Sunday, October 27, 2013

~ A writer's companion ~


          When writing a novel a writer should create living people;            people not characters. A character is a caricature.

                                                                   - Ernest Hemingway

Speaking of Ernest Hemingway, have you noticed that most writers seem to have a writing companion of the furry persuasion sitting by their side during the creative process? Hemingway was well known for his cats, the descendants of whom still roam all over his island property. Count me among the majority, as my darling Lizzie is more than happy to keep me company during the long hours spent in front of my computer.Writing is a lonely, solitary endeavor; and the steadfast companionship offered by the truest of friends should never be taken for granted.

Listening attentively to my every word....

My very own Elizabeth Bennett. Could one have a better muse?

Having your dog or cat nearby also gives you a handy excuse when someone walks by and hears your characters having a conversation. What? No you didn't hear anything, I was just talking to the dog. It's important to read your work aloud, to hear the rhythm of the words as they fall from your lips. My ears are often able to pinpoint a problem in the flow of the conversation between my characters that had gone undetected by the eye alone. So I am often found acting out a scene for Lizzie, using my best acting skills to bring my characters to life, and in the case of 'Back to Austen' employing my best British accents.

She is a faithful friend that never questions my madness. Well that's not exactly true.......
Sometimes when I read her a bit from one of my latest scenes, she laughs uncontrollably. The only problem is's not a comedy.

Exhibit A

Everyone's a critic.

Monday, October 14, 2013

~ The Wizard of Oz ~

Every good writer I've ever read about began with an insatiable appetite for books, for plundering what is in them, for the nourishment provided by them, that you can't get from any other source.

                                           - Richard Bausch

I recently attended a showing of 'The Wizard of Oz' in IMAX-3D, to celebrate it's 75th year.You better believe those flying monkeys were scary this time.!!! But it got me thinking about what wonderful CHARACTERS this movie, this story gave us. What kind of genius mind could come up with such characters that had lived with us these 75 years and are as real as you and I? Thank you L. Frank Baum. The theater was filled with every generation, the vast majority of whom has seen this movie again and again.  As we were exiting the theater, I overheard a conversation between a mother and her daughter who appeared to be about 6 years old. Her mom said " Are you happy we came?" the little girl looked up with wide eyes and said, "Oh yes, I loved it. But I was very worried." This little girl summed up the sentiment of decades of movie goers. So what brings us back time after time? Why are we so willing to suspend disbelief and go skipping down the yellow brick road?

It is the hope of every writer that we will create characters that are so believably lovable or even so believably bad (like the wicked witch), that they will be memorable long after the last page has been turned and the book placed back upon dusty shelves. Of course the key word here is believable. The characters in The Wizard of Oz were believable even in their unbelievable circumstances. This was due to fabulous writing and consummate acting. Those actors were NEVER out of character for one moment, even when the scene was not focusing on them. They were true to their character, and they were so good at it, that we believed them too.

Our job as a writer is to do the same thing for our audience. We must believe in our characters, and write them in such a way that they are always able to be true to themselves. Whatever the story may be, large or small, from the greatest literary character to the smallest ant in a children's book. Of course it might be a little easier to write such larger than life characters, for subtlety is a difficult art. But it is the job of the writer to make every character someone you can root for, fall in love with or root against. I told someone recently, that if the reader doesn't CARE about your character, they are not going to care if she's hanging from the rooftop by her fingertips. Easier said than done, I know.

Who is one of your all time favorite literary characters, and why?

And in the mean time I say,
"Oh please Mr. Wizard, it would be so much easier to write.......if I only had a brain."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

~ Among Friends ~

'What things there are to write, if one could only write them. My mind is full of gleaming thoughts, gay moods and mysterious moth-like meditations that hover in my imagination, fanning their painted wings. But always, the rarest, those streaked with azure and the deepest crimson, flutter away beyond my reach.'

                                                                       - Logan Pearsall Smith

And so there you have it in a nutshell. The hope of every writer, as they sit down to face the page; the hope that this day they will capture the thoughts swirling in their mind and heart. That they will ensnare the 'perfect words' once and for all.
But oh, 'those perfect words, ' are elusive creatures.That is why many days I feel as if I'm walking around with a giant butterfly net, in my desperate attempt to sneak up on them and catch a few for my own private collection. But one must be quick, for they are always quicker. I'ts my job to chase them, and their job to elude being pinned down on my pages. So the two of us enter the daily dance.

As I've mentioned to friends before, writing is a lonely pursuit. Shut away for hours on end in your little room you begin to doubt if there's anyone else in the world but you and your characters on the page. So you shout out the window;
"Hello, Hello, hello"
"Anybody there, anybody, anybody"
"I said HELLO, hello, hello."
And the answer returns to me; "Shut up, shut up, shut up."

Well now there's no call for that, that was just rude!! Anyway because of the hours spent in solitary confinement, it was especially nice to attend a writers conference, last Saturday. The conference was put on by ORA (Ozarks Romance Authors) but fiction writers of every genre were free to attend, and happily did so. It was a thrill to spend the entire day surrounded by like-minded people, who spend their days wrestling with the English language. Rubbing elbows with other authors in various stages of the writing world, from those taking their first fledgling steps to those with years of publishing experience under their belts; we all had a seat at the table.At my own lunch table of ten, almost every genre was represented. Proper Romance, Paranormal, Western, Erotica, Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance,Coming of Age Memoir, and one woman who has yet to write her first word......but is ready to think about dipping her toes in the water.
Also at our table was a prolific writer, LEIGH MICHAELS, who has written for Harlequinn and others since 1984. There was a wealth of information and a happy atmosphere of sharing bits of knowledge and support.

All in all a wonderful time. I left at the end of a very long day, with a SWAG bag full of goodies, and my mind overflowing with new ideas and real bits of information I could put to use immediately. Visit ORA's Facebook page: Here  And their website: Here
Thanks ORACON 2013. See you next year.
As for me? Well as you can see I've been inspired anew!!!!!