Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Post in Which I Declare My Absence

Dear Readers,

I start driver's ed tomorrow.  I am not looking forward to it.  Because of this parent inflicted torture, I shall be somewhat absent from the blogosphere. I will check in now and then, and I might even post some more of the Pink Dragon Mission things.  I also will be participating in the Teens Can Write Too! August blog chain, but I might not comment on the other's posts until the thing is nearly over.  We'll see. 

Wish me luck,
Lily The Ever Imaginative

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Character Texting

A couple weeks ago, while I was reinventing Lizzie's parents, I discovered a new method of brainstorming. Okay, so maybe someone else thought of it before I did, but it was new to me.  This method is what I like to call "Character Texting".  You essentially have a texting conversation with your character. I do this through a Word doc.  The way I started Character Texting was I randomly typed the sentence "Okay, Mrs. Evans, what will you be?" into the Word doc I was putting all her character info in.  Then she responded.  And we got a little conversation going.  I find this method to be much more productive than staring at the computer and thinking.  "Do I want her to be a realtor?  A interior designer?  A jelly maker?" and only typing it down once I've decided.  Through Character Texting I can ask her what she wants to be, and get her opinion.  Also, it kills two nargles with one stone, since I also get insight as to how she would say things.  Sure, I'm texting someone who doesn't exist and asking them what they want to be and looking at how they see the world, but it works.  And instead of thinking of her as part of me (she's MY character), I think about her as her own person, and she becomes more of herself.  Yeah, it's crazy and a bit schizophrenic, but I'm beginning to think that no really good fiction can come from someone entirely sane.

 To give you an example of how I Character Text, I shall hold a brief conversation with Lizzie (a teen sleuth and main character in my WIP).

Me:  Lizzie.  You need a motive.

Liz: Yes, I know.  I'm kinda pathetic in my story at the moment.  What happened to the subplot you had going with Joe?  I was looking forward to meeting a character who carved coffins for a living. Especially since he was dating my sister, and I could tease her about it.

Me: I decided not to do it.  But I am saving it for a later story.  Besides, it didn't really give you a motive anyway.  It could have worked for Lainie, but not for you.

Liz:  True.  I think I cooperate with the police too much. 

Me: Agreed.  Maybe I ought to give you your own lead to follow.

Liz:  That could work.   Which lead?  One that's in the story already, or a new one?  And am I right or wrong?

Me:  I don't know.  I think having you be partially right would be fun. 

Liz:  Yeah, for you. 

Me: And the readers.

Liz: Sigh. 

Me:  Sigh... ya know, if I spelled that Sygh, it'd be a good name. Or maybe Syghe....

Liz:  Solston to Lily!  Can we please stay in my story world?

Me:  Yeah, sorry.  I like having you be partially right. Maybe you misinterpret a piece of evidence. 

Liz:  That could work.  But the question still remains:  New lead, or old lead? 

Me: Hmm.  I never piled any good evidence against the actual bad guys, and the police certainly don't have enough reason to follow them....

Liz:  But you could fix that.  I'm not sure I want to follow the real bad guys.  I don't like them. 

Me: Do you like any of the bad guys?

Liz: Well, no.  But I really don't like them.  They're kinda...scary.  You don't show that in the story, but I've been in your head long enough to know what they're like.   You had talked about my motive being a combination of hyper curiosity and a strong sense of justice, and if you stick with that, I need to follow a lead that is more puzzling and intriguing than scary.  You have to make me want to solve the mystery.  I like solving puzzles, so give me a puzzle to solve.

Me: The whole story is a puzzle.

Liz: Yeah, but all I do, especially in the latter half of the story is say "Oh, look, this evidence goes here.  I better call the police!  I overheard something that might solve the mystery, I better call the police!" Over, and over, and over again.  I hate to say it, Lil, but story-me is BORING!  She's a good citizen, sure, but she's boring.

Me:  I hadn't looked at it like that. But I want you to be an admirable character.

Liz: There are ways of making me admirable the way you want me to be without making me boring....

There's more to this conversation, but it got kinda long.  I started typing and Lizzie got vocal.  It really helped with my story.

What do you think of Character Texting?  Give it a try and let me know how it works out!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The World Through a Writer's Lens

Today is my turn to post for the Teens Can Write, Too! July blog chain.  This month's question is: 

"How has writing affected your perception of the world?"

Writing has changed how I look at many things, but in subtle ways.  I listen to how people talk more than I used to.  Sometimes I look at strangers and see the faces of potential characters.  Or maybe they're wearing something I think a character would wear.  Or maybe they're just being normal and I wonder what their story is.  I didn't used to do that. 

Writing has also changed how I listen to music, watch movies, and read books.  For example, when I heard Carrie Underwood's new song Blown Away, I had two reactions: Eew, and Ooh.... The song is about a girl of undisclosed age who lets her father die in a tornado.  It's never said directly, but I got the impression that the father had killed the mother years before.  Eew, creepy, twisted, blugh. However, I have a character who can relate, Viola Wood, and I got a writing buzz. Viola's circumstances are way more complicated, but she can relate to wanting her father dead.  Her reaction to that song got me to like it.  Enough to listen to it multiple times in a row.  Had I not been a writer (or at least without a character like Viola), I would have just had the Eew reaction and never listened to the song again.  I had a similar experience with Rascal Flatts's song Here Comes Goodbye, only what happened with that one was I set the emotion and some of the lines to a scene right before a battle.  That made it worth listening to. Otherwise it's just another sad breakup song.  

Writing has somewhat changed how I look at odd happenings. Like the time my mom found a random windshield wiper set on our car.  It wasn't one of ours, someone had just put it there.  When she told me about it, I thought "What if it was a magic windshield wiper?"  I'm not sure what a magic windshield wiper would do, but it has potential.  Odd things like that, and even some ordinary things, now trigger ideas.

That's all for me folks.  Be sure to check out the rest of the blog chain! 

July 7––Miriam Joy Writes
July 8––Musings From Neville’s Navel
July 9––This Page Intentionally Left Blank
July 10––Blog of a (Maybe) Teen Author
July 11––Scribbling Beyond the Margins
July 12––Lily’s Notes In The Margins
July 13––Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish
July 14––The Zebra Clan
July 15––Reality Is Imaginary
July 16––A Myriad of Colors
July 17––An MK’s Meandering Mind
July 18––The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
July 19––All I Need Is A Keyboard
July 20– Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays, not just because of the fireworks, but also because it is a celebration of freedom and, obviously, independence; both of which I hold dear.  

Every American knows the Star Spangled Banner.  What some don't know is that what is sung as our national anthem is only the first verse of a poem entitled "Defense of Fort McHenry" by Francis Scott Key.  Here's the whole thing:

Defense of Fort McHenry by Francis Scott Key

O say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

I haven't memorized the whole thing yet, but I'm real close. 
Here's the Wikipedia article on the Star Spangled Banner.  

While I'm on the subject of patriotic music, I'll pass on the links to some of my favorite patriotic country songs. 

By Toby Keith:
Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (there is some profanity usage in this one)

It's America - Rodney Atkins
Only in America - Brooks and Dunn
Ragged Old Flag - Johnny Cash

Have a wonderful Independence Day everyone.  God bless America!