Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pictures of Characters

Have you ever read a book then looked at the cover and grimaced because the characters look nothing like they were described?

Yeah, me too.

For this very reason, I resisted finding pictures of real people to base my characters on. After all, my characters are conjured in my imagination. No one could possibly live up to the images in my head!

Promises
Photo by ajawin

A few books ago, though, I had a change of heart. I'd find myself having to look up the heroine's eye color. I couldn't remember if the hero had brown or black hair. I knew I had to change.

Now, I fill out my character sheets for a new book, and when I form a mental picture of the hero and heroine, I spend a few hours on the internet, searching for models/actresses/musicians who come close to the ideal. I thought it would be much harder than it is. I've been fortunate to find the perfect picture for each character. Once I find them, I print out one or two pictures and stab the pics into my corkboard. The hero and heroine will be right there in front of me the entire first draft.

By the way, my current book features the gorgeous Teresa Palmer and the not-too-shabby Eric Martsolf. It's really not difficult to gaze at these two all day long! (Curious? Check them out: Teresa Palmer and Eric Martsolf.)

What about you? Do you find pictures of your characters? Or does the idea turn you off? I'd love to hear from you.

Join me on Friday. We'll be talking about a fun Point of View trick I like to employ.

And...

Write Already! It's Wednesday!

Monday, April 27, 2009

What Kind of Reviser Are You?

Do you love revising? Or do you hate it? How in depth do you revise? At what stage of the manuscript?

I revised minimally with my first few books mainly because I didn't know what to look for. Then, when I began to learn more and realized there were about a million things to examine, revising became a time-consuming and tedious process. I hated it!

Frustration!
Photo by misocrazy

Since I'm an analytical, systematic type of gal, I thought, "I'll form my own revising system and I'll get better!" For the most part, it worked. I write my first draft as polished and as quickly as possible. I don't look back, nor do I revise as I go. When I'm finished, I set the manuscript aside and I revise my previous manuscript--the one I wrote a few months ago. This gives me much needed space to give a critical eye to my work. I won't revise the current book until I finish revising the previous one and I finish writing the first draft of the next one.

I know many of you are weeping in horror. It does seem grievous to "shove Baby in a corner" so soon after writing it. I do it because I get too close to my story, and a slew of little things get overlooked. I need to have a few months distance from a final draft; many other writers don't.

nobody
Photo by michale

I do lose precious submitting time with this method. If I were to revise my manuscript immediately upon completion, I would be able to query it right away. But I write category romance novels, and I only submit one project at a time. Months can pass before I get a response on a project already submitted. I'd rather have a few terrific manuscripts waiting at home than a few so-so projects waiting on an editor's desk.

Many writers write a chapter and revise it until it's perfect. Then they move on to the next chapter. Other writers write the first draft and then revise it. Some writers write such a wonderful first draft, their revisions are minimal. (Wouldn't that be nice?)

We're all different. What works for one won't work for another. Play around with different methods until you find the one that suits you best.

I actually enjoy revising now. Once I learned that I could drastically improve my book by looking for key things, I found revising pleasurable.

I want to share one widely toted revision tip that works wonders. I'm sure you've heard of it. Maybe you use it yourself?

Read your manuscript out loud.

The spoken word will alert you to words in the wrong sequence. It will point out formal writing. Do you use the same phrase, the same words, over and over? Reading out loud will point them out. Stilted dialogue will scream to get fixed. Reading out loud takes time, but it pays off.


What's your revision process? Do you read your work out loud? I'd love to hear from you.

Join me on Wednesday when we'll discuss the pros and cons of finding pictures to represent main characters.

And...

Get Motivated! It's Monday!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Distractions

Nothing distracts me. Nope. I don't get up fifteen times an hour for more coffee. Bowl full of Kissables downstairs? Don't think twice about it. Giant cat meowing up at me from the floor? Don't hear her, nor do I stop to pick her up, set her on my lap, and pet her incessantly until she settles down.

Distractions are simply not an issue in my life.

Tapping a Pencil
Photo by tomsaint

Are you rolling on the floor laughing right now? Yeah, me too! I get distracted every ten minutes. It's not easy keeping my rear glued to the seat. I'm sure you find a way to get writing in, one way or another, so I'm not going to focus on the daily distractions of writing. What about the broader aspects of writing, though?

Earlier in the year we set writing-related goals. How are you doing with them?

Did you intend to read five books on writing craft this year and realize you've read zero?

Did you tell yourself you'll take an online course once every three months, but you haven't signed up for any?

Or was this the year you were going to either design your website or hire it out, but it keeps getting shuffled to next week's to-do list?

What distracted you? Did the task seem impossible when you thought about it? Did you fail to write your goals down? Or did you think that you'd have plenty of time to do them--later?

Time is running..
Photo by 21836224@N02

Don't beat yourself up. If something is important to you, you'll do it. The key is to write it down and to plan for it. There's nothing worse than letting time slip past you and realizing you have not done the things you wanted to do.

Go ahead and review your goals for the year. What has distracted you? Do you still want to accomplish them? Maybe the idea of reading five books on the writing craft doesn't really appeal to you. Consider other ways of learning. Do you enjoy the internet? Print off great articles on writing and collect them in a binder. Maybe you would prefer interaction? Join a writing group or take a college course.

If your goal was to start your own website, talk to people you know who have experience with websites. Look into design programs. Take a seminar on website design, or take an online course about HTML code or WYSIWYG programs.

If your life is beyond busy, consider dropping most of your goals off your list. Life feels better when you don't have bottled up expectations in the back of your head. Go ahead; make a new list with only one goal: writing.

What distracts you? A giant cat? Loud toddlers? The bag of Doritos in the cupboard? Telephone? Internet? All of the above? I'd love to hear from you!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yoga Plotting

Yoga Plotting? Okay, it's not the greatest title. No, you're not going to break into the Lotus position while thinking up character names, nor will you do Downward Facing Dog to come up with the black moment (although these positions might help!). Yoga Plotting refers to maintaining a flexible attitude as you prepare to write the first draft of your next manuscript.

Yoga Reflections
Photo by judepics

Stop pansters! Don't run away! The word "plot" doesn't have to terrify. I'm urging both plotters and pansters to consider trying on different pre-writing methods.

I'm a plotter. Can't help it--I was born that way. I'm analytical. I adore charts. Maps excite me. That's kind of creepy isn't it?

Do you know how many ways there are to plot a novel? Countless! Every writer I know has a slightly different method. Some don't plot; they sit down and start writing, and they have no desire to ruin the story by doing any preliminary work. Some do a small amount of plotting; they may know who the main characters are, the setting, and a brief idea of where the story is headed. Others do major plotting; they know every character, every plot twist, and every scene.
I plotted my first three books minimally and filled in the blanks as I wrote, but I struggled through the middles of each of these books. Last summer, I decided to play around with different plotting methods to find the one that would enable me to write the best book possible. After four more books, I found the hybrid plotting method that fits me perfectly.

My only complaint about trying on different plotting methods is that not every one works. Oh, the method works for someone--just not me. I tried the writing every scene on an index card method and let's just say I won't be using it again. Ever. However, I know other writers who adore writing every scene on an index card and poking each card on a giant corkboard.

sept15classroom 002
Photo by mailto:28083698@N07/

A few things to ask yourself:

1. Are there sections of a novel that I slow down and struggle with?

2. Do I have a bad habit of not tying up loose ends because I've forgotten what they are?

3. Am I aware of my use of POV? (If it's written in more than one POV, what's the ratio of the scenes written in the various POV's? Is one hogging the spotlight?)

4. Do I forget names of secondary characters, physical attributes of main characters, or other minor details and waste time searching for the data midway through the project?

5. Do I know the main characters' goals, motivations, and conflicts? Are they the focus of the book?

If you have trouble with any of the above, consider trying on different plotting methods. It can be as minor as keeping a log of information as you write your first draft. This sheet could be your master reference so you can easily find the name of the schoolteacher you introduced in chapter two.

If you struggle through portions of your first draft, consider coming up with a more detailed outline. Better yet, determine the major scenes beforehand and spend a little time thinking up intermediate scenes. You can also assign whose point of view the scene should be written in.
Write down subplots as you introduce them. When you're ready to revise, check off the loose ends that have been tied up.

Whether you're a panster or a plotter, I highly recommend keeping a written record of your main characters' goals, motivations, and conflicts. This information will keep your book heading in the right direction.

My current method of plotting is highly detailed. I keep a spreadsheet as a one-stop information station. The spreadsheet contains several pages to keep me on track. I do detailed character charts, GMC's, a brief outline, a one-page synopsis, a four-page synopsis, and a scene chart. The scene chart has been the biggest time saver for me. I'm able to write faster because I've listed each scene, whose POV it will be in, what chapter it will take place in, along with the scene question, scene goal, the characters, time and setting. That's a ton of info to squeeze into one line but it works.

If you're interested in trying different plotting techniques, get a few books out of the library, read author blogs, and check out writing websites--they all give advice on different methods. Try the one that appeals to you most and, while you're doing it, ask yourself if it's working for you. What do you like about it? What don't you like about it? Is there something you can keep from one method but merge with a different technique? Don't be afraid to come up with your own unique plotting method. The goal is to make your writing life easier!

How do you approach a new manuscript? Do you need oodles of details or do you prefer to wing it? Are you willing to tweak your current method? Or do you feel your method is perfect? I'd love to hear from you!

Join me on Friday when we'll discuss what we can do right now to avoid distractions. Let's close in on our goals!

And...

Write Already! It's Wednesday!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Gripes About Grammar

Grammar. Punctuation. Spelling.

Do these three words mean anything to you? On a scale of 1 to 10, how important are they?

Have you ever thought, or heard, the following? I can fix the grammar; it's the content that matters. (I've heard this refrain from many unpublished authors.)

Okay, okay, I'll admit grammar can be fixed, but I'd love to know if it actually does get fixed. Or, to put it another way, do writers even know when they're using poor grammar, incorrect spelling, or punctuation that defeats the meaning of the sentence? If you can fix the grammar, why write it wrong in the first place? Wouldn't you have written it correctly the first time?

What Word are You?
Photo by powerbooktrance
I get the impression that many writers feel grammar is the least important part of the book. Writing, at the most basic level, is the act of stringing words together; grammar rules enable the words to mean what the writer intends.

Least important part of writing? I don't think so.

Grammar, punctuation, and spelling do matter. Spelling is the easiest to fix; spell-check and the dictionary rarely lie. Punctuation and grammar pose a trickier problem. It can be confusing to know where to put a comma, and not everyone agrees on the correct placement. A few good reference books will steer you in the right direction.

When someone reads your work, they form a first impression of you by your writing skills. They may get so distracted by the lack of commas, the incorrectly spelled words, and the dangling modifiers that they can't comprehend the content. They'll begin to think you're uneducated. You may be a genius, but they won't recognize it, and no, they won't be impressed.

Here's a simple mathematical formula: grammatical errors=unprofessional; polished writing=professional.

Grammar rules help your writing. Ignoring them will not help you get published. Even if you think you're the master of grammar, consider asking a writer friend (preferably one with strong grammar skills) to check a few pages of your work for errors. We tend to make the same mistakes over and over. An outside eye will pick up any problems, and you can apply the knowledge to the rest of your work. Another good idea is to review a grammar book every six months.

One more note on the topic: make a conscious effort to always write with correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling--even in your rough drafts. You'll save time, improve your skills, and gain confidence. Grammar matters.

joy
Photo by alicepopkorn

Where do you fit in? Do you write with little or no punctuation in your first draft? Do you fix the problems later? Or do you write as polished as possible at all times?

Join me on Wednesday when we'll discuss flexibility (or what I like to call Yoga Plotting).

And...

Get Motivated! It's Monday!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fun Friday

It's Friday! Time to have some fun!

I hope you love baby animals as much as I do. Since spring officially arrived (please, no more snow!) I thought I'd post a few adorable videos courtesy of YouTube.





I love tiny animals. It's amazing to see this panda bear's transformation. Adorable!





Okay, this baby otter and mama otter make me melt!





All together now...aaawwwww!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Setting Boundaries

The world's bursting with a rainbow-colored array of things to do. Everywhere I look, I find another fascinating topic I could pursue. Millions of hobbies, countless volunteer opportunities, and vast possibilities call to me on an ongoing basis. And I want to do them all!!

Old Candy Shoppe
Photo by puroticorico

My library bag can attest to it. I can think of seven hobbies I'd love to pursue but don't have time to at this point in my life. Make that ten. Twenty...

It's a challenge I face every single day, sometimes several times a day. How do I mesh my desire to LIVE with my life? Does that make sense?

I'm the type of person who is never good in a bubble. My writing takes up a large portion of my day, but I'd get burned out if I let it overtake my entire life. I need variety, structure, and a constant stream of magazines to flip through.

I talk to many women who are writers--I'm sure it's the same for men, too--we're all juggling enormous responsibilities. It doesn't matter if we're single, married, with kids, without kids--we're juggling many duties at once. And the juggling doesn't always go smoothly.

Every two to three months I spend a little time in thought and analyze my current balance. How am I doing with my writing? Would I feel better if I were writing more or less? Have I let the promotional side of writing overtake my day? What about the non-writing stuff: am I doing the job I want to with my family, my household, my free time? Are my relationships suffering? Have I taken on too many volunteer positions? Not enough?

The answers are always different because my life is always changing. I realized recently that my schedule was not working for me any longer. I'd let little things slip in here and there until they'd overtaken my main purpose.

So, I put up fences to protect my personal time. Since the computer--specifically, the internet--can suck up my day if I let it, I've made a few rules: I have 45 minutes to check e-mails, etc... before I write. Once I've met my daily writing goal, I can pursue what I want until 5:00 pm. However, after 5:00pm the office and computer are off-limits.

This is hard people!!

I've done it for one week, and already, it's made a positive impact on my life. My mind isn't racing at 7:00pm. The stack of magazines on the coffee table? I'm savoring each and every one.
And best of all, I'm enjoying my family, not working feverishly to do "one more thing."

Cat Fence
Photo by charkes
What about you? Is your schedule working for you? Do you feel satisfied or overwhelmed each day? What can you change about it? Sometimes we have to make tough decisions in order to get our life back on track.

I'd love to hear from you!

Join me on Friday for a few fun links.

And...

Write Already! It's Wednesday!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Calm Those Irrational Fears

Last week we talked about fears that creep up and paralyze our writing. Guess what? We don't have to put up with fear. We don't have to pay attention to the medley of irrational thoughts playing in our head.

I'm sure you've heard the saying "you have to face your fears." Writers, especially, should follow this advice. Left unchallenged, rotten thoughts will erode our confidence and stifle our talent.

Fear
Photo by wagnertc

Here are a few come-backs for specific fears.

Fear 1: "I'm never going to be able to write an entire novel. It would take me YEARS!"

Come-back 1: "I can write a novel--one word at a time. Plenty of people finish novels. Why should I be any different?"

Fear 2: "My writing is boring, and the grammar is amateurish. No one would ever want to read it."

Come-back 2: "I'm intelligent, and my writing is boring, full of amateurish grammar sections, I can fix it. I want to read my work, and that's all that matters right now."

Fear 3: "The editor I just submitted to is going to laugh at my query/synopsis/partial."

Come-back 3: "I've done my homework and put together a polished, thoughtful submission."

Fear 4: "It's going to take me a decade--no, a century!--to get published."

Come-back 4: "I have no idea how long it will take me to get published, but I will continue writing, submitting, and learning while I wait."

We all have fears. I deal with new ones on a regular basis. The key for me is to not let myself dwell on ridiculous fears. I talk back to them! It works!

Another way to lick fear is to talk to another writer about it. Writers are generous creatures and they always make me feel better. Some people just have a knack for saying the words I need to hear.

Fear also burrows in when I'm extra-stressed. Sometimes we're able to keep fear under control until we start a new manuscript, submit a project, find out someone we know just got "the call," or get another rejection letter. I try to keep that in mind when the same fear keeps rearing its ugly head.

We need to prevent fear from breeding by feeding our souls. I discussed this earlier in the year, but I think it's a good time to re-hash the concept. When we're overworked, overtired, and stressed out, our minds become susceptible to fears.

So take time for yourself. Do something that brings a smile to your face and a happy sigh to your heart. And don't feel guilty. You need this.

So...how do you deal with fears? Do you talk back to them? Call a friend? Dive into a slice of delicious cake? Take a walk? I'd love to hear from you.

strawberry cake
Photo by kankan

Join me on Wednesday for a light discussion on setting limits.

And...

Get Motivated! It's Monday!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Today is a very special day. As a lifelong Christian, Good Friday brought (and brings) me in touch with my deepest emotions. Even as a young child, I was awed by Christ's sacrifice for me, for you, for all man-kind.

Champagne Church
Photo by meanestindian

I'm still awed and humbled and bursting with joy. If anything has changed over the years, I would say that my understanding of God's pure and abiding love for us is even greater than I could ever imagine. He delights in us even when we're singing off key. He is helping us even when we're grumbling and cranky. He smiles at our less-than-stellar first drafts. He comforts us when life feels too hard.

People, humans, have enormous standards. We tell people to aim for the moon but are terribly disappointed when the rocket explodes while being launched. We expect our leaders to fix every problem with the economy, the war, the banks, the auto manufacturers. And when the leaders don't? We don't give them the benefit of the doubt. We choose not to see the big picture, the forces beyond their control. We don't give them a second chance; we expect them to resign. We can be very unforgiving.

God is infinitely more forgiving than we are. He's the one nudging us to continue our writing when we get another rejection letter. He's the one whispering in our ear, "but I like it," when we're convinced no one will ever like our work. Yes, God has high standards, but he also has endless patience and love for his believers.

Good Friday. How true that is.

Enjoy your weekend and have a Happy Easter!

Please leave a comment, I'll be back to moderate next week.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fear of Change

The title of this post is broad, so I'll narrow down the focus. Writers at every stage in their career deal with change. I think every new change will fill some writers with terror due to their inherent personality, while the same changes will be easily shrugged off by people with a different temperament.

Nervous Breakdown
Photo by carl-johan

One thing I understand about myself is that I am who I am. I don't fight my feelings, but neither do I let them overpower me. It's okay to feel fear; it's not okay to let it stop you from living the fullest life of your dreams.

Writers who are just starting out may fear how their life will change. How will I fit writing into an already tight schedule? How will my friends or family adjust to my new commitment? And what if my book is an instant success--how will I deal with the changes that will bring to my life?

Writers who have already tackled those fears may face other scary monsters. What if this book gets rejected? What if I can't finish the next book? What if I run out of ideas? I've told a lot of people that I'm trying to get published; what if they all begin to think I'm a loser? What if the rejections keep coming? Will I have to decide if I want to continue writing? Maybe I was wrong--maybe I'm not really a writer?

Writers who've gotten "the call" and who've published a book or two may find themselves with a whole new set of fears. What if I was a one hit wonder? What if I sell my next book, but I get less sales? Will my editor still want me? What if my agent hates the proposals I come up with? Can I match my earlier success? What if I can't squeeze in the line-edits my editor needs in two days? How will I ever get all the promotional work done for my last book and still write my new book?

Writers who have been multi-published may have a different level of fears. Have I already written this premise before? What if my writing is getting stale? What if I run out of ideas? What if my editor decides she wants newer, younger, fresher writers? The enthusiasm and energy I had five years ago is wearing thin--how do I cut back on the number of books I put out without alienating my readers? Without my editor dropping me? When am I going to have time to enjoy my success?

There's a common illusion among unpublished writers who are trying to get published that once they get "the call" and their books are on shelves, their problems disappear. Fear? No way! What could they possibly be afraid of after their dream comes true?

Maybe some of the fears and problems will disappear, but new ones take their place. That's why it's vital to come up with strategies to deal with them. Fears will change, but we can use the same strategies to knock them down. Next week we'll look at ways to say "adios" to our fears.

Join me on Friday and...

Write Already! It's Wednesday!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Common Fears of Beginning Writers

Maybe Monday isn't the best day to discuss fears, but I'm going to shrug it off and do it anyway. One reality of life is that when people have to deal with a difficult situation, they often feel as if no one on the planet has ever dealt with that situation before. The pain can feel isolating, and the correct course of action seems hazy because, of course, it's the first time EVER in the universe that particular problem has occurred.

Right?

I'm sure your snickering a little. Me too. We can be self-delusional at times, and it can be painful to realize other people have indeed been through what we're going through. You mean I'm not the first person on earth to ruin a friendship, get a divorce, forget a major appointment-- you fill in the blank. When we realize that we have plenty of company in our particular failure, there may be, for a brief moment, a sensation of let-down. After all, it can be a teeny bit romantic being such a spectacular failure--and the first one at that!

Later, though, comes an inevitable feeling of relief. If someone else has been in the same situation and lived to tell about it, well there really is hope. And that feels good!

Niagara is always stunning !
Photo by sufferingsocrates

With that in mind, I'm sharing with you a few common fears of beginning writers. Maybe you've been through these already, or maybe you've been spared these feelings? I know I've felt them at one time or another, and I still wrestle them down on occasion.

Inflated Belief #1: My writing is awesome! So clever, so original--it's going to knock the world's socks off!

Corresponding Fear #1: No one has actually read my work or commented on it. What if it not only doesn't knock the world's socks off, but it becomes a dart board of laughter at some editor's desk?

Hey, some writers do impress editors with their debut (and never-been-seen-by-anyone-other-than-dear-old-Aunt Betty) manuscripts. The majority, however, do not impress on the first go round. Guess what? That's okay. If you're reading this and haven't submitted a manuscript to an editor yet, I'm going to give you a great piece of advice that's been given to many, many writers. Have another writer critique it.

Find someone you trust, who you know will give you an honest, but kind, evaluation, or do the exact opposite and give it to a complete stranger. Whatever works for you. ACFW and RWA both have writing chapters where you can meet other writers or find an online critique group.

Another great option? Enter your manuscript in a few contests that offer feedback. It's not easy hearing our work isn't perfect, but it helps us grow as writers. And, hey, maybe you'll get lucky and it really is the greatest book by a debut author! You'll feel even more confident sending it to an editor.

Feedback will help you find a middle ground in your confidence level. You won't feel like a hopeless shmuck, nor will you have unfounded delusions of grandeur. You'll simply see areas where you can improve, and you'll see areas that you truly excel at. Then you can think how awesome you are--and mean it!

Inflated belief #2: A few people read my book and told me they loved it. It must be good.

Corresponding fear #2: They're just being nice. They hate it and are laughing behind my back at my ridiculous attempts to write a book. Why don't I just join the Witness Relocation Program and disappear?

The flip side of over-confidence in your writing is under-confidence. And yes, the two do appear simultaneously on occasion. Here's the reality of writing. Some people will read your work and they won't like it, but they'll do anything to avoid hurting your feelings. Other people, especially other writers who genuinely want to help you, will give you spot-on feedback. You have to honestly ask yourself which category the reader falls into. If you still lack confidence in your book, get a few more opinions. And always, always, trust your instincts. Don't take advice you don't agree with.

These are just a few of the big fears many writers who are preparing to submit to editors face. My hope is that all writers understand they aren't alone in their fears, their hopes, their confidence or lack of. The more writers I talk to, the more I hear, "been there, done that."

Doesn't that make you feel good?

Join me on Wednesday when we'll look at other fears writers face.

And...

Get Motivated! It's Monday!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fear of Hurting Characters

We're going to kick off our hot April discussion on fear with my plea to you to inflict pain on your characters.

Hurt my babies?

Yes. If you don't, or can't, force your characters into their discomfort zone, your readers won't care about them. Think about every book you've loved over the years (excluding Dr. Seuss). Did the stories follow along on a happy trail from page one to the end? Not so much. I'll bet every book that's on your list of favorites was chock full of drama.

Beyond Fear
Photo by pastalane

Even childhood books that have weathered time such as Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie are brimming with problems. Strange land, all alone? Check. Missing beloved dog? Check. Surprise visit by Indians? Check. Sickness? You betcha!

Do the books you read now raise your pulse, make you nibble on your fingernails, have you gripping the pages? Pick one off of your bookshelf (or the pile on the floor) and skim through it. Look at how many trauma-inducing events pop up.

But it's hard to hurt the ones I love...

Yeah, I know, but readers need to identify with characters. When I read, I'm in effect, watching a drama unfold. I want to know how the lead will handle the obstacles thrown his way. I need to understand why the heroine can't love the hero. Books help me make sense of the world, and I don't need to make sense of the good stuff; I need help understanding the bad.

Join me next week as we continue our discussion on fear, only we'll be applying it to our fear of writing.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's Day!

How many times have you been fooled on April 1st over the years? For that matter, how many times have you forgotten it's even April Fool's Day? When I was in elementary school, April Fool's Day was right up there with Valentine's Day for good old fashioned fun. No, it wasn't anywhere near the level of Christmas or Easter, but it was still something to look forward to.

I don't pull pranks on April 1st anymore, for the main reason that I'm horrible at thinking up a joke and even worse at pulling one off. I don't mind if someone plays one on me, as long as it isn't mean-spirited. I cringe at the lengths certain television shows go to in order to embarrass someone. Is there anything more cruel than making someone feel guilty over something they haven't even done? Terrible!

Packing Tape Practical Joke
Photo by lenore-m


But when I began saddling up my high horse, I realized that I am required to inflict pain as part of my profession. If my characters don't suffer, they're boring and unreadable. Who could read about someone's perfect life for long without gagging, throwing the book, or both? No. Pain draws us. We need to empathize with characters we read about. We share their pain, their joys, their triumphs.

I've cried many a time over fictional characters. If my favorite authors didn't, in essence, pull pranks on their characters, I wouldn't have felt the same deep emotions.

This month we're going to delve into another painful feeling: fear. So join me on Friday when we'll get the fun going!

And...

Write Already! It's Wednesday!