Mar 30, 2010

People DO Have More than One Side

Fact of life. 

Everywhere you go, there is someone around being rude to someone else. Random strangers will give you dirty looks for no apparent reason, dogs will pee on your lawn, police will be jerks and hand you a speeding ticket unless you look like Marilyn friggen Monroe, and there will be that one jerk who women just fall the **** all over. Oh, and there will even be that one coworker who fails to wear a skirt that actually her ass. Yes, you women out there should no by now that showing crack at the office is not cool. And, no matter who you are, you've developed your own terms for certain types of people. I don't care if you've never even said your terms out loud, you've made them up or gotten them from somewhere. 

And, eventually, your environment breaks you down. The term is called "having a bad day," and it's something many people have. So, why can't characters?

Everyone has their off days. And, I recently read the third book of a series that the MC had a really bad day. I mean BAD. Her entire day took place in less than 12 hours, apparently. Loved seeing another side of her and could totally understand why she was so much more fed up with life.

Then, I went to (Quick shout out to those who, like me, enjoy checking out the reviews of recently read books to see if what you thought worked and didn't lined up with how most reviewers felt.) And, the negative reviews of this book were ASTOUNDING.

Pretty sure my jaw drooped at that point. Many people said the MC was out of character. But, to me, I felt her slightly more pissed off view of the world was more than just with what she had to deal with. 

So, here's my question (one that I suddenly realized I have no idea what the answer is):
At one point does a character go from being in a bad mood to being out of character? In other words, how long can you readers put up with a characters unusual yet justified attitude before feeling like the attitude is no longer justified? How long do you think a character deserves to feel a certain way about something before shrinking back to the old personality and getting things done, so to speak?

And, on the opposite side, how long do you feel like a character in a book can act the same way without eventually feeling flat or like he/she hasn't gone through enough character development?

Mar 28, 2010

These Our Actors

Alright. So, it's a Sunday night, and I decided to throw up a post. A sort of break from writing, I suppose. Anyway, it's short...Something I just thought of.

Be an actor.

No, really. 

A few hours ago I realized exactly how necessary it is to get inside the skin of my characters while I'm writing them. I can't stop thinking in their heads, or hearing their voices in my ears--even for one second. Why? I can't make a character real if they aren't real to me. I think the most important thing earlier was to quit writing for a little while, close my eyes, and picture my character doing something. I closed my eyes for a whole fifteen minutes. I studied everything bout my MC and how she interacted with the possible love interest. I re-briefed myself in her shape, movement, and mannerisms. Then, I opened my eyes and started writing.

Man, was I on fire.

And, you know what else? I had to re-write an entire argument because I realized she caved way too easily. Totally out of character for a stubborn con artist.

Mar 25, 2010

I have a confession to make...

So, the past few weeks have been tragic. Seriously, how could I NOT POST for so damn long? I have a reason for this. One that most of my readers should understand. I needed something to pass the time while waiting to hear back on previous novel (YA mystery) and got swept up in my new WIP, into her world, and her love life, and her cons, and her backstabbing. 

Whoa, you're thinking. That sounds like a lot of story going on.

Only, it's not. I've been planning this novel out in detail. Using her life as a grifter to be her strength, not some supernatural ability. And, did I mention this is an adult novel? Definitely a direction I hadn't planned to go, but, well, I felt like I could only tell this story through an adult's point of view.

And I really had to tell this story.

So, that's what I've been up to lately. And, since I love my readers oh so much, I decided to share a little snippet of the WIP. Hopefully, others will fall in love with it too when I'm finished. I tried to pick a snippet showcasing the con artist aspect of the book without giving any of the plot away.

There’s a difference between a teacher and a con artist. 

Teachers, like Basel, always appear to be standing tall or stretching upward, even when sitting. Their heads are elevated. There’s even a certain noticeable superiority about them. They believe themselves to be spectacular, known for their intelligence and creative imagination. As a teacher, Basel stands out at any gather. There’s often a small crowd around him, paying attention to what he says. He attracts followers easily. The species who are naive enough to be persuaded into just about anything, yet smart enough to be a true asset.

Then there’s the con artists. Those who have climbed the ladder long enough to gain their own followers but never deceptive enough to plan a coup. Most of these con artists are cold or aloof, acting as if they are better than their superiors but never do a damn thing about it. Some, however, are capable of becoming the next teacher. More importantly, they are capable of betrayal.

I happen to be one of them.

Mar 17, 2010

Happy St. Pattys!

Sorry, but there will be no post today. I am helping my friend out with the patty day bash hosted by his radio station. so excited. hope everyone else has a great night!

Mar 15, 2010

Common Sense Monday

I'm officially back to blogging as much as possible. The past month has been a tad sporadic and I plan to change that/develop an actual schedule.


From now on, I'll be writing common sense posts on Mondays. Think "Back to Basics" but ones that make you re-evaluate not re-learn. Does that make sense? Anyway, today's topic is to write for yourself. On some level everyone knows this, but sometimes it gets replaced with "you should write because you're good at it" or "you owe the world your story" or "you're wasting your talent if you don't do this." These are okay but if they're the main reason you're writing you should stop now.

I write for myself. How do I know this? Take, for example, my new WIP. I've gotten so wrapped up into the characters and action and twist that I stopped sending my prior novel out altogether. Two months ago I sent it to three agents, got two full requests, reject on one and still waiting on the other. Oh man, the waits are brutal, huh? Anyway, it doesn't bother me because I'm *gasps again* enjoying what I'm writing now so much that I don't need to "land an agent" at the moment.

(Though, I want to give a shout out to Elle from my crit group who landed an agent a lil while ago. Totally deserved. Her book Clockwise is going to be a bestseller when sold! )

Okay, back to the point. you do not EVER owe anyone your story. If you think that, someone needs to knock you into the pool with a big ol' noodle. (I'm excluding those of you who have signed contracts with publishers because, uh, why yes you DO owe THEM your story.) 

So back to the quoted reasons I listed in paragraph uno. Writing a book because you're good at it is one of the worst reasons in the world for doing it. Doubt me? Let me paint a picture for you...

You are the world's greatest garbage man. Total awesome at getting suckers barrels into the back of your 5mph-can't-let-anyone-past-you truck. But you hate it. Do you think that you should make it a lifelong career just because you do it well? Yes, if I made millions doing it, one of you thought just now. Whoever did, bad writer. Go find a new hobby.

Okay, last is the "you're wasting you talent by not writing" line.

I was good at martial arts growing up. Entered all the competitions and even one a few tournaments. My family said I should continue with it because I was just so darned good. Well, after a while I hated said "talent" and started doing kickboxing (which I'm still in love with). Just because you're good doesn't mean you need to do it.

You should be writing because you love to write, because sitting down and conjuring a story out of thin air makes you laugh, cry, cringe, and ultimately forget that you've got the oven on or your favorite t.v. show started twenty minutes ago. 

That's my first common sense post. As always, feel free to drop a few thoughts below.

Mar 13, 2010

What villain?

(Indiana Jones is not the hero or villain of this story. He's there for purely entertainment purposes only. )

So this broad-shoulder, gun totting man walks into a club. His black hat is pulled down low, and the duster he's wearing billows. OH, yeah. Scary dude. He's mean with more battle scars than the mafia guys on General Hospital. There's bourbon on his breath and death in his eyes.

The guy walks over to the hero and presses the gun against his temple. He laughs and says, "You're a dead man Mr. Walker."

Mr. Walker, our hero, puts down his old-fashioned and curls his fingers into a faux-gun, making the boom sound.

The villain falls over dead.

Okay, okay. This is an exaggerations--if not, you have some serious learning to do. But, variations of this lackluster showdown happens all the time. Writers love their MC and shy away from them having their asses kicked. When they make it to the final scene, most authors want to race right through the ending so everyone can bow down to the hero.

Er, no.

Or, even worse, you pull out some random kryptonite that had never been introduced in the story and defeat the villain with it. Ack.

When you write a story, you commit to hitting your hero where it hurts.  Your hero has to win only AFTER he gets the crap beat out of him (varies, depending on your genre) at least once. Maybe after Mrs. Walker dumps him for the villain or gets tossed into a garbage can and left for dead. Most people do this without truly understanding why their favorite characters needs a few beatings or a break-up. It's because, for winning to mean anything, your character has to earn it.

Short. Simple. Sweet.

In what ways have you proven your character earns the big win in the end? Did you find knocking the MC down first easy or difficult? Did you recently give your MC a mini-win in the first cpl of chapters without truly understanding why he/she deserved it?

Feel free to answer these questions or offer up your own thoughts in the comment section of this post.