Monthly Archives: March 2015

Character Spirituality?

Everyone, between radical to atheist, has experienced ‘something’ in moments of crisis or glorious amazement. Feelings of Deja vu or unexplainable intuitions are common to humankind. Therefore, as writer, why would I create characters that exist in a void? Where does strength or resolve come from? Will characters chant, meditate, or pray? Will they connect through fate or destiny?

As a real life character, I have been shaped by life lessons and traumatic events. Sometimes I have come out on top and sometimes I’ve failed but, in all, I’ve changed and grown. (see Phyllis Stories.) All I can do, as a writer, is express my inner self through my characters and hope others are encourage or inspired to keep going in life and never give up.

I appreciate Donald Maass teaching the inclusion of spirituality in the life of characters in his book, Writing the Breakout Novel (eBook edition: 2012) in which he states, “… if God is at work in the world of your novel, then you have a chance at giving your readers an experience that is humbling, joyful and maybe even transforming.” (96)

The Downside of Critiques

There is a downside to receiving critiques from multiple writers/readers. For example, ten people will have ten different opinions on grammar and views of the story which, although helpful to catch minor issues, also adds discouraging doubts into the mix.

I end up revising the story and characters so much I hear my main character screaming, “Leave me alone.” Which is exactly what the real Mary, a non conformist, would have said. So, I’m restoring LIFE to my original scenes and taking my voice back.

 

Generational Word Confusion

The children, in my young adult historical adventure novel, sleep on straw-stuffed pallets in 1775. A young beta reader expressed confusion. She was picturing the wooded structures boxes sit on–SIGH.

What is another word for pallet, or how do I give further details without becoming wordy from a 1st person point of view? In other words, “I lay Charlie on his straw-stuffed pallet.”

Here is an example of a 1700’s pallet on a rope bedframe, but imagine it on the ground and easy to roll out of the way. I’m thinking about adding a footnote to the page words like this are first mentioned on.

1700's Pallet

 

Go Set A Wat…

According to an article published on International Business Times website, March 12, 2015: “Harper Lee: Elder Abuse And Fraud Charges Investigated By State Of Alabama” by Barbara Herman. The state of Alabama is investigating allegations made by a doctor acquainted with Harper Lee, who claims “she did not seem to be lucid when he visited.” He fears Ms. Lee maybe be the victim of financial fraud due to her supposed agreement with HarperCollins to release an early draft of the book that became, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960).

If Ms. Lee had deemed her original manuscript worthy of a second look she would not have allowed it to stay tucked away. And furthermore, what writer, in their right mind, would want a rough draft published after they worked so hard rewriting the book for publication. (see my post,”Fling the Manuscript Out the Window”)

I certainly wouldn’t want my original NaNoWriMo draft published.

That Comma Thing

Oscar Wilde is credited with the following quote: “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” Source: Definitive analysis of Wilde’s comma remark:
http://oscarwildeinamerica.org/quotations/took-out-a-comma.html

I try, I really do. But as I read all the rules for when, how, where, and why a comma is needed my brain freezes. Creativity is stifled by the added burden and waste of time. The way I see it, by the time I send my completed book to an editor it’s going to be bloody anyway. An acquaintance, with a doctorate degree in English, once handed back a partial manuscript stating, “Stop using commas, you use too many in the wrong places, and not enough in the correct places.”  

That was my first lesson in not using a comma just because I hear a natural pause.

 

It Begins With Passion

The kind of passion family and friends accuse us of being obsessed about because we neglect them at times. We’ve stayed up too late meeting a deadline, finishing a thought, or tweaking one more sentence. Fellow writers are the only ones who understand. We follow and friend each other for support and higher social media stats.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Harper Lee’s interview by Roy Newquist, from his book, Counterpoint (1964 by Rand McNally): “Writing is a process of self-discipline you must learn before you can call yourself a writer. There are people who write, but I think they’re quite different from people who must write.”

Why do we do it? Because a passion to tell a story rose from the depth of our souls, a character from our imagination became real. We hear them screaming for help because we left them in the middle of a disaster scene when real life interrupted.

We share our WIP with others, “wanting honest feedback,” but not really. Upon hearing the truth of flat characters or disjointed, lack luster plots, we spiral into  despair. We pout, eat chocolate, and stare at the delete button, anticipating life as a normal person.

But we can’t—passion to tell the story compels us back from the brink to try again. We sigh and take a fresh look, apologize to our Protagonist, and complete the journey because we must. Maybe someday our family and friends will understand and love us anyway.

Fling the Manuscript Out the Window

IMG_2009An interesting story is told about Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird (1960), by biographer, Charles J. Shields in his book, Mockingbird (2006)

(Summary mine) Sometime before publication, Ms. Lee was struggling with revisions. She opened the window of her apartment and flung the manuscript into the darkness. Years of work scattered in the snow. Thankfully, her editor made her retrieve every page.

I wonder how many writers give up months before greatness. I’ve been rewriting my “Precious” for years. Thankfully, a writing coach gave me direction and encouragement, stating, “You have a good draft to work with.” But the learning curve is huge and daunting. I’ve almost hit the delete button more than once. I almost stuffed every year’s hardcopy into the wood burning stove. But I can’t let it go. My bucket list consists of one item: Publish My Book.

Harper’s Lee’s fit encouraged me to understand the, nobody will care anyway, days.  So, hang in there another year struggling writer friends.