Writer Wednesday–Talking Heads Is More Than A Band

I love my editor. LOVE. Her. She catches everything and makes me tow the line.

One of the issues I worked on this round was on “talking heads.” I’m using the term loosely because my characters do move and have internal thoughts, but they don’t necessarily interact with their world in early drafts.

While editing, I focused on identifying places where my characters could move about their world and (as my editor suggested) I layered in WORLD BUILDING while doing it.

For example, the main character in SHIFTING PRIDE, my YA paranormal romance shapeshifter novel, is a werecat. She also has a lead role in the Drama Club play. So, I had her interact with a Cats poster in her room.

How do you handle “talking heads” in your manuscripts?

Mental Health Monday–Expect the Unexpected

I watched the opening minutes of X Factor last week and was blown away by the first audition.

From Greensboro, NC, the singer came out on stage embodying The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He wore high top sneakers, an oversized jean jacket, a plaid shirt tied around the waist, and had a hi-top hair cut with stripes razored along his hairline.

After he introduced himself, a country music tune blared–twang and all.

Screen shots of the judges going “WTF?” alternated with the kid waiting for his cue.

I watched, mesmerized, wondering whether or not I was about to witness a disaster.

As it turned out, dude could SING.

I bring this example up in order to discuss character development.

As writers, we want to paint a clear picture of who our characters are. We also want to make out characters interesting. And we need to do that by avoiding stereotypes and highlighting uniqueness.

What’s more unique than a “Fresh Prince Country Singer?”

How do youse guys develop interesting, unique characters?

Mental Health Monday–Imaginary Friends…Normal Or Not???

I often hear writers liken their characters to imaginary friends. Heck I do it too.

What’s interesting to me is that imaginary friends during childhood are quite normal. It’s a phase of development where the child is learning creativity and how to integrate their personality.

But what about imaginary friends in adults?

I’m not talking about our characters. I’m talking about adults who actually have imaginary friends. There’s not a lot of research on this (can you imagine getting a sample of people who’d be willing to share such information?), but the studies that are out there seem to link imaginary friends with dissociative identity disorder (aka multiple personality disorder). This disorder occurs when a child faces severe neglect and abuse (sexual or physical) and the only defense they have is to “fragment” their personality. Doing this compartmentalizes the trauma away as a means to protect the self.

As adults, people with DID note missing periods of time, the feeling that other people are inside them and these other people can take control, and they can hear voices (generally inside their head).

Another theory of imaginary friends in adults comes from attachment theory. Some kids (maybe single children or neglected children, for example) don’t get enough emotional nourishment and develop imaginary friends as a support system.

Interesting, huh?

Don’t forget to check out Lydia’s Medical Monday and Sarah Fine’s The Strangest Situation.

These posts are for writing purposes ONLY and are NOT to be construed as medical advice or treatment.

Blog Chain–Characters, Characters Everywhere and Not A Place to Think

Today is a big day. Not only am I guest posting on the Operation Awesome Blog, I’m also sharing my answer to this round of the blog chain! So, check out my OA post, then pop back here for all the posting goodness! (Or, of course, you could read this post first, then head over to OA…you know, whatever your preference is. *winks*)

Abby starts the blog chain this round with this fantastic question:

Where do your characters come from? And once they’ve been introduced to you, how do you get to know them?

I think it’s quite common for writers to refer to their characters as taking up space in their heads, as if a writer’s mind is glommed up with different people from different walks of life. This may be the case (no, we’re not all suffering from dissociative identity disorder AKA multiple personality disorder), but for me, I consider my characters to be quite separate from myself.

It’s true.

When I’m developing an idea, I mold the character(s) that fit the world-in-progress. In those days, weeks, and months, my characters are more like those blank mannequins waiting in the storeroom until they get their heyday in the spotlight. I add body shape, eye color, hair color, fashion style (or lack thereof), and personality until I find the right “outfit” that works. Sure, sometimes I have to do costume changes and such, but once my characters debut on the plot runway, they are their own person(s).

I’m along for the ride, a silent, but directing, friend.

When their story is done, we part ways. I go on with my life and they go on with theirs. I think fondly of them from time to time. I wonder how they are and what they’re up to now.

The nice thing is that we get to reconnect during the revision process. What’s even more interesting is we get to catch up with each other. What fun that is!

The most surprising thing is how much we (meaning my characters and me) have grown.

Check out Sarah’s post from yesterday in case you missed it. Michelle M. posts tomorrow!


Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog/Blog Awards!

I’ve had the wonderful honor of receiving TWO blog awards this past week!

Thanks Natasha!

Thanks Marieke!

The “rules” of each award say I need to pass the awards on to 15 blogs. Let me tell you, it’s too hard to pick because I LOVE EVERYBODY’S blogs! Really, each and every person who blogs puts in such a fantastic effort! So, I wanna give a big THANK YOU to all the bloggers in the interwebz! And I’m really honored that all y’all take the time to read my posts–it’s SO awesome!

The Versatile Blogger “rule” suggests I share 7 things about myself…

1) The last movie I saw was Eat, Pray, Love; I think Javier Bardem is a GREAT actor. (Oh, darn, that’s two things. Oh well, they kind of go together…)

2) I sleep in waaaaay too late on weekends.

3) I think Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is hands down much better than Starbucks.

4) I prefer rain to sunshine.

5) I take it one day at a time.

6) I am saddened by this trend of 3D movies because I can’t see the effect. All I see is red and green and a blurry screen. Bah.

7) I kill houseplants. (Not on purpose, really. I swear.)


Don’t forget to check out Lydia’s post on how much her characters are like her!

Every Wednesday

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–Who’s Who?

A new month means a new topic for the traveling blog! This month, Lydia poses the question:

What part of yourself (personality, physical characteristic, life in general) have you put into a main character? And why did you put it in there?

This is a fantastic question! For sure, writing has become such a personal process for me that I can’t help but spill into some of my characters. My first novel was the most obvious–the main character was a psychiatrist in her 30’s. (The difference? She had a 600 year old spirit chasing her and, as far as I can tell, I don’t. Yay!)

Once I got that out of my system, I think details of my “self” became more subtle. Now, instead of physical characteristics, hobbies, or day jobs, my characters reflect my thought processes. In other words, they are likely to approach situations like I do, they solve problems like I do, and they have a childish, pessimistic sense of humor like I do. (Just kidding.) (No I’m not.) (Yes I am.) (No…aww, never mind.)

The most interesting thing I’ve noticed in my writerly journey is that my characters seem to react to the world around them. They kind of just go along from scene to scene, managing whatever situation is in front of them, without really connecting it to any overarching theme.

Well, dang it all, ain’t that how I approach life? Don’t worry, I won’t go off into some long-winded philosophical rant, but suffice it to say, I’m the type who handles one day at a time. Hell, I sometimes manage one hour at a time. So is it any surprise my characters tend to do the same?

The problem with this is striking–my characters’ moment to moment approach to their lives makes them seem ineffectual and passive. Shoot! NOT what I wanted.

So, my task–should I figure out how to do it–is to make my characters effect their worlds rather than let their worlds effect them. It’s easier said than done, but I’m working on it.

As an aside, I would like to say I’m not some limp sock that gets kicked around the bedroom floor. I do develop goals and I do reach them. It just seems my go with the flow attitude seeps into my writing.

Then again, I am a pantster, so everything I wrote about could be a load of bollix.

Just sayin’.

So, if this was a complete let down, check out Lydia’s post next week! She’s sure to have something awesome, inspiring, and funny to say!

Every Wednesday