Silliness and seriousness

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She envied their innocence, longing to go back to when a scraped knee was the most stressful part of the day. ‘Don’t rush to grow up.’ Her mom had said it often. As a young adult, she understood the wisdom of those words too late.©

This character is often being silly and doing things that are typically something a child might do. Why? because growing up doesn’t mean dismissing the essence of Youth completely. She herself is young, yet old enough to see and understand the worldly restraints of adulthood. Life will punch her in the teeth and kick her when she’s down, yet she will hold onto the things that make her and others smile. Joy in life, the shadows of youth that keep her from losing herself in an already too serious world.  She doesn’t see herself this way, but others in the story do.

I wrote her this way to allow for a humour break from the drama, danger and violence. It gives a great opportunity for character interaction. The overly serious and stoic friend might find her enthusiasm annoying. He may or may not comment on it. He could find it charming and pay more attention to her. Or it could get her into trouble when she needs to focus.

In my life, I have come across adults who range from silly and carefree to starchy and unendingly serious. The diversity of maturity is present in the real world so I put it in my characters.

My advice.

Everyone was young once, even an adult character in a book. Who they were is who they are. Silliness and seriousness have their place, I don’t think it always has to be the obvious one.

-Sheryl

More on character building

What’s her name?

What happened to that guy?

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Ghosts that write stories

Ghosts that write stories

When people think of ghosts, they think of apparitions or the spirit of the dead. They possibly they conjure the image of something slight that floats around haunting or interfering with life.

The verb ghostwriting means to write on behalf of another. Doesn’t that make us all ghostwriters in a way? We write on behalf of the characters in our creations. We control every aspect of everyone and everything. From the colour of their eyes to whether or not they pick their noses. From the colour of the carpet to the rain that suddenly falls and soaks their new suit before an interview.

I decide if the people I invent are happy, sad, angry or in love. I choose if they are nice, mean or selfish people. It’s partly why I (maybe even other writers) love to write; to control the entirety of the world just created and it’s a lot of power and responsibility.

Yesterday I saw a fellow blogger post a graph. One similar to the one I use to chart out my characters and their progression. Alongside that, I have an excel sheet for each character with every possible thing about them on it. Including things not ever mentioned in the book. This way Joe’s eyes are always ice blue and I can look back to see why he’s secretly angry at women in general and mean to them on the sly. His entire history is there from when his father died from an overdose of heroin to when his mother started yelling at the dog that never existed.

Keeping track is extremely important. People need to have quirks, bad habits, sayings overused and speaking and behaviour patterns. I have many characters, some minor, some major and others only appear to sweep a floor. They all have bios and backgrounds. That way when the Data collection officer is overly friendly and speaks in honeyed tones to the new woman. I know it’s because he’s been passed up for promotion six times, and is now outranked by said woman who is half his age and only been with the company for three months. Is that important to spell out in the book? No. However, if I want to use this later on as part of a plot turn then I need to make sure he’s always overly friendly to her and perhaps she or someone else catches a glimpse of pure unadulterated hatred in his eyes as she walks away.

My advice.
Whether you put an actual ghost in your story or not, keep track. You don’t have to use a graph, chart or the excel program. (I love spreadsheets for some weird reason) You can use a word document, or a notebook or even stick them up on your wall in flowchart form. Whatever you do remember they depend on you not to magically change their height or their dog’s name.

Every story ever written and every character created has a Ghost . We are that ghost to them.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Carry

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It’s a noun, it’s a verb, it’s an idiom! A multipurpose word with a big place in my writing.

Whether it’s the action of carrying someone or something or carrying on a conversation or a container holding something for transportation, this word makes a lot possible.

I had a character carrying an object for a reason. They had it with them when they stopped for a conversation then later I realized I forgot to keep it on hand. As I scrolled back to see where it was left it occurred to me to leave it there on purpose. To make it part of the story. That object was a safety blanket of sorts. Something that meant a lot to the character. Her subconscious decision to leave it behind turned out to be a big moment for her. My point is if it’s in their hands and they’ve used it or its part of the story make sure to follow through with it. A parcel picked up and carried from the mailbox to the house needs to be set down or opened. Why did they bother? Is it important? It could be. That action filler can easily become something more significant. If not now then later or even carried forward to the next book.

My friends and family listen to me carry on about my book. They are my support group that carry me forward through my journey with encouragement. As I write, I carry a character from a feeble unhappy person to a strong and independent one. It is better to have someone carry a cup of coffee and sip from it time to time during conversation than to have an inactive conversation. I sometimes get carried away by my own enthusiasm as I wade through the process of writing and publishing my work. It is my hope that one day everyone will carry a copy of my book in their bag and their heart.

It is an important word but not necessarily the only one used for its purpose. One does not want to overuse a useful word.
-Joe walked alongside Sylvia hugging his precious notebook to his chest.-
Joe is carrying the notebook without my actually saying that he carried his notebook.

My advice about.

Keep track of important items people carry. If they aren’t important, could they be? The habit of wearing a simple hair elastic on her wrist could be the difference between life and death if you make it that way.

Whether you write, paint, take photographs or whatever it is that makes you happy. Do carry on the way you do, and make this world better for it.

-Sheryl

Carry

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

The rejection letter

A few months ago, before I had any idea what to do, I sent out some queries to Literary Agents. At the time I was more curious to see what would happen. I did not expect anything from this.

The consensus regarding submissions is that it takes 8-10 weeks for a Literary Agent to accept or reject you. If they are interested they contact you, if not you don’t hear back. You can’t contact them after submitting a query.

Some of them sent an auto responder email to let me know they received my query and would get to it at their “earliest convenience”. A few even gave an exact timeline.

Four weeks in and nothing. No surprise, my query letter was a joke and my synopsis lacked flow. Not to mention my work was still riddled with those pesky little filter words. Week 7 however yielded a response.

I got a rejection letter. I was so excited. Yes excited. It didn’t bother me in the least that I was just rejected, I deserved to be for being so ill prepared. The letter was what I presume, a standard cut and paste rejection. There was nothing personal in it whatsoever. What was written made me laugh. Here it is.

Thank you for submitting your query and giving me the opportunity to consider your work.  Unfortunately, in today’s increasingly tough publishing market, I cannot offer you the support that you need for your project.  

Though my limited time precludes me from recommending other specific agents, a good place to start would be the Association of Authors’ Representatives website.

Please do not allow this letter to discourage you.  Many best-sellers have been passed on numerous times prior to being successfully published. 

I wish you the best of luck finding an enthusiastic agent and publisher for your book.

Sincerely,

Yes, it is true many bestsellers have been passed on; this is why I didn’t even entertain disappointment. The last bit made me chuckle. I wonder, do they realize they just suggested they are not an enthusiastic agent?  They did to me. They can’t offer the support needed or enthusiasm. I understand they get hundreds of applications a day (Or so I hear) so I didn’t take the cut and paste personally either.  I also didn’t go into this expecting anything. So an actual rejection is something.

Overall, it was a kind letter with encouraging words. The next time I submit queries to Literary Agents (Hopefully that will be soon) my expectations will be higher, much higher. Those rejections had better be personalized.  😉

My advice about rejections.
You will get them, what you do with it is what matters. Take it in stride don’t let it drag you down or toss you into the pit of doubt and surrender. Learn from it if you can. Easier said than done, I know.  Oh and it’s probably a good idea to wait until you are actually prepared and ready before trying. Unless like me, you do it for curiosities sake.

-Sheryl

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

What’s her name?

Blog nameWhat’s her name?

I thought naming my baby was difficult. This is worse!

They are people, but with a twist. I formed every aspect of them, their history their likes and dislikes. Personality and flaws. Physical appearance and even emotional state. I get to play with their development or regression in the storyline and yes, I can even play God and make them fall in love or snuff them out. *insert evil laugh here*

I found controlling a person in every way made me feel responsible for them and attached. Therefore, a fitting name is important and I needed to get it right.

The thing I discovered with a name is that it can be a well of opportunity for humour, banter and even ridicule between characters and in dialogue. To my surprise, I also found it could shape how a person develops or stays stagnant. People need to grow and change, good or bad it doesn’t matter as long as they learn something along the way.

How do I pick a name? It depends if I have a character already in mind (This is harder) or if I’m creating someone new that I just added because the story demanded it. Minor and sub minor characters get the close your eyes and pick from a list method. (Baby name books work great for this.) I was joking the other day about using scrabble pieces or boggle to create names.

I sometimes go for cheesy and name people things like Rose Thorny or I just look around, pick an object, and go with it. I’ve struggled with names and often I’ve asked someone what their favorite name for a girl is, or a boy. Or what name they think is sexy or annoying. Catch my drift? Ooh. Catt Drift. Nice. Except I like the 1-2 or 2-1 syllable rule for names. That would make her, Catelyn Drift or Catt Drifter. If the first name is one syllable then the last should be two or more and vice versa.

I actually used a placeholder for two characters until I found the right names for them. One was AAA and the other was SSS for no reason other than they would be easy to search and find and replace. They were my two main characters.

I wrote six chapters, hated someone’s name so much I changed it. It’s my story I can do what I please. That’s the beauty of being the all-powerful creator behind the Curtin pulling the strings and blowing smoke.

The thing about naming a character is that I tend to pull from experience and history. So if a name seems too familiar, I sometimes google it to see if it pops up in something recent, such as a movie or book. I’ll also say the name out loud a few times to see if it sounds good or not. “Hello, my name is Catt Drifter.”
My advice about naming your beloved creations.

If you don’t like it or you’re having a hard time visualizing your character because of the name, change it. Baby name books, baby name websites and ‘popular’ name websites are great. But don’t forget the old outdated names, I have found they make for great nicknames, shortened names or fantastic humor. Ironic names are fun if you know where the character is going or if their past is significant work it in.

-Sheryl

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved