Week Twenty-One: Creating Characters and Connecting with Writers

May 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

May 28, 2012

“ . . . the writer’s original perception of a character or characters may be as erroneous as the reader’s.” —Stephen King, On Writing

Just reading about how King came up with the idea for Carrie is harrowing. He described two downtrodden, outcast girls he remembered from his school days that he drew from to create the character of Carrie. It reminded me of an incident from my own childhood. A quiet and unassuming boy showed up at school one day with a new haircut and new clothes. The smile on his face and the bounce in his step showed he felt pretty spiffy. Until a boy and a girl sat at his table, surrounding him, and, right there in the classroom, picked on him until he started crying.  I will never forget that. I admit I have seen the movie Carrie but never read the book. I started it and couldn’t get past that opening shower scene as only King can write it. It was just too awful.

On a brighter note, I stared reading Fly Me to the Moon by Alyson Noël. One of the published authors at the LERA meeting recommended reading a lot of books in one’s chosen genre when re-writing, so . . .

I finished typing the second draft. I didn’t even have to get out the ACE bandages. Yay!

Now for the rewrites. Help! The serious work begins. Four different writing experts, including Kirt Hickman (Revising Fiction) and Doug Eboch (Sweet Home Alabama) say you must write bios for all your main characters. Now I can’t believe I didn’t do this before; I thought I knew my characters pretty well and didn’t have to. But they have also changed over the course of two drafts and now it’s clear there are a lot of inconsistencies. Completing the character bios will fix all that, and guess what? It takes forever! I spent two hours figuring out the hero’s astrological sign. Good thing, too, because her original birthday, that I had come up with to suit the plot, was totally the wrong sign for her.

Alyson Noel and Me at Alamosa Books

I went to Alyson Noël’s book signing for her Soul Seekers series at Alamosa Books last Tuesday. Book signings are a golden opportunity to talk to and get great advice from stars: published writers! Alyson Noël talked to us one-on-one as if it were a given that we would be successful writers. When I told her I had just finished the second draft and that I was now beginning the process of making it tight and publishable, she said to enjoy that process now that I have the time. Because when I start having deadlines and am going crazy, I will look back on this stage of my life fondly.

Duly noted.

Week Eighteen: The Temptation, Still Typing, and the Awesome Avengers

May 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

May 6, 2012

I started reading The Temptation, a new YA novel from best-selling author Alisa Valdes. The Temptation, which was released on April 24th, is the first in Alisa’s supernatural romance Kindred trilogy. It’s about a girl who begins a strange and dangerous journey after her car crashes in a snowstorm and she is rescued by a mysterious young man with healing powers. The author, who lives in New Mexico, gave a talk and book-signing at Bookworks in Albuquerque last week. I will post more details on Alisa’s talk later this week. I am also still reading On Writing, which leads me to—

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”—Stephen King’s first editor, from King’s book On Writing.

I’d like to be rewriting, doors open or closed, but I’m still typing, often times while eating dinner. I wrote a lot of freaking pages that need to be transcribed, so, yeah, I’m still typing. Coffee is my best friend, and I am two episodes behind on Mad Men. You’d think with all the typing I’m doing that my speed and accuracy would improve, but no.


Albuquerque Studios, a movie studio located at...

Albuquerque Studios provided sets for The Avengers.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was up until 2:00 a.m. Saturday, all because of The Avengers (parts of which were filmed here in Albuquerque). When my friend and I got to the theater on Friday night, all the shows were sold out until eleven o’ clock. So we got tickets to the 11:00 p.m. show and whiled away the time at a nearby Asian restaurant and ate and talked until the smell of bleach told us the crew was cleaning—and closing the place. We went back to the movies a half hour before showtime, and as soon as the previews ended, people started clapping. I couldn’t be happier that Joss Whedon (whom I adore for Buffy and Dollhouse), broke opening weekend box office records and had people applauding before the movie had even started. The Avengers popped with Whedon’s particular brand of off-beat humor and snappy bicker/banter, and he characteristically turned the traditional female role on its head with one statement from Black Widow: “I’m in the middle of an interrogation!” I loved how he wrote the sad, haunted, emotionally isolated Bruce Banner, whom Mark Ruffalo portrayed perfectly. My favorite line: “A little secret—I’m always angry.” The entire audience laughed, clapped, and cheered throughout the movie, causing my friend to jokingly gripe, “People are acting like they’re watching live theater.” That is how much we were moved by The Avengers.

Week Seventeen: Transcribing Notes and Judy Blume’s Influence

April 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

April 29, 2012

I picked up Stephen King’s On Writing again. Sitting at my kitchen table, I cracked up over the chapter about how he wrote, printed, AND distributed a satirical high school newspaper he called the Village Vomit. “As all sophomoric humorists must be, I was totally blown away by my own wit,” King begins his hilarious recount of the second time he got in trouble because of something he had written. Once the principal got wind of it, King got two week’s detention, which “turned out to be not so bad.”

I began the fun task of transcribing into the computer all of my feverishly handwritten notes from the past three weeks. The “fun” part is trying to decipher what I had written while in a hotel room, or before the coffee kicked in at 5:45 a.m., or late on a Friday night as the wine was making its way through my bloodstream.

“You’ve got to go into that room and you’ve got to get rid of the censor on this shoulder and the critic on this shoulder, or you’re never going to write anything that matters.”—Judy Blume

Photo of Judy Blume in 2009

Photo of Judy Blume in 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Judy Blume was interviewed on the Tavis Smiley show in honor of the 40th anniversary of her famous book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Judy Blume was a major influence on my writing from age twelve through sixteen. “Imitation preceded creation” Stephen King writes. The style and genre of Blume’s Forever and Then Again, Maybe I Won’t inspired my own penciled adolescent writings, which are still tucked safely away in a turquoise accordion file on my bookshelf. That is more than I can say for my copies of Blume’s books, because, like a whole slew of other books and comics that I love, they went the way of one of my many adolescent freak-out purges that I don’t remember. My favorite Judy Blume book, Tiger Eyes, is first on my list to buy, again. Tiger Eyes is being made into a movie, it is directed by Blume’s son, and it was filmed right here in New Mexico!

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