Currently browsing

June 2013

Do you have a “Writey” Sense?

Recently I received revisions back from my critique partner on my first hundred pages.  One of her comments was I was pacing too fast in a particular chapter and needed to add more information than what I was giving her.  Apparently, Jenna P. needed to cut a little less crap (issue to be covered at another time).

The weird thing was I had questioned all this as I was writing that chapter.  There was a tiny string in the corner of my mind that kept tugging me back to that place saying something wasn’t right.  I didn’t know how to fix it at the time, or even what to really fix, but I knew something had to be fixed.  And then it occurred to me – that string, that strange feeling in my gut – that was my spidey sense talking to me.

Or maybe I should say…my “writey” sense.

I believe that every writer has this so called “writey” sense.  It’s what compels us to type that first word and pulls us toward the end of that chapter.  It’s that shred of uneasiness that keeps us staring at the same page for two days, and that unstoppable grin that spreads over our faces when we re-read that phenomenal scene we wrote last week.  It’s a superpower that gives us the ability to make people laugh, cry, dream, scream, cover their mouths in utter awe, and fall asleep at night imaging what we want them to imagine.

We are superheroes.

Jeanette Grey (AKA Huntress)

 

Covered in her 2 favorite colors, Jeanette spends her sleepless nights spinning intelligent sci-fi’s, steamy contemporaries, and even steamier erotics to help the poor citizens of Gothem and the rest of the world escape the corruption of their ordinary lives.

 

Elizabeth Michels (AKA Jubilee)

 

Armed with makeup, glitter, and sparkles, E. Michels spreads her bubbly personality through saucy, witty historicals that will leave even the largest cynic (Ahem…Jenna Patrick) feeling nice and toasty inside.

 

Lori Waters (AKA The Invisible Woman)

 

Don’t let her fool you folks.  That quiet, sweet, invisible demeanor, allows Lori to sneak into your heart undetected with her delicious contemporaries and thoughtful women’s fiction to bring hope back to those who’ve lost it.

 

Heather McGovern (AKA Alice)

 

After years of training herself by carefully dissecting all the episodes of The Walking Dead, she’s become quite the zombie expert.  When McGovy’s not battling flesh deteriorating scoundrels, she uses her stories of magic and love to make you believe the impossible is possible.

 

Sydney Carroll (AKA Foxy Brown)

 

Decorated in bright eyeliner, top of the line vintage clothing, and a bag of chips in her holster, Syd’s style matches her snarky, laugh-out-loud contemporary romances well.  Think contemporaries are all about love, roses, and chocolate?  Think again!

 

Jenna Patrick (AKA Black Widow) 

 

Armed with a knife to slash away useless words, Jenna spends her time weaving thoughtful, intricate family dramas and women’s fiction.  Watch out…her cool, calm approach allows her to fly under the radar and rip your heart out when you least expect it.  But don’t worry – she promises to give it back.

 

So, what superhero are you?

9 Comments

No Romance in Marriage! What?

You would think romance and marriage go together like peanut butter and jelly, right? Recently, I was told that romance readers believed that once you’re married the romance ends. After they say I do, the book becomes an I don’t.

I recently pitched my latest project to an editor, and her response took me by surprise. I explained the premise of my story, and then I went on to tell her the book starts off with my hero and heroine separated, facing divorce. That’s as far as I got. She threw a hand up to stop me.  And this is how it went.

Editor:  “I love the concept, but you need to have your couple divorced. In fact, give the heroine a fiancé or a boyfriend so the hero has to fight for her.”

Me:  Sits in stunned silence as I digest just how much changing would need to be done.

Editor: “There’s no romance in marriage. Romance readers find married couples boring.”

Me: Still sitting in stunned silence, trying to keep my mouth from flopping open.

Editor: “Once you make these changes I really would like to take a look.” Hands me a business card with submission information.

Me: Being in a romantic marriage, I want to tell her how untrue I felt her assumptions are, but instead I take the card and flash a fake smile.  “Great. That’s great. I’ll get right on it. Thank you.”

As I walked away broken hearted for my story, I consciously thought back to the hundreds of books I had read along the way. Had I read any books where the couple starts off separated and then reunites at the end? None flew out at me. Was she right?

It made me a little sad. I wanted to turn around and go back to the editor and tell her what was really on my mind. I wanted to fight for married couples that have suffered a setback or two. I wanted to say there is more to the story than just the beginning. I wanted to say that sometimes couples got lost, and they have to find their way back, by searching for the love that brought them together in the first place. But of course, I didn’t.

Her suggestion to rip my story apart wasn’t what truly bothered me. (Okay, it bothered me a little!) What honestly bothered me was that she put all romance readers in the same box. I got an uneasy feeling inside. So I decided before I would go and change EVERYTHING about my story, I’d pitch it again, and again, and then one more time. Guess what? Our beloved romance readers started crawling out of that box the editor had put them in. The agents and editors I pitched to want to see it just the way it is. Not one of them told me to divorce my couple.

I have a friend who writes historical with some steamy love scenes. She had an editor tell her once that she would consider signing her if she turned it into an inspirational. What? Her hot romance wasn’t even close to being inspirational. She got that same uneasy feeling I did. So she pitched it again. I’m delighted to report that she’s landed the big book deal with her voice and her story still intact.

What I’m trying to say is this: Maybe sometimes your book does need a major overhaul. However, before you go and change EVERYTHING, pitch it a few more times. If the response seems to be consistent, then maybe it’s time to make the big changes, but first give your book a chance. There is a reason you wrote it like that in the first place. 🙂

Remember to Dream Big!

Lori

17 Comments

The Tortoise and The Hare-The Writer Version

Once upon a time in a land not so far away there lived a Tortoise and a Hare.  The Tortoise and the Hare were great friends for they both liked to write books.  They met occasionally to chat over coffee about their difficulties in writing and the latest news in the publishing industry.  They sat together at writer’s group meetings, and always joked with one another on Facebook.   The bond between the two grew quite strong over the years as they clung together to survive the torment of the slush pile.

Then one day, they talked of something they never spoke of before: daily word counts.

The Hare took a sip of his double espresso as he said, “I usually write at least 4,000 words a day or I consider the day a total loss.”

The Tortoise looked down into his half empty cup of chai tea with a frown.  “I try to write 1,000 words in a day…that’s my goal anyway.”

“We should have a word count challenge!  There’s a hashtag for it and everything! We can start tomorrow.  I bet I can get way more than 1,000 words in #1k1Hr.”

The Tortoise agreed after much consideration and at 11:00am the next morning they began their race for words.  The minutes ticked past and the Hare pounded out words.  It was a stream of thought on the screen, a tempest of dialogue, as he pushed through his rough draft as fast as he could.  The Tortoise click, click, clicked at the keys of his laptop.  The scene he was writing slowly took shape with every line he typed.

An hour later the Hare announced he had written 1,927 words.  Surely no one could beat such a grand number.  He grinned and munched on a carrot for his reward.  The Tortoise’s gaze lowered to the corner of his screen to see how much he had written over the hour.  672.  That was all?  How did the Hare write so quickly?  The Tortoise was devastated.

A few weeks later the Hare and the Tortoise met for lunch.  The Hare had finished his rough draft but complained he had a long road of edits ahead of him.  The Tortoise was still steadily writing his rough draft, taking time to think through every scene as he wrote it.  He was frustrated his friend, the Hare, was finished with his draft and he wasn’t, but he would never say so.

The next month at their writer’s group meeting, the Hare flopped into a seat and tapped his foot in irritation.

“What’s wrong?” asked the Tortoise.

“I don’t understand it.  I wrote an entire manuscript last month.” The Hare scratched his fur covered ear.  “Now, I have writer’s block.  I can’t write a thing!”

“I’m sorry, Hare.  Maybe you’re tired.  Take a break; you earned it.”  Tortoise offered his friend a smile.

“Perhaps I will.  Did you finish your manuscript?”

“Last night.  I should have it edited soon.”  Tortoise sighed, he’d finished his manuscript…finally.

The Tortoise and the Hare lived happily ever after as writer friends and wrote many bestsellers.

The moral of the story is everyone writes drafts at different speeds.  Everyone edits at different speeds, and everyone plans for the next story at different speeds.

Whether you write 452 words in an hour or 2,349, your words are valuable. Celebrate them! Some writers are Tortoises and some are Hares but at the end of the story they both finished the race.  Keep writing and don’t ever compare your journey to those around you.  Your journey is special because it’s yours.

Are you a Tortoise or a Hare?

xx – E. Michels

Tortoise

9 Comments

Likeability: Like it, or not?

Over the past month or so, I’ve noticed a number of online discussions in the publishing world revolving around the importance of a character’s likeability. Depending on who you ask, it may be seen as a hallmark of lazy writing, or even a sexist insult. Likeability is bad now? Huh. News to me. So what about all those rejection letters and contest feedback and contest feedback scores that say otherwise? Well, that’s the thing: the anti-likeable camp comes from Serious Fiction, and most of us poor slobs aspiring writers getting the rejections and mean contest results are trying to break into popular fiction of various genres. It goes without saying that these worlds are different, and the expectations of their readers are different—not that they are better or worse, just different. In all this, I believe there are things both sides of fiction can learn from this controversy.

 

The Serious Fiction Fallacy: a lot of the criticism of likeability by authors in the literary establishment seem to misunderstand what likeability means (or what I think it should mean, anyway) with respect to fiction. In real life, people who are likeable are nice. They’re moral. They help people. They don’t cause a lot of trouble. But as we know, fiction is so not real life. If a character is truly nice, and moral, and good, it takes a damn talented author not to make him or her insufferable (I’m thinking of the goody-goody throw-up-in-your-mouth characters of a certain massively successful male author in particular. Spoiler alert: he’s not that good.) In fiction, likeability is related to how well we as readers can empathize with a character’s motivation. To me, I think likeability is best equated to relatability, not whether we’d want to cosign on a five-year lease with the person.

 

The Genre Fiction Fallacy: judge much? This is especially true of female main characters, double for heroines of romance and women’s fiction. OMG, are we hard on our heroines! If they’ve had a sexual past before (or during) the story, they’re sluts. If they are virgins, they aren’t “realistic.” If they’re sweet or shy, they’re doormats. If they are snarky or sarcastic, they’re bitter. It seems like no matter what attributes you give your heroine, there will be haters—and that’s not even touching physical descriptions. I think this might stem from the theory that our readers put themselves in the role of heroine in romances. I’m not sure how true that is. I know I don’t read that way, personally. But anyhoo, maybe that’s where the general vibe comes from. Here, likeability seems directly related to whether a heroine seems like friend material—and that sells the whole genre short, in my opinion.

 

When “nice” is synonymous with “likeable,” one side sees writing those types of characters as pandering to the lowest common denominator, and the other side sees it as necessary to sell books—and we get yet another means for one type of writer to distance themselves from and disrespect the other. Let’s just throw the concept of nice out of the equation, shall we? Let’s replace it with interesting, conflicted; crazy, yet full of conviction. After all, aren’t the most beloved characters across fiction from high-brow to low maybe not ones we’d want for friends or roommates, but ones who make us stay up reading until three o’clock on a weeknight because we just have to find out their secrets and what they’ll do next?

Have you, as a writer, ever run afoul of these expectations of likeability? And as a reader, who are your favorite characters—and where do they fall on the scale of likeability?

12 Comments

Writing Short Fiction For Fun and Profit, Vol. 5: Ready To Submit?

Okay, so you’ve written a short story. You’ve found a call for submissions or a publisher that deals in shorts, and you’re ready to go. The hard part is over, right? Well, not exactly, but the process of getting it submitted doesn’t have to be torture, either.

romance short story calls for submission

In the end, querying a short story for inclusion in an anthology isn’t all that different from querying a novel. My three main pieces of advice are the same, no matter the length of your work: 1) Keep It Simple, Stupid, 2) Follow the Directions, and 3) Keep Your Head On Straight.

1) Keep It Simple, Stupid: Here’s the good news about submitting a short: it’s a short. The query letter should be similarly fun-sized. Remember, if it’s for an anthology, the editor is reading hundreds if not thousands of submissions. All they need are the basics.

Here’s a nice, basic format for a short story query letter:

Dear [Insert Editor Name Here]:

[Title of Story] is a completed, [word count] word short story, written with [name of anthology] in mind.

[One short paragraph about the premise of the story. Hook the editor in. Make it enticing, like a mini-blurb for the back cover of a book. Two to three sentences, max.]

[One short paragraph about you, including your real name and your pen name. Include any publication credits you already have. If you don’t have any, referring to yourself as “a working writer” is a delicate way of saying you’re still working on it. This is good place to mention your memberships in any writing organizations. It is not a good time to bring up the name of your pet or that you’re desperate for money or that your story is JUST PERFECT for this anthology. Just the facts. Keep it simple. Again, two to three sentences, max.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
[Your real name]
[all of your contact information]

Simple, right?

Before you ask, yes, you do need to write a query letter. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, paste it into the body of your email, preferably as plain text. Ta-da!

2) Follow the Directions: Most editors for anthologies will tell you exactly what they want. Give it to them.

  • If they ask for your story as an attachment, send it as an attachment. If they specify a preferred file format, send it in that format. (If they don’t, .doc or .rtf are your safest bets.) If they ask for the story to be pasted into the body of the email, for goodness’s sake, paste it into the body of the email.
  • They have almost certainly specified a word count range. Follow it. Again, this poor editor is reading a ton of submissions. If you’re outside the requested word count range, it’s the quickest, easiest rejection that editor will ever have to send.

3) Keep Your Head On Straight: Remember, it’s just a short story. It probably wasn’t a huge investment of your time to write, and if it isn’t chosen, it is not the end of the world. If you’re patient, you can probably submit it to a different call someday if an appropriate one comes along, or you can always post it as a free read on your website, which is great for promotion.

Also, a rejection is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of the story or on your writing. The editor’s job is not just to pick great stories—it’s also to assemble a seamless, cohesive collection of stories. If your piece isn’t a good fit for the way the anthology is shaping up, or if it is too similar to another story the editor has already chosen, it might not make the cut, no matter how wonderful it is. (Veteran editor Rachel Kramer Bussel has a very nice article about this, which you may find enlightening.)

Hopefully, these tips will help you get your story ready to submit and give you the guts to click that big scary ‘send’ button.

And in case you still haven’t found any good opportunities to try your hand at short fiction, here are a couple calls for submission for romance short stories and novellas that caught my eye this week:

Holiday Magic with Scandalous
Publisher: Entangled
Submission Deadline: July 15, 2013
Guidelines: Any winter themed holiday historical romance taking place from 900-1949 with a word count between 10,000-20,000.
More Info

Commanding Desire: Military Erotic Romance
Editor: Kristina Wright
Publisher: Cleis Press
Submission Deadline: September 1, 2013
Guidelines: Erotic romance involving a military hero. 2,500-4,500 words, primarily heterosexual pairings with a female audience in mind.
More Info

Happy writing!

8 Comments

Badgirlz Themed Writer Conference Cocktails

In a week, the Badgirlz will kick off a series on Writer Conferences. The how tos, insider info, and survival tips & tricks. In the spirit of preparing for a national convention, I bring you the nectar of most writers (besides coffee): Cocktails!

I love to play amateur bartender, but you can try one of these at the hotel lobby bar as you mingle with editors, agents, and fellow writers. At home, everyone gravitates to the kitchen, at a conference, everyone gravitates to the bar. Even if you don’t drink, order a cranberry juice with lime and hang out. Socialize! You’re bound to meet someone new.

Each of these drinks is named for a Badgirl. I’m not sure if it’s their fave, but it’s a drink I associate with them in style, flavor, and reputation. Cheers!

First, it’s refreshing, it’s beach-y and summer-y, it’s sweet with a potent kick, it’s:

Syd’s Moji-toe

Mojito_cocktail

10 mint leaves, 1 lime, sugar to taste, 2 shots of white rum, 1/2 cup club soda

Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. LOTS OF ICE FOR SYD! Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with carbonated water. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.  

Next, it’s simple, yet complex. Looks tame, but is bold and dark with a smooth finish, it’s:

The JG Red

pinot

Grab a BIG wine glass and a wine opener, open a bottle of Cupcake’s Red Velvet or any Pinot Noir, pour to just below the rim of the glass. Re-cork and stick the bottle in your big, black purse, and travel.

Serious, but playful. A classic with a modern, southern twist. Looks simple enough, but there’s potency in its simplicity and it will get the job DONE. It’s:

McGovy’s Makers Mark Manhattan

Manhattan_Xmas_250(1)

2 shots Makers Mark Bourbon Whisky, 1/2 oz sweet vermouth. Pour into cocktail shaker w/ ice, drain into cocktail glass. Maraschino cherry for garnish

 

Bright and bubbly, girly but enough of it and you’ll get your swerve on. It’s:

EMichels Mimosas

mimosaPop a bottle of Bubbly, pour into champagne flute 2/3rds full. Add OJ. Drink. Repeat 3 or 4 times.

Sophisticated and feminine with a tart finish. This lovely looking drink will end with you dancing on the tables and busting rhymes with old school rap if you’re not careful. It’s the:

JennaP Cosmo

perf cosmo

2 shots citron vodka (Don’t skimp. Get the good stuff), 1 shot triple sec or cointreau, 1 shot cranberry juice, juice of 1 lime (or about 3/4 ounce), ice. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the ingredients. Shake and pour into cocktail glass. Drink. Dance!

Finally, it’s sweet but tangy, refreshing and makes you happy on the inside. It won’t kick your tale so long as you don’t push it, and there’s a little present at the end, in the form of an orange slice! It’s:

Lori’s Brew

blue moon

Pop the top on a cold bottle of Blue Moon, Pour into a pilsner glass, let settle and add orange slice. You’ll want more than one. I promise!

Hope y’all enjoy! Remember to party responsibly and either walk or just keep your crazy self at the conference hotel. That way you’re safe! 😉 Hope to see everyone soon!

McGovy

7 Comments

A Tribute to Fathers – Both Real and Fictitious

With this weekend being Father’s Day, I thought it only appropriate to devote my blog today to fathers – both real and fictitious.  Fathers inspire us and support us.  Fathers offer up funny anecdotes to weave into our stories.  Fathers are often our heroes, and unfortunately sometimes our villains.  Good or bad, fathers have helped shape our minds into the plot spinning mazes they are.

The Real

I was terrified to tell my dad that I was a writer.  After all, he’d paid to send me to school for an engineering degree and here I was trying to get published.  When I finally worked up the nerve he was completely supportive, of course.  And every time I talk to him now he asks how the writing is going.  I know it seems stupid, but just having that little bit of approval is always like a propeller for me.  I stopped worrying about what people would think and started concentrating on what really mattered – growing as writer.

Of course all this wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the other important Daddy in my life – my husband.  I am very lucky to have a husband who offers to take the girls outside so I can have some writing time, and who understands the importance of writing conferences and monthly group meetings.  My husband isn’t afraid to do the typical mommy duties if it helps me out, and is always an open ear for reading a scene aloud.  As writer’s, we need that support from our husbands to live a healthy balanced life.

wedding-pic Me & DadIMG_1928

 

 

 

 

 My better half

 

The Fictitious

I heard an author once say that her heroines always had some sort of dysfunctional relationship with their mothers, and though the writing was literally right there in front of her she never realized the similarity this had to her relationship with her own mother.

You may already do this subconsciously but if you don’t, understanding the relationship your characters have with their fathers is a great way to add depth to them.  Is your heroine a high-maintenance Betty who needs to learn to stand on her own feet?  Is your hero a struggling single father determined not to leave his child?  Does your heroine spend her days alone because she’s afraid of rejection?

Maybe a good or bad father is at the heart of all this.  That high-maintenance heroine might’ve been a daddy’s girl.  That struggling hero might’ve grown up without a father.  And that lonely heroine might’ve only done wrong in her father’s eyes.  When you think about the motivation behind your character’s behavior, considering the root will not only make them more believable, but also relatable.  It’s much easier for a reader to forgive the bad parts of your protagonist if they understand where it came from.

say anything Godfather-fathermonstersball

So, how have the fathers in your life helped you as a writer?  Do you have any interesting plots that have spun from a father/daughter relationship?  What are your favorite father/son relationships in literature or movies?  Please share and help us salute them!

Happy Father’s Day!

Jenna P.

 

 

 

4 Comments

Shipping (and I’m not talking about boxes and envelopes)

I spent the first part of last week still in shock over the ending of Sunday night’s Game of Thrones episode much like many of you, I’m sure. So, when a friend from high school started talking about it on Facebook, I pounced on the conversation topic. That episode left me needing to talk to someone! I mean, what the whaaaaa?!?! Only, I made a mistake. It’s a common mistake, and I should have known better…I forgot that real life friends are not writer friends. Maybe you can relate. My conversation went something like this:

Me: “…And what about Jon Snow riding away and leaving Ygritte there? What was that?”
Friend 1: “She’s a killer. I’m glad he left her.”
Me: “Wildling or not, she loved him.”
Friend 2: “He didn’t even look back. He doesn’t care about her.”
Me: “Of course he didn’t look back. Once she’s beyond his reach and unattainable, he’ll look back and regret leaving her.”
Friend 1: “No he won’t.”
Me: “They had a connection. That plot line isn’t over.”
Friend 2: “What?!?! You’re such a romantic.”

…Yeah. I am. I also dissect plots in my mind on a daily basis—romance plots. Maybe I’m right about the upcoming plot of GoT, or maybe I’m wrong. But, clearly I was not on the same page as my 2 non-writer friends.

Has this happened to you? Have you discussed shipping certain unlikely couples from tv or movies only to be shut down by friends from your real life?

I knew a few years ago I’d found “my people” when I admitted I wanted Wolverine and Rogue to get together after watching the first X Men movie. Rogue kills people with her touch, Wolverine heals even though it hurts him; what’s not to love about that pairing? The reaction from my writer friend at the time, (McGovy) was an excited, “Yes!” She got it. As writers we don’t choose characters that easily match up together. If we did, what kind of book would that be? Boring!! So, we’re used to obstacles being thrown in the pathway to a character’s ultimate happiness. Real life friends? Not so much.

We see a character riding away and crushing a woman he cared for only a day before as a challenge. Maybe now he’ll be forced by circumstance to require her help to reach some goal. Maybe they’ll end up thrown into some situation together. Maybe she follows him for answers. Whatever happens, there’s now conflict and as a result, tension. I don’t think this viewpoint is consistent with most people. After all, this is what we do and we’re kind of obsessed with it—bless our hearts. LOL So, next time you want to discuss the shipping of a couple, learn from my mistake and remember who you’re talking to.

got-game-of-thrones-33960349-612-458

Have you made this mistake before? Let’s talk fictional couples. Trust me, at Bad Girlz Write, we get it. *grins*

xx-E.Michels

***spoiler alert***


I wrote this blog post yesterday before watching last night’s season finale…yeah, I’m feeling delightfully vindicated on the Jon Snow issue now. Ha! I knew he loved her! And, I’ll try really hard not to gloat about it to my real life friends on Facebook…well, I won’t try that hard. LOL

17 Comments

Listen to Your Character…’s iPod

It may be cliché, but the first thing I do when I start a new writing project is make a playlist. Writing to music helps me in lots of little practical ways—it keeps me focused, and it drowns out some of whatever else is going on in my house that might otherwise be distracting. But more importantly, it helps me get into the mood of the piece I’m writing.

I have playlists for certain kinds of scenes. Thumping-bass alt-rock for action scenes, lilting love songs for happy moments, sultry numbers for…ahem…intimate encounters. I have playlists for certain characters, because my big strong alpha male certainly does not think to the same beat as my quirky heroine. Listening to these playlists immerses me in the scene and puts me in touch with the moods and feelings of the people I’m writing about.

But what I never really recognized until quite recently is that the act of making the playlist is an exercise is character-building, too.

I’m currently working on my first male/male romance in a while, and when I started, I assembled a collection of songs for my hard-working, by-the-book, too-school-for-cool hero. It was a mix of a bunch of different things, but a lot of it was earnest rock featuring male vocalists. Peter Gabriel, REM, Dire Straights, and Dispatch each showed up a few times. It was perfect, and it embodied the character I was writing. I was churning out the words.

And then it came time for a POV switch, and my typing-fingers stuttered to a halt.

I couldn’t write my disaffected, jaded jock to the same soundtrack. They would sound the same! I needed a way to help keep their voices distinct.

So I opened up a new playlist, and the half hour or so that ensued was not procrastination. It was really and truly an exercise in learning my character’s voice. As I selected songs, I had to think about whether or not each one fit this new guy’s vibe. They were also rocks songs performed by male vocalists, but they were different. Ben Folds, Frightened Rabbit, and Barenaked Ladies kept speaking to me. The more I thought about the common threads running through the songs, the more I picked up on notes of discontent, sarcasm, irreverence, and bone-deep hurt, pushed back and hidden beneath layers of chords and hipster chic.

Lightbulb moment

Just like that, I’d found my character. I’d found his voice and his heart. I took about two seconds to save that playlist, and then I was diving back into my document, head-first.

So the next time you’re not sure what your character sounds like, consider listening to him. And if that doesn’t work, try listening to his iPod instead. 🙂

13 Comments

Packin’ Heat

Everyone has their pet peeves in writing or reading. One of mine is reading an excellent story only to be yanked out of it because there’s line about weaponry (usually a gun) that is just SO wrong.

I’m a believer that if you write about guns, you should probably touch one at least once in your life.  I’m not saying you need to own one or not, or have your Concealed Weapons Permit.  I’m saying if you’re going to write about  them – the weight and feel of a gun, the smell, and the recoil – you need to know what your talking about. Visit a gun range, if only once to talk to the friendly folks who work there and soak up the sights, sounds, and smells.zoe-gina-torres-firefly-comic-con-quotes

 A few beginner tips for your characters when gun slinging:

Don’t have a character firing a revolver with spent shells spilling out everywhere as he/she unloads on a baddy about two dozen times. No revolver does that. That’s why Deputy Rick Grimes has to up end his Colt Python .357 and dump the shells, after killing six zombies, before he reloads to kill six more.

the-walking-dead-season-3-rick1

On that same note, if your hero/heroine has a Glock or a Browning .380 or some super sci-fi awesome futuristic semi-automatic, you could mention the shells all over the ground from their shoot out.

If your heroine is shooting the equivalent of a .357 Dirty Harry Magnum with .357 bullets, make sure she feels the recoil (unless she’s got preternatural strength). Because trust me, that puppy packs a wallop and will recoil over your head. Two words: Hand. Canon.

Dirty Harry

If your hero has a big a$$ machine gun type weapon, he will not be able to walk around with the dang thing a la Rambo – again, unless he’s a super hero. It’s a movie lie. A machine gun comes with a stand for a reason and you need your full body weight pressed against the butt with your foot leveraged against, oh I don’t know, the back of a fox hole, to keep it from bouncing you back into next week. Even Sly would need to lay down with that thing to really use it. rambo

Some writers have no desire to learn all of this first hand and that’s okay. Guns are scary and very dangerous. If hands-on isn’t your thing, you can learn all you need to know by talking to a guns expert. You need never touch one if you don’t want. Go to your local gun range and ask the people there. If you tell them you’re writing about a smokin’ hot spy who packs a Walther PPK and you want to get the details right, I promise they will tell you all you need to know and then some. You’ll be lucky to get out of there without half a day’s lesson on firearms and safety.  They want you to get it right. 

skyfall-daniel-craig-james-bond-2012-movie-set-images

If that doesn’t appeal to you either, check out internet blogs from retired policeman or military.  They’re a well of information and there’s normally a contact email addy for specific questions. My favorite is Lee Lofland’s Graveyard Shift Blog. He’s awesome, one of the founders of the Writer’s Police Academy, and a huge SouthLAnd fan (Woo Hoo!!!). Check him out: http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress/

Whatever you do, for the love of all that’s metallic and loud, do your homework.

Finally, even if you’re writing about weapons if the year 2520 or a galaxy far, far away, I suggest grounding the weapons in some reality.  Your laser gun should still have some punch. I imagine a really powerful laser might require both hands to steady the weapon. Or maybe not…I don’t know so much about the year 2520. =) Maybe it fires smooth as silk but smells funny afterward? What does it sound like when you fire?  What does the handler feel? 

princess-leia11

Details like this will draw your readers into the scene. Then, no matter how far, far away you take them, they’ll be “in” the story and follow you anywhere.

Write on!

McGovy

12 Comments

%d bloggers like this: