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, November 29, 2015

Loving in the Moment

Loving in the moment is not very different from living in the moment.

My mom lives in the moment because she has a disease similar to Alzheimer’s. At Sunday Mass, she remembers most of the words of most of the hymns and sings along. For the newer songs, she can’t remember, and then, unfortunately, she whistles. At least her whistle is hardly noticeable.

My mom also loves in the moment. Aside from singing, love is all she has left. She’ll tell everybody she meets (even for the hundredth time) she loves them. She’s focused totally on the person before her to the likely point that everything else around her disappears.

You don’t need Alzheimer’s to love or live in the moment. When you are with the person you love, you may have tunnel vision and literally not see anything around you except the object of your passion. You may not be able to think of anything else, your emotions may overwhelm you. You are crazy in love. Like moths to the flame, nothing else matters. And there’s not a better feeling.

This condition can be both a guy and gal thing. I know.

Male POV: Don’t hesitate to write some of your heroes this way. This might not work too well for a hero who needs to be observant, i.e. detective, soldier, spy. On the other hand it could be seen as a fatal flaw.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Don't adjust your TV

Hallmark romance movies are often great entertainment and suited for any romantic soul, but—I haven’t seen them all—hasn’t every hero and heroine of the thousands of movies they produced been white?

I’m not much of an activist—was when younger—I marched for equal and civil rights, but would someone tell me I’m wrong and could they site the title or plot of the movie in which either the hero or heroine or both are not white?

RWA has formed a diversity committee. TV has many interracial or multicultural shows. Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t Harlequin dedicated (segregated) black stories? Isn’t it time to acknowledge that stories and people are crossing boundaries all the time? Does anybody feel like I do—ashamed that our romance industry isn’t colorblind?

If you feel like I do, send Hallmark an email. BTW, I did this, months ago, and received no response. I don’t count. They know better.

I’m not going to stop watching Hallmark, I’m just going to adjust the hue.

Here’s a clip from my favorite Hallmark, Christmas with Holly, a story of a little girl who when her mom dies, stops talking. She is raised by her three uncles which isn't featured in the clip below, but the interplay of the three uncles and the little girl almost steals the show.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

First Person versus Third Person

The jury is out (forever). Suit yourself, but most agents and publishers prefer you use the third person. This week I thought I’d have a little fun with the choice by summoning and then observing the travails of another medium.

Back in 1948, The Mills Brothers recorded Gloria in third person using the mellow, sweet tones the greatest generation came to love them for. The song reached 17th on the charts for the year.
In 1954, The Cadillacs recorded their own version of Gloria (in the ever evolving doo wop) retooling the lyrics to use first person. It reached 6th on the charts for the year as the baby boomers began to take over the music scene. My mom and dad would take a couple years yet to get used to this new music, but then, they got with it.
The first version inspired a few covers but the Cadillac’s take was recorded by more than thirty groups. Billy Joel was asked in 1996 what the attraction was when he added it to his River of Dreams album. He said when he was young and his buddies crossed over to Jones beach, through the tunnel, they harmonized a magical version of Gloria. He went on to say that if a doo-wop band wanted to prove they could sing, they’d belt out Gloria. It’s challenging, with a multi-octave vocal, low bass and complex harmonies. 'Gloria' is a girl's name, but the name also has religious connotations, and there is something spiritual and uplifting about rendering or listening to it. This love song leaves the listener with a feeling of pure devotion, as it should be for anything well written in romance with a celebration of love. God is love and when you write of love you honor the Creator.

Listening to these two versions of Gloria will not decide the issue of whether to use first or third person, but you may find it food for thought.  

The Mills Brothers, Gloria, 1948


The Cadillacs, Gloria, 1954

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Heroes with fatal positive qualities

Heroes with fatal positive attributes

Fatal flaws aren’t really fatal ( to the plot) and neither are fatal qualities.

Just like heroes with flaws, heroes should have positive attributes, but in this case, he should keep them. You’d think writing a character with  a positive attribute is common sense, but some romances are just an awakening into love, the rest of the world be damned. (Some writers think writing in something altruistic is corny.) Just as not employing a fatal flaw is na├»ve writing, so should forgetting a positive attribute be the same way, naive.

For example, suppose you subtlety write in a little faith, hope or charity (by showing not telling).

By faith, I don’t necessarily mean faith in the hereafter, although if he doesn’t have faith, the heroine might ask him “what are you here after.”
In Hallmark’s premier last night of Ice Sculpture Christmas, the hero isn’t happy as a lawyer in his dad’s firm. He’d rather work on promoting or starting charitable organizations. His dad, in turn, it turns out only wants his son to be happy. There’s still plenty of tension and drama to carry the plot. But there’s more. The hero becomes more endearing, more real. He’s a hero with a fatal positive attribute.

Click below for the movie's promo:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Viral writing

What’s the difference between a popular book, video or song?

Not much.

They all hit you with strong emotional content, easily identifiable by the reader/watcher/listener.

They all have amazing voice, tone* and imagery.

In scene one, we have been taught to introduce the inciting incident, but it’s more than that. The reader must identify with and feel a strong pull from the character.

*Tone: I have discovered (listening to NPR) that across the world, in all cultures, we make similar “nonsense” sounds to our babies. We modulate our voice in pitch, tone and quickness to either award behavior, say no or stop, offer encouragement etc. I believe the best singers and writers know how to communicate with their audiences at a subconscious level and that the sounds of love or the honesty of the written word will carry the same basic tones as our coos to a baby. You will forever hear these hit (whether book or song) melodies in word or voice and the sounds mean something deep within you.

Almost any song today or yesterday has these so-called human nonsense sounds (especially doo-wop). In good writing, it’s the emotion of the character on display that creates these resonances within us.

(Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Natural Born Charmer). There was something visceral about a girl in a beaver suit and the quarterback in his hot car screeching to a halt. You feel it, immediately. He was not only tired of all the perfect girls with nothing interesting to offer him. He wanted more from life and he hardly knew it.
Her first paragraph in the novel: It wasn’t every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of the road, not even in Dean Robillard’s larger-than-life world. “Son of a…” Dean slammed on the brakes of his brand-new Aston Martin Vanquish and pulled over in front of her. [simple words, right? their impact is unforgettable and immediate]

Here's a song I was attracted to when she introduced "nonsense" sounds, especially the ones half-way through. You might not like this character, but it's not a romance. I think her sounds are easily translated. As a father, I see a lost soul and hope for her recovery.

Tove Lo, 2013, Habits