Where I’m at Wednesday April 23, 2014
This week, I intend to finish chapter 21. Recently I went back, and reread what I wrote. But before I did that, I thought to myself: “There’s no way this will make sense.”, “The story can’t be exciting.”. Then after reexamining my manuscript, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t as bad as I feared. Everyday I fight doubt and insecurities. I get so engrossed in each chapter that I lose sight of the whole picture. Usually I have a well thought-out idea where I want my characters to go, but when I sit down to write, the story takes on its own personality. I forget the monster I’ve created. Going back reassured me that I’m still on-track and sane.
Kids write too!
Kids have profound imaginations and can create amazing stories.
Some children express themselves through whatever means their talent compels them to. No one is too young to write stories, poetry or books. In the fourth grade, I wrote a little storybook. A few years later, my abilities developed into short stories, then into writing novels.
J.R.R Tolkien, in his early teens, created his own language, which he later applied to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. It would be known as the Elfin Language.
At the age of 15, Christopher Paolini started writing Eragon. It was published in 2002, topping charts and winning numerous awards.
Kids amaze me with their wondrous, and [sometimes] humorous creativity. As a parent, I encouraged my kids’ inventiveness.
Writing may be the only means of expression for certain children.
If you are a parent— acknowledge an individual’s talents and nurture them; they could be the next bestselling authors.
If you are a child writer- KEEP GOING! I applaud your courage.
Where I’m at Wednesday April 16, 2014
With getting back into the swing of things, I haven’t attributed much on The Omphalos. Yes. . . I feel incredibly guilty, but rest-assured I will write!
Changing the subject, we’re gonna talk about ANTAGONISTS.
In books and movies, we fall in love with the main character(s); however, we cannot deny a well-written bad guy either. Let’s face it. . . villains add spice to the story!
First, the “obvious evil” like Freddy Krueger, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Lord Voldemort are prime examples of apparent malevolence. Several villains are SO bad that the audience demands immediate justice, for instance, Hans Gruber in Die Hard, Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and The Governor in The Walking Dead. Then there’s the nice guy turned bad- Jack Torrance in The Shinning, and Annie Wilkes in Misery. In The Silence of the Lambs, Dr. Hannibal Lector is a character wavering between wisdom and insanity. Certain villains we can sympathize with and even cheer for, The Joker in The Dark Night, and Loki in Thor.
So how do you write wicked characters?
It’s easy! Just embrace your bad side. C’mon, we’ve all got one. . . don’t deny it.
I usually run down a list of good villains in my head—extracting their “not-so-nice” qualities. One specific sinister trait I enjoy is an intelligent character that teeters on trustworthiness. Another attribute is the unsuspecting or unlikely evil.
Your villain, however, doesn’t always have to be a person. Objects can be most useful. Even items—normally not scary, can become frightful if given the right antidote of suspense and evil attributes.
As a writing prompt, answer questions about your villain(s).
-First, identify the enemy.
-If you were the main character, what’s so scary about the bad guy?
-What sinister qualities does your antagonist have?
-All characters have a weakness, what’s your villain’s “Achilles Heal”?
-Does he/she act alone or do they have a group?
-If the villain isn’t a person, what abilities does the object(s) exhibit?
In the beginning, I wouldn’t resolve the conflict between your main character(s) vs. the bad guy. For now, focus on developing the evil personality—demonstrate several situations that make them “bad”.
Take care my friends 🙂
More of the M word
. . . not murder, marketing!
Last week, I mentioned social media by creating an author’s page via: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Goodreads, etc, etc, etc. I hope you have done that already? If not, do it now! At least, set-up Facebook & Twitter author’s pages.
How to build an author
First of all, the majority of construction begins within YOU.
One of the hardest transitions for me was stepping out of “writer” and into the role of “author”. I felt my little hobby wasn’t worth mentioning. I didn’t declare it until the publish date was set on The Sphere of Archimedes. I blurted-out to a stranger “I’m an author”, and felt stupid afterword. But, I knew in my heart it IS my new identity.
If your writing is more than a hobby, then it’s time to be serious and embrace you—the author. Okay, you never went to college, and got a degree in English Lit. So? I’m sure that’s one of many excuses you’ve concocted in your head. Believe in yourself.
Once you’re confident, you will need to build-up that new persona. Start by ordering business cards, creating an email address, designing a webpage. It helps show people that you’re serious about writing.
Write a professional biography in 3rd person. It sounds a bit daunting to some, especially if your life isn’t filled with too much excitement. Try your best. Or hire someone else to do it for you.
Get a professional headshot photo taken. This was and still is the hardest thing for me; I’m just not a photogenic person.
Now, you must prove to the world that you—the author—can write. Start a blog. Or, if blogging isn’t your forte write short stories, articles for magazines or newspapers. There are a million ways to establish an audience.
If you have written a book, then there are things to prepare for. Writing a blurb (back cover synopsis) for your book and/or elevator pitch. Trust me, people come up to me all the time and say: “So, what’s your book about?” It sounds easy enough to blurt-out all the intricate details of the book; however, try doing it without losing a person’s attention takes practice. I’m serious! Watch their eyes; it gives them away all the time. Memorize an elevator pitch (usually two minutes) that sounds exciting but does not give away too much information. You want people to read your book. Don’t tell key parts of how your hero saved the day. Leave them guessing, enthralled, and needing to know “what happens next?”.
If your book is about to be published, check into getting a press release or having book launch. Through personal experience, my book launch was very successful. It’s like throwing a party, and everybody and their brother is invited.
Try getting feedback from friends or family members on reputable sites: Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble. I’m all for bribes. Hahaha!
After all that has been said and done, escape the computer and speak at writer’s conferences. You can engage fellow writers and grow potential readers.
Keep writing because the more you put out—the more of an audience you’ll build.
Take care, my friends.
Where I’m at Wednesday January 29, 2014
I have a confession. Once I am finished with chapter 20 of The Omphalos of Delphi, I will stop working on it momentarily. I am working on another project, getting it ready to go to the editor. It will take about a month for me to run through my manuscript, fix grammatical errors, and reread for continuity. After that, I will resume The Omphalos. I am continuing the “where I’m at”, but only for the writers’ benefit. A much needed break will help my mind wander. 😉
“It was market-morning. The ground was covered, nearly ankle-deep, with filth and mire; a thick steam, perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle, and mingling with the fog, which seemed to rest upon the chimney-tops, hung heavily above. All the pens in the centre of the large area, and as many temporary pens as could be crowded into the vacant space, were filled with sheep; tied up to posts by the gutter side were long lines of beasts and oxen, three or four deep. Countrymen, butchers, drovers, hawkers, boys, thieves, idlers, and vagabonds of every low grade, were mingled together in a mass; the whistling of drovers, the barking dogs, the bellowing and plunging of the oxen, the bleating of sheep, the grunting and squeaking of pigs, the cries of hawkers, the shouts, oaths, and quarrelling on all sides; the ringing of bells and roar of voices, that issued from every public-house; the crowding, pushing, driving, beating, whooping and yelling; the hideous and discordant dim that resounded from every corner of the market; and the unwashed, unshaven, squalid, and dirty figures constantly running to and fro, and bursting in and out of the throng; rendered it a stunning and bewildering scene, which quite confounded the senses.”
* —Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist
Did you read that? Wow!! Dickens has such a way with details. You are catapulted into the busy Smithfield live-cattle market during the 1800s. The very first thing I can envision is the stench—“ankle-deep, with filth and mire”. I am sure a person could smell the market blocks away. Then Dickens tantalizes our senses by the sights, describing the fog, the animals, and the various types of people within the center. The sounds of whistling, barking, bellowing, bleating, grunting, squeaking, cries, shouts, quarrelling, ringing, and roar become overwhelming. He finishes off the paragraph by suffocating the reader—feeling as though they are being compressed by a crowd. Personally, I would flee from such a place.
Being a writer or painter, you dream with your eyes open. We try to figure out the mystery of “how to add the natural elements into our work”.
Like many of us, I started at an early age. Around sixth grade, I wrote several short, macabre stories of haunted places or mysterious glowing eyes, but then my writing matured into poetry and novels.
As a child, my time was consumed with the natural world of plants, animals, and insects. One of my most favorite things to do was to sit quietly and listen. Some of the best moments or most entertaining things happened: squabbling birds chased each other; wind blew through the trees, causing a noisy surge; ants collectively worked without a clue that a giant looms overhead.
Today, I still love to do this. I like to be alert of the world around me, and not just the manmade world called “city”, but the real, natural world.
During the wintertime, hawks migrate to Phoenix. They come down from the mountains and forests to enjoy the warmer temperatures. On countless occasions, I have noticed people walk around oblivious to the scenes of large birds soaring above.
Be aware of your surroundings. Or, if you are writing about a place you’ve never been to—research the terrain, city, and life. In studying Greenland, I engorged my mind with several videos on YouTube to add the feel of the cold, landscape, and native peoples.
Charles Dickens grew up under such conditions. He is a master of imagery because it was the world he observed.
I will give another vivid illustration:
“In half a quarter of a mile’s length of Whitechapel, at one time, there shall be six hundred newly slaughtered oxen hanging up, and seven hundred sheep but, the more the merrier proof of prosperity. Hard by Snow Hill and Warwick Lane, you shall see the little children, inured to sights of brutality from their birth, trotting along the alleys, mingled with troops of horribly busy pigs, up to their ankles in blood but it makes the young rascals hardy. Into the imperfect sewers of this overgrown city, you shall have the immense mass of corruption, engendered by these practices, lazily thrown out of sight, to rise, in poisonous gases, into your house at night, when your sleeping children will most readily absorb them, and to find its languid way, at last, into the river that you drink.”
* —Charles Dickens Household Words article in March 1851
I love how period piece movies make the 1800s overly romantic. The Aristocratic societies with castles and beautiful clothing seem intoxicating; however, when you read Charles Dickens, the perspective changes from the dreamy image into a putrid, sad tale. Throughout his stories the characters seem colorfully real besieged by hardship.