Monthly Archives: August 2008

No Saturdays For the Moment.

At the moment Haven Rich isn’t feeling well and won’t be blogging for a bit.  Keep her in your thoughts if you have a moment.   And we hope we see her back soon.

AJ and the Tales chicks

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Smart As An Oyster

I was watching this Chuck Norris movie called The Octagon a couple of weeks ago.  There’s a secondary character in the movie that I have issues with.    He’s Chuck’s friend and a fellow martial artist.  Of course, he’s not at Chuck’s kick butt level, but then no one is.

Anyway, my main problem with this character is that I don’t know why he did some of the things he did.  His motivation wasn’t clear enough for me.   (By the way, Debbie wrote a great post about character motivation on Wednesday).  The why behind some of his choices was too general.   Not  deep enough.  It’s like the villain who wants to take over the world just because he’s evil.   He’s evil for a reason, some event or experience pushed him to choose the dark side.   Knowing or understanding why a character makes a decision, makes it easier for the reader to accept the character’s decision to act or react in a particular way.  Even if that decision is a stupid or illogical one.

But if the writer hasn’t given a sufficient reason for the character’s decision, then character comes off as D.A.A.M.O.– Dumb As A Mud Oyster.   Like that secondary character from the Chuck Norris movie.  For reasons that aren’t fully explained (at least to me), he decides to crash a Ninja training camp.  I don’t know how he expected to take down a group of Ninjas by himself in tight jeans, a red windbreaker and sneakers.  He had no weapons.  Nothing.  If this was Chuck, I would have totally bought it because Chuck’s the man.

Now,   I have a heroine who does DAAMO things all the time.  She reacts without thinking about the consequences and feels obligated  to prove she is capable.  But I’ve written her so that these decisions fit her character.  It’s not a surprise to the reader when she trash talks and then challenges a male character twice her size to a battle of fists.

So have you read or seen any Dumb As A Mud  Oyster characters lately?  Do any of your characters have DAAMO tendencies?

And for anyone who wants to see Chuck in all his 80s hotness, The Octagon is airing on AMC September 2 at 8:15 a.m. and on the 3rd at 3:30 a.m..

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Filed under Kimberly, writing

Thursday 13: Every Flavor in the Rainbow: MANCANDY!

Ever just need inspiration?  Well, here ya go! Feast your eyes on some drool worthy images!! 13 of them.

And a twofer bonus!!Meet Coe and Alex!!

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Filed under Inez, writing

Let’s Chat About Motivation…

Motivation. Why does a character, or a real-live person, do what they do? How are their actions consistent with their core beliefs even when those acts might seem to be at odds with their public persona?

Conflict may be the beating heart of your story, but motivation is the life-blood that allows readers to invest themselves in your characters. Even if your character doesn’t know why he/she acts the way he/she does, your reader should understand enough to intuitively feel the rightness of this character choosing that particular path.

I’ve been watching the HBO series “Carnivale” on DVD and I’ve marveled at how the writers have pulled me into a world so at odds with my own. I can’t say I understand the characters, but I definitely feel for them. I care about what happens to them. And while I may not be able to define their motivations, I intuitively know that their choices are true to whom they believe themselves to be.

Stumpy is a case in point. I don’t understand a man who can act as pimp to his wife and daughters, but neither do I question his genuine love for his girls. The family dynamic in that grouping is fascinating to watch. It is foreign to my experience, but it rings true for them because each character acts in an internally consistent manner.

Internally consistent. Yep, that’s the key. I have to know my characters well enough to know that the action they have chosen at any given moment is internally consistent. That the seemingly self-assured, successful hero will balk when asked to pick up the phone and call the heroine because while the world believes him to be invulnerable, he knows himself to be insecure and ill-at-ease. What he may not realize is that he is afraid of people on a very deep level, that he was abused as a child and his subconscious has buried the evidence to protect his conscious self-image. But the truth remains and it rears its head in unexpected ways at inconvenient moments.

As the author, it’s my business to know all my character’s secrets, even the ones he hides from himself…and I must be able to show my readers his vulnerability by allowing them a glimpse beneath his perfectly polished public façade.

And people think writing is easy…

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The New Way to Wallbang

Happy last week of August, everyone! I’m going for my end of summer pedicure this weekend and writing like a maniac now that the lure of sunshine and outdoor things is fading. Since my head’s stuck in a book, I thought I’d take an easy out and mine YouTube for a blog topic. Can I just say I haven’t seen a LOVESWEPT title in like a full decade?

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What are these people trying to do to me?

So, yesterday it took everything I had in me to write a new query letter intended for my dream agent.  It was hard.  It was really hard.  I had to screw my courage to the sticking point.  And after I did I felt a little sick but mostly I was happy.  Because I want to have this person as my agent.  A lot.

So after that (and the urge to vomit) was over everything seemed to be good.  I was very happy that I could also actually mark off one of my ubiquitously ignored goals.  Then I opened by email this morning and nestled between the promises to make my penis bigger (Which would be interesting since I don’t have one.) there was a notification from the postmaster.

As soon as I saw it I knew despite the fact I send dozens of emails a day.  I knew it was my query coming right back at me.  And I can’t even send it again but supposedly it’s just delayed.  What does that even mean?  What are these people trying to do to me?  Don’t they know how stressful this is?  Gah!

Anyway, I’m proud of myself since I actually did something I said I would but it didn’t do much good so now I’m just depressed.  This writers life is so hard. *rolls eyes*

AJ

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Box Writing

I started a new story about the time I went on a hiatus from here. I was really excited about it. Looking forward to working on something different than the never ending, super complicated, throw everything, but the kitchen sink at the heroine WIP I’d been a slave to for so long. So why do I only have four pages almost two months later– computer issues, family drama and a near caffeine overdose aside?

Well, I figured it out a couple of days ago after a writer friend asked me about writing within a structure. Like writing a Presents for Harlequin. So after I sent her my answer, I had an Aha-you big dummy moment.

I can’t write in a box. Too much structure and I either shut down or rebel. I can see how this is true when I think back to my childhood. Coloring within the lines always gave me trouble. When I did make an effort to keep my crayon marks between the lines the picture was always came out jacked up. And paint by numbers. I’d start off good, following the color key and then the revolution was on. The color key was discarded and 4-brown was 4-orange.

Anyway, with this new story, I was so preoccupied with making sure the hero acted a certain way, the setting was in this particular place and other things were in place that I couldn’t write. And when I did try, it was like pulling out teeth with chop sticks. The words on the screen were mine, but the voice carrying them wasn’t. I went days without working on it or even thinking about it. My creative sparkle had fizzled out.

But it’s back. Now that I decided to write the story outside of the box. I’ll keep the publisher’s guidelines in mind, but I won’t let them constrain me. It’ll be interesting to see how the story turns out.

So anyone else struggle with writing in a box?

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Filed under Kimberly, writing