Friday, October 28, 2011

A Few Tidbits

Is that right? Is it tidbits? Tid-bits? Tid Bits?

Don't know, however, I digress. Here are a few tidbits of news. First of all, we've been meeting with other writers on the Western Slope (of Colorado, that is) to get Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer meetings and events happening on our side of the mountain. We've met with great enthusiasm and a couple volunteers already. We're looking forward to making new writing friends.

The first Western Slope RMFW meeting is slated for November 19th. If any of you are in the area and want to join us, give us a holler. The meeting will be held at 800 Colorado Ave, Grand Junction from 9:30 to Noon.

Secondly, Marne and I are doing a story bible mini-class at the meeting. We worked on the presentation tonight and all I can say is  - Marne rocks! She's already given this class online, so she had the majority of the work done.

Lastly, Mike, Marne and I are doing NaNoWriMo this year. Marne found us a wonderful place to write, complete with kitchen, living room, family room, and a huge dining room table. Nope, not her house, but an adult daycare center which is empty every evening. It's perfect!!!  Again, we are meeting new writing friends, this time through the Grand Junction NaNoWriMo group. Our little offshoot is the Delta/Montrose branch of the GJ organization.

Come join us on Tuesday nights in November:

1402 Howard Street
Delta, CO

And if you don't know what NaNoWriMo is, see this website:

Do you have any writing news you want to share?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Disturbing Characters

    I have a book that lists among my weaknesses the word, ‘DISTURBING’ Just like that, all caps. The only thing that disturbs me about that is that they consider it a weakness. Hell, if I can disturb somebody and there are no consequences, like getting arrested or fired, I’m going for it. Besides, we’re all disturbing in one way or another. Religion, politics, social and societal convention, we are all disturbed and disturbing by and to someone. The question is: should you make your characters disturbing?

    Hell yes. Even if you are writing a piece about well meaning people on two sides of a divisive issue and everyone will be redeemed in the end through compromise and group hugs, someone needs to be disturbing or the boredom will be excruciating.

    I can hear you thinking, ‘Huh, I’ll just have my antagonist be disturbing.’ Does it disturb you that I can hear your thoughts? Now, you can have your bad guy be disturbing, most of them are in one way or another; they’re bad guys. So make them disturbing in their actions. Have them swerve to hit bunnies on the highway, pee in the office coffee pot, try to see the future in the entrails of their victims, etc. That’ll disturb some readers but we expect that sort of thing and we expect bad guys to have disturbing thoughts if they have a POV. By all means, make the bad guy disturbing but also do the unexpected. Give your protagonist disturbing thoughts.

    Heroes are better characters if they are flawed, we all know that. This is just one more way to bring them to life. I don’t have room here to give examples because there are too many possibilities. Think sex, murder, torture, violence, kinky sex, violent sex, torturous sex, vandalism, suicide, autoerotic asphyxiation, homophobic, homosexual, pee in the office coffee pot thoughts.

    I can hear you thinking again and some of you are reluctant to sully your good guy with less than heroic thoughts. You love him because he is so strong and brave and virtuous. He is your idea of a perfect person. You can’t have him think stuff like... No!

    Okay. Many books have been written and published with nary a thought out of place on the part of the hero. The tension comes from insurmountable odds, the hero’s fear or feelings of unworthiness, or his desire to save the villain, etc. There is a large audience for that.

    Not my cup of tea.

    I prefer Han Solo to Luke, Rooster Cogburn to Marshal Dillon, Ironman to Superman, Grace Anadarko to Joe Friday. I want heroes with grit. I want them dirty, nasty, sociopathic in their thoughts and borderline criminal in their deeds. I don’t care if they fight their demons or embrace them. I just want them to have demons.

    Now, I realize this sort of thing can be overdone. So don’t obsess over thinking up and putting in inappropriate thoughts. But there are situations where a reasonable person might think something that would get them arrested if they said it out loud. If one occurs to you, try it out.

    What do you think? Gonna do it?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Is Your Stuff in A Pile?

Marne and I are both working on new projects. Marne started the third book of “The Fae Dragon Chronicles". I’m working on a whole new project, which blends the old west, (my first love) and a little fantasy (my second love).

We’re both excited, motivated and diligently writing. Yay.

Normally Marne has a canvas bag sitting next to her computer when she writes. The bag holds notebooks, three rings binders, sticky notes, bits of get the idea. Her filing cabinet full of information regarding her stories. Character sketches, tidbits about her world and the creatures and people who live in it.

Me, I’m more of a electronic person. I don’t have a canvas bag, but I have a pile of thumb drives. Sometimes I pick them all up and play with them. They click together very nicely, kind of like dice. It’s a sensory thing.

Each thumb drive holds various files and folders, (and, truth be told, various versions of the same files). I pretend my thumb drives are color coded.

The blue one holds notes and research.
The black one, versions one and two (and maybe three and four) of my manuscript.
The red one submissions and feedback from critique group.
The other black one (with the little plastic cap) contains ideas for future work, brainstorming, and things. I don’t exactly remember what.
The purple one backs up the black one, because you should always have several backups, right?
The pink one with flowers, well it holds backups of personal stuff and important spreadsheets.
The red one with the black skulls doesn’t work any longer, but I’m afraid to throw it away. I don’t remember what’s on it.
You get the idea...Marne’s canvas bag on disc.

Unlike my brilliant husband, who doesn’t seem to need a story bible, my memory sucks. Between Marne and I, we’ve written more than a few manuscripts over the years and there are times I remember more about her characters than I do my own.

We were both spending too much time looking for information.

I don’t remember who first realized we needed story bibles. I’m pretty sure I was first to create my computer file, complete with an index and page references. However, Marne’s memory is much better than mine and she says her “big” three ring bible, with tabs and a written index, came into creation first.

Regardless, we are both stoked. We are organized!!!!

And, we’ve fed off of each other. Marne now has an electronic story bible, but I secretly covet that very cool binder that has a plastic pocket with colored pens and highlighters. When she isn’t watching, I run my fingers along the tabs, flip through the pages and doodle with her pens. What writer doesn’t love office supplies?

Our story bibles have morphed from mere information dumps, into the structure of our worlds. We can click on a highlighted page number and add to the paragraph explaining the rules of our world’s magic; with the push of a button, we are re-analyzing our villian's GMCs; in seconds we’re able to read what we wrote last month about our protagonist’s culture. And now when I can’t remember if my heroine’s eyes are sea-green or sky-blue (I am a romance writer, after all), it just takes a click of my mouse to find out.

Dang we’re good. Sometimes it just takes two heads to figure it all out.

What about you? Do you use a story bible. If so, how did you develop it? What’s in it?

If not, how do you keep all that info in a pile and accessible? Maybe you just have a better memory than I do. It wouldn’t be hard, cuz like I said, mine sucks.

Just as important, do you have critique partners and writing friends to help you solve problems?

I have a world to create, as well as creatures, religions and, of course, the characters.

All I needed was a story bible.