Well, I’m back! I know my website went down for a while there. My hosting company went out of business, and I had to relocate my domain. The influx of technical jargon nearly drowned me, and only a select few understand it. But anyway, the website has returned, and I am working hard to put everything back in place. Unfortunately, I have a lot of work yet to do. Currently, the Newsletter is offline, and so is the page with links. For all who elected to sign up for the Newsletter before, please do so again. Most of those names disappeared. As far as the links page,
I’ll have it done soon.
Yes, the website looks different because I took the opportunity to upgrade a few things. I had a real go of it. Then everything went to hell. Even my email laid on its back and played dead, sunning its chest and the soles of its feet. I had to do a little CPR and call the doctor for some special operations. It was touch and go there, but we managed to get it up to run again.
While that was going on, there was a vortex of disaster at the house. My wife had some medical procedures involving laparoscopic maneuvers. It was a gallbladder removal, and there is pain anytime there is surgery. I tried to help more, but that didn’t go well. All of you ladies out there might use your imagination as to why. Every woman I have ever met thinks their husband is a boy.
But enough of that.
These past few weeks have been busy — transferring the website, getting ready to publish Recall, and watching my ten kids while my wife recovered and, before that, she went to school to be a Registered Nurse.
Oh, I don’t think I told you that The Sigma Factor is amid a makeover? It is. Its new name will be Recall, and the name isn’t the only change, either. There is a new cover, not to mention that I re-worked the whole book, although the basic story is the same; my editor, Jayne Southern, dove into it, worked her magic, and now the words fly from the page and into the reader’s mind even more vividly.
Jayne, the excellent editor that she is, is unbelievably competent. For those of you looking for an outstanding editor, I recommend her. Click here to visit her website.
The theme of today’s blog is writing, and I am a writer. I’m serious about that, being a writer. Yes, I know it took me a decade of writing before publishing a book. Those ten years were when I paid my dues. That means I learned that I am a writer deep down to my core. In my view, that knowledge is the number one hurdle for emerging writers.
While busy learning, I used a certain amount of bluster to try selling my writing because I didn’t have that deep down knowledge. I had no self-image as a spinner of tales, creator of imaginary worlds, and a developer of characters that can come to life. I still had inner doubts that I was good enough.
That character thing targets the core of fiction writing. Nobody wants to read a story with dull, flat, and uninteresting characters. Characters bring life to stories.
How do I know when a character I dreamed up will interest readers? My first clue is when they come to life while I’m writing them, when they tell me what I can or can’t make them do, or specific actions in the story.
In the early days of writing, I thought of myself as a god of the book, creating a story from nothing. Now I know different.
Let me show you what I mean by a good character. Let’s call her Jaquie. Someone chases Jaquie, and she needs to hide. But Jaquie is dynamic. Every time I pick a place for her to hold up, Jaquie’s voice in my head tells me no, nope, I wouldn’t do that at all; you are crazy if you think I would do that. This confusion happens multiple times.
Nothing I try works.
Then out of desperation, an idea springs forth. I could make Jaquie stop running. I put it on paper, and she’s still no back-talk. But what does happen is my fingers type like an administrative assistant with ADHD. Not only does she stop, but she also doubles back, exploding with fury at the impossible odds she now faces. Then I read what I wrote — Jaquie hesitates for a second, then turns and charges. That is better than what I wanted in the first place. My fingers fly over the keyboard. The fight that ensues decides the direction Jaquie goes in the future. My gut feeling is that her pursuers need to capture her, a great recipe for more conflict.
That is a rough sketch of what might happen when a character resists what I intended, and this happens in every book or character. This example doesn’t have any tension thrust into the scene yet; there isn’t even a full-blown picture of where Jaquie is. The pacing is off, and there is no urgency. But I have two conflicts ―The first is between Jaquie and me; the second is between Jaquie and her pursuers, which ends with the conflict of the fight and Jaquie’s capture.
Can you see how the character Jaquie controlled the author here? How about when Jaquie’s insistence on what she should do brought more conflict to the story? The primary bonus here is two-fold. The character drives the story and the number of conflicts increases.
Can you see why it takes an average of ten years between the first attempt and finding a publisher? There are lots of things to learn.
So, let me return to my website. There is yet more to do, always something to learn.
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