Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Visiting Old Friends, aka Characters

The Read ...
Characterization is a key to good writing.  Have you ever heard that before?  Well, today I offer two great examples of drawing in-depth characters.  James D. Doss and Karen Marie Moning.

Okay, the disclaimer.  I admit Daisy Perika, the nemesis and aunt of  James D. Doss' sleuth Charlie Moon, is one of my main ladies.  She's like the cantankerous part of myself that I've learned to rein in.  So, when I discovered an unread Doss novel in my to-read pile -- Shadow Man -- I felt like I won the lottery.

James D. Doss has mastered characterization.  More important, he does humorous characterization.  Both heroes, villains, and secondary characters all have a couple of major traits ... and then, Doss tosses in a couple of minor ones.  These are often snuck in as he makes a humorous or snide comments.  

For my writing, Doss gives me one of the best reasons I should be doing outlines of who my characters are, what they want, what's stopping them from accomplishing their goals ... and most important, how do they personally shoot their efforts in the foot, aka their faults.  The last two aren't necessarily the same.

So, the decision.  Do I outline ... or write by the seat of my pants? ...  I keep telling myself I should outline, but the results are skimpy at best when I try.

Web and Other Stuff ...
The season's over for jumping into ice covered water [since our natural ice skating rink melted.  But, if you care for a plunge into some cold water, take a peek at Brenda Hiatt's blog:  "Show Me the Money."  I dare you to dream about buying a mansion by the shore ... or in the mountains ... after you read it.

Last weekend, Karen Marie Moning blew my mind.  I've been lecturing myself that I need to have a more sharply delineate my characters so I don't do a bunch of backtracking when I get an new idea.  Moning's blog, "Notes on the Fever Series" gives a great outline about what went into creating the three main characters of her Fever series.  I hate it when people show me how/what I should be doing.  It's so much easier to glide through the process.

Then, Writer Beware had a link to The Literary Lab's [Michelle Davidson Argle] blog on lies experts tell wanna-be writers.  I really latched onto the theme bit since I can never figure out what a theme is.

Progress ...
Not much.  Things keep happening that I don't expect.  Like today, I had planned to attend the organizing meeting for a local critique group.  Planned to extend my writing time before I ate a quick lunch and went.  Problem.  My dumb printer wouldn't print.  So I wasted my extra writing time trying to figure out what's going on when the diagnostics couldn't tell me why it didn't print with the green light on.  --  The oracle thinks a new printer is in my future.

Am in the middle of the second chapter of Maren ...  One crisis will fill that chapter ... which means the former second chapter becomes chapter three which means the current chapter three which contains the major life changing point happens in chapters four/five.  At least I have that much outlined ... along with the characters who push the action along .  Yeah.  I have the rest of the book sort of outlined by thirds ... but it doesn't tell me much.

Then, last night I chopped my first chapter in two.  Now I'm aiming for 1500-2000 word chapters which is probably better for tween middle-grade anyway. In spite of all the worm-squirming, I feel like I'm making progress.

One nice thing that warmed the greedy cockles of my heart -- Spectra Magazine sent me money.  Maybe Night for the Gargoyles will be in the next issue?  ---  Now.  I have to apply myself and submit the book that developed from the short story.  [There Be Demons]

Trivia ...
I'm glad our front range winters are rather mild.  I can stand 20 below days ... if I can stay in and putter.  I even dredge up a little sympathy for those who get stuck outside and live further east.  
 
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