2017 Something New: Characters You Can’t Kill

    I saw the newest Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Men Tell No Tales yesterday.  I’ve always loved these movies brought to life from a ride at Disney Land.  The writers knew they had a goldmine before they even started.  And they took the idea and made it better.  They created unforgettable characters. 

Capt. Jack Sparrow is a loveable, disgusting, drunk who never runs out of luck.  He makes the stories – and Johnny Depp takes the character and makes it huge.  But before Johnny Depp, there was the writer who created this creature. 

I marveled at the creativity behind this character.  What made him so adorable and enduring? Why do we root for the underdog, the womanizer, pirate, and man-without-a-bath?  Could it be that we identify with him?  Or could it be that we tend to believe that underdogs put forth more effort than top-dogs, or use all available resources to their advantage? Underdogs are not expected to win and that is what makes them extraordinary.

Jack Sparrow certainly uses all available resources to his advantage.  Remember the chase round and round the water wheel, his meeting with the Kraken face to face, or the guillotine in the latest movie?

Creating a memorable character takes exaggeration.  Of all the things you know about the character you’ve created, what one or two things can you exaggerate to make it larger than life?  Because that is your goal. Jack Sparrow drinks more than most people’s liver could accommodate and still he can run from the bad guys when most of us would be sleeping it off.

What are your character’s goals in life?  Jack Sparrow had only one goal in life – to captain the Black Pearl – alive or dead.  He had no connections to anyone, no family, no responsibilities to anyone but himself.  He was free to do whatever he pleased and he pleased to be drunk and a pirate.

Creating an underdog is more fun than a hero – unless your underdog is the hero.  As an underdog, he can bumble his way through life making mistakes that would stop most mortal men.  Maybe you could make your hero clumsy, ugly, or wretched in some way  so that other characters don’t expect much from him.  But they will be surprised.

I’m on a quest to create a marvelous unforgettable character in my current WIP.  I still have not achieved that goal.  But much like an underdog, I will eventually get the job done, because I have resources. 

What’s your latest WIP?

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2017 Something New: Working Through the Writing Process

    #amwriting and with that, #amconfused.

I began a new novel lately that I based on three short stories I’d written earlier.  So cool, I thought!  Half of it is already done for me. This will be great. Hah! As all writers know, writing comes from the heart and is an expression of your artistic view of the world.  You can’t rush art.

And I had to start all over again on the fabulous idea I had.

First of all, it didn’t follow the rules of story structure with all the abstract characters.  The short stories were good but they didn’t meld into one big novel.  How could I get these characters to all go after one common goal – and then there was the new protagonist.

My story was all over the place.  I had to write and rewrite making sure my main character was in charge.  What if . . ., no that won’t work.  Okay, then if . . . I outlined.  I broke my story into three acts.  I wrote out the internal and external conflict of my protagonist and made sure I had one antagonist – not a whole platoon of them. She couldn’t fight the world and win.

Finally, I had to admit that the three short stories had to just be characterizations and back story.  I couldn’t use the short stories as the basis of this novel.  The basis was the new main character and her blending with the others.    

So, I took out the short stories – keeping them handy just in case – and began again.  This time I concentrated on the main character’s struggles and making sure her stakes were high enough to keep her going toward a main goal.  Then the short story characters could come in to help now and then. 

The answer to my problem was – you can’t take shortcuts.  You must begin at the beginning and, like eating an elephant, you do it one bite at a time.

I’m back on track now and beginning some work with my critique group.  They are the backbone of all my writing and if they had seen the mess I made in the beginning, they’d still be laughing. 

#amwriting and no longer confused.

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The Importance of June 1st!

This is great, Shannon! I need to get busy!

lifeongreenheronpond

I have debated as to whether share this post today or on some later June date so as to not make anyone feel the least bit guilty about June 1st, as I am inclined to.  It merely has to do with my mom (this is not a diatribe) and is only an observation of a day and a saying.

calendar June 2 This 1995 Calendar works great this year…

My mother died during my son’s infancy and I remember how much I longed to chat with her through the various stages of that early “momhood”.  It was not to be, so I began to think about how I could “hear” her voice through the memories of her laughter, her wisdom, wit and her sayings.  There are many but today I will focus on her saying about June 1st.  “If you don’t get things done on June 1st, they will not get done!”

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2017 Something New: The Road Most Traveled

    I’ve been off the grid lately and running up and down the roads from northern Oklahoma to southern Texas and back again more than a few times.

I traveled to OWFI in Oklahoma City earlier this month and barely returned home in time to start again heading south down the road to Texas. 

We met some cousins in Fredericksburg, TX, enjoyed a wonderful WWII museum, shopped, drank too much wine, and ate too much food.  It was a great week.

Last weekend it was Gainesville, TX.  It is becoming a ghost town.  The huge outlet mall off I-35 is empty.  (I had thoughts of a dystopian story winding around in my brain when I looked at it.) We attempted to visit a lavender fest that was full up and sold out.  We failed.  It hailed on my car in the parking lot during the night and I won $15 in a casino. We had a good time. 

I think I’m home for the summer now.  Lots of editing awaiting my return and some friends that need my help on a few things. The weeds in the flower bed are very healthy. I have lots to do. 

I love traveling, but I think I need to space it out a little better.  My suitcase has been in the bedroom for a month in various stages of packing.  Time to put it up for a while.

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2017 Something New: OWFI Conference!

    Worn out from last weekend’s OWFI conference, I spent the week recovering.  I’ve made so many friends over the last few years as a member of OWFI and rubbed up against so much talent, I am often in awe. 

The Enid Writers Club is the oldest writing club in Oklahoma established in 1923.  We are a group of approximately twenty members and seven of them participated in the OWFI conference this year.  Two brought home awards for their writing. 

We volunteered for several jobs at the conference and perhaps drank a little wine. 

Some of us were Ghostbusters.    

We had books for sale in the bookstore and shepherded agents from New York.  We raffled off centerpieces!    

In other words, our club worked hard – as did all the others. We then came home to the EWC annual awards banquet and end of the year festivities.

Next year will be the 50th anniversary of OWFI.  I know it will be a gala event.  I look forward to the conference again.  Maybe I need a new dress for the Saturday evening festivities.  See you next year!

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2017 Something New: Pulp Fiction

    I’ve been in a pulp fiction kind of mood lately.  I’ve been re-reading Legends of New Pulp Fiction published by Airship 27 and looking at all the great writing styles.  I can’t wait to see the New King Kong movie, Kong: Skull Island.  I think I’ve seen all the Kong movies. And there are so many movies lately based on comic book characters leading the way in popularity.

If you’re not a fan of pulp fiction you are really missing out.  I love fantasy (it’s the opposite of reality and who doesn’t need that now and then?), and Hollywood has really been scooping up super heroes for movies lately.  King Kong is only a small example.  Not that there is anything small about the movie originally released in 1933.  My grandfather saw that movie during the depression and was in awe all his life.  Not a man who frequented movie houses, he could not imagine how that monster was filmed.

Since I’ve been in the mood, I’ve been working on a new pulp fiction novel I hope will be finished this summer I’m calling “Flatiron Death Grip.” Again, it’s snarky.  I just can’t seem to leave the genre alone.

In my book The Apocalypse Sucks, I make fun of end-of-the world situations while studying human behavior. I based it around two women who were co-workers when the virus hit and killed most everyone around them.  They were not friends, but became family because they depended upon each other.  But the one thing they were to the end was girls.  They behaved like girls – if they weren’t fighting for survival – and still liked the things girls liked; boys, bras and lip gloss.  They were fierce warriors but with a soft side.

The book hosts a cast of characters trying to get by now that they can’t run through the closest drive through for instant gratification.  They have a problem just finding enough to eat and then the bat creatures appeared.  Who were they and where did they come from? They soon find out that the virus did not kill all its victims.  Some mutated into something else – evolved human – and not very happy about it. For them, the Apocalypse did suck.

Pick up a copy of The Apocalypse Sucks and see if you agree. If you can’t make fun of the end of the world, what can you make fun of?

Let me know what you think.

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2017 Something New: A Day of Writing

    In an intimate setting on the second floor of the Enid Public Library the coffee brewed and snacks called our name – but we were writing. The Enid Writers Club, Enid Public Library, and Enid Arts Council made possible a small group’s assembly to learn about editing, marketing and the intricacies of good writing.

Shayla Eaton of Cursiouser Editing discussed publishing your work, while Dr. DeLisa Ging of NOC taught good writing skills prior to the publishing process.  We even solved a murder!

A small group of about twenty writers gathered to talk about the love of their life – writing.  The energy was contagious. Writers are an unusual group driven to put on paper things others don’t even talk about.  Feelings. And if they don’t have a feeling about the subject, they can make something up!

I learned about the importance of editing and how important the marketing phase is of publishing your book; whether you are self-published or with one of the few remaining large publishers.  Without marketing, your book is just a pile of paper.

I helped solve a murder mystery with a few clues and then wrote a quick news report about the crime – with descriptive verbs, unforgettable character names, and similes. A crime to remember.

I’d love to have both speakers back some time to talk about other aspects of writing because as a writer I am always learning.  So many books, so little time.

Thanks Shayla and DeLisa for your expertise and willingness to share.

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