Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Character Name Generator-Give it a try.

Found this while adding new writing widgets to blogsite.  Sometimes the hardest part is coming up with a new name. Even if you don't like what the name generator creates for you, I find it can inspire a name I do like. Click the link below and give it a try.

        Character Name Generator

Don't forget, if you're local (Orlando area), Friday night at 7pm is the Orlando Literati at Urban ReThink. See link below.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What's your advice?

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to meet award winning YA author Sherri L Smith. My sons seventh grade class had just finished reading Flygirl and were privileged enough to hear her speak about the book and her writing journey.

I found Sherri to be relaxed and someone you could easily grab a cup of coffee with and talk writing as if you were old friends. Her career started very differently than most authors experience. She was lucky enough to work Tim Burton and a handful of other talented artists in California before choosing to write YA novels. 

I loved her ease around the students and the way she engaged them with questions. Even when they asked her to explain certain parts of the book she'd left for the reader to determine, she graciously spun the question back to them and asked, "What do you think happened?"

I love that, and I write with the idea that not all things need explained by the author, some are better left for the reader to conclude on their own, whatever that conclusion might be.  Which brings me to today's question—When writing a novel how do you decide what is okay to leave for the readers assumption and what needs to be spelled out?

As a writer we all have critique partners, and in my experience, they all pull different things from my work. Some love a piece, while others question it. Some understand a paragraph or chapter while others are left wanting an explanation. So when you get a piece back that has contradicting reviews from your CPs, how do you decide whose advice to take? Do you go with your gut and leave it at that, or should you seek more opinions? In my experience, too many people in my head causes that much more trouble, questions, problems. What's your advice?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Character-Building Exercise

Last year I attended the SCWBI conference in Orlando. One of the speakers was K-YA author Kathleen Duey. She talked about meditating on your character and then interviewing him or her. At first I thought it sounded funny, but the more I pondered over it, the more sense it made. It’s not that different from what actors do to connect with their characters on a deeper level.  

So, I tried it. To my surprise, the experience led me to responses and revelations about my characters I wouldn't have come up with had I not tried. Then recently, I read an article with exercises on Character Building and thought I'd share it with you. Even if you feel awkward asking a fictional character questions or imagining a scene where your characters run wild in your mind, like me, you might be pleasantly surprised with the results.  
Basically, the article talked about using your imagination to create a movie in your mind. Here is the four-part exercise:

·         Close your eyes and “watch” your character. See the character in rich detail and describe what you see. Be a journalist—record information as it if for a distant reading audience.

·         Place your character in a scene, any scene, and watch. Let the action happen. Watch other characters and events pop up on your inner movie screen. Let all manner of conflict take place and see what your character does.

·         Create another character to describe the first character. We get to know people by listening to what others say about them.

·         Conceive of your characters as extremes first, and only later “pull back” to the point where they fit their role. This will keep your characters from being “drab.” Let them have their passions and obsessions. What do they reveal to you?

Note that none of this has to have anything to do with the story you want to write or are writing. In fact, it’s better if it doesn't.  The only point of the exercise is to get to know your character so when you place him or her in your story you’ll know who you’re writing about.

A final key to the exercises is this: Let as much of the story happen without judgment or criticism from you. Only later, with lots of rich material, will you make editorial decisions.

                                                    --James Scott Bell, Writers Digest magazine

So if you're stuck with how your character should react in a scene, or frustrated with what you've written about him or her, try the above exercise. What could it hurt?

If you have any character-building exercises, do share. I'd love the hear them!