I’m off to New Hampshire to be a guest lecturer at the Odyssey Writing Workshop to give a class on building characters.
I’d like to bring along some of my own characters, but no matter how real they are to me, they don’t appear at my command — only when they I tick them off.
Like the night Chalky turned up in my dream.
Chalky is the protagonist of Shifter, the third book in The Were Chronicles. He’s nineteen years old, pushing twenty, just a kid. He’s had a helluva twisted childjust hood (of course he did, he’s one of my characters) and he’s never been a ‘kid’, not really. He’s cocky, and he’s vulnerable, and he’s a wretched little know-it-all, and there he was, sitting on the side of my bed, kicking his heels on the bed frame. *Lounging*. Smirking.
“You’re doing it wrong,” he said.
“Oh, what now?”
“That scene, The new material. You’re *rushing* it.”
“Am not rushing it. I need to…”
But dammit, he’s right.
“I have to know certain things,” he points out. “You haven’t given me time to learn them.”
I’m areadly unpacking the scene in my head. It’s a frigging SYNOPSIS. there’s four pages’ worth of material behind each paragraph.
“What if you…”
“Shut UP,” I snap. “Did I ask you for advice?”
He shrugs, “Just thought I’d point it out. And another thing.”
“You need to figure it out.”
“Figure WHAT out?”
“What I want. What my motivation is.”
“Now you go all Galaxy Quest on me?”
“But I”m not a rock,” he points out. Helpfully.
I seem to be doing a lot of growling. But I”m still kind of asleep. At this point stuff happens (cat sticks nose in my ear) and I come awake, and he’s gone, of course, with just that smarmy voice left in my head. You’re doing it wrong…
That voice stays in my head like a gnat. I barely choke down breakfast. Then I take a cup of coffee down to the computer thinking that maybe it might help me clarify things.
He’s RIGHT the little sod. The scene IS rushed. I had to have him visit me in my dream to tell me I’m screwing up the book??? That’s just *rude*.
Whatever. I go back to the beginning of the problem. Then I discover that isn’t the beginning of the problem, and go furher back. Then something else falls down in a heap and mocks me. I take a large swallow of coffee, crack my knuckles over the keyboard, and hit “delete”. This scene needs to die.
I start again from the beginning. A different beginning.
This time there’s… something. There’s a note of truth in it (yes this is a story about Were-creatures. Yes, every word of it is ‘true’. Why do you ask?)
I keep typing, scowling at the scene. The dialogue comes down the riverbed of story like somebody just blew up a dam upstream. Yeah, Chalky, I saw the fuse string dangling from your pocket.
But this water is clean. it is clear. it is deep.
I keep scowling. If there’s something I always resent it’s when my characters refuse to cooperate with me until I finally agree to cooperating with them, and withhold their participation in my story until this is accomplished.
I mean, I can write scenes for them. I can write dialogue for them. They’ll say it because I said they must say it. But they will say it without inflexion, without passion, without any kind of feeling, and they’ll sound like robots until such time as I grit my teeth and let them say what they want how they want. And then all of a sudden they’re frigging Shakespeare and everything they say sings. I hate it when my characters are better writers than I am.
I really hate it.
Particularly when they haunt my sleep to tell me so.
I lift my hands from the keyboard. The coffee’s long gone and the light is different outside. And he’s sitting there on the edge of my desk, kicking his heels against the side, smirking for all he is worth.
It’s a beautiful scene.
“Didn’t I tell you so?” he says.
“I want to SLEEP tonight,” I snarl.
He grins. “You did well. I might let you.”
See my Odyssey interview HERE
At EpicStream, Jake Vyper shows us
17 Things You Learn From Growing Up on Books
“It is an addiction that comes to children at an early age. And it creates an insatiable craving for more… These are some of the things you learn to cope with when you are a book-addict. (It’s better than crack!)”“I fantasize about this scene. I will know that I have made it in this world – made it to the pinnacle of existence – when I have a very nice glass of Riesling in one hand and a favorite epic fantasy novel in the other (selected from a vast personal library) while the snow falls down outside and I am next to the fireplace curled up in a very comfy, very expensive armchair. That is my goal in life.”
Read the whole story HERE
The moral, so to speak, of this story by Elizabeth A. De Wolfe in Downeast is that if you leave home unmarried, you end up a streetwalker in New York City without friend or succour. Young women, sit down, shut up, and remain nicely invisible – or else LOOK, just LOOK, what fates await you…
50 Shades of Chambray
Being a thrilling account of how the Saco-Biddeford cotton empire gave rise to a trashy 19th-century literary craze full of torrid affairs, horrendous murders, and ruined females.Another “ruined female” ends up in a watery grave in an illustration from The Life of George Hamilton. Image courtesy of the author.
Read the whole story HERE
Flying used to be an adventure as and of itself – but in today’s climate of fear and loathing, where everyone is a suspect before they are a potential friend, the art of travel has been reduced to having to endure the journey so that you can get to the place where you are going. But it used to be that the journey was part of the voyage, not just the destination. So many things get LOST along the way as the world grows cynical and old.
Still. There is always the option of sitting back in a comfortable armchair with a cup of coffee at your side and your own sweet purring cat on your lap… and a book about faraway places in your hand. Traveling in the mind has the advantages of being cheap (no fares, no tchotchke souvenirs which weigh down your luggage and which you really can’t understand the reason for wanting by the time you get them home – you just had to BE there to get it…) and positively sybaritic compared to the travel hell of today. Just sit back, relax, let your mind off the leash… and journey into the world of a good book…(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Wanderlust is notoriously difficult to manage, Suzy Strutner writes in The Huffington Post. Once you’ve tasted the adrenaline rush of travel, it can feel unbearable to sit at home, knowing that adventure is out there waiting to be had.
But if you can’t always get out and explore, then it’s best to let a book do it for you. The wanderlust-quenching adventures below aren’t the same titles you’ll find on run-of-the-mill lists of “beach reads.” Instead, they’re a collection of tales — both quippy and dense — that’ll take you from the beach to a mountaintop to the outback to Paris, all in a matter of pages. Read up!
Read the whole story HERE
Speaking of travel… How this place holds my imagination. At Masable, Tim Chester offers us
34 photos that will make you want to grab a map and travel Britain
Image: Russell Dawson
See all the photos HERE
THIS ‘n THAT
Mysterious tiny doors open Zephyrhills eyesMia Wead, 18, discovered this tiny door on Main Street Zephyrhills. (gary s. hatrick)
What does it mean?
Spain formally buries Cervantes, 400 years later
Quote of the day
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