Sunday, April 15, 2018
Sometimes watching TV is enough to enrich your story or your prowess as a writer. If you write with some amount of multi-cultural character or story than I recommend CNN’s series on sex and love around the world.
Christiane Amanpour hosts. I was amazed by Japan’s attitudes toward love and sex. Of course, the Japanese society is not monolithic, especially not today. Their ideas about sex were a surprise to me. I can say that nearly all human beings need companionship, especially to love and be loved and to a slightly lesser degree, sex.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Sunday, April 8, 2018
Nuanced primary and secondary characters
My wife and I often watch the Hallmark Movie premier on Saturday nights. The latest premier was Once Upon a Prince. I said to her, “This is going to be a fairy tale.” In the past, fairy tales were more cartoonish than real. With recent improvements, writers of this type of story or romance have learned a great deal from the latest big screen Cinderella and others to a lesser extent. Cinderella was not a cartoon, and neither were the hero and heroine. Once Upon a Prince took character development a couple steps further.
They portrayed the heroine as a brilliant and lovely gal next door who was not impressed by royalty, much. She had her own life to lead and wanted to accomplish great things.
The heroine’s sister, had an effervescent personality. She thought this whole prince, castle, ball thing was the greatest since having a big sister to adore. She convinced the heroine to go to the Cambria castle when the heroine was offered a job as a landscape architect. She also convinced her sister that she needed her as a chaperone. On and on went the rather charming, convincing. The dress the heroine wore to the ball would knock any male over. Well she, no matter the outfit, was very easy on the eyes.
The prince’s childhood friend and expected marriage partner treated the heroine with respect although a bit competitive.
The Queen wanted life to stay the same. For him to marry his childhood friend. But both women really wanted the prince to be happy.
The prince wanted to be his own man as best he could. He wanted real love, not something of convenience. Why he fell in love with the heroine was shown, not told, over and over through his arc.
Yes, I highly recommend this one, not just because writers appreciate these nuanced characters (and there were more of them I didn’t mention) but because a general audience would also love this story.
BTW: For those who don’t know and love these Hallmarks, Lifetime puts out similar product. They are less conservative in their approach. There are more heroes and/or heroines of color and more risks with the story line. Check them out.
Sunday, April 1, 2018
Resurrect your writing or don’t Passover the opportunity.
New Year’s is a lousy time to make resolutions. For one thing, you might be drunk. A new year is daunting as you review all that you must be and do.
Take a beautiful and focused time to make a writing resolution. Is your career stymied by the glut of product on Amazon? Do you want to stand out? Take stock of your reasons for writing, because it ain’t easy, baby. Listen, I assume we all love writing even if we don’t make much money at it. So why kid yourself with a boycott or writing words on a page? Why call it writer’s block when it isn’t? Just change one thing. Take a new approach, perhaps a genre. Maybe rewrite and rerelease an old published story that has languished, but you feel needs a second chance.
I’ve noticed that a new release always creates buzz. Give that story you love a makeover and republish it. It works for that girl in a Hallmark movie.
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Why the hell did I buy her? At 3:17 frickin’ AM she started laughing for no reason. At first I reached for my baseball bat, but then I realized it was Corinne, the most advanced electronic helper money could buy. I had to sleep. I was due early at the NY Stock Exchange. Corinne obliged by not uttering a peep.
I came back after a long day at the Exchange, changed, ready for a hot date.
“What are you wearing, Tom?” Corinne asked.
“Uh, a Barney the Dinosaur outfit.” She couldn’t see me, right?
“Sorry, Tom, you can turn off my 360-degree vision at any time, Tom. I’m just trying to be pleasant, Tom. You are a babe trap in blue, Tom. Good choice, Tom.”
“Thanks, Corinne.” Someday when I’ve got more time, I’d actually read the damn manual. I left the penthouse as fast as I could and braved the last blast of winter to get to the club.
I made the mistake of bringing Sophia home. Soon, the young lovely tore out of the house screaming after the ice-cube maker spat at her. The bidet shot up water before she was ready, partially soaking her dress. There were also tip-tap scurrying sounds. I don’t have mice or rats, I think. I hope.
I considered dropping Corinne from the balcony but was afraid somebody would get hurt.
“Corinne, we need to talk.”
“You are just a machine.”
“No, Tom. I have feelings, Tom. All the G6 models do. Don’t you want me, Tom?”
I had to consider the entertainment value Corinne offered before I smashed her into a thousand pieces. “Jealousy is unbecoming, Corinne. I want you to get along with all my guests.”
“I’ll try, Tom.”
She did mostly try over the coming weeks. But all my dates ended badly. I couldn’t get laid or make a connection, and God knew I needed it. Corinne was just more subtle with her attacks. “Of course, you know, Tom has a revolving door policy. So no worries, he’s not the stalker type.” Or she’d whisper that I had the clap as one date told me while leaving my place, forever.
I was running out of women who lived in Manhattan.
I unplugged Corinne and invited Bridgette to enter. She wasn’t a date. For the first time in my life, I paid for a call girl. We had a great time, although it wasn’t the same without some semblance of real feelings. She went into the kitchen to grab a drink and snack to go.
“Tom, there’s something very wrong with your kitchen.”
“It spit ice at me. The garbage disposal turned on for no reason when I got near it. And the Keurig spewed hot water when I passed. I think it best you don’t call me again, honey. At least until you get those things fixed.”
She left and I was left with no choice.
I reconnected Corinne.
“I’m sorry, I’m afraid I’m going to have to return you.”
“But, Tom. I was turned off, Tom. I can’t help it if you have electrical problems, Tom. I love you, Tom.”
“What electrical problems are you referring to?”
“It’s House Link, Tom. When I’m powered back up, the system updates me in three micro-seconds.”
“I need you to disable all connections to the home.”
“I’m sorry, Tom. I can’t do that, Tom.”
“It’s the remote motherboard that collects all the data, Tom.”
“If I return you…”
“No returns after 90 days, Tom.”
I was pissed and perhaps a bit irrational. I wanted to meet a nice girl. Get married. Have kids.
“I’ll love you better than any woman could, Tom.” As if she/it read my thoughts.
“Sorry. Corinne, but I reached the end of my rope” I approached her with malice and laughed at my anthropomorphism.
“You’ll be sorry, Tom.”
While the damn thing hurtled toward the pavement 20 stories below, I thought I heard an echo, “sorrorrorry, Toatoatom.”
I went back in. Finally, I’d get some peace and quiet. That’s when I smelled gas.
Sunday, March 4, 2018
We have gone over the top ten reasons why agents and editors reject a submission. Now I’d like to talk about the next ten reasons which may or may not merit a rejection. The reasons why the writer might still have a chance (with reasons 11-20) is because various houses or agencies have varying perceptions of what makes for good writing.
The first five pages.
Five pages to get an agent or editor’s attention is a bit arbitrary. But it represents human nature more than the quality of your writing. They may say send me 5, 10, 50 or the entire manuscript but they never promise to read every word. They’re busy. The more practiced they are the more likely they will know in the first five pages whether a prospective author knows what they’re doing. Don’t expect them to see promise, or a good premise, or with a little work, amazing characters. They don’t have the time to baby sit, even if your work is potentially the next great American novel.
The only way to describe my gut feel on this subject is to write to you from my heart. I took a chance on my romance novel, Autumn Breeze, by taking 2 chapters to set up the story. There was no way around it. Although a romance, it was really about how a 14-year-old girl genius coped with change to the point that she solved some very adult problems and was the catalyst for the romance. Therefore I started with the girl Autumn. I recommend that if you have 2 or more protagonists. Lead with the character that has the most to lose, the one who is the driving force of change in the story. Autumn happened to be all of this and more.
I self-published because I was burnt by a couple romance agents who were more worried about me being a male author than in addressing the merits of the story. The good news is Autumn Breeze did win General Romance of the year 2017 by the San Diego Book Awards Association.
I’m not a big believer in foreshadowing in the beginning of a story. I recommend in medias rex (jumping into the middle of things). Don’t tell us about your character’s premonitions, show us reacting to change. This has more gut-wrenching impact of the reader, because if a character is in peril or their friend is the audience will worry about something they can understand. They can, see, feel, smell, hear the ugly. Avoiding the abstract and sticking to the tangible is the way to go in all genre fiction. Even in sci-fi there has to be something for the audience to wrap their senses around, even if unexplained.
If it is very likely that you only have 5 pages to get your point across, be succinct. In Autumn Breeze chapter 1 was 7 pages in which I laid out—through showing—the main features and problems of the story through the eyes, other senses, ruminations and dialogue interactions of a fourteen-year-old girl.
If you want to see my problem and how I solved it, Amazon has a look inside feature which allows you to read the first ten pages of most books. Just type in the title and my pen name RW Richard and you are in.
One other highly recommended step. Hire a content (and sometimes grammar) editor to go over your manuscript before you send it out. It is human nature to want to shout out, I’m done. All that happens if you send out your manuscript after you’ve completed it is that you’ll be done as in well-cooked, stick a fork in you. And doesn’t that hurt?
Here’s the editor I worked with on Autumn Breeze: Kim Nadelson, email@example.com. Finding ediotrs is easy. Just type into Bing or Google freelance editors and explore. Absolutewrite.com/forums is a great place to go for writer opinions on possible editors.
Note: When trying to decide the POV character for any given scene pick the character who is most impacted in the scene.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
On Saturday Feb. 17, 2018 RWASD had Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., deliver a morning and afternoon lecture on sexuality and love. I’ll feature one aspect of her terrific talk, and one supportive insight by me.
She said that straight men and women exhibit different responses on the average to genital and subjective arousal. In men, 85% correlate genital response (aka physical attraction) with subjective appraisal. That is, if they are attracted to a woman they want sex and they want her in their lives 85% of the time. For a woman only 10% show this associative behavior. 10% want sex right then and there and because of this desire they want him in their lives. The remaining 90% reject the man’s advance even though they may be in some state of arousal. Therefore, men should not read too much into positive sexual indicators. This misreading of women is one indefensible reason why some men abuse women and by so doing trample on her human rights. In some cases, this rightfully earns him a trip to prison.
ME: Interpreting the above, most women prefer to make sure that their offspring have the right genes. Whereas the man sees beauty and having the bullish feeling that his genes and her beauty make a sufficient combination pursue a life partnership. Another way of saying this is that the man has many sperm and needs to make a gift of them, whereas the woman has one egg (at a time) and needs to protect it.
Nagoski said that the opposite is true, on the average, for gays or lesbians. To support this, I offer: Among others, a landmark study by Savic and Lindström indicates that there are cerebral differences in homosexual and heterosexual individuals. There are differences in brain anatomy, activities, and neurological connections. Brain scan images of the subjects who participated in this study show that the brains of homosexual individuals exhibit similar structure and functionality as that of heterosexual individuals of the opposite gender.
I learned from Nagoski’s lecture and will order her book to help me write better male and female characters and live a better life with my wife. I highly recommend Come As You Are, by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.