Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Stories within stories

Everyone tells stories about their lives, about who they are, about who they wish they were or who they think others wish they were.

Our characters should do it too.

Humans (or human behaving aliens/paranormal creatures/superheros ;)) tell stories about things that happened in their lives for pretty much two primary reasons.

1)  To connect with others.  If you share a bit about yourself, you are inviting the other person into your world, sort of like a window display.  How much you share, and what, determines how close you and the other person are and at what stage in the relationship.  Too much too soon could kill a romantic or even just friends relationship.  Too little too late can make the other person feel you don't open up to them and again kill things.

If I want someone to think I'm adventurous, I might regale them with tales of my one skydiving jump, or that many of my ex-boyfriends were musicians (both of which sound far more adventure some than they were- ok, the jumping out of a plane all by myself was adventurous ;)).

If I want someone to think I'm smart, I might talk about my time in Mensa- ok, that would be a lie, but you get the point.

Most story sharing isn't that pointed though, people aren't always calculating what they want the other person to think.  Most of the time something in a conversation triggers an emotional response and off we go with a story.

2)  However, the second reason is more controlling. Sometimes either insecurity or ego step in and people create, rehearse in their heads, and repeat stories which reinforce a persona they wish to project.  These can be complete fabrications or simply an embellishment of what really happened.  "Did I mention the 30 times I've jumped from a plane?  Lemme tell you about time 12 where....."  I've jumped once, but if being adventurous was part of the persona I wanted to project, and I felt insecure around this person--that one time may have jumped-LOL-to 30.

Braggarts will often do this as well, and oft times for the same reason- insecurity.  Eventually, the made up and rehearsed stories become real to the teller.  They've told it so many times it is real- to them (Gollum and his "birthday present" anyone?  ;)). What would happen to someone with a rehearsed set of lies, both internal and external if a new person in their life burst those lies?

The same with our characters.  What does your character share with others?  What don't they share?  You could show alot about how a character feels around different people by the changes in the story.  Do they lie to everyone simply because they feel inferior?  Are they trying to cover up a failing?  Do they fear their friends won't like them if they know the real them?

All of those things and more can be shown by designing the stories they tell.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NaNo Haters

We're right at the half way mark (ok a bit short) of NaNoWriMo, that annual marathon sprint for writers across the globe.

This is my fifth or so NaNo and every year I'm shocked by other writers reactions.

There is a lot of vitriol flung at NaNo out there and I just don't get it.  Yes, I agree that agents and editors have reason to fear it- I'm sure they get slammed in December by folks sending in NaNo works that are still raw and bleeding from November.  But for every over excited clueless one who does that, there are probably a few hundred who don't.

Some folks slam it because they feel it is too rushed, an emotional burden in an already too fast industry.  Ummm, yeah.  No one was forced to sign up, and bailing on it won't destroy anyone's future career.  I admit I was a bit perplexed by that one.  I think the post writer was trying to make a point and just threw in anti-NaNo statements to make it catchy.

Others attack it because it is "encouraging mediocre or worse writing".   Many writers are dirty draft writers- aka we write fast and messy and clean it up as we go along but mostly on the back end.  I personally only know ONE writer who writes an almost clean draft the first round.  They are a serious plotter, and polish each sentence before moving on.  Most writers, even plotters, aren't like that.  Multiple drafts are part of the game. So why should it matter if my rough draft was born over one month or three?  No matter how slow I write, I will need to edit and do revisions galore.

I don't understand why people feel the need to bash something others are enjoying and might actually be getting their writing kicked up a notch.  The only thing I can figure is these naysayers need to feel involved somehow since there is so much talk about NaNo in the writing community.  They are trying to show their moral and professional superiority to us shlebs out there doing this crazy (and in their mind useless) thing.

I have one thing to say to those people- Bite me.  Not professional nor morally superior, I know.  But it does get the point across.  If you don't like something- DON'T DO IT.  You don't need to mock, slam, or insult the people who do like it to make you feel superior.

If you are doing NaNo this month- WRITE ON!

If you are not doing NaNo this month- STILL WRITE ON!

Writing is a tough and oft times lonely field- we should be supporting each other, not passing judgement and bashing each other.  *diving off the soap box now*

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG: Ideas for sale?


Welcome yet again to the one and only Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday! Writers from across the globe join forces to seek out and support each other on a monthly basis.  Check it out!

Now on to our regularly scheduled blog :)

Ideas for sale.  Ok, not for sale so much as I would like to find out where they come from.  As in what invisible entity is selling these crazy ideas for my books to my brain.

This idea of ideas came as I speed through last night's NaNoWriMo word count.  I'd had a vague idea of what was coming up ahead in my story earlier in the day. Not too far, mind you, just the upcoming scene.  Then, as I was chugging along, a brand new set of ideas took over and completely changed the direction of that part of the story.

That happens a lot to us pansters, we never know completely where we're going, so we often jump the rails.  And writing at the accelerated word count of NaNo even makes it worse.

But this time I really thought about it.  About all of the times that I zigged in my story instead of zagging.  Where I brought forth one character and let another fade away.  What happens to all those other stories?  the other ideas we had that just went "poof"?

Back in the day, before I realized I really am a pantser, I'd try plotting.  More notes of ideas really but still, I'd lay down some ideas, then go off writing only to come back to find my ideas had totally changed. I still find notes jotted down that are light years away from where my story ended up and I find myself wishing I could see how that "other" story would have turned out.

I like where my stories have ended up in the past, so hopefully the same will hold true with my current WIP- but it does make me wonder about ideas. And where they go when we don't use them.

Have a great IWSG day and if you are NaNoing -good luck!