Posts Tagged With: Writer Resources

Courage and Characters

I’ve got to bring my characters to life.  They need to do more than “do” stuff.  I need to make them live, breathe, want, need.  They need to “be”…real.

As such I am currently in search of deeper motivation for my characters.  I need to stay out of the shallows of your stereotypical “archetype.”  Where do I go to find these characters?  Ms. Muse???

Ms. Muse:  Write what you know.

Ms. D:  Really???  That’s it???

Ms. Muse:  Yes.  That’s it.  If writing was easy, you wouldn’t be wasting your time writing this blog.

Slam…the truth.  But then…insight!  I get it!  Write what you know.  We’re not talking about birdhouse construction or synchronized swimming.  We’re talking about the knowledge you hold in your heart; your experience, your life.

I’m reminded of Pat Conroy and The Great Santini.  He wrote about the characters he knew.  He took a chance.  He wrote from the heart and crafted a novel of extreme depth.  I’ve heard it said that initially his father refused to speak to him after he read the book but then proudly attended the premier of the film of his son’s novel.

Mr. Conroy is a more-than-worthy inspiration.

I’m going to do it.  Since I lack the creativity to “make people up” I’m going to use what I know to bring my characters to life.  I’m going to dive deep and explore the bottomless fathoms of the various character traits of those with whom I’m most familiar, including but not limited to, my not-so-normal extended family, referred to in private as “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

I wonder if anyone will recognize themselves???  Gulp.

Ms. D:  Dare I strive to go there?  Do I have the courage to take the plunge into the abyss of the heart and soul of my characters?

Ms. Muse:  Do you want to be nice…or published?

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The Devil in the Inkstand…

The good news is that the short story I submitted to a dozen writing contests last March, Prayer for the Dead, will be published in December!  Yippee!  It did not win a competition however my story will be included in the Northern Colorado Writer’s anthology as an “Editor’s Choice” selection.  Oh…joy!!!   Really.  I’m excited.

The bad news is that on the same day I received the email informing me of this wonderful news I also received review comments back on my current project.  My very honest and highly trusted reviewer informed me that I was off the mark.  Really, really off.  The problem is my voice.  To put it bluntly she thought my novel was boring.  My reviewer asked a pointed question.  “What happened to your voice; what did you do with the writer who wrote Prayer for the Dead?  Bring her back and let her write this novel.”

So I ask the Muse…now what????  How do I find my voice???  (If you were inside my head you’d cringe at the tone of my whine).

And the Muse says..stop asking stupid questions to which you already know the answers.  Re-read The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes.  You will, as Mr. Keyes says, “trip over yourself.”   If you’re not willing to turn over the rocks and expose who you are…then don’t expect anyone to want to read what you write.

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