps they’ll change it.
Want to join me on my journey back to the 90’s? Get your copy of ‘Friends and Lovers’ here or here.
Let’s talk commitment. When developing a main character it is imperative that you commit to him or her. Discerning readers expect characters with depth. Discerning readers expect multi-dimensional characters. Discerning readers buy books and if you give them what they deserve, they will remain your loyal fans for life.
Resist the urge to dive head first into plot development, descriptive paragraphs and thought provoking dialogue. Get to know your main character (MC). Now, you could go the boring (and sometimes effective) route of making a character outline. Or, you could indulge in the borderline mental illness that all gifted writers possess and start off by flirting with your MC. What does he or she look like? What’s their style like? Where do they hang out? Then step it up a notch. Start dating your MC. Find out where they went to school. What are they passionate about? Where did they grow up? Nuclear family? Single parent home? How old were they when they had their first kiss? First fell in love? What do they do for a living? Where have they traveled? You get the picture.
So you’ve flirted. You’ve dated. And now you’ve decided that this character is worth delving into. So take the plunge and get to the nitty-gritty of a relationship. What are his or her buttons? Deepest fears? Greatest regrets? Most annoying habits? At this point your character should constantly be on your mind. Having a conversation with your MC while driving down the street should be the norm. Adding his or her name to your Christmas shopping list shouldn’t give you pause.
Totally give in to the psychosis that is creative imagination and marry this person. Live and breathe who he or she is. Think about them while you brush your teeth, hustle through your day job, and clip coupons online. If you’re doing it right, your actual spouse should accuse you of cheating. If you’re really doing it right, you should feel a momentary flash of guilt because you kind of feel like you are. At that point, reel that junk in. We want to commit, not get committed.
If you like your character, put a ring on it. The more time and effort you put into character development, the greater the return on your investment.
Writers: What’s your process for creating characters with depth?
Readers: What makes a character stand out as the real deal?
I’ve been putting off writing a review of Scrivener for weeks. I detest giving bad reviews. Maybe it’s because I know that most people work hard at producing quality programs and products, and I never want to knock anyone’s effort. But, I have to face the fact that everything is not for everyone. Scrivener is most definitely not for me.
First, let me give you a little background on the program and what it is supposed to do. “Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.” Source That’s fancy talk for saying that the program is supposed to help with organizing long documents like novels, scripts, etc. According to Scrivener’s promotional page this software can create order from chaos, keep all of your pertinent research at your fingertips, and make it super easy to format your manuscript for publication. I was sooooo psyched when I first stumbled across their website, as evidenced by my gung-ho sharing of the program with all of you on this very blog.
Then I downloaded the free trial. After suffering through most of the long introductory tutorial. I say most because I had to move on before I went into a coma. Yes, it was that boring. Anyway, I followed the instructions and imported my work in progress to the Scrivener software. I guess I expected the magic to start. Yeah, that didn’t happen. The software expected me to create all of these little index cards with summaries of each chapter. It was supposed to make it easy to rearrange sequences of events and get an overall view of the pace of my novel. My issue was that I couldn’t see the point in going through the frustration of editing in Scrivener, when I could easily do the same thing in the comforting familiarity of Microsoft Word.
Now, let me tell you why I can’t recommend this program. I really feel as though a writer could get most of the same benefits that Scrivener offers by using an app like OneNote by Microsoft or something similar to it. I’ve personally been using OneNote to edit my novel and its been working like a charm! It links notes directly from my manuscript document, and guess what? They too look like little index cards that I can rearrange at will. I still get the benefit of summarizing my work, having quick access to specific parts of my novel and getting a wider view of my composition. It didn’t cost me $40 bucks either. It was my favorite price: abso-frickin-lutely free! Check out OneNote by clicking here.
I will end this by giving a disclaimer. It’s only fair that I let you all know that I had high expectations for Scrivener. I thought I could import my novel and have it automatically separate chapters, pull out key words and overall help ease the headache of editing a large body of work. It’s not a horrible program, it’s just so much less than I expected. You can check it out for yourself. Scrivener does offer a free 30 day trial, so in the words of LeVar Burton, my Reading Rainbow hero, “You don’t have to take my word for it.”
Ever been let down by a product you expected to love? Commiserate with me in the comments below!
Photo credit: ancient history / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)
I’m back from my awesome vacation to Orlando, Florida home of endless mini-vans, SUV’s and hoards of people wearing Mickey Mouse ears on their heads. This was family trip with my aunt’s, uncles, cousins and their kids. We totaled 22 folks in all and there was never a dull moment. Thankfully, I have a family that knows how to have fun anywhere, so finding shenanigans to get into in Orlando was a cake walk.
Road trip! When I wasn’t driving, I amused myself by taking selfies in the back seat.
We stayed in two gorgeous vacation rental homes a few miles away from Disney World called the Windsor Resorts. I highly recommend them!
We went to the Magic Kingdom park at Disney World and, despite the rain, had a great time!
We also saw a live pirate dinner show. The actors were very interactive. The kids enjoyed it much more than the adults, but all in all, it was okay.
No trip to Florida without a day at the beach, so despite the threat of rain, we ventured out. The hour and a half drive was so worth it! I didn’t bother to put on my fabulous new swim suit because we got caught in a downpour. Sunshine state, my hiney!
We ended the vacation with a family dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Good times, indeed!
It rained almost everyday, which was kind of a bummer. I didn’t get to take a swamp tour (I so wanted to see an alligator), but I did have a great time shopping, laughing and relaxing with my loved ones. I’m slowing coming back to reality after my Disney World hangover. I think everyone should go and experience it at least once. If you have kids of any age, the joy on their faces will make it all worth while!