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, July 30, 2017

A Pearl of Great Value

A Pearl of Great Value
Alternate title: Take out the trash
Is it only fantasy to have the hero decide to change his life and dedicate himself to the heroine? No, it happens, perhaps not too frequently.
How does it happen? Start with the hero wanting to make her happy always and in all ways, because he’s crazy about her and top over teakettle in love. To do this, he needs room or time in his life. So he must take out the trash. Trash, in this instance, are those minimal, useless or harmful habits that eat up time. Suppose the hero is into video gaming to a fault.
We know of many married men who don’t like suggestions from their spouses about what to do around the house. But, for the hero of our story he relishes the opportunity to please her. He’d rather literally take out the trash than play Counter-Strike.
It’s not just about chores.
The hero can learn about her likes and try to like them too.
He’ll then learn to share her joy.
The hero might even learn to have fruitful conversations.
He might even watch a Hallmark with her, etc.
He’ll look for every opportunity to make her feel loved.
In the parable of A Pearl of Great Value (likened to Heaven) the person finding the pearl sells everything he owns to possess it. For us men a woman is the closest we’ll get to heaven on Earth.

All or Nothing at All, 2104, Switchfoot.
https://youtu.be/_PrSVusfnWo

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Love

Love

Their arms rapped around each other, their bodies a perfect fit, her head on his chest. He wondered why he was so lucky. He peered down to see her eyes looking into his. A little out of focus, maybe dreamy. She was content if this was the right word. Did she love him? She had never said so.
He had first seen her in a crowd of hundreds,  maybe fifteen years before and was struck by her pull on his body, mind, spirit. Never before had he felt such a momentous tug. But he couldn’t get to her that day. The only thought he remembered, and it was as if someone was whispering to him, “someday she will be your wife.” He didn’t know her name, never saw her again until five years ago when they met at a local Brooklyn coffee house.
They developed an easy friendship. He marveled at the way she acted. Zany, sweet, challenging, laughing at his lame jokes, big eyed enthusiasm for life and for him. But friends they remained until today.
He was certain she felt the same tug on her soul, that she loved him as much as he did her. Today, he had decided, would be the day he’d find a way to get to the truth without disturbing their friendship. He decided to hug her a bit more intimately and longer than ever before.
So far she liked it. He took a chance and kissed her forehead. No pull back. Yes. Now all he needed was the courage to say it, but she interrupted him. With the same dreamy eyed look on her lovely face, she said in a completely relaxed voice, and you got to know this girl doesn’t relax much. She said, “so this is love.”

Til Then, the Mills Brothers, 1944
https://youtu.be/gPdidRreduM
https://youtu.be/gPdidRreduM

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Great American Pragmatist

Before I start, you may, while reading this think I’m talking about a non-fictional person. In the front pages of many novels before the story starts, the author or editor says something like, any resemblance to someone real is purely coincidental. Just to have fun I’ll say deliberately coincidental
Is your character a pragmatist or idealist? Pay attention to the core values of your hero/heroine and other characters because it goes to what motivates them. Infusing philosophy helps tell a valued story. How strongly does your character hold these beliefs or lack thereof?
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition popularized in the United States around 1870. For those philo geeks, there is also the closely related Utilitarianism. Nobody claims to be a Utilitarian because it’s too hard to spell or pronounce.
Put simply: what is useful is good and what is pragmatic is good. They seem interchangeable but there is a subtle difference. Pragmatism is a more active philosophy. They choose to do something that will reap benefits for them. A utilitarian chooses something to take up or take because it is useful to them. Somebody else may have already done the work. Stealing said work is often done by the Prag/Uti character, if they think they can get away with it. If they think… Both philosophies are egocentric.
These philosophies may seem glorious statements of what made our Country great but they are at odds with the Constitution. All men are created equal if it is useful or works to the character. Many religions condemn these philosophies, calling them false gods. The struggle for the character’s soul is a human condition that transcends national boundaries.
Every day the character makes useful or pragmatic decisions. Is it better for health to eat more because it tastes good or should there be more strictness about cholesterol or sugar? Does a character go to a wedding 2500 miles away, spend the money, or focus on work and make money needed to survive or live more comfortably? Innocuous actions creep up on them when it comes time to make a really important decision that may involve moral values. The problem moral steadfastness starts with habituation. It’s hard to change and so they choose to make a moral mistake hardly noticing that they have become the Great American Pragmatist.
Some characters observe the world and see that those who grab the gusto or perhaps bend the rules to suit them (pragmatism at its core) get ahead in life. They make money. Some take it a step further and get pleasure out of besting another human being. Substitute screwing for besting here, if you like.
American politics and business are the most obvious places to go for examples of American pragmatism. Many of our leaders cherish and fully understand the constitution because they live their lives by core values in which they treat each human being fairly. All men are brothers, right?
Write it.
Your character can demonstrate his/her core beliefs through habitual action, willfully wrought or not. They also can grow or change. One often needs an arc for this, LOL. The heroine sets out to tame her man, as an example.
In pragmatic politics and business or life in general not constantly confronting, reflecting on the moral value of habits, can land the character(s) in jail or worse.

Fifty Shades of Grey, Promo for movie

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Romantic Suspense

Once in a while I take highlights from a book on writing. I needed to understand romantic suspense (and pure mystery) better so I bought Writing & Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron. Related to the late great screenwriter Nora Ephron. Taking romantic suspense one step further will ground the rom suspense in the genre's basics.
Much of below can apply to pure romance. Why? Ask Aristotle.

Writing & Selling Your Mystery Novel

“In order to become sort of good at it you have to be willing to be bad at it for a long time.” David Owen
At the heart of a mystery novel is at least one puzzle, if not several.
I should have seen that coming. (Reader)
Often the mystery examines serious themes and social issues.
Suppose, what if, and why anchor a well articulated premise.
Readers need to care about what happens to the compelling protagonist before the book opens and what’s going to happen to the protagonist after the book ends (if there’s a follow on).
Develop your protagonist’s dark past. (The dark past can be used to motivate in the present and it raises the stakes.)
Authenticity is key. Therefore research (passive and participatory).
Background, strengths and weaknesses, talents and skills.
Personality.
Demeanor while under stress.
Names that fit. Sam Spade (hard nosed). Nick and Nora Charles (highbrow).
The crime and the victim’s secrets. The revelation of such twists the plot & propels the story forward.
Make the crime matter to the protagonist.
The villain. “...making my readers feel sorry for my psychopaths...” Ruth Rendell
Making the crime fit the villain.
Innocent suspects. “Everybody has something to conceal.” Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon.
Making innocent suspects look guilty. (Overly eager to answer questions, motive, etc.)
The supporting cast: sidekick, opposites attract.
The adversary: is not the villain. He drives the protagonist nuts.
The web of characters with competing goals.
Start with the setting (grounding): It’s been said that a vivid setting is like another main character and sometimes it is. WHEN WHERE CONTEXT. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH.
Plot is developed using the three act play.
Dramatic opening: Out-of-whack event (element of mystery to it) (cute meet in rom com), causes unanswered question,
The Plot twist is the most basic ingredient in a mystery.
In the end, climactic scene, fraught with mortal danger, hero and villain duke it out. This scene contains the payoff for the novel. Afterwards is the coda, a contemplative session in which lose ends are explained. The ending needs to be plausible, surprising and satisfying.
***
Two weeks ago I wrote about humor in romance and thought of how most of us not being natural comedic geniuses, would have difficulty writing comedy into the scene. Here's a concrete example of how to improve: Recall a funny remark by a friend and see if it applies or can apply to something in the scene. Another trick is to spot an illogical way of doing something (we all do dumb things, maybe just following the unquestioning crowd) in which the other character calls it out in some way.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Trouble in paradise

Trouble in paradise
The roses are fake but the marriages are real. So goes the ying-yang way the producers approach The Bachelor franchise on ABC. The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise are all highly rated. But ABC is in trouble. Recently in the filming of Paradise, two contestants engaged in a public sex act (about a half minute of cunnilingus) which disturbed two producers enough that they complained to Warner Brothers. The parent corporation started an investigation and found themselves guilty, not the contestants, although the bawdy couple got the boot. ABC rebooted and started filming anew.
ABC started a bit of soul searching and decided they were shocked that lots of drinking and raw public sex was going on in paradise. Unlike Casablanca, the rules for Paradise changed, presumably, forever. Now the contestants can have no more than two drinks per hour. That seems ridiculous to the naked eye. But before you cry foul remember how some of us approach the open bar at weddings. The drink max and unspecified new sexual conduct rules apparently have made their way into the old contract. For those who root for sexual hook-ups, don’t worry, there’s plenty of time in the sack where the cameras don’t linger. Let your imagination go as wild as the contestants. As one producer said, “it’s not like I work for a church.”
These producers had tried to create drama by offering unlimited drinks, less sleep, long soul searching interviews, Draculian contracts that say ABC can use anything of a personal nature and that they may be inaccurate in their portrayal of the contestants.
We do the same thing to our characters. We put them in stressful situations which elicit tears, change, fights, battles (of good versus evil) and resolution.
My problem is not with the sex, oh lordy. I want to know why these two contestants were singled out when others have done far more intimate on camera. Somehow I don’t think this is a black white thing. I certainly hope not.
Here’s 2 excerpts from an interview with one of the two booted contestants conducted by E! News.
https://youtu.be/qrKBoygQlOw
https://youtu.be/O8jnodAyQTM