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, September 22, 2019

What is your story about?

Without prejudice by an overbearing author, the belief systems of your characters are the foundation for your story. Without beliefs, even in flux, one doesn’t have a story with any merit. So why would a conservative read about a liberal or why would a Buddhist read about a Catholic? We are all people and our personal struggles speak to our humanity. The reader begins to feel for or become attached to the character.

I watched the finale of Bachelor in Paradise with my two sisters. One is a very conservative Catholic. For the first time on ABC’s hit show, a lesbian couple was presented. My sis, said something like she didn’t have much of a problem with Demi and Christian, she just wouldn’t like to watch two guys. As the show progressed, she said that it was obvious they loved each other. Isn’t that at the core of many belief systems? Love. My sis empathized, relaxed, and enjoyed the show.

In novels, there must be arcs for our main characters. For my sis it was a tiny one. For your characters, they must experience internal and external change in dramatic ways.

For many who write romance, they have put their feet on the love brakes. Yes, the hero and heroine are physically attracted to each other (usually) and yes they often can’t stand each other. (Cute meets always make me smile. Know any Dems and Pubs like that?* But they find themselves on journeys, often together. They grow, they change, they fall in love.

RWASD Seminar notes by Nikoo & Jim McGoldrick: Consider the creating the three act play using:

1.       The hero’s journey.

2.       The rule of three.

3.       Storyboarding.

Perhaps, you like me, are unfamiliar with the rule of three:

1.       Introduce the problem.

2.       Raise the stakes.

3.       Make a commitment.

Food for thought, right?

Shameless self-promotion. If you are interested in seeing the Dem and Pub running against each other for president fall in love check out my award-winning novel, A More Perfect Union. The link for which, is on the side panel of the blog. And while I’m at it, visit my new website in progress, also linked on the side. There, true love presides.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Research for your novel

Following the rule regarding research that you only present the tip of the iceberg in your story, you should still feel comfortable and fully grasp the research subject. A romance story is about your characters but their environment plays a role. So your hero is sitting on an iceberg and you need to know how long he can survive before help arrives (a female helicopter pilot, perhaps will come to the rescue).

There are many research techniques you can avail yourself of.

1.       Contact specialists.

2.       Go to the library and don’t forget the help desk.

3.       Attend classes.

4.       Use the internet carefully. There is much b.s. on it these days.

5.       Check out the library of Congress and the Smithsonian.

6.       Check out groups or societies. For instance, your character has cancer. A group dedicated to that type of cancer would be useful to contact.

7.       Go to shows or symposiums.

8.       Check in with other authors who have similar struggles.

9.       Review the artwork and poetry of the time and place you are writing about.

10.   Use the Jeopardy! technique as created by James Holzhauer, a huge winner on the show. He studied children’s books on subjects he felt were too difficult to wade through otherwise. He said to the Washington Post, “They are chock full of infographics, pictures and all kinds of stuff to keep the reader engaged… I couldn’t make it through a chapter of an actual Dickens novel without falling asleep.”

There’s a hidden point to 10. Try to not write so densely with all that research you have gathered will allow your reader to fall asleep. Hey, not that Dickens is dense. James wanted to learn in the quickest way. He didn’t want to struggle. Your reader should not struggle to figure out what is going on. Hint: try to construct a sentence with one subject, predicate, and object as often as you can. If you must do otherwise, make doubly sure the sentence is 100% clear. Drop all double (or more) meanings in the words you use or modify the word to clarify it.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

The World of Forms

The World of Forms

A short history: Athens Greece 2400 years ago. The philosopher Socrates taught Plato, Plato taught Aristotle. Their impact on the way men think has a predominance in western thought.

One of Plato’s theories that is more controversial says that the senses are illusions and the world of ideas is real. After we die, we wholly become part of the world of ideas, or forms as he called it, and will experience everlasting joy.

Let’s apply this to romance in two ways. Love as an idea has to be at the top of the list of forms because it is perfect, indivisible and the reason for living. Your senses make you aware of a possible mate but the idea of love and the world of your heart are intangible. Senses are fleeting and so is our attractiveness over time. So choosing a partner should take into consideration more than physical beauty. The second application is in writing romance or for that matter any fiction. Your idea becomes a form and that is eternal. So keep contributing to the richness to be found after death!

For romance writers, focusing on love in a story is critical. Focusing on eternal love is a secret of a great philosopher named Plato.

Elizabeth Browning wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways….” Count indeed. Make sure your romance is not shallow. Embrace the world of forms.

I must run now. I have guests from the Philippines to love.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Competitive Man

The competitive man

I’ve been writing about the male POV since 2011. In my Kindle book, 101 Tips, Primarily on Writing Male Characters, I had to use the word ‘primarily’ because I hadn’t collected enough ‘onlys.’ Often a male POV idea can be described as simply human. It’s a matter of degree how much a woman acts like a man and visa versa. Regarding competition, both men and women are competitive. Sometimes in different ways.

Competitiveness in men can be both good and bad. When young men challenge each other to street racing and one drives off a cliff that’s taking it too far. Guys are also more likely to fist fight…

Good can be extracted from a man often in the form of a woman being present. She inspires a man to do better. I’ll offer two recent examples, which came as a surprise to me. I’m in Zumba, and in walks my Bar teacher on a 15 minute break. I danced better without consciously trying. My daughter died of cancer, but before she did, she inspired me to write a better novel and insisted that I try harder to get it published. So I did and yes it will be published.

It is so true that many put their own needs last or accept a certain comfortable way of doing things, instead of struggling to get the best out of themselves. There’s the 80/20 rules. Most of us will complete 80% of the work necessary to ‘finish’ the job. The remaining 20% necessary for greatness is just too much work. Hence, we have the Taylor Swifts of the world. Those whose inner strength, borne of genius, to be sure, press with great energy to use the talents that God gave them to the maximum. It is human nature to take the path of least resistance. What will you say of your life if you cannot reach even one of your goals? No problem. If you analyze and understand your talents and do the best you can with them, you have accomplished the Creator’s goal set for you.

A man dates and marries a woman and wants to make her happy by doing more for her, to work hard at love, to make her feel loved, even adored in a secular way. Some men never leave the honeymoon stage. If they can’t please her, treasure her every day, they’d be disappointed in themselves. Love is the point of life. So make it.

A man left to his own devices may drift. Humans are social creatures, so, at the least, reach out to the community. (Okay, it’s Sunday. It’s preaching I know. Not all men are like this, i.e., striving for excellence in a relationship. This is for the dreamers out there who write books of love. Who deliver inspiration for those who enjoy and sometimes need it.)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Needy or Clingy Type

The needy or clingy type.

Have you ever seen the guy or gal who clung to their partner? I have, but in this one unique case, two directions. First, being needy or clingy is considered a personality defect, but what if both are doing it to each other?

This is a true story, reported without embellishment.

August 15th, Thursday is a Catholic Holy day of obligation. Wife and I went to an evening Mass. In walks a young couple, hand in hand. They take a pew in the sparsely populated church four ahead of us.

She rested her arm on the bench rise behind him and finger combed has locks in one small section near his opposite ear. Oh that’s nice.

He then gave her a kiss on her cheek. Sweet.

She went up to do a reading. Came back and he put his arm around her waist. Next, she put her arm over his shoulder while standing. These guys must be a new couple. But they weren’t. I spotted the rings. They’re married. What retreat did they go to? And where can Del and I sign up? Arte they married to each other. Let’s secretly meet at the church.

Next reading was his. When he returned, she rested her head on his shoulder (and this happened quite a few times). My God, they must be totally in love. Paul Anka’s hit of bygone years played in my mind. Put Your Head on My Shoulder, 1959. The link to the song:

Then, they took turns kissing each other on the cheek (this happened maybe twenty times a piece). I looked around and people were smiling. Get a sacristy, I wanted to shout out.

During the rest of the Mass, they alternated among hand holding and arm caresses, knowing looks, cheek kisses, leaning into each other, and the put your head on my shoulder. At any moment,

I half expected them to disappear from sight and imagined groans coming from the pew. I would not chastise myself—being a romance writer—for not paying much attention to the Mass. I couldn’t tell you anything about the sermon, except for the pastor’s joke at the end requiring that we all go home after Mass and have a feast, since this was a feast day.

Perhaps the couple were newlyweds, but I have seen them around for at least a year. Never in a position to observe.

They walked out hand-in-hand and starry eyed. I worried that they might trip, they had already fallen. They were neither creepy, clingy, nor needy. Just lovey. And we all could use a dose of it.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Bachelor in Paradise vs. Love Island

Love Island (CBS) and Bachelor in Paradise (ABC) go about their business in different ways, hoping for the same result.
1. BIP tapes their show, which leads to sleuthing to spoil the finish for those who cannot wait. I have a friend who constantly "fills me in" even though I ask her not to. She just can't help herself, LOL. LI films in real time and pays the winning couple, decided by the audience, $100,000.
2. LI recruits a younger range of contestants, 21 to 26 approx. BIP maybe 21 to 36.
3. BIP offers the fantasy suite (the couple stays together overnight) at the end of the show. LI insists that all couples sleep as pairs in one large bedroom (like a barracks).
4. BIP promotes marriage proposals. LI, as far as I can tell, allows nature to take it's course--without the producers "heavy" hand.
5. On LI couples are forced to choose right up front or twenty four hours later. They'll get their chances to rectify if a mistake is made. This increases familiarity and intimacy.
6. LI does not cover up body parts. BIP does.
7. LI does have some games, but unlike the failed Bachelor Pad, the games have no prizes or punishments like leaving the show. I like this. The "kids" are just having fun and getting to know each other better.
8. On LI, in order to win the $100,000, couples may try Hollywood style acting, but the cameras catch everything.
9. There are no camera persons on LI, just fixed and everywhere, with the exception of dates outside the compound which is in Figi. BIP has a camera crew.
10. Both shows have a host. LI has a voice over explainer in chief and general jokester. BIP has no guide for the love or dialect impaired, LOL.
Both shows are enjoyable light entertainment for people who like to see young men and women struggle with life's most important feature and benefit, love.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The morality play

Aren’t we all writing morality plays? Unless you’re writing a Mein Kampf feel like, in which case get off my blog. Aristotle would have been ashamed of you.

The detective, soldier, cop, FBI, boy, girl, man, woman solve the story problem showing not telling that good wins out. In some literary novels, beauty is celebrated. Beauty is the batter with which we cook up a story of victory for love. There is the exception; it would seem, of writers who lament things not turning out right. Often, they show us by contrasting love and hate and what hate can do. On the Titanic, a ship sails without sufficient lifeboats. Moral: greed, ego, and an iceberg ruins a perfectly fine passage. Romeo and Juliet should have lived but had to suffer the hate of their families. Etc.

It saddens me that there is a big increase in hate crimes. Let’s do our part to counter that by writing good stories, i.e. those where good wins out over evil.

A most interesting take on life is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The award winning author doesn't tell us what to think. He allows us to want to do better. He said, "My weapon is literature."

Kick it up.