Ask a male author about your male character traits or thoughts.

Amazon links to my stories: Autumn Breeze, A More Perfect Union, Double Happiness, The Wolves of Sherwood Forest, Neanderthals and the Garden of Eden can be found down the right side of the blog.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Shape of You


Good by half


This is about writing, it always is, but first an observation that will lead into the subject.


I’m in Church this morning and the priest is talking about all the hatred we have seen since the election. He mentioned violence but that doesn’t tip his hand. There are always at least two sides to the story. You can protest an administration (negative) or stand up for someone’s diminished rights (positive). Alternatively, you could want change and hopefully for the better. We all want change for the better, assuming the status quo needs tweaking.


Yesterday, James Scott Bell spoke at our RWASD meeting. He sold a skinny book about writing your book from the middle (Write Your Novel From the Middle). Skinny, because the beginning and ending were missing, LOL. I thoroughly enjoyed his insights and bought the book.


He said in the middle of a three act structure should lie a look in the mirror moment (not necessarily literally) in which the main character reflects on who he is. He knows if he doesn’t change in some way he will die, either physically or by losing everything he values. This can send the journey and the character in a negative or positive direction. This reflection need not have a statement of resolve, but the reader should see that the character either is considering— consciously or subconsciously— change. Stay tuned. Perhaps he’ll make it.


Primarily, Professor Bell didn’t use romance examples. He didn’t just present comedies. However, I say writing is writing, that in every novel tragedy strikes in one form or another. It is best to know the three act structure as presented by Aristotle, thoroughly. The clown can fall on his ass in a comedy and who will kiss his boo-boo? Could Professor Bell tailor his examples to the audience he’s speaking to? Sure, if he has the time, but I say a liberal arts education or in this case, an education, which compares and contrasts genres and types of writing, is more valuable because it opens your eyes.  It may give you new tools or a fresh take. I see that all story writing is the same. The protagonist is on an internal and/or external journey in which he and/or his environment changes.


Some of my colleagues said that everybody already knew this technique. I didn’t, but then I thought through my novels. All of them had a mirror moment. Some colleagues I talked to had a complete revelation from his lecture. They were going back to the drawing board to do something…Like take a mirror moment out of act 1, for instance.


All this reminded me of a psychology lecture on human proficiency.

Your character is:

1. An unconscious incompetent,

2. Conscious incompetent,

3. Conscious competent,

4. Unconscious competent (the best). A good example of this would a basketball superstar. You’d really have to pin him down for him to lay out all the steps (of the mind and body) he’d have to go through to make that 3 point play. Or, consider Tom Brady leading his team back against impossible odds. How’d he do it? He’s an unconscious (super) competent.

I would add that if the unconscious competent paused to reflect he would recall the steps he took automatically and know them as the building blocks of success.


Whether you are on the top of your game as a writer or someone struggling to become better it is always good to step outside your comfort zone.

***

Ed Sheeran, in Shape of You, 2016, chooses a mirror moment for both the hero and the heroine. Will both want more than just enjoying each other’s body? The hero hopes for more but we don’t know if they will become a couple. The heroine wants sex, but we don’t know if she’ll change under a man’s love.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Is you is or is you ain't my baby?


How to fall in love

 

My wife and I were rummaging around the TV’s thousands of channels and discovered Hallmark on Demand. Direct TV collected 28 of them on this channel. I’m sure if wanted to find the hundreds upon hundreds of other Hallmarks I could. Nonetheless, most of the 28 seemed interesting, so we tried one.

How To Fall In Love, 2012 Hallmark. “An awkward accountant (Eric Mabius) receives dating tips from his high school crush (Brooke D’Orsay).

We’ve talked about nerds, geeks, dorks etc. before. Here the kid in high school was not attractive but became a good-looking man who retained his awkwardness. He was scarred by high school and nearly gave up on dating, until his crush, who needed work, came along to teach him. She perceived him as a challenge but, through fine acting and good writing, she began to realize they were a match and the same for him.

Yes, the writer used tropes, i.e. the ugly duckling becoming a swan, the heart of gold, etc. There’s nothing wrong with that. The characters have to be relatable. It would be more daring if the writer kept him “ugly” physically, but, in romance, the reader usually wants fantasy.

There was a cute scene in which the hero takes another woman out into the countryside to show off his photography hobbie. All she could do was complain about her shoes getting ruined. This and other red flags built until they both realized they weren’t a couple.

 

Sometimes the dialogue helps sterling, as well. Louis Jordan, Is You is or is You ain’t my Baby, 1944.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

On Location


On Location

 

I watched a Hallmark Premier last night called Love-Locks. It not only was a triple romance but it was also an opportunity to fall in love. With Paris.

The writer engaged my own feelings with what I saw on the screen. How did he/she know?

The hero and heroine stood on a bridge with padlocks, symbolizing eternal love, left by thousands of couples (Paris is worried the bridges will fall down and this quaint custom will soon end). They visited an artist’s studio and I was absorbed in beauty. They walked the narrow streets and the broad ways, ate at charming cafes, stayed in hotel rooms that could only be French.

Readers want this, of course. They want the fantasy of being there and if they identify with the characters, they will be there.

It is easy to do this for New York, London and other well-known locations. This doesn’t mean the writer can slouch. He must look for insights and perhaps unique observations while describing the city and how the characters react. But what of a small town, real or imaginary? They must do the same. In fact, their work is harder because the reader doesn’t have a clue as to where they are. The better writer accepts this challenge.

 

I Left My Heart in San Francisco by Tony Bennett, Originally performed by him in 1962.



 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Trophy Girlfriend/Wife


The trophy girlfriend/wife
 
The younger the hero the more likely he is to approach the most beautiful woman in the room. Don’t blame him. It is only natural or part of our evolution through natural selection.
The problem arises if he is fixated on looks and fails to develop a relationship that is mature, fails to recognize qualities like an empathetic or good heart as I have addressed last week.
In case of these failures, the hero needs to grow (and what an arc that would be). The term trophy girlfriend/wife objectifies and diminishes the woman. The hero may not think he’s attracted to a trophy. He may simply be overwhelmed with the desire to possess, but that’s a different problem.
Picture a gorgeous woman on the arms of a powerful man. Will people label them? Did he marry a trophy? Did she marry for money? It doesn’t matter. It’s what’s in their hearts that count. Only the writer knows for sure when he/she writes this kind of story.
 
There are thousands of songs or odes to beauty, so I’ll just pick arbitrarily (well with the accent on the young).
Frankie Avalon, 1959, Venus.
Image result for frankie avalon venus wiki

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face


I’ve grown accustomed to her face.

 

Believe or not, most guys focus on the face when first meeting the heroine.

Fear not, my dear heroine, you need not complain that you were given your father’s nose or your great aunt’s chin. Believe in your self and your inner beliefs will light up that face. It doesn’t matter what age the heroine is or how cute her face is once he notices her twinkling eyes, happy smile and loving personality. He’ll soon be hooked. Good as gutted and flayed.

Most men have preconceptions of what is an attractive face. They may be searching for someone with the looks of Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry or a Sandra Bullock. But, when an objectively* ordinary face is lit up by the soul all those preconceptions melt away. *Static beauty is very similar to objective beauty. It's like standing at a dance and actually dancing. Both static and objective are appropriate for a museum but a girl’s heart is what makes her face come alive.

Guys ain’t perfect, however. Men also happen to notice the figure. But again a figure in movement beats any static photoshoot. A good figure is fine, but the way the heroine walks or her body language speaks, tell a man so much more. None of us can transcend physical attraction because that’s part of the universe’s plan, so the heroine may have her father’s nose, as long as it isn’t Pinocchio’s proboscis.

I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face, sung by Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, 1964.


 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Selling a novel without using words


Selling a novel without using words. Okay, Bob has finally gone nuts. But, here’s my point. All the writing books tell us to write with clarity. Use the who, what, where, why, how, when wherever you can and make sure to add in the senses, even paranormal ones. Don’t forget emotions, etc. But that’s not enough. Most writers know enough to get to the truth of their characters’ essence, by trying to remove their own motivations and replace it with as honest a portrayal of another person as one can. Most authors don’t want their audience to say they can sense the author’s point of view, because it may take the reader out of the story. Subtle or not, this is author intrusion.

However, there’s one place where it is usually necessary for the author to “intrude.” It’s his story and it is very likely he has a point or a theme that he wants his audience to feel, not hear very loud and clear. Otherwise, the author would be accused of being heavy handed. To me, Michael Crichton was heavy handed in his 2004 novel, State of Fear, about eco-terrorists. Perhaps I found the concept absurd because I believe in environmental issues. I enjoyed the story but couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth.

I think the best way of handling these problems is to keep your theme under your hat, write honest characters and write a damn good story. I compare this approach to weaving a musical composition through your work of fiction. It can be a symphony or a minor composition, but it must be wordless. How? Let your characters and their plights come alive in your readers’ mind. Do this and the inner harmonies of your story will be unforgettable.

I was only going to play for you Track 10 of The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), a true symphony within the Oscar winning music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, but I realize that if you have not seen this spectacular and beyond romantic movie you wouldn’t quite get it. So, I’m also including the cute, funny and unforgettable theme of Blake Edwards’ The Pink Panther 1963, gorgeous music by Henri Mancini.


Would’st thou need words to paint this rose?


No words here either, just a pink rose and a silly panther (that my girls loved).

http://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?&id=OIP.Mcbdda703812723babace4d32a1245caeo0&w=300&h=225&c=0&pid=1.9&rs=0&p=0&r=0

http://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?&id=OIP.Mb5ebfa1de1ab0a6459046ac711ffa80ao0&w=294&h=300&c=0&pid=1.9&rs=0&p=0&r=0

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Parting Shot


After I got an idea for today’s blog, I resolved to continue the blog for 2017. Previously I mostly wrote about strategies for writing romance while using the male point of view. I may from time to time find another strategic idea, but now is the time for tactics. Tactics can be described as small things (that make the story).

 

Have you ever finished a conversation and started to walk away? The person you were talking with says something. You have to decide whether to turn around, come back and address it or to keep walking. Let’s complicate this. Suppose the parting shot is something sexual or something suggesting love, perhaps an invitation. Simultaneously you knew what they said but you couldn’t believe your own ears.

It is probable the person who spoke the come-on was boldly responding to your remark about needing to recharge yourself with, “I can recharge you.” The hero or heroine was afraid to say it to his/her opposite, face-to-face. Or, "I love you." Did the hero or heroine hear right? We all fear rejection, more or less. Some are bolder than others. They want you and/or your love and they rationalize that the direct approach will elicit a direct but polite rejection. They leave you with a nearly subliminal snippet, leading you to play it over-and-over.
Taking it a step further: After hearing the parting remark, you think he/she’s not really your type or maybe they could be and you haven't until that moment figured it out. Should you say something or pretend you didn’t hear it, the next time you meet? Who knows it might lead to love. Without the surreptitious remark you would have never had a clue.
Call this a cute communication instead of a cute meet, although you may be meeting the person for the first time as more than an acquaintance.

This idea is not a chapter or a plot, it’s just a scene in which the protagonist struggles. It could go either way, that is, whether the guy or gal has something to say when the opposite walks away. It can also lead to a deepening of character(s). It certainly is a technique or tactic the author can use.