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Six Sentence Sunday


So, I’m on Twitter this morning and I keep seeing all these #sixsunday and “six sentence Sunday” tweets popping up on the screen.

I’ll never be able to keep up with all the trends and what-not.

BUT, assuming I understand the concept, it sounds like an interesting little thing to participate in (if only for this one Sunday).  With that in mind, I’ve decided to post six sentences from the rough draft I am currently working on.

It’s unrevised, unedited, quite raw — who knows what this little passage will look like in the final draft.  Still, whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea, here it goes…

“Leave now or die horribly,” said one of the vampires.

“Are you always this dramatic?” I rolled my eyes. “Back off and I won’t have to kill you.”

I was downwind. Their echoing laughter served as evidence they couldn’t tell yet what I was.The man who had been pinning the frightened girl against the brick wall let her go.

So, if you DO know what “six sentence Sunday” is, and you DO participate (semi) regularly… did I even do this right?

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Posted by on December 11, 2011 in All, Writing, Writing Samples - free

 

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Pen Names… For? Against? Don’t Care?


Yesterday, I stumbled across an interesting blog post/article, written by a thriller author, who chose to go with a pen name, at the behest of her publisher.

I can’t say I agree with all of her/their reasons, but hey – it was ultimately her choice, and she picked a name she felt she could live with.

The article itself wasn’t what inspired me to make a blog post of my own though.  It was the comments that got me thinking.  Some of them were really harsh.  Some berated her for not sticking it to her publisher and refusing to change her name.  Some mocked her pen name choice, or her reason.  At least one even flat-out refused to read anything by her, because she had “sold out” by choosing a pen name.

I had no idea it was such a big deal to some people, or that one could be viewed as potentially weak for choosing to write under a name they weren’t actually born with.

Writers have all different reasons for choosing a pen name: so they won’t be confused with other writers or popular characters, so they can fit their name to their audience, book shelf placement, because their birth name is ridiculously hard to pronounce, because they’re writing both romance and horror but don’t want the audience to be confused or turned off, etc.

In the case of the author who wrote the article I’m referencing here, they felt her name wasn’t suitable to the genre she was writing in.  Basically, the main concern was that no one would want to read a thriller with “Alison Potter” on the book cover.

Personally, I don’t care what an author’s name is.  I’ll admit that I, like most, may make a purchasing decision based on the cover (though, the blurb on the back or online description is what does or does not sell it for me).  But, the author’s name has honestly never made a difference to me.  I’ve never said to myself, “Well, no one named Wendy Harper is capable of writing a good horror novel, so there’s just no way I’m going to pick that book up!”  And, I’ve never known anyone else who cared about that either.  I don’t even care if it’s chick-lit written by Frederick Humperdink.  What’s the blurb say?  What impression does the cover give me?

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, A. W. Omyn isn’t the name on my birth certificate.  So, why did I choose it?  Well, honestly, because I’m a bit of a smartass.  I’d love to say there’s some better, more serious, ethical, career-deciding, etc. reason for it.  But, in the end, it just boils down to my being a smartass.

I know that there are female authors who choose to go with initials, rather than their full name (whether of their own accord, or due to the advice of an agent/publisher/marketing consultant), in order to essentially hide their gender from the audience (at least until after the reader has read the book, or the author has gained a certain level of notoriety).

So, I thought it was funny to make a name with initials that not only does not hide my gender, but blatantly tells you exactly what it is.

Why did I choose to go with a ‘y’ instead of an ‘a’?  Is it some grand-standing political statement against the word “man” being within the title of my gender association?  Am I trying to push for the word “woman” to be changed to “womyn”?  Nope.  I just have a thing for ‘y’s in female names.  I think they make the name a bit more feminine and unique, generally speaking.

Thoughts on pen names?  Is there a bad reason to choose a pen name?  Is there a good reason to choose one?  Are you upset by authors who choose to go with a pen name?  Would the name on a book cover influence your decision to purchase, or read, a particular book?

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in All, Publishing, Writing

 

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From the Imagination to the Page: Character Creation


I recently read a blog post, on character lists, that got me thinking about how I (and other writers/aspiring writers) create and develop fictional characters.

If you’ve never seen a “character list”, it’s basically just a run-down of various traits, generally reserved for the main (and repeating secondary) characters in your story.  These sheets usually have everything from a particular character’s motivation, to the color of their underwear.

I’ve read the advice in favor of character lists.  So, I tried my hand at throwing a few together.  Epic failure on my part.  There was no way!  Maybe after I wrote the book and had a better understanding of the character, but no way before hand.

So, what happened?  I had the pleasure of feeling bad about my inability to determine what my protagonist most enjoys for breakfast, prior to beginning my rough draft.

But then I took a chill-pill (cotton candy flavored).  I reminded myself that no one method is the right method for every single writer on the planet.  And I realized that, for me personally, I don’t really know my characters until they pop out of my head and onto the page/screen.

Oh, I may think I know a particular character.  But, I’m usually wrong about that.  Everything I outline ahead of time, or am inspired to write about, or think about a particular character — all of it — is subject to change, as I pump out that first draft.

I suppose it’s a bit like being possessed or insane.  Yes, I hear voices (no, I don’t need medication thank you very much!).  The voices of my characters speak through me.  I actually hear them in my head as I tell a story from their perspective, or type out their dialogue.  I’ll get into a character, very much like an actor must have to, in order to play said character in a believable way.  Perhaps there is a certain level of insanity in any artist, of any medium.  But, it’s the kind of insanity that’s fun at parties, so I’m cool with it.

But, I can’t get into that character until I start writing him/her.  So, I never know, until after I’ve already started writing it all down (poorly or otherwise), exactly who a character is.  I need to hear them first, meet them, get to know them, be intimate with them (don’t make everything sound so dirty – that’s not what I meant)…. Until I start writing them, who knows if they even wear underwear, let alone what color it is!

Besides, people are complicated creatures.  There are so many different facets of our personalities, how do you summarize who someone is on a single sheet of paper?  Sure, I could tell you what my favorite color is… today. But, tomorrow, perhaps my mood will have shifted my favor in that department. My reactions, my motivation, my priorities could all change dramatically, based on my situation at the time.

If I want my characters to be believable, I have to assume they’re at least as complex as I am!  Maybe the antagonist starts with a particular motive in mind, and maybe that changes later on in the story.  What do you do with your character sheet now? Perhaps my protagonist will start off sunny, cheerful, and stuffed with grape-flavored bunny farts, then become pissed off enough to start cursing, hate everyone, and open a can of whoop-ass! What?  I’ve had those days.

So… character lists… are they worth the paper they’re printed on? Do they work for some writers?  I’m sure they do.  Like I said, no one method is the right method for every writer on the planet.

I can see the appeal of keeping an on-going, ever-changing sheet of character traits.  You know – something to keep track of what you’ve already written down about the character(s), just so you can remain consistent with certain things, for sequels and what-not.  Heck – I may even do that myself.  I haven’t yet, but I might.

But, do you really need to know every single detail about your character(s), before you’ve really met them?  I don’t know, to me that sounds a bit boring, honestly.  I don’t want to know everything about a person before I’ve met them.  And, I don’t want to know everything about a character before I start writing about them.  I rather enjoy the process of allowing them to speak through me.

What are your thoughts on the subject?  Have you tried character creation lists?  Did they work for you?  Did they maybe give you something to work with, even if everything on the list was subject to change as you wrote?  How do you handle creating your characters?

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 8, 2011 in All, Writing

 

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Social Networking as a Writer


I just read a blog post, and left a rather lengthy comment, that got me thinking about the way writers use social networking.  Also, about the differences between male and female writers, in a general sense (as this was the theme of the original blog post).  The original comment I left is below, in italics…

“I’m the girl who broke her ankle on the way to the homecoming dance, tripping down the stairs. I couldn’t even make it TO the dance floor first. I get along better with men than with women, most of the time. And, I’m not the best at what’s considered “normal” female conversation/support. I’m the kind who shows support by cracking a joke, or relying on sarcasm and funny stories to raise spirits. I’m also the kind who will tell a female friend to knock it off, if they’re obsessing over “it’s the WAY he said goodbye this morning.” Though, I will admit, I really cannot shut-up!

That said, I don’t find women writers annoying in writing circles or social media. At least, not any more than I find men annoying in the same circles. People are people and they’ll all be different. Actually, I find that kind of nice. If we were all the same? Not only would I be bored to tears, I don’t think the world can handle more than one of me. ;)

I’ll tweet/blog/etc. about writing, particularly on my professional accounts, most of the time. And, I will curb my tongue (in real life – truckers and sailors run screaming, covering their “virgin” ears) in order to keep it professional. But, I’ll also tweet about more personal matters – family, things I’ve read, what I watched last night, etc.on occasion. Why? Because all of that plays a part in my writing as well. The fact that I took anthropology as a college major, play video games like Left 4 Dead and Fallout (Oh my beloved Xbox, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…), love horror movies with a passion, am a homeschooling mother, etc. – all of that will inevitably spill over in how I write.

Besides, I know I don’t want to ONLY read advertisements. I don’t mind them now and then. I certainly want to hear about the books. But, I’d also like to be able to find something I can relate to in the writer – the person, authentic and genuine, behind the writer.”

So – female writers?  More annoying than male writers?  Less annoying?  Does it matter (i.e. is there really a gender-based difference)?

When you decide to follow, or not follow a writer on Twitter, or Like/not like a writer on facebook, or even just sit down with fellow writers at a writing group – do you want to know anything about them as people, or are you only interested in their writing?  Does knowing about them, who they are and what roles they play in real life, help you connect with their writing?

For me, obviously everything above applies, but much more as well (hence why I had to blog about it).

I’ve known much chattier men than women, at times.  But, I have noticed that most men, in a social networking setting, try to keep their personal lives personal.  Women, on the other hand, tend to be a bit more open with what’s going on in their lives.  This is all very general of course, there are highly private women, and men you’ll never be able to shut-up.  But, I have observed that this is usually the case.

Part of the draw in social networking, to my understanding, is that it gives your audience a chance to get to know you.  If all you’re giving them is book info. and nothing else – ever – to me, that seems to defeat the purpose.  How can they connect with you, in any minute fashion, if you never give them a taste of your personality.

Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that I think you should have all night “my husband is cheating on me, I know it!” ranting sessions with your followers, facebook “friends”/fans, blog readers, etc. (at least, not on a professional site/account).  But, do chat it up.  Do give me some small sense of who you are.

To me, as I said in my comment, who you are spills over in your writing.  A good example would be Stephenie Meyer of Twilight fame.  She’s Mormon.  Finding out that she’s Mormon gave me greater insight to the book series.  The fact that all the Native Americans have Jewish names, for example, suddenly made a LOT of sense.

You put a little bit of yourself into your writing.  Most of the time, that’s what makes it worth the read!  So, why not put a little bit of yourself into a tweet or status update or blog?

Then again, maybe I’m misunderstanding the original meaning behind the post that put me on this thought-train.  Perhaps I’m responding more to the comments left on that post than to the actual post itself.  Either way, this is where I’m at.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 17, 2011 in All, Social Networking

 

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