Through You

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of postings of encouragement to other writers on Instagram. I think one of the reasons is because part of me is really nervous about receiving my editor’s notes on my latest manuscript. I go from “Why isn’t she finished? Where is her email?!” to “Oh, good, I don’t have her comments yet and I don’t have to begin the tedious process of editing.”

I know that once I begin the process, I will be in another place in time. I will forget where I put things (more often), forget the wet towels in the dryer, not return phone calls, postpone going full-mask to the grocery store, etc.

But I will press on, do what needs to be done, then beg forgiveness to those I have ignored.

DO YOU LIKE YOUR NOVEL’S CHARACTERS?

You’ve got a flow going. The inciting incident is spot on and the pacing is running at a good clip. But that one character?

There is something you like about her otherwise you would have thrown her out a long time ago. But as you read through your manuscript with an objective eye, you notice she might as well be a fly on the wall without eyes. She’s already got a motivation towards her purpose but something’s missing.

Here are a few ideas:

  • What is she afraid of?
  • What flaws does she have?
  • Shape her background/history so we better understand what made her “tick” to life in the first place.
  • Show her personality through her actions and creative dialogue.
  • Give her some interests other than star gazing.
  • What are the quirky qualities that make her memorable?
  • Is she a relatable character that holds common ground with the human reader?
  • How does she handle struggle and crisis? (Shrugs don’t count)
  • Make your reader fight for your character’s right to be in the book! (Or, make your character fight to remain)

Keep your characters alive!

Here’s a link for more on the topic.

Reviving a crazy old bat

I have a character, and, like most, she just sort of showed up. But now she lies dormant and I ache for her to return. I think about her but can’t rouse the crazy old bat – even now when there’s plenty of time to spend on the computer.

I know Olvie lives alone. It’s the 1960’s and she takes up space in a small house just outside the old freedom town of Clarksville in Austin, Texas. She tries to fix her hair Marilyn Monroe-style but it comes out looking like Sally’s on the Dick Van Dyke show.

Olvie hates calling telephone numbers that contain a zero. Takes too damn long for the rotary dial to circle all the way back to its starting position. And the rabbit ears on her Magnavox don’t work to satisfaction until 10:00 a.m. when Let’s Make a Deal airs.

Until she chunked old Singer out the window, Olvie used to be a card carrying member of the Sewing Guild. She does, however, still have a license to check out books should she have the hankering to stare at words instead of the boob tube.

A real visitor might enter her house and think they have stepped into the Twilight Zone. Mannequin Gladys, wearing her flapper dress, stares out the window. Half-torsoed Fritz wears the top portion of a lederhosen and precariously balances on the television.

When she encounters the poor soul walking past her house, she poke, poke, pokes his chest, asks if she can spit on his shoes, then adds, “it won’t take long.”

Returning inside, she kicks off her duck slippers and does a quick “shuffle off to Buffalo” to impress Gladys and Fritz. They are catatonically dazzled by her performance.

Dear Olvie, please come back so I can plunk your words and actions down on a keyboard. Get in my face, spit on my shoes if you want. Just show up again.

Your friend, Carolyn

image credit

Collections From Breathing

A simple breath, the bubble forms

then floats in search of things adored

keen awareness, filling bareness

collections placed and interlaced

a meaning soon restored.

CD-W ©

She dipped below an ocean wave

And gave with grace a treasure saved

of centuries old, its story told

seasons more to yet unfold

A single pearl unscathed.

From Collections from Breathing – a WIP book of poetry