LIVE LIKE YOUR CHARACTER

BlogHave some fun this week and walk in the shoes of your character. This is the person you write about in your novel, but writing and being are two different ways to learn more about your protagonist or antagonist. You can double your fun by being both. Read again chapters you’ve written where your characters have the spotlight. This applies to both female and male counterparts. Is your character outgoing, talkative, abrupt, devious, just to name a few attributes. Are you writing about a person you want to be, but cannot do this as yourself? This is your chance to experience and gain confidence in your writing and your character. Get out of your regular space and take on the life of your novel character. You will need to dress and change your style to match. How can you feel like or know your character without being that person? Hey guys, do you dress in a suit, tie, and wear polished shoes? Maybe even a sports coat, but the creases are always in place. Change. Go for the grunge and enjoy a different side of yourself. Walk in a section of town you’ve never visited or are uncomfortable being there. Get outside your internal box and get inside the boxes of the people you meet. Ladies, do you walk into a restaurant, no not the take-out kind, and panic to be there by yourself. Not today. You are your novel person and you know what she would do. Can you do it? Take a deep breath and become the outgoing person she is. Feel the way it takes a hold of you as you ask to be seated in the middle of a full restaurant all by yourself. Your character is taking over. Now, with the first step accomplished, how do you feel? Stop and recognize your feelings of being lost, out of place, an outsider or maybe the rejected on. Do these show up in your characters. Do not stop. You are on a trip to identify with the people in your book, and this could mean more research. In other words, you are enjoying this role-playing part. Do this more often and have fun. You may find you are more like them than you ever imagined.



Sit down at your computer and reread everything about your character that shows up. You may need to change their lives a little more than you thought. You are now in-tune with them and writing gets easier. You may feel more comfortable with yourself and not afraid to try new, outrageous adventures. Let your character lead you down some different paths, but most of all HAVE FUN. You have created a new experience for you. Grab it. Enjoy your writing and I wish all a Happy and Safe Fourth of July.  Check out my blog and see some interesting information about Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race. Happy Characters.

Happy You. Happy Writing.


Advertisements

FAILURE EQUALS SUCCESS?

pen and inkI can hear the wheels in your head screeching. What trick is this? Who would want failure? To give you a better picture, Winston Churchill has been quoted as saying, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

In my Georgia Romance Writers Group, we have a program that honors rejection letters and at the end of the year, the writer with the most rejections receives a prize. What does this mean to writers? You are busy writing and submitting your stories/novels. You are continuing to do this in an attempt to get published. Courage? You’d better believe it. Embarrassed? Why? You are working hard, getting rejected, and you keep writing and submitting and  rejected until that special letter or phone call comes in…we want you to send the FULL manuscript…this little statement has made all the hard work worthwhile. Still, it is not a done deal. So, you keep writing and writing and submitting and submitting. As a writer, this is the blood that flows through our veins and keeps us going. Is this failure? It depends on how a person looks at the situation and themselves. This could happen to anyone, not just writers.

You apply for a position and feel confident about the interview. A week or two goes by and you hear nothing. So you wait a few more days before you make the call. You learn another person, more qualified, has been hired. Do you stop looking at the employment ads or do you keep sending in applications. The FAILURE would stop, but SUCCESS keeps reading the want-ads. However, instead of answering a bunch of employment advertisements, you list your qualifications, past employment history, make certain these are what the position involves, and be prepared. This is working from the success side.

As writers, we are in the same position. We are told it will be a rough ride to publication, and yet we find ourselves sending query letters to agents who do not represent our genre or maybe we hope they overlook this area. Wrong. One of the first things we learn…read the rules and qualifications of the agent and see if your work fits the categories.

As you proceed in your search, no matter what area, take a good look at your skills. Are you familiar with new technology? Do you need to brush up on your computer skills? How long has it been since you attended any conferences or meetings? Do you belong to any networking areas, a book club, or groups in your church or neighborhood? Do you volunteer for any events? These are avenues of successful people. Failure is sometimes being lazy and hoping you’ll get recognized. Success is taking your measurements and making certain you update these often.

Failure is not the end, but the beginning of a new way of thinking, being, and doing. Setbacks are sure to come along the roads you travel, but you can handle a detour. Sometimes they are as important as a straight road.

Happy Journeys.  Happy Detours.  Happy Writing.

A CHARACTER’S JOURNEY

Two friends“Hey, Ethel look. Patricia has found us again. Thought for a while she’d forgotten where we were.” “No, she’d never do that. She just gave us a vacation,” Edna said, and smiled at her friend. Yeah, these two ladies have become characters that push me forward and give me ideas. But what about YOU?

Your characters now have names and are ready for action. What kind of growth or failures will you create for them? These actions will be determined by the genre of your story. Do not forget their education and clothes for the time period you choose. Take another look at their mannerisms. Is a female character always touching her hair, making certain not a strand is out-of-place? Does this mean she is prissy, self-centered, or trying to get attention. A male character might have a habit of jingling coins in his pockets. Would he be nervous, bored, or is this his way to show off? His career and his clothes tell who he is.

All characters will display their good and bad sides–tempers, smiles, thoughts, craftiness, tediousness, playfulness, serious or obsessiveness. How about a character who never tells the truth, but exaggerates every small detail. Keep these attributes in mind as you begin your story.These are not all of them, but a few to think through as you imagine your own creativeness. Now, think about how you will make the changes needed for your characters to grow? No, not age, rather how to mature and change their outlook on life, love, and living.

This is where the fun begins for the creative writer–be the character. Yeah, you read right. How do you think actors get their parts right for movies. They study, research and play with the character. They have no idea about the character until they get the script in their hands. Of course, it might be a famous person from years ago, but they still need to know the character they become for the movie. Take a character in your story and be that character for a few days. You can reverse roles from male to female. Observe all the people you meet until you feel comfortable with the people who might portray your characters. Study their movements, their facial expressions, their mannerisms, the way they handle different situations, and see if they fit your character or characters.

Make certain you look at all the people you see. No, really look, and be that person for a day. You will see so many sides of a person in such a short time. If you can’t remember everything, take a few notes, and then hit your computer for YOUR story. As you begin, you will find your creative side ready to tackle your characters.

This is what writing is all about–CREATING. Have fun with your characters and your story will begin to come alive on the page. And, if you have a hard time stopping, just do what your characters want.

HAVE FUN.  CREATE.  HAPPY WRITING.,

CHARACTERS

Where do you get your characters for your stories? Sometimes, they are just in our head and as we begin to write, they emerge into a scene. Then you get this idea and the character will not appear. No matter what you think, scribble down, or hit the keys, the character stays hidden. Characters, like life, are fickle to our stories and just do not behave the way we think they should. Of course, not. This is the reason we have characters.

Characters need to have a will of their own. They are often complicated with hope, fears, and dreams and at times contrary to what writers want them to do. Have you ever started your story with a sweet character who turns into a person you do not know? Your character is showing volition and this is what you want.

Your characters need complications to overcome. They need to be full of life, powerful, and have potential and appeal. Also, they need to show a softer side in some scenes and give the reader a chance to observe their different sides. If your character or characters do the same thing over and over, you are not giving your reader an incentive to read more pages.

How your characters dress, their age, their mannerisms relate to the reader. Put a spark of imagination in their attitudes and see what changes they can create in your story. What about their names? This can say much about your character. Odd names can remain in your reader’s mind for a long time. Just make certain this name fits your character.  This brings up the use of ‘nicknames’ for your character. Do you use them?  If you do, make it a name to remember for your character. We are not talking about a William to Billy, or a Harold to Hal and then on the female side, an Elizabeth to Betty, or Suzanne to Suzie. You need to stop and listen. If the name does not fit, your characters will not act the same.

Then your character is in the reader’s mind and emotion as the story moves forward. Are your characters friendly? If so, your reader will relate to the character. If your characters are cold or standoffs, your reader will not relate or even suspect this character of being rude throughout the book. How your characters come across to your reader is an important, if not the most important, connection of the reader and the story.

Play with names, mannerisms, age, and let your characters be themselves. They will come forward and liven up your story in the most unusual ways. Let your characters work for you and enjoy your writing.

HAPPY DAY.  HAPPY WRITING.

BLOWN IS READY TO LAUNCH – MAY 19, 2015 IS THE DATE

AuthorChuckBarrettThis is the author, Chuck Barrett, of another powerful novel, that will grab you by the hand, take you by the throat, and not let go. By that time you are exhausted. Barrett is an Amazon bestselling author of the Award-winning Jake Pendleton series:  The Savannah Project, The Toymaker, and Breach of Power.  Somewhere in between all of these novels, he  added his personal information and seminars to the art of self-publishing, Publishing Unchained: An Off-Beat Guide to Independent Publishing. He has put together his Book Launch Advocate Team, and it has been a “Blown” away experience. So, for my part, I asked him if he could answer some questions for all of his readers. Not many, but enough to let the reader know  little more about the author. How long have you been writing?  I started writing in 1998 and my first book, The Savannah Project, took 12 years and six rewrites to complete. And, I’ve been writing ever since. What attracted you to writing?  It was that mid-life thing, I think. I felt it like it was something I not only wanted to do, but needed to do. And I love it. There is nothing more exciting than watching a story unfold in front of me and being surprised by each twist and turn. I’m talking about as a writer and not a reader! Where did the idea for your story come?  I guess the catchy answer is from the gremlins in the attic. Reality is most ideas come from newspaper articles or real-life stories. That’s the spark and it gets my imagination going. Then I try to draw (or create) a nexus between the stories and spin a twist tale of intrigue. How did or do you figure out what to name your characters?  As morbid as this may sound…the obituaries are the best source. I mix and match first and last names until I have something catchy. Occasionally, I use a name verbatim, but not very often. One of my characters is named after a cemetery. I’ll keep everyone guessing on that one. What is your favorite thing about writing?  The twists and turns. A surprise around every corner. I typically write as a panster (by the seat of my pants) in the first few chapters knowing only where the story will ultimately end. After about 25,000 words, I use plot notes a few chapters ahead, just to make sure I don’t get off track. Only plot notes. No in-depth outlines. What is your least favorite thing about writing?  Editing. Do you have a favorite quote?  “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin. If your story was turned into a film, what Hollywood stars would play the two main characters?  From the Jake Pendleton series–Jake:  Chris Pine is a hands down ringer. From the Gregg Kaplan series–Gregg Kaplan is a much tougher pick. Probably…I’m thinking a scruffy Clive Owen. What is your favorite book?  Stone Cold by David Baldacci. It was the first Baldacci book I read and was enthralled with the characters that made up the Camel Club. Wonderful character interplay. I have since read all of Baldacci’s books. What is your least favorite book? Why?  I’d rather not say. Do you have an odd quirk that not a lot of people or a lot of people) know about?  I’d normally say I have no quirks, but my wife would insist otherwise. She says I’m slow to respond to her questions…like even days betting around to answering. She says it’s annoying, I say I’m processing all the outcomes before giving her an answer. BLOWN This is the book that will send you into another spin. My first words …two to the chest, one to the head, works every time. Some other comments have been..not just an oath, but a trust not to be broken..Once in, never out. Thanks, Chuck, for taking the time and letting all of your readers  and now, soon-to-be readers, know a little more of you the writer. Now, it is time for you to find your own words after reading this new novel and share your reviews online. All of Chuck Barrett’s books are available in print and e-book. Go to http://www.chuckbarrettbooks.com and find out more about Chuck and his writing. Don’t forget about the Publishing Unchained, if you are interested in doing your own publishing. Check out his line-up of events on his website and enjoy a taste of Florida and the heat of the book.

DO YOU GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?

AudienceAnother word for this is ‘Author Intrusion.’ As a writer/author, we have a good idea of what our story will be. We set up character sheets and know our protagonist or antagonist from top to bottom. We know their likes and dislikes, their favorite colors, their secrets and fantasies. Yet, sometimes we inject our own feelings and goals for the characters.

Wait a minute. This is the characters’ story and we are writing what they are showing us that needs to be done. It is their point of view, not ours, that keeps the story fresh, rolling forward, and adding surprises along the way. As we write, we remember catchy phrases we heard growing up and these words creep onto the page.

Ask yourself, would my character say those word, or are you trying to make the story interesting with your words. Dialogue can be a big help, but  too much information and going the way the writer wants, is not helping your story. Adding your narrative is not the way to go, as you leave no room for the character to be his or herself. Read a new piece of work or a published novel and see if you can pinpoint the dialogue intrusion.

How about information dumping on your characters? What is their back story? Your character is in the present and remembers a particular time with fondness or fear. You want to get this on the page and share with the reader. Then, pages later, the past is still with the character. Why? The writer/author got caught up in their own memories and could quit writing.

One of the best ways to check for the writer/author taking over is to read your work, not in your head but with your voice. When you hear yourself reading, you catch so many different areas that should not be there. Don’t stop, use a highlighter or add comments from the computer and continue. Then go back and take yourself out of the story. Let the characters take full control.

You are on a search and rescue.  HAPPY HUNTING. HAPPY WRITING.

PUBLIC SPEAKING – WHO ME?

What did you sayYou hear these words and your voice starts shaking, your knees wobble, and your body feels wet from the sweat rolling around. You are a writer and now you are an author, so suck it up.

As an author, you need to present yourself to the public. Why? To sell your book, get asked to give presentations, be a guest on a program, and be recognized as a great speaker. But, you cannot do this without practice. Fear? Yes, fear is at the heart of all speakers, at the beginning, and probably every time they stand in front of an audience.

Remember, there is no greater speaker than that of an author. Who wrote the book? You. Who knows what the book is all about? You. Who knows about the funny places? You. Who can present the scenes of love, friendship, suspense and frustrations? You.

Now is the time for practice. Volunteer at your writer meetings to give an introduction for another author. No, not you. Volunteer to do presentations at a special meeting. Get yourself up out of your chair and behind the podium or even just  in front of a group with a microphone in your hand.

But, wait. You need to know how you sound with a microphone. Is your voice too loud? Are you speaking too fast, and no one can understand you? Does your voice stay in the same tone, like a monotone and no emotion comes out? Do you slur your words?

So, what do you do? If you have a tape recorder, use it. You can listen to yourself and might not even recognize your voice. Keep trying, and trying, and trying. Are you punching some of your words? Trying to emphasize words to get attention. Vary the pitch of your voice and you will have your audience captivated. Do not forget a pause between some words. This comes when you want your audience to be with you, listen, and feel what you do. You want your audience to stay with you from beginning to end.

What about your body? No, not the size, but what your audience sees as they listen. Are you dressed for the occasion? You need to find out about the type of audience you are addressing: a sports audience and you come in evening clothes? I doubt it. Or the reverse: an evening crowd and you come in your workout clothes? Yeah, I went overboard, but this gives you a chance to think about your audience. You need to invoke emotion and interest through non-verbal communication, known as body language. Facial expressions and gestures are a neat beginning. Eye contact is another very important communication. People in the audience love to think you are looking at only them. Give them your best.

A goof-up? Hey, we all mispronounce words, forget some words, and the best recovery is to acknowledge them and laugh at yourself. Your audience will laugh with you. Be sincere and honest.

Now, that you have done some practicing at home, in front of a mirror, and practiced, practiced, and practiced, it is time to take you and your book out before a live audience. Most of all, have fun with your time before the audience. They will feel part of your presentation and you will find yourself with new fans.

SPEAK UP.  SPEAK SLOW.  SPEAK YOUR BEST. PROMOTE YOUR WRITING.

o