Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An Alligator Went a Courtin'

A young gentleman caller has been sitting outside my deck all day,
pacing, and waiting and watching and making this deep
grunting/croaking sound...hoping his magical mate will appear.

It's mating season around these here parts, and apparently alligators are tireless in their mating habits. Every now and then I see a fearful bunny scurry past, always careful to look over his shoulder. But. He needn't worry, this gentleman caller has only one thing on his mind.

The birds and other beasts have been talking all day too. I think they wait in tense apprehension for this guy to get his gal. Early this morning, I watched the most magnificient blue heron fly overhead and then land on the far side of the pond. Does he know the plight of our pal?

As a writer? I know the pain of his plight! I've waited on a few shores myself. I've hit 'send' and sat there, staring at the blue screen, crossing my fingers and letting go. I try very hard to busy myself, take a load off, and forget what it is I'm waiting for. If the universe wants it, the universe gets it.

Many glimmers lately though, in my pond! My friend, Jame's book, Three Rivers Rising just launched this week. (BUY IT!) That waiting took forever. She's well on her way now, though. Ann Haywood Leal's Also Known as Harper (BUY THAT ONE TOO!) awaits her baby sister. And there are a few other very hopeful stories that will find their way into this little blog soon.

So, stay tuned, dear reader. More will be revealed. As I finish here, I'm hearing a second grunting voice answering out there in the the mud! That means...all good things DO come to those who wait! The universe never lets us down!

Have you ever had to spend your days in waiting? What on earth would make you wait with baited breath much like our friend in the pond?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Living Inside the Character's Skin/The Continuing Adventures of the Revisionist Writer

I am the co-pilot now. My characters are in total control. (Well, almost.)

A few weeks ago, I was surfing around on the net, looking at all my favorite blogs and reading up on my craft. Writer Unboxed is a great resource, current as far as trends go, but even more valuable in extending all the little gems that make for great story.

I came across Skyler White's guest article in two parts, so I poured myself a hot cup of tea, and read it all the way through. Skyler writes urban fantasy, which in a way, couldn't be any further from my own contemporary young adult fiction. But...as we all know, all story is connected. And technique is a collaborative effort. Writers study great writing, they generally work with a group and thankfully most people are looking to pass it on. Skyler's article suggested, Goal, Motivation and Conflict, by Debra Dixon, a primer for anyone engaged in writing fiction.

GMC is a great book, a short read, packed with great ideas and exercises related to story construction. I've posted about my current revision process, and this time, I've been a little more quiet on the blogosphere. I've decided to focus and stay awhile, live inside my characters' skins. I'm writing my story in the voices of three characters...so for each segment, I've got to all but dismiss the other two in order to follow the conflict, and chase the motivations of only one. It's a tricky process, requiring many more revisions than I'd expected. But I've grabbed hold now, and can tell I'm closer than ever before. It's all so real to me. Let's hope it's all there on the page.

Last week, I sat down with one of my writing friends, and she grilled me for the better part of an hour on Caroline. She wanted to know the who (character)...what (goal), why (motivation)
and why not (conflict) of it all. For me, Caroline was always the easiest to explain, because she's so full of conflict both inside and out. What we found though, was that I'd set her up with a conflict she couldn't overcome way too early on. So now? I've got it straight. And even though it's hard to put yourself in the mind of the character and defend your every thought and action?
The interview is an awesome way to get unstuck when you inevitably hit that awful brick wall.

Caroline is the wild child in the novel, she's risky, flirty and always on the run. She has to keep ahead of the gossip, and bowl people over with her behavior, and that in a way is how she finds love. It's not the real kind of love most of us crave, that's for sure. Caroline's concept of love is attention-driven. She's attracted to the adrenaline-pumping shock value. "If I can keep you watching me, you won't be able to resist me." So when the boy of her dreams attempts to get away, she jumps into the backseat of his jeep, crowds his space and her story evolves from there. Caroline's story is one of madness and mayhem...with lots of risks riding on her schemes.

And now that I've spent the last ten days inside her skin, I'm forced to move into the more serious goal-oriented head of Deirdre. Crazy, right? Writing makes you a bit schitzophrenic...a temporary condition, believe me. Thank God for treadmills, yoga and the great outdoors, otherwise the madness could choose to stay!

How do you escape the madness in your life? What tricks to the trade work in making your struggles lessen? I'd love to hear it!