Monday, March 29, 2010

What's your Main Character's Favorite Song?

What's her favorite band?

What song sends a feeling of melancholy into her heart?

Music is important to most people. It weaves in and out of our lives- the every-days and the major days. It can do that for our characters too.

That may mean it appears in our stories or it may mean that it's only in our minds as we think about our characters. I find it enhances my creativity as I develop my characters. Or rather- it helps my characters reveal themselves to me.

I learned the magic of music in characterization back when I was writing H.P. fanfiction. My stories were drivel, but I learned to take minor characters and developed them into complex people and I've applied what I've learned to characters of my own creation.

Now sometimes your characters will enjoy the same music you do, but often you explore in order to discover what makes their toes tap. If you have others in your house to supply you with a variety of music flavors, you're lucky. Otherwise, you must flip through radio stations or the internet and go where you wouldn't usually find youself.

I had a teenager in the house while writing my novel. I was privileged to be exposed to some unique local bands. My characters actually go to a Cold Hot Crash concert. I got to go to one of their concerts. Immersing yourself in the culture, sports, art, locations, et al. of your characters is super, but that's a topic of another blog.

While writing a particular scene, my teenager was playing a song by another local band, Flamingo Gunfight. It was eerie how perfectly it fit the scene. I decided to let the character sing the song to himself. I later rewrote the scene and removed the lyrics because you can't really do that without permission. It was brilliant, though. Maybe I should ask them for permission. If/when I get a publisher I'll ask what sort of permission I'd need.

Anywhooo, my characters live in my area- San Francisco Bay area, so, I have access to the same things they do. But maybe you're writing an historic piece. Immerse yourself in the music of the era. Find out where to hear live music if possible, but recorded is good too.

Perhaps your character likes music outside of his or her time. They like older music. Just because she's a modern teenager, doesn't mean she doesn't like ragtime or blues or classical. What I'm saying is, you don't have to stereotype your characters. Have fun. And it may or may not come up in the story itself, but you will know and it'll add to the development of the character.

A note on your own mood.

Music can help you get into a writing mood. A song can invoke a feeling when you're trying to write a difficult scene. Even if you don't like to listen as you write, maybe take a walk or clean the house and listen to the mood music before you sit down to write. Just don't write in the same room as your daughter while she's listening to a very emotional song over and over and over or you will write utter melodramatic poppycock and have to toss it out. (I speak from experience. Ick)

Oh, and one more thing. Did you know that Mad-Eye Moody's favorite song is Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale" just like mine? How about that. ;)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Nature Walks, Rusted Things, and New Photos

On our walk the other day, the little ones and I snapped some pics. You may see a sample of them here. I decided to go ahead and use of me as my profile picture. Quite happily, I don't have many pictures of myself. I am typically the one behind the camera, but lately the kids are interested in photography, so now I have a few of myself. So, in an attempt to "get my name, face, and brand" out there, here I am.
***this just in***
My follower picture on people's blogsites didn't change when I changed my pic. Interesting...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Script Frenzy

Script Frenzy is starting April first. This is sister to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In Script Frenzy you write... (now, I'm going to say something obvious) a script. Or you may write a graphic novel. Now that got my spidey senses tingling.

So I've dug up some info on graphic novel script writing. Here are some sample scripts by Joe Edkin. Here's the script format that Dark Horse Comics uses. I found that here.

There is software that is designed specifically for script writing, though I haven't explored that. I have explored my local library and found some neat books on writing comics and graphic novels. There is apparently a standard jargon used in graphic novel scripting that one must know to signal to to artist and/or colorist what the writer wants.

Anywhoo, I'm still undecided about doing Script Frenzy, but if I do, I think it'll be a graphic novel.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

**So, you want to be a novelist? Then get your name out there.** Tips on Publicizing Yourself**

"Get your name out there"
That's advice I've given and received. But, how do you go about doing that?

I have a partial list. One of the nifty things about my list is that getting your name out there is a byproduct of the activities. The immediate benefit you'll see is an improvement in your writing.

Step one- Blog.

Blog here on Blogspot, or Wordpress or Typepad. Those are the three biggies.

Start a blog and write in it regularly. Don't let it die. So many people start their blog all excited, then lose interest. They can't think of anything of a topic, or grow frustrated that they have no subscribers. (That leads me to step TWO.)

STEP two- Read Blogs and Web Pages of authors, agents, and publishers.

Of course, comment on them. You will learn something about publishing, meet super nice folks, and get valuable tips about where to submit your work etc. I cannot even list all of the things you're going to find out. (Well, you're here, so you already know this.)

Step three- Write short stories and maybe even articles and/or reviews. It's good practice. Plus, agents and publishers want to know that you can write and even more importantly, that people want to read what you write. Here's a super neato search engine to help you find places to sub your stuff:

You can also google around. (Don't you love how google became a verb? My word processor still doesn't know that, though.)

I found places to sub by watching where the other writers in my online writers critique group have succeeded in publishing. (More on that in step four.)

What do you like to read? Maybe you can submit there. Or if you're unsure of yourself, start by submitting to the little non-paying online journals. They range from ones who'll take almost anything like postcard shorts to the more prestigious.

Step Four- Join a critique group.

I do the Internet Writering Workshop (IWW), but there are others, in person and online. You learn lots about writing as a craft and as a business.

I found it to be a bit of a culture shock when I first joined the novel workshop. Some people were mean just to be cruel and some were not harsh enough. Some, though, were tough in a constructive way. Those are the ones I find most useful. Though, everyone likes a pat on the head now and then. :)

Step five- Create a web site.

No, I didn't do that yet. I learned recently that every author needs to do this eventually. I will do so when my novel is about to be published. I promise. It's a place to market yourself. When you are selling your book, you're selling You as a brand.

Take a look at the websites of your favorite authors. You can be sure they have them. Jot down the sorts of elements they have in common and you'll get ideas about what you'll want for your web site. ((note to self: DO THIS))

Step six- Attend writing workshops, book signings, and other such events. A lot of these things are done online these days. In person is good too, but not always possible. I attended an online conference recently and learned tons. I suppose I also got my name out there. That wasn't the intention, but it happened.

Step seven- You tell me what step seven is... I know you can think of more than what I have here. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Film 9 and Then For Some Reason The Blogger Started Talking About Hellboy

The film 9 builds a whimsical diminutive steampunk world of little homunculi (guess that's what they're meant to be) that you will want to simply jump into- (the film that is, not the homunculi). Tim Burton had a hand in it, but it was written and directed by a guy named Shane Acker.

I would have been completely enchanted had it not been for the fact that the fearful control-freak character dressed as a bishop and wanted to stay hidden in the tower of a church. I mean, come on, enough with the negative religious stereotyping. Did we have to fall back on cheap jabs?

It is worth view. The animation is amazing. The story is clever, quick paced, and the characters are adorable. Just look at them goggle eyes!

When I posted an abbreviated version of this review on my Facebook, my niece made a comment. She just watched Hellboy and Professor Bruttenholm reminded her of me when he distributed the rosaries, saying, "You'll need these." My purpose for relaying this fascinating tale isn't to brag... Well, yes, it is actually. :p 

But it's also a great excuse to talk about Mike Mignola. He has a beautiful way of showing religion in a positive light in a subtle way. He's not goody-goody. I've seen him depict a flawed priest. But mostly, and I'm no Mignola scholar, I've seen him show religion in a strong and truthful light in his Hellboy stories.

(I took this picture from my copy of The Right Hand of Doom. Sorry if the quality doesn't come through.)

He depicts priests and nuns who are good people, in his Hellboy series. His artwork is amazing. (Mike, if you read this, do your own artwork. Some of the folks who illustrate your stories are super, but YOU ARE THE MASTER.)

And he does this without being tagged, a religious writer or artist. I've never heard anyone say, "Those Hellboy comics, they're just too religious for me." (Snort-laugh) Oh, sorry. No. In fact, I've heard just the opposite. But I can explain in great detail why Hellboy is not evil, so don't even go there unless you want a very long blog post.

Monday, March 1, 2010

World Building

I'm having a blast at my virtual writers conference. I'm learning stuff I didn't know that I didn't know about blogging, queries, writing thrillers, action scenes (boy do I need work there), typology, world building, and on and on. It'll be weeks before I fully absorb everything I'm learning!

I'm "attending," author, Karina Fabian's constructive workshop forum on fiction world building for science fiction and fantasy. She reminds us to consider such things as how two moons will affect the tides, not to mention the werewolves. (Scary thought.)

The workshop is forcing me to think concretely about the new world I'm constructing through a series of short stories in progress on my hard drive, sundry scraps of paper, and in various recesses of my brain. They're set in a future alternative steampunk California in perpetual drought. (We pretty much already are in perpetual drought here in California, it seems.) So, I only have the one moon and the people are human, but we do have the occasional mythical creature cropping up.

Up until now, I've been flying by the seat of my pants about this world I'm building. I've always been a pantster when it comes to writing. Now, I'm pinning myself down, at least about the elements of my world, if not the stories themselves. What is in this new California? Why are they there? Not every story will have every element, but at least they won't contradict one another. This little crop of California stories are multiplying at a rapid rate. I hope to have something to show you soon.

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