Thursday, December 29, 2011

Damn you, Janet Evanovich

A few times in your life you need to stop and re-evaluate your self image. You might realise that maybe that career in law isn’t what you want, or that pink isn’t your colour. I know – right now you’re thinking “but where’s the writing? Is this another depressing IRL post?” Don’t panic. Writing stuff will ensue.

I had one big “waaait a moment” feeling around the time I turned twenty and realised I was gay. I had never seen myself as gay. I figured I was incredibly picky with men. I didn’t know how it was supposed to feel. It was a difficult realisation to have, especially as I had missed out on all those pretty high school girls.

The other big turn around was the other day when I picked up the books I had just bought and saw two more Janet Evanovich books. Suddenly I had to accept the fact that I gush all about them, that I can’t wait for the film to come out (One for the Money) and that I usually read them straight through in one day. I love them. They’re not the height of literature, a wonder in writing technique, full with deep thoughts or have a society-challenging plot. But they make me laugh. They make me want to buy a cookie jar. They even make me challenge my gayness because damn, that Joe Morelli is hot.

I’ve never seen myself as a romance/comedy/detective person. I’ve been into fantasy, science-fiction, high dramas. And you know what, I was wrong. I narrowed myself down and I have missed out for such a long time.

This is the reason you should never let anyone – least of all your own prejudice – put you in a box. When you read, try something new. When you write, try everything. Our hearts are better judges than our brains.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Who Sees?

Are you wondering which Point of View (POV) you are using? Then the chance is high you’re using 3rd person limited – and you’re doing it wrong.

I’ve talked about POV before and this is a brief reminder. The question about point of view is simple – who is seeing the story unfold?

1st person – Who sees? I do.

2nd person – Who sees? A narrator sees what you do

3rd person limited – Who sees? The main character/s/ does

3rd person omniscient – Who sees? The narrator does

Most people think they’re doing 3rd person omniscient – but they’re actually doing limited. Problem is that they’re doing it from everyone’s POV, at once. The rule is: Do not change POV within a scene. I know published authors do it, but I usually burn those books or feed them to the cat.

3rd person omniscient is a separate narrator. It can be the main character, but it’s a main character who sees herself differently (for example when looking back in time).

Assignment – write a 200 word story in each POV. I’d love to see your results in the comment section. Let me know if you want me to correct them and I’ll do that too (if needed).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I didn't even get euphoria

In my last post, I said it was 8 hours until I was getting my ass on an early plane home from this great vacation I had planned. Things had already gone awry and I was sad and ill. Then my hunch proved true; my system crashed. If I hadn't decided to stay behind, I would have been in the middle of a national park, several days from the nearest city.

The first thing to go from bad to worse wasn’t due to me being ill but a technical error.

I had begun the day with little sleep and not able to eat (like the previous 4 days of travel and stay in Darwin). I waved my new friends goodbye – the worst part of going home was not to get to know them all better. I pack my bags, I get to the shuttle, I have a good time with the drivers, I arrive at the airport.

The lady at the check-in says I have to talk to the ticket office.

She probably sees the alarm in my eyes because she assures me the booking looks fine. I move over to the ticket office, still alarmed. With all right. The Swedish company I booked with had not managed to create a ticket, and it’s the middle of the night in Sweden. No help to find. I was not allowed on that flight. [Later on I learned that there was a technical error and the travel company repaid everything.]

I booked another ticket for the same day and remained stubbornly at the tiny airport despite the twelve hours until my flight.

Then things started to get ugly. I turn more nauseous, and also weak and shivering [later I learn they're convulsions, not shivers]. At this point I haven’t been sleeping or eating much for five days. The journey home will take more than 30 hours. I’m alone.

The airport staff try to help me but I start throwing up and I feel even more woozy and weak. They get an ambulance to pick me up to make sure I'm fit to travel. I’m taken to the hospital, I wait, a bitchy nurse examines me, I wait, and then a young female doctor looks me over. She says the best thing is for me to get home (definitely true), gives me some strong painkillers and anti-nausea pills.

By the way, have you ever noticed that ambulance people treat you like a person and everyone else at a hospital treats you as a patient? It’s a big difference.

The painkillers have effect by the time I get back to the airport – the first time in ages I haven’t felt in pain. Unfortunately the tremors are still there, and so is the nausea. I hold out for some five hours, checking my luggage in, going through security check, sitting waiting and all that. The convulsions are by this time constant. It’s like the restless thing when you put your toes against the floor and you leg starts bouncing up and down – but all over my body. Finally, with the backdrop of a spectacular thunderstorm that I hardly notice, I throw up as I attempt my second dose of painkillers.

It’s interesting how many people don’t notice that someone has thrown up all over themselves and are sitting bent over, quivering. Even when they walk right over the puddle on the carpet. And when guy next to me tries to get help, they said something about if I was at the airport, I was obviously well enough to fend for myself.

Finally one of the flight attendants take notice of my pathetic little self and gets me help. I think eight people were hovering above me at one point, getting info to find my luggage and my name to end my booking and my age for another ambulance.

This time it takes much longer at the hospital. It’s in the middle of the night, so I’m sure they’re understaffed and there are a lot of people in the waiting room. But after the nurse has taken a look at me, they leave me there, on the plastic chairs. The only time they notice me is when I’ve laid down on the floor, my whole body twitching, because I felt so faint I was afraid to fall down. The nurses tell me to get up on the chairs; one isn’t allowed on the floors.

There are lot of hurt and ill people passing through the emergency room in a hospital. I felt guilty for just being there, yet I'm sure they thought the same about me. Or maybe not. Apart from the twitching I might not have looked as lethally ill as I felt.

At some point I'm given a shot of some still unknown substance. I don’t know how long it takes before they find me a bed (a gurney in the corridor). Then I lay there, twitching. It’s very unrestful to twitch uncontrollably. It’s in fact really scary.

I think a total of six hours pass before the doctor talks to me. He’s a young, Asian guy with dreadlocks gathered in a ponytail. (I'm not kidding you)

I was not an easy patient. He said I had a panic attack, I didn’t believe him. At least not until he started explaining that he had had the same (maybe he lied, but it worked) and exactly what was going on in my body with the adrenalin going amok and how my brain didn’t need to be upset for a panic attack to happen. He refused to admit me to the hospital and gives me valium, which makes no difference. Another pill, stronger, takes effect and stops the convulsions. By this time I’m so heartily tired of hospitals and people not listening that I just obey when he says he doesn’t want me to stay in the hospital. I accept the sleeping pills and find the hostel where I had stayed earlier.

For the first time in some five odd days, I sleep. I get six hours. The following two days are tainted with the odd side effects of dizziness, sleepiness (odd, eh?) and general hungoverness. The euphoria, one of the uncommon side effects, didn't show up. And the pills affected the libido negatively. What's with these drugs that are no fun? No fair at all.

The first night (technically it's almost noon) is the only time the pills make me sleep, but those six hours are enough to get me through the 40 hour journey through Melbourne, Hong Kong and London.

I arrive in Sweden much earlier than I was supposed and much later than I would have liked. But I am home, and there isn’t a better place in the world.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not always to plan

In March I booked a trip to Australia and New Zeeland, 8 months in advance. It was the kind of trip where you go by bus everywhere and you sleep in tents. I was supposed to be away, having a great time, for two months. Hence the sekkrit in my last blog post.

I lasted two days. Due to my illness, my body crashed. I don't know exactly why but probably a mix of humidity, heat, jet lag, and stress (because even if it's fun, travelling includes so much impressions it's also a kind of stress). I know myself, and I have promised to start listening to my body. I know I don't recover easily from how I feel now, and I can feel that this trip is simply going to overload my system. So in approximately 8 hours, I'll be on a plane back home.

I'm not going to tear myself apart over this. I see it as an experience - now I know I can't do long trips, neither in time or far away. It's something I had to learn by trying it. I don't want to give up on things in fear of what might happen, I want to try it and see. It just didn't turn out so good this time. Next time it might. Which is really what writing is about too, so I got to learn to accept my mistakes in that area too.

Also on the plus side - I'm going to have a Swedish Christmas after all.

Have you ever had something turn out quite differently from what you planned?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Heads up!

I'm going to be offline for the coming two months and I'm going to let you know ALL about it - once I'm back home. So keep your eyes open in February.

On the news front - yes, I did finish NaNoWriMo! And passed all my final exams!

Merry christmas (or whichever version you celebrate), happy new year and have a great time while I'm gone. Don't break the Internet.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

NaNoPhoMo - a different challenge

My NaNoPhoMo challenge.

Everyone knows that a photo is worth a thousand words so as NaNoWriMo is a challenge in writing 50 000 words, I changed it to be about 50 photos. Every motif should only occur once (but I cheated once due to awesomeness).

In my collage, photos are numbered from left to right, up to down.

  1. Autumn leaf on the hedge outside my apartment. I love the pattern of colours. Did you know leaves change colours because the chlorophyll (green colour) is pulled backed into the tree because it contains the vital nutrients nitrogen and magnesium? Carotene (yellow colour) is just carbon and hydrogen so the tree doesn’t bother reclaiming it.
  2. A Chinese fortune cookie which says “passionate new romance appears in your life when you least expect it”. It was a dinner with relatives and even my nephew’s first visit in a restaurant.
  3. Blossoming flowers despite the late season! Seen in a flower bed on one of my many walks around the water tower.
  4. Apple slices and the knife I used. Nom.
  5. Two squirrels on each side of an evergreen tree. Photo taken in Vrinnevi-forest on one of my walks.
  6. Fallen autumn leaves. There were so many of them I wanted to throw myself into the heap and roll around, but that would have ruined the nice display.
  7. Reflections and shadows. A candle holder with mirror pieces on the outside threw reflections on the shelf.
  8. Horse’s feet. The front legs of Steffie, one of my favourite horses at the riding school.
  9. Aunt and nephew playing in grandma’s kitchen. He’s almost 14 months old and is already running around.
  10. Warning sign at the dams telling people to watch out because the dam can open suddenly. No idea why anyone would decide to climb two fences and slip down the hatch to walk about beneath the dam.
  11. Tea and biscotti, the cup was made by my ceramic skilled friend.
  12. A walkway under a road which I pass through to go to the grocery store. I often go buy food on evenings, alright?
  13. A busy road late at night, taken with long exposure from a bridge.
  14. Fil with raspberries and bananas.
  15. Nephew playing “where is auntie?” with me at a playground.
  16. Studying hard with a cup of tea at the only early-bird coffee house in town. Had been to Core-training right before (at 7am).
  17. An apartment complex being torn down to make room for parking lots or something. Sad to see it go because it lay in a very interesting angle. But the deconstruction bit was fantastic to view.
  18. A close up of the same apartment complex being torn down as in the photo before. Yes, I know I cheated from my rule of “motif only once” but it was so fantastic to look at!
  19. Sea gull in one of the central parks, right by the stream.
  20. Nuthatch walking down a tree trunk (head first).
  21. Mist among trees. There are four “promenades” where I live, one each in north, south, west and east. This is one of them early in the morning.
  22. Jumbled mess of spare parts and stuff in a mechanic shop where my dad works.
  23. Words. Cut out pieces of a book from me making a bookshelf (from real books).
  24. Three generations of love. My dad and my nephew. Nephew with his mother’s hat on for cute-overload. Yes. He’s in my photos often, but they are all different!
  25. My stats after a jogging spree. Tempo is 1 km per 6:22 min, I was out for 33 minutes and ran 5,2 km.
  26. Bookshelf, made from actual books (see 23) with my DVDs in it.
  27. An eggtimer in my favourite style and colour. It matches everything in my kitchen perfectly.
  28. Tea pot! Höganäs 1,5 litre with a metal strainer inside. Love the colour and the shape.
  29. Keys in our new mail slots (outside! Where it’s COLD!). I won the red phone booth at a book launch for my incredible art skillz. (stop laughing)
  30. Tofflor – or slippers in English. I would never be able to survive without a pair.
  31. Oak against sky at one dreary morning walk. Naked boughs against pale skies are very dramatic.
  32. Graffiti, which I really like watching when it’s well made like this one. It’s from one of my longer walks, right before a railway bridge.
  33. School books (biology this time). I had three final exams to do in November and felt quite disgusted with it all.
  34. Bunny! His name is Snakebite because he was supposed to be eaten, but the snake didn’t want him. He doesn’t like me petting him but he’s very curious.
  35. In a horse’s eye, you can see a lot of truths. Filur right after my class on him and he was quite spent the poor thing.
  36. Moon on the morning sky, going from full to new.
  37. Soccer game in the early morning with a loud coach and frozen looking parents.
  38. Lussekatter (saffron buns) – newly baked by me and mom. A few out of a hundred.
  39. No plants are safe in my house. This one has lost most of its leaves and I threw it away a few days later when it kept suffering.
  40. Blister. This is what happens when reins meet skin for an hour of dressage. It dried up and turned all brown after a few days.
  41. Nose. My cat Selma having hoarded the string of the camera.
  42. Paw. My cat Selma’s hind leg.
  43. Candlelight. The background lights come from a set of garages that are right outside my window (yay for view).
  44. Christmas decorations in town, view from escalators.
  45. Moccacino. Which is very much like a café latte with pieces of chocolate melting in the bottom. And they made a leaf in the foam!
  46. Eye. My cat Selma (hey, the motif is different, just happen to come from the same cat).
  47. Basketsball court. Never seen anyone play here and the fence is always a little open. Feels very abandoned.
  48. Decorative flowers outside an apartment complex with droplets from the morning mist hidden among the petals.
  49. Torn out warning text from a pack of cigarettes lying among the dying leaves.
  50. Seasonal rings telling the life of this tree in small sections, just like this collage showing my life throughout November.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNo - what?

In Swedish we say "a beloved child has many names" and that's definitely true about NaNo - also called NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. It's a writing challenge for everyone and anyone with one simple rule - write 50 000 words in one month. That month is November so if people are dropping off the grid all around you, NaNo might be the cause.

I've "won" twice (aka I did write 50k) but this year a lot of things are conspiring against me managing to write in that speed. I'm still attempting, but I will not put my physical health on the line. If my body says stop, I'll stop.

So, I've "come up with" (I wouldn't be surprised if other people have already arranged something similar) NaNoPhoMo: National November Photographing Month. As a picture says more than thousand words (my nickname is "thousand words" in Swedish after all), 50 photos in one month sounds like a reasonable alternative.

My pledge for November is to take 50 photographs of different motives (1-2 per day) and make a huge, insane collage of all of them. I'll post it here the 26th of November (because I'll be halfway around the world that last weekend).

Please let me know if you attempt something similar and I'll make sure to put up a post with links to everyone's collages.

To everyone already waist deep in plot holes and bunnies - good luck and don't panic.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Expectation vs outcome - the short version

One of the many problems with writing is that you have this fantastic idea of how the story will turn out and how your characters will be. You can't wait to pull the images from your head onto the pages of your manuscript.

A lot of the time, this is how it all works out:

At least they tasted delicious.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

IRL / rant

I vouced to myself to become more regular on this blog, to post something every Thursday. I had also vouched to never let this blog be a place where I complained or ranted about my personal problems.

I'm going to break both those promises to myself.

I've lived in pain for four years. It's not an excruciating kind of pain - maybe 1-5 on a scale of 10 - and it's not close to the very tangible problems of living with say lupus, migraines or fibromyalgi. It started as a headache and for the last years it's spread to my shoulders, back, and now recently my lower back. Doctors say it's psychosomatic, i.e. all in my head. They could be right because no one has found any fault with me, not that they've made much of an effort.

The pain is there nevertheless.

I found ways to deal. I can't take painkillers because 1) they make me addicted and 2) because they only help at the 'topmost' pain - it takes a 5 to a 2. I tried keeping super busy so I wouldn't have time to think about feeling crappy. That didn't work out very well. Now I try to afford a massage session once a week, I exercise a lot to improve my strength, I avoid heat (even sometimes tea) as it makes me collapse (literary), I take extra iron because it helps against the nausea and the dizziness.

I've never had a fabulous self-confidence but I've effectively kept that voice down in the past. Unfortunately, when you spend all your energy on battling pain, there's not much left to lift yourself up.

And people don't understand. When my sister spent her whole pregnancy feeling nauseous, family and friends asked her if she needed to lay down, if she thought she felt good enough to come along to family dinners etc. That's something people can relate to. They can't relate to being unable to actually focus your eyes on a face. They can't relate to how unbearable a small pressure in your head can become. How noise and talk sometimes help me, how other times it cuts hard. They can't relate to having a half cup of energy left, or how I can run 10km but only visit them for two hours. How horrid it is to stand in the warm drying room, reaching my arms over my head to hang laundry.

I'm not saying this for pity. I'm not saying this because I want help. I'm saying it so you'll understand that if I suddenly go quiet, or don't write a blog post, or snap at you, then it's not your fault.

And I'm hoping that you won't judge me too harshly. I'm not at my best at that moment. I know it's a poor excuse for being rude. I try to be better. I hope one day I will be better.

Until then, I will take each hour as it comes. Step after step. And I hope I won't stand on too many toes.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What? It's not obvious?

An often repeated mistake writers do (even published ones) is info-dumping. You’ve heard all about that, I’m sure, so I’ll give some attention to the opposite problem. Fellow writer, reader and horse-rider MuseInks (check out her blog) did me a favour and beta read one of my manuscripts.

Halfway through she asked me why my main character refused to turn to his family for help. I was taken aback; I thought it was obvious. I took a good look at my manuscript and realised that no, I had never truly explained it. I discussed the issue with another friend and come to an interesting understanding.

The reason I hadn’t felt like I needed to go into depth about his reluctance was that he acted like I would have. My friend on the other hand would have immediately turned to her family in the same situation. I had been defeated by my own idea of substated facts!

Our experiences change the way we view things. As writers we can’t know how the reader will interpret our characters and their actions. A reader who has had a family member suffering from cancer will be able to relate to My Sister’s Keeper on a different level than most.

As writers we will need to compensate our readers’ “inexperience”. A word here, a memory there.

It’s not easy to see through our own “blind spots”, the things that are so ingrained that we take them for granted. This is when a writer is blessed to have a beta reader or critter to point it out for them.

For the times when you don’t have that handy beta reader around, make sure you have some kind of answer for every “why does she do that?” you can find in your story.

What kind of blind spots have you experienced? Have you read a novel where you just couldn’t understand why the characters acted the way they did? Feel free to share your examples.

Friday, September 23, 2011

That's it, I'm over you!

I love writing - right now I just don't happen to like it very much.

If you haven't had that feeling about writing yet, you haven't been writing for very long. But as a very wise person once said: "Don't Panic!" Even though a towel might be needed in these moments, the most important thing is a quote:

Doubts are okay.

We all have them, in everything from how to spell "mischievious" (did I spell that right?) to how the cute barista in the local coffee shop might react when being asked out - by another woman.

Writing is by essence something that doesn't easily relent to logic and reason: there are no ultimate right or wrong. We don't have a teacher that will stamp our manuscripts with APPROVED if we have managed to reach 50% correct answers. For me, this have a huge impact. I can't step back and think "but according to these standard, I'm good enough" which I can when it comes to schoolwork. I can't think "but they haven't fired me yet, so it must be fine" which I can at work. When it comes to writing, there is no APPROVED level. You are good and bad all at the same time, depending on who you compare yourself with and who is looking and how you interpret someone else's crit. This makes writers second-guess themselves a lot.

To keep writing, we need our coping mechanisms. Mine might be a little louder than most people like. I whinge and act out, scribbling ferociously on Twitter or Facebook and let the world hear my pain. And I swear that this time it's over. That I'm not cut out for writing, that I will stop. Now. Forever. I will NEVER EVER write again. (I blame my father for my tendencies to act the martyr) And everytime I feel like this, I AM convinced I won't write again. Considering how often doubts overcome me, I should have learned that I won't quit. That there is never a last time. But in those hours, or days, I'm convinced it's the end. And you know what? That's okay.

Feeling doubts don't make you less of a writer.

If you need to take a break, binge on pickles, kiss a random stranger, or tell yourself (and everyone else) that you will never EVER write again, then do that. I give you all permission to cope in whichever way that suits you. Because feeling bad for coping in the "wrong" way is not helping. Most helpful friends and strangers don't realise this. They try to convince you of better ways to feel and act. I understand their view, but more often than not, my doubts get worse. Which is why I write this:

Someone's way of coping with doubts doesn't separate a writer from a non-writer.

In fact, the only thing that could stop you from being a writer is to no longer write.

So how do you cope with your doubts? And should I ask that barista out?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A runner’s view - how do YOU write a novel?

I’m a runner – technically, I’m a jogger but running sounds more vigorous – and somehow my body and I always have the same conversation, no matter the distance I run or the speed. It goes like this:

I walk the first five minutes, to get the blood flowing.
My body: “It’s a bit chilly. We could pick up the pace.”
I say: “Wait a bit, it’s not long.”

We start jogging, my body is all happy and easy and it goes fine. Until we hit the first uphill.
Body: “This is harsh, man! You know how far it is? You really think we can do this?”
I say: “Yeah, it’s tough, but if it gets worse, we’ll just give up and go home. No harm done.” “Alright,” my body says, “let’s give it a try.”

We plough on, and it’s alright. We have reached about a third of the way and my body gives up a great sigh. “We’ve got nowhere! I’m exhausted! It can’t have reached only this short. We’re screwed. We can’t do it.” I give it a stern glare and say nothing. We continue.

Somehow it eases up, probably because we’ve gone downhill and the music was great. Then we hit two thirds of the way. My body gets real upset. “My tummy hurts! I’m nauseous. It’s frigging hot!” I grit my teeth: “It’s not going to get better if we stop. The faster we get home, the faster we can feel better.” My body grumbles.

And then - there it is! - an opening among the trees, the end of the track! My body has a bounce in its step, a longer stride. It feels great! Why don’t we do this more often? We are almost at the end, and I clear my throat. “You know we’re going to jog home as well? It’s still some way to go.” My body takes the reminder in a stride. “Oh darn. It can’t be that bad though, we’ve gone so far already.” We can do it.

“My knee hurts!” it says suddenly. “And my ankle. This isn’t working. If we keep going, we’ll be MAIMED FOR LIFE.” I waver – it might be right. “It’s only happened like once,” I argue. “And usually it’s nothing – the odds are on our side. Besides, it’s hurt much worse before.” It’s true – it has. So we keep at it.

Then there it is. Home – in all its brick-clad wonderfulness. We run, faster, stronger, like we were real runners and could go for miles. We round corners like motorcycle riders. Then, the last stretch, 50 yards. We run, rush, dash. Release all that we had, which we never thought we would muster (even though we know we have before).

And it’s over. We’re home, we’re through, we’ve made it.

I might have ended up with a dead bug in my bra, but it feels good. My body is excited, exhausted, exorcised (exercised with a vengeance!). I smile. “You did good,” I tell it. “You did fantastic. You’re the best.”

When it comes down to it, writing a novel is very similar. Don’t you think?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why I write

Because I've never been able to say it this clearly, and though it might not be true for everyone, it's definitely true for me:

"A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. The writer wants to be understood much more than he wants to be respected or praised or even loved."
— Leo Rosten - American Novelist

Monday, April 25, 2011

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

One of the major obstacles for a writer is to write characters - in plural. Many writers and authors write one character, over and over. S/he's always witty, and handsome, and sharp-minded and willing to meet conflict. Recognise the description?

One way to remember that all characters are characters is to imagine them in different "compartments". These will differ depending on which traits you are looking to give them. For conflict, I have three compartments: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

See no evil:
Your character might know something is wrong but s/he rather looks the other way and pretends the problem doesn't exist. This usually goes on until something dire happens. This type of character needs support to drive the plot forwards, for example a side-kick desperate to open his/her eyes. They can usually provide very humourous situations, and walk right into scenes most characters would avoid - a cheating partner, face a murderer without back-up, trusting someone they shouldn't, etc.

Hear no evil:
Your character refuses to believe anyone's word that something is amiss but insist on innocent until proven guilty. S/he also can't help but go investigate to find out the real truth. This will get them into problems when they meddle in things they shouldn't - like spying on smugglers, stalking partners, and go visit that growling volcanoe where an angry God is residing set on destroying the world. This type of characters provides very frustrating conversations for side-kicks who can never get them to trust their word. It sets up for double work, and your character will in person go look at everything interesting for plot, which makes it a good main character for a single-POV story.

Speak no evil:
These ones are tricky, because they simply will not say what's bothering them, or what they've seen, to anyone. This demands a lot from the writer to reveal things in body language and how the characters say the most innocent comments. If this isn't the active POV or not an internal narration it proves even more of a challenge. Which is, of course, why I love them. These kind of characters might give hints, and often dodge out of arguments. They will prefer to deal with the business themselves, so they don't need to talk about it with someone else, and probably goes off on their own investigation instead of turning to the police. In a romance story, their unwillingness to say what's wrong will push a relationship to the limit.

These "compartments" can all be mixed up, although I'm not sure I'd like to attempt a character having several of these personality traits! As always with examples, these are extreme generalizations. A character might just as well have one of these traits but consciously try to overcome it. Or just have hints of it in some situations. Either way, I hope this way of thinking will help you to stay on track while writing.

Do you have any 'mind-games' to stay in tune with your characters' personality? What kind of compartments do you put yours in?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A sex simile

Middle of november, 2009. NaNoWriMo was in full speed. I'd had the worst life of my year, emotionally, and it wasn't going to get better - I know that in hindsight. Writing wasn't easy. Easier than it is now, but it was difficult.

One day I ended up in a coffee house, waiting for a friend to arrive. I found myself without paper and pen, maybe I had left it at home on a conscious or unconscious whim. But now, here, I wanted to write. I went to the coffeeshop girl, asking her if she had a paper and could lend me a pen for a while. She had a pen, but the only paper was an envelope.

I took the envelope and carefully ripped it open. Then I proceeded, with miniscule hand writing, and wrote more than a thousand words before my friend arrived.

School morning, in my early teens. I hurry through my morning chores, stand stomping at the computer so it can open up and allow me to type out some three, or maybe five, minutes of writing before school. Add another snarled curse, another tear hidden from a betrayer's view to the scene that I can't get out of my head.

Some moments define us. I have struggled so many times to get a few words typed out, yet these memories are what stands out.

Writing isn't a chore that must be done. It's a need, just like sex. We can plan for it, take the time to get the moment right. Yet, the stolen kisses in the morning keep us on edge. The impulsive touches in a coffeeshop can be more satisfying.

Don't tie yourself to a certain routine. Flexibility always makes things more interesting. Literary.