Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Daily Affirmation

While I have my fantasy mystery making the query circuit, I’ve decided to start something new. And by new, I don’t mean another fantasy mystery; although, that would be the prudent course. But until I sell something I won’t know which style of my writing is going to resonate with an agent, publisher, and the general public. Once I figure that out, I’ll start building my brand.

Now that I have my disclaimer out of the way, let’s get back to the point of this post. The new WIP (work in progress) deals with family secrets and three adult siblings struggling with a tragic past. I eat up stories like that. I love reading them, and I love movies about them. Even though I personally think the characters in the movie, “Flesh and Bone” were miscast, the writing was brilliant.

It only seems natural that I should write such a story. There’s just one problem. It’s difficult to write. Yes, it is a strain to switch from writing that is fairly light to digging into real human emotional depths on a technical level, but it also leaves me feeling emotionally fragile. I’m slowly increasing the word count. In the past week since I’ve started it, I’ve written 4,000 words, but I’ve also hid from the book. So, I have written an affirmation for today:

I'm not making any excuses today. I'm not going to rush to play a computer game when a scene gets emotionally difficult. I'm a writer, not a coward. Because I'm a writer, I control my characters and plot; they don't control me. I will write 1,000 words today.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

First 500 Words Contest

There's an exciting contest over on Rachel McClellan's blog. Agent, Lauren Ruth from Bookends will be judging the contest and the prize is a critique of the first 50 pages or first three chapters.

Go check it out, but you only have until August 11th. The contest rules are posted on Rachel McClellan's blog. Just follow the link posted above and good luck!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Antagonists and Why We Love Them

I finished the first two drafts of ABSINTHE AND LEPRECHAUNS, so now it's time to ramp that baby up and make it zing.

Forgive me while I plug an awesome workbook for writers titled WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maass, but it's worth it to share what this book has done for me. The first few chapters had me doing a bit of tweaking. Nothing major but little things that help characters and scenes to pop a bit more. Then we got to the chapter on antagonists. The first exercise, after naming the antagonist, was to write down his defining quality. Whoa! It's the same defining quality I wrote down for my protagonist. Is this saying something about me that I didn't realize? Maybe, but this isn't about me. What it does say is something about my main character. What a delicious, little psychological twist.

Is it something that the readers will likely catch onto? I think some astute readers will, and I'm sure those who don't will enjoy the fun little cat and mouse game. I know I enjoyed writing it.

However, Maass's exercise was not intended for us to have a Luke-Skywalker-in-the-cave moment but for us to develop the antagonist and have fun with it. After all, the purpose of antagonists is to give our protagonist a conflict; otherwise, the book would be boring. So why make the bad guy boring? In some ways it's more fun to develop the antagonist than any other character. This is where you get to let your inner bad girl out and let her loose on the pages of your novel. Think back to some of your favorite books or movies. What stands out to you? If it's the hero, didn't he have a larger than life antagonist who thwarted the hero's goals at every turn?

"Deep Space Nine" is my favorite sci-fi show. The characters were richly drawn, and I love every one of them -- even the not so lovable characters. I love the heroics, spirituality, and the inner struggles of rebellion within Sisko. Who can forget Major Kira? She was a tough former revolutionary fighter whose planet had been recently freed after generations of enslavement by the Cardassians, but past that hard exterior was a beautiful, loving woman with a pure heart. However, my favorite character in the series was a relatively minor one. Wise-cracking, former Cardassian operative Garak stole my heart and every scene of the 37 episodes he was in(100 less than the major characters). He was pithy, arrogant, a chronic liar, and there was concern that he was planted on the space station as a spy. What's so great about someone like him? He said things we all wish we could only dream of saying. He didn't conform to the Federation rules and broke them whenever it suited him or suited Captain Sisko. Garak was also broken, and it was this broken spirit hidden behind his facade which caused me to fall in love. He was richly woven with beautiful layers, and as the seasons wore on, we saw more and more of the anti-hero he really was.

Who stands out to you as your favorite antagonist? What qualities made him or her great in your mind?