Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cue The Eagles

I have been a fan of classic literature since my first high school English instructor assigned me to read Jane Eyre. This decades long relationship has been an obsession at times, and merely a distraction at others. However, I have never been too critical of these books. After all; they are classic for a reason.
One of my favorites was made into a motion picture recently and I attempted to watch the silver screen version and get the same thrill the book gave me.
Granted, part of the reason it didn't work was the fact that soundtrack music, and the noises the characters made, did not hold the same electric charge. The one I was able to  create in my mind when I used the written words to paint those pictures myself.
Part of it was the fault that a blind person has a more difficult time enjoying anything that is a 'picture' motion or otherwise.
But, the part that stuck out to me as a writer came from a flaw in the plot of this story. As I perused some of the other work of this author in my mind I began to recognize the problem.
He was a pantzer not a plotter-
Okay, maybe not literally. I quite frankly don't know how he wrote his books.
My point is...A long discussed debate amongst writers is if you should be a 'pantzer' someone who flies by the seat of their pants.
Or, a 'plotter'. Someone who plots the story from beginning to end.
I have heard arguments for both sides.
Plotting inhibits the creativity of the author.
Plotting doesn't allow the characters to express who they really are.
Pantzing is far too unorganized and often results in unfinished stories.
Pantzing leaves both character and authors lost in their own story, ect., ect.
I am a plotter, but  the first novel I wrote, I did  by the seat of my pants
Perhaps after doing it both ways I can see the points of both sides of the argument. Perhaps because I am a logical, mathematical person, I prefer the plotting.
Although a great number of successful writers don't plot, it is becoming far less acceptable. Writing by the seat of your pants often will rite you into a corner. Following Where your character wants to go is like asking a three year old to lead you to the bathroom in the back of a candy store. The chances you will get where you are going, before you wind up against a shelf full of Hershey bars is practically non-existent.
Perhaps a hundred years ago, or even more recently, a writer could write themselves into an inescapable position and then send in a magical flock of eagles to rescue our heroes. Maybe there was a time when you could have your character wake up and the whole story was just a dream. It is possible you will kill off a character and then make it all a covert government cover up, even though the story you wrote wasn't  about the government.
Maybe you can defy all logic and reader's won't notice when you send in the eagles, but without at least a pencil sketched road map, your chances of getting published by a credible publishing house have gone on the wings of the very birds you used to save the day.
If you are a plotter; pat yourself on the back. Now go learn how to do it without your story falling into a mid-novel black hole.
If you're a pantzer; make yourself a basic road map before you drift from town to town looking for a destination. A basic story Arc has five parts. Start there.
1. Who, What, Where, and How?
2. Where the original plan went wrong and why
3. The new plan and at least 3 attempts to make it work out.
4.. Climb the final mountain to make the plan succeed.
5.Tie up your loose ends in a resolution.
That sketch will not a New York Times Best Seller make, but it will get you to the candy store bathroom before you pee your pants.
Once you have the basics laid out, your characters can take over. If you know them well enough they will tell you their stories.
I would wish you luck, but you don't need it. Any more than you need to bring in the eagles.,

Saturday, July 13, 2013

You got two Bucks?

Crimson Romance is Celebrating their first year of Romance Novels by featuring them on during the month of July for 1.99$
There are over a hundred titles in Contemporary, Historical, Erotic, Steamy, and Suspense all available on this special.
Curious? Wonder if the blind lady can write?
It'll only cost you two dollars to find out.
Killing Casanova can be found by searching for the Title, Traci McDonald, Crimson Romance, or just by looking on Amazon for suspense/romance.
If  you haven't taken the opportunity before go check it out sometime this month, and then leave me a message about what you think, want to see more of, or want me to do better.

Do not be afraid to offend the blind. I am searching for honest feedback. I have a hard time getting it from people that don't want to hurt my feelings, offend the handicapped, or be politically incorrect. What ever your reason...Don't worry. I can only get better if I know what I did wrong.
Thanks for your support. I hope to hear from some of you.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Developing My Character

Today I read an interesting and beneficial blog post from Steven Harper, on Writers Digest.
This author went into great detail  about questioning your characters to create a rich back story.  If you know everything about them; you can bring them alive in your novel.
In part of the post he mentions filling out the questionaire on the next page.
I never found this mysterious 'next page' to which he was referring. I googled it, searched for it and even searched out writing tips hoping to find his. The closest I came was a webinar he taught a few months back.
I hope that will respond to the inquiries on this post for the questionaire, but in the meantime...
Through my research I have located a few questions from different classes and blog's that may be helpful.
1. Where, when, and why was character X born?
2. What birth order does character X have in his/her family dynamic?
3. What relationship does he/she have with mother/father/sister(s)/brother(s)? With any other important    family member(s)?
4.What are the most personality defining experiences he/she had before this novel?
5. Who did she/he rely on when disaster struck?
6. Who does he/she celebrate with? How Do they celebrate?
7. What makes he/she angry/scared/happy/frustrated/worried/sick?
8. Name her/his reactions to each emotion.
9.What makes he/she act out of character?
10. What was his/her worst/best/relationship?
11. What was his/her first heartbreak? How did it scar him/her?
12. What or who is his/her phobia/passion/hero/nemesis?
13. Does he/she have any allergies or medical conditions?
14. Does he/she have a pet? Is he/she an animal lover/hater?
15. What isolates him/her from support/help/enemies/danger?

There are any number of helpful questions you can ask your characters but these 15 covered the most ground.You will not need all of this information for your character when you write the novel. However, you will need to know your character sooo well that his/her actions and reactions are compelling.
 To find more about character interviews or building compelling characters do an internet search for those topics and include the term 'writing' in the search. There are also a number of twitter author's you can follow who give great writing advice.
Marcy Kennedy
Dan Zevin
Steven Harper
Brian A. klems
I didn't think I needed to do character interviews until a good friend of mine recommended it to me. I couldn't find a voice for one of my characters until i buckled down and did the interview. Imagine my surprise when she started talking to me, and I found her voice.
Give it a try, and then let me know how it goes.Here's wishing you great writing, and even better learning.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Oh Say, Can You See?

While attending church this past week, the congregation sang The Star Spangled Banner,  to honor the 4 th of July. This song always strikes an emotional chord in me. I have a son we adopted from Sierra Leone Africa, and I will never forget the first 4 th of July he experienced when he thought the fireworks really were "bombs bursting in air" because in his country...they were.
After the terrorists attacked The Pentagon and The Twin Towers, the sight of a tattered and torn American Flag rising from the destruction  overwhelms me when I hear even refrains of this song.
During my most recent experience with the anthem the words to the third verse struck me as being particularly poignant.
In The first verse 'Oh say can you see' is a question the fledgling nation struggles to answer. Look at the third verse:
Oh thus be it ever when free men shall stand,
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation.
Blessed with victory and peace, May heaven rescued land,
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must when our cause it is just.
And this be our Motto, In God is our trust.
The Star Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Now it is  a powerful statement. The liberty, freedom and sacrifice our founders bled and died to gain for us is now the battleground on which we labor.
Our great nation drifts toward a society in which we allow government to define what is right, moral, and just based on what they deem is legal.
The revolutionary War was considered illegal, but the moral ranifications of breaking free far outweighed the legal consequences.
We still fight for the moral ground in our country. It will be gained on the backs of hard workers, individuals dedicated to morality and justice, and those who will sacrifice convenience for the greater good.
So today, on this our country's birthday, I ask you to make the statement of which side you fall on. Can you see, what the founding father's intended? Can you see the powerful strength of the greatest nation on the planet?
Can you see the divinity inside us gather to stand in the land of the free and the home of the brave!
God bless The U.S.A.