Thursday, September 29, 2011

Make it stop!


Bad country music. Kids fighting over the pop dispenser. Women discussing burying a man in the right pair of socks.

People come here to eat and visit, not to concentrate and not to use their computers. Even though the place is wired, in all the times I’ve been here, I’ve seen only one other person with a laptop.


Glare on my screen keeps me continually fiddling with the angle, and the BIG kick in the pants is that I either 1) can’t open my thumb drive to retrieve my prewritten blog to post because of computer problems, 2) can’t open my blog because of brain problems, or 3) I am a doofus and only thought I’d saved it on my thumb drive.

Now which seems more likely?


I knew there’d be a period of warming up to my new process of computing – posting blogs, doing research and paying bills. The trick is to be properly prepared when I leave home with my laptop bag.

I can’t do anything about the French fry alarms, clinking ice, or nonstop chatter. What I can do on go-to-town-computer-day is make sure my blog post is on my laptop, not an external drive, make sure that I choose a seat with the least glare, and most importantly

pack ear plugs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Character Fracture

As you all probably know by now, Larry and I have very different methods for writing, and in this case, VASTLY different methods in creating characters.
           All of my characters are based on me. And from the reactions we’re receiving from readers, I’m pretty sure they’re not boring.
I don’t pattern characters after people anymore. I did that once with dreadful results. What I considered interesting and quirky personality traits turned out be highly insulting to the aforementioned quirky individual. So, to save hurt feelings if people identify themselves, I make my characters up from scratch, creating people I could have been under different circumstances.
I ask myself—what if I didn’t care about repercussions? How might I act? That was how I created Vic. What would I do if I were a really hot woman, full of confidence and highly intelligent? That was how I created Bella.
For this book, it also depended greatly upon my mood which character I choose to work on when it was my turn. If I had a bad day at work and wanted to take somebody out, I could work on Vic. If I had a good hair day and felt dangerously feminine, I went with Bella. This gives me an opportunity to live many lives, however vulgar or charming or dastardly. I can do all sorts of things I’d never consider in real life.
I like creating brand new personalities. It’s fun. And even though Larry might think he would create boring characters using his own personality, I disagree. It’s because of his creativity that he can pick up my characters without knowing people like them, and they remain consistent.
Either that or Larry’s personality is as fractured as mine, and he just doesn’t want to admit it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Real" Characters

Years ago, an Emmy-winning sitcom writer tried to encourage me to get an agent and write for sitcoms. Which sounded great at first. I thought I could just send the scripts in, but I soon learned it doesn’t work that way. There are constant readings with the actors, rewrites, more meetings, more read-throughs, and rehearsals that you have to attend.
That’s not for me. I couldn’t leave my family. I’d rather bend nails for a living.
I’m not too bad at dialogue because I listen to others. We each have different personalities, so if a writer instills his own personality in every character they would all be the same and boring. It wouldn’t work.
The sitcom writer gave me some advice on dialogue for TV. He said to record the show you want to write for and sit with your back to the screen and listen to the dialogue: what was said, how each character verbally reacted to the circumstances, how the character react differently, what their emotions should be, and if their words effectively relaying that.
I don’t know how Becky does it but I try to pattern characters after people and personalities I know, usually with a little exaggeration. I have characters I write, and she has characters she writes. What’s interesting is that I can write her characters when they’re in my scene and somehow they all stay pretty consistent.
That’s how I do it. So Becky? How do you create your characters?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

How do I look?

While watching an episode of Undatable, Speedos were up for discussion, and I agree that they’re not a good idea unless you’re David Hasselhoff on Baywatch.
This made me wonder how much a character’s appearance affects their likability. One of our readers was particularly irked because we didn’t spend much time describing our protagonist, and she felt she would feel more sympathetic toward him if she knew what he looked like.
What makes us sympathetic to characters? Would I be sympathetic to a man in Speedos with a big belly and vast amounts of chest hair? Not so much. On the other hand, Tom Selleck as Magnum PI can run around in all the tiny clothes he wants, and I’m painfully sympathetic.
Which brings me back to description and sympathy—should our protagonist be unfortunate looking to bring out reader sympathy? Or should it depend on his brutal life experiences, which are well documented in the story?
I’m thinking again it must depend. And I do agree that more description couldn’t hurt, but how much, where to slip it in, and how to do it without it feeling deliberately inserted after the fact will be the trick.
Obviously, (if we’re using the David Hasselhoff/Tom Selleck measuring stick) looks matter, and I don’t have any solid answers for the questions right now. All I have are gut feelings influenced by Americanized stereotypes. For now the need for additional description of our protagonist is in the discussion stage. Larry and I will hash it out and let you know.
But in the mean time I feel the need for some 1980s drama and poofy mounds of chest hair.