Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Season's Greeting!

Season's Greetings to all my friends in cyberspace!
I hope your holiday is filled with love, peace and happiness.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I am so sad...

150 cats, 3 dogs and many small animals perished during a fire at our local animal shelter.

It has been suggested that lack of funds may have contributed to proper upkeep of the building.

Please take a moment to make a donation to your local humane society - or if you can afford it, to the Durham Region Humane Society.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Character Evolution and Christmas Tree Program

Aravis Girl has an interesting post about The Evolution of a Story.

In her post, she describes how her her characters evolve as she writes. Sometimes, it is in the interest of the story, but other times it's because she gets to know the characters better.

I've had the same thing happen--to the point where I end up changing the entire story because the character is leading me.
And, sometimes, my protag evolves into an entire new character.

Does this happen to you?

One of the things I enjoy doing before and during writing a story, is to continually develop my characters. I fill out a character questionnaire or two and watch the world for interesting quirks, hobbies, habits, obsessions, mannerisms, etc. to apply to my characters to help develop them. When I'm in the middle of writing story, even when I'm not actually writing, my mind is always acutely aware of my story and its characters. So, when I notice something in a person in real life or on television, for example, I will directly realize that the trait I see belongs to my character. Sometimes these traits seem to come out of the blue.

I believe a well-developed character (both in the story and behind the scenes) will lead herself in a story. The reader should never be surprised (I am not referring to plot surprises here) in how the protag responds to or avoids things (and, yes, I know there are many exceptions).

Here are some interesting articles on character evolution and how to make your character interesting without becoming a two-dimensional cliched stereotype:

J. J. Dare discusses how to keep character from becoming charicatures by using the Character Police.

How to Develop Interesting Characters discusses the need to show how the character grows and reacts to elements of the plot and story.

How to Develop a Character gives tips on developing characters and how or when to reveal these characteristics.

How to Develop Your Characters focuses on goals, obstacles, arcs, and traits.

How to Develop One-of-a-Kind Characters for your Fiction goes more in-depth by suggesting to create a resume, shopping list, journal, and more from the viewpoint of your character.

Holly Lisle's Create a Character Clinic. Very comprehensive. It just doesn't get any better than this.

Got any good character building links to share?

On a different note, for all of you programming geeks: here is a funny program for Putting up the Christmas Tree.

Monday, December 08, 2008




I must say, I enjoyed following others and I also very much enjoyed the guest star "pep talks."
Funniest thing? Now I'm itching to work on my story.
How'd you do?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Only a few hours to go!

Uploaded my book cover to my NaNoWriMo page today. My story will be new age fiction with a hint of mystery. Title: Lost & Found.

I don't have a set outline or my plotting done yet, but I have many ideas floating around in my head. I met with my friend Melly last evening and we went over some ideas. We plan on getting together a few times throughout the month (both virtually and physically).

A couple of NaNo articles / posts of interest:

How do you write 50,000 words in 30 days?

Some helpful links to writing tools.

2007 NaNoWriMo Pep Talks

Routines for Writers - lots of great articles and tips for Nanoers.

The 13-Step Method to reach 50,000 words

More great Nano articles

One writer's journey through NaNoWriMo 2008

Another writer's NaNo journey

Good luck all! And don't forget to friend me!

Monday, October 20, 2008

It ain't easy to be original...

I've decided I'm writing a fantasy story for my NaNo project. I haven't written fantasy before, but I enjoy reading it.

My hope is that a fantasy world will give me more room to be creative so I won't feel "stuck" as often. My goal for NaNo this year is to just get 50,000 words down in a somewhat understandable format. More specifically, learn how to apply myself to the act of writing.

I have a loose plot outline floating around in my mind but I haven't committed anything to paper (or computer) yet, other than some ideas.

I did come across this, tho. I realize I need to do a little soul searching not to be cliche. With a new genre, come new rules.

Here is The Fantasy Novelist's Exam by David J. Parker. It seems it's not easy to be original. I will take this exam tonight and see where I'm at with my floaters.

The Exam

  1. Does nothing happen in the first fifty pages?
  2. Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?
  3. Is your main character the heir to the throne but doesn't know it?
  4. Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme badguy?
  5. Is your story about a quest for a magical artifact that will save the world?
  6. How about one that will destroy it?
  7. Does your story revolve around an ancient prophecy about "The One" who will save the world and everybody and all the forces of good?
  8. Does your novel contain a character whose sole purpose is to show up at random plot points and dispense information?
  9. Does your novel contain a character that is really a god in disguise?
  10. Is the evil supreme badguy secretly the father of your main character?
  11. Is the king of your world a kindly king duped by an evil magician?
  12. Does "a forgetful wizard" describe any of the characters in your novel?
  13. How about "a powerful but slow and kind-hearted warrior"?
  14. How about "a wise, mystical sage who refuses to give away plot details for his own personal, mysterious reasons"?
  15. Do the female characters in your novel spend a lot of time worrying about how they look, especially when the male main character is around?
  16. Do any of your female characters exist solely to be captured and rescued?
  17. Do any of your female characters exist solely to embody feminist ideals?
  18. Would "a clumsy cooking wench more comfortable with a frying pan than a sword" aptly describe any of your female characters?
  19. Would "a fearless warrioress more comfortable with a sword than a frying pan" aptly describe any of your female characters?
  20. Is any character in your novel best described as "a dour dwarf"?
  21. How about "a half-elf torn between his human and elven heritage"?
  22. Did you make the elves and the dwarves great friends, just to be different?
  23. Does everybody under four feet tall exist solely for comic relief?
  24. Do you think that the only two uses for ships are fishing and piracy?
  25. Do you not know when the hay baler was invented?
  26. Did you draw a map for your novel which includes places named things like "The Blasted Lands" or "The Forest of Fear" or "The Desert of Desolation" or absolutely anything "of Doom"?
  27. Does your novel contain a prologue that is impossible to understand until you've read the entire book, if even then?
  28. Is this the first book in a planned trilogy?
  29. How about a quintet or a decalogue?
  30. Is your novel thicker than a New York City phone book?
  31. Did absolutely nothing happen in the previous book you wrote, yet you figure you're still many sequels away from finishing your "story"?
  32. Are you writing prequels to your as-yet-unfinished series of books?
  33. Is your name Robert Jordan and you lied like a dog to get this far?
  34. Is your novel based on the adventures of your role-playing group?
  35. Does your novel contain characters transported from the real world to a fantasy realm?
  36. Do any of your main characters have apostrophes or dashes in their names?
  37. Do any of your main characters have names longer than three syllables?
  38. Do you see nothing wrong with having two characters from the same small isolated village being named "Tim Umber" and "Belthusalanthalus al'Grinsok"?
  39. Does your novel contain orcs, elves, dwarves, or halflings?
  40. How about "orken" or "dwerrows"?
  41. Do you have a race prefixed by "half-"?
  42. At any point in your novel, do the main characters take a shortcut through ancient dwarven mines?
  43. Do you write your battle scenes by playing them out in your favorite RPG?
  44. Have you done up game statistics for all of your main characters in your favorite RPG?
  45. Are you writing a work-for-hire for Wizards of the Coast?
  46. Do inns in your book exist solely so your main characters can have brawls?
  47. Do you think you know how feudalism worked but really don't?
  48. Do your characters spend an inordinate amount of time journeying from place to place?
  49. Could one of your main characters tell the other characters something that would really help them in their quest but refuses to do so just so it won't break the plot?
  50. Do any of the magic users in your novel cast spells easily identifiable as "fireball" or "lightning bolt"?
  51. Do you ever use the term "mana" in your novel?
  52. Do you ever use the term "plate mail" in your novel?
  53. Heaven help you, do you ever use the term "hit points" in your novel?
  54. Do you not realize how much gold actually weighs?
  55. Do you think horses can gallop all day long without rest?
  56. Does anybody in your novel fight for two hours straight in full plate armor, then ride a horse for four hours, then delicately make love to a willing barmaid all in the same day?
  57. Does your main character have a magic axe, hammer, spear, or other weapon that returns to him when he throws it?
  58. Does anybody in your novel ever stab anybody with a scimitar?
  59. Does anybody in your novel stab anybody straight through plate armor?
  60. Do you think swords weigh ten pounds or more? [info]
  61. Does your hero fall in love with an unattainable woman, whom he later attains?
  62. Does a large portion of the humor in your novel consist of puns?
  63. Is your hero able to withstand multiple blows from the fantasy equivalent of a ten pound sledge but is still threatened by a small woman with a dagger?
  64. Do you really think it frequently takes more than one arrow in the chest to kill a man?
  65. Do you not realize it takes hours to make a good stew, making it a poor choice for an "on the road" meal?
  66. Do you have nomadic barbarians living on the tundra and consuming barrels and barrels of mead?
  67. Do you think that "mead" is just a fancy name for "beer"?
  68. Does your story involve a number of different races, each of which has exactly one country, one ruler, and one religion?
  69. Is the best organized and most numerous group of people in your world the thieves' guild?
  70. Does your main villain punish insignificant mistakes with death?
  71. Is your story about a crack team of warriors that take along a bard who is useless in a fight, though he plays a mean lute?
  72. Is "common" the official language of your world?
  73. Is the countryside in your novel littered with tombs and gravesites filled with ancient magical loot that nobody thought to steal centuries before?
  74. Is your book basically a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings?
  75. Read that question again and answer truthfully.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Literary Abandon

Okay. I've decided. I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year. And I'm gonna succeed.

Anyone else taking the plunge?

My info page is here - friend me if you're partaking!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Writing is about experimenting

I enjoy experimenting with motivations, consequences, reactions and choices. It helps me to understand life, mankind's role in life and, best of all, myself.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Writing funnies...

A visitor to a certain college paused to admire the new Hemingway Hall that had been built on campus.

"It's a pleasure to see a building named for Ernest Hemingway," he said.
"Actually," said his guide, "it's named for Joshua Hemingway. No relation."
The visitor was astonished. "Was Joshua Hemingway a writer, also?"
"Yes, indeed," said his guide. "He wrote a check."


A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. "In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.

She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.

"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."

A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.

"Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"

"Oh no, it's not," replied an unseen voice. "Here, your work gets published."

There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer.

When asked to define great, he said, "I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!"

He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.

A screenwriter comes home to a burned down house. His sobbing and slightly-singed wife is standing outside. “What happened, honey?” the man asks.

“Oh, John, it was terrible,” she weeps. “I was cooking, the phone rang. It was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the stove was on fire. It went up in second. Everything is gone. I nearly didn’t make it out of the house. Poor Fluffy is--”

“Wait, wait. Back up a minute,” The man says. “My agent called?”

How many science fiction writers does it take to change a light bulb?

Two, but it's actually the same person doing it. He went back in time and met himself in the doorway and then the first one sat on the other one's shoulder so that they were able to reach it. Then a major time paradox occurred and the entire room, light bulb, changer and all was blown out of existence. They co-existed in a parallel universe, though.

How many publishers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Three. One to screw it in. Two to hold down the author.

How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Two. One to screw it almost all the way in, and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

How many screenwriters does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Why does it *have* to be changed?

How many cover blurb writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?


How many screenwriters does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Ten.
1st draft. Hero changes light bulb.
2nd draft. Villain changes light bulb.
3rd draft. Hero stops villain from changing light bulb. Villain falls to death.
4th draft. Lose the light bulb.
5th draft. Light bulb back in. Fluorescent instead of tungsten.
6th draft. Villain breaks bulb, uses it to kill hero's mentor.
7th draft. Fluorescent not working. Back to tungsten.
8th draft. Hero forces villain to eat light bulb.
9th draft. Hero laments loss of light bulb. Doesn't change it.
10th draft. Hero changes light bulb.
Scooped from here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Funniest Analogies...

This is from an email I received. I thought it was too cute not to share. The e-mail says they are taken from actual high school essays and collected by English teachers across the country for their own amusement. Some of these kids may have bright futures as humor writers. What do you


1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a ThighMaster.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Only General Writing Advice You Will Ever Need

* Writing and Editing are two separate, and different processes.

* Writing and Editing are two separate, and different processes. It is that important.

* Write first. Edit later.

* Write first. Edit later. It is that important.

* Outline only if it works for you.

* Write every day.

* Write what you want to read, not what you think someone else will.

* Keep a ritual.

* Stick to it.

* When you are not writing, read.

* Read a lot.

* Read everything: comics, newspapers, novels, magazines, screenplays, poetry, billboards, tattoos, mustard wrappers, everything.

* Read your own writing. Out loud.

* Read other people’s writing. Out loud.

* Don’t read to comprehend. This is about writing.

* Read to write. Notice the context, flow, and tone.

* Listen to people speak.

* Don’t listen to comprehend. This is about writing.

* Notice the context, flow, and tone.

* Write with different tools: keyboard, pencil, ink pen, crayon, dirt, whatever.

* Write on different mediums: grid paper, lined paper, blank paper, cardboard, LCD, canvas, dirt, whatever.

* Write in different places, but keep and maintain a Writing Home.

* Tell everyone you write: your family, your friends, the postman, the prostitutes, everyone.

* But don’t tell anyone exactly what you are writing: not even the prostitutes.

* Strike dead every should you have about writing.

* Put aside this list, and every other piece of advice, or book, or adage about writing ever offered.

* And write every day.

Snatched from here: