Saturday, January 30, 2010

Technical Difficulties

Due to technical difficulties
(I'm behind on my interviews, they're snowed in)
I won't have actor and director ready for a week or so.
But to get us ready, let me ask this:
what do you do to develop your character?
Do you think about his/her family?
Friends? What kind of schooling he had?
Where she lived before today?
WHO ON EARTH ARE THESE PEOPLE?
Would love to hear from you on your preps to get
into the character's head. You've heard
(at least I did when I started writing)
that the character is cardboard.
"You must write plot driven, 'cause
your characters aren't real enough."
OUCH! DID THAT EVER HURT!
So could everyone share a short bit on just one
technique you use to make your characters
other than cookie-cutter people?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fiction and Theatre/Fraternal Twins

When the doctor delivers that first unique baby, all
creamy and pink, you gasp, you cry, you laugh, you
remember the pain to get where you are in that particular
moment in time. Then, another cry and whoa!
“Hey, there’s another baby in here!”
Okay, maybe in today’s technological hospital setting,
this wouldn’t be a big surprise, but in my day—forever ago,
it was frequently a surprise. And some women
got Twofers. Some—identical twofers and others—fraternal.
Enough alike to be related, but with
unique enough characteristics to be different.

Much like what we all want when creating the perfect work of fiction.

Another art form does primarily the same thing, in its
own inimitable way, it utilizes many of the same qualities that are
used to define a work of fiction. This second art form is theatre.

Both forms are created to entertain, educate, amuse, and delight.
Whether you are imagining the sinister characters in a book or
seeing them played out on a stage depends on your viewpoint.
Do you like to see the story enacted live, or
see the story in your mind's eye where you are able to control
appearances, settings, and strength of emotions?

Why fraternal twins?

Fiction and theatre encompass many of the same attributes without being identical. And, as writers, we can learn a lot of the principles of showing by studying the acting craft. When watching Wait Until Dark, it’s easy to understand how suspense lurks in every corner of the dark room. When Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman attacked in her home has to hold her breath in order to hear the men chasing her, we hold our collective breaths as well. Will they catch her? Will she show them just how independent she is and save herself in time? As writers, how can we transfer that same fear onto the pages of a book without the reader actually seeing the terrified woman trying to function in the dark? But that’s our job. We are called to make the reader see the action as surely as the director and actor show the theatergoer.
You’ve heard
SHOW, DON’T TELL.
Starting Saturday, we’re going to explore how an actor and
a director prepare themselves to make the stage come alive,
and see how we can use their methods
to make our stories be viewed with a
blind eye and still sparkle.
Anybody ready for a Tony?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Suspense Tweaked With a Kiss

This writing journey has been something.
From 17 years ago when I thought I had the next bestseller, to an agent I actually paid for in the first year.
Anybody ever heard of editors and preditors? That's another whole topic. Anyway, on to conferences and enough rejections to wallpaper my entire house. Then actually seriously attempting to learn the craft about three years ago. Who woulda thought? For some of you who were serious from the start, this might sound ridiculous, but it takes a few of us a crack over the noggin’ to get it right.

The wait was worth it. After rewriting more times than there are numbers to attach to it, my suspense novel was finally finished. A chance meeting at the conference in Denver followed by a proposal, a kind editorial assistant, and voila! an agent—at last.

Terry sent me all the necessary information and then the scary request—could I send a photo to attach to the sell sheets?
A photo? Not a photo!
Okay, for a couple hundred bucks, any photographer worth his weight can airbrush anything, right? But my husband said, “Lemme take a crack at it. I’m pretty good.”

A quick trip to a local pharmacy. I plunked down enough makeup and money to keep one of their employees working for a week. Struggling to carry the bag home, I ran through the door, grabbed a putty knife, and hid out in the bathroom for a couple hours. Half a bottle of hairspray and about a pound of makeup later, I emerged feeling pretty doggone good. Albeit, a bit overdone.
There ensued a photo shoot like nothing you’ve ever seen. “Over this way more!”“I can’t, my chins will show.” “Good grief, it’s just a photo.” “Just a photo? Are you out of your mind? This is thee photo. It has to be fabulous. People other than our family will actually see it!”

Later, scrolling through the choices, the suspense was killing us. “Nope.” “Right, too many chins, huh?” “No, you fool, the smile looks like I ate a pickle.” Delete. Delete. Delete.

We should’ve paid the two-hundred bucks.

Okay, the last one. “Come on. Show me. It can’t be that bad.” More suspense as my husband casually turned the camera so I could see it. No red eye. No double (or triple) chin. No blotchy skin. “Do you think Rachel could crop and fix this?” “I’ll bet she could.” We didn’t give birth to an actress used to headshots for nothing.
Two hours later, (probably seemed longer to her) and we waited for the photo to download. Breath coming in short gasps as the computer clacked away to show us the final result. Good? Bad? Ugly? No comment.

The suspense over at last. “Not a bad photo, Mom.” “Yeah, well enjoy it. You’ll never see me with that much makeup on again.”
“Too bad,” my husband said. He gave me a peck on the lips and the Suspense Tweaked with a Kiss was all over.
Stick around, I’ve got a couple interviews already in the works and a glimpse or two into how theatre and writing overlap to make a better fiction product. I’m full of surprises that I hope you’ll all enjoy. Just don’t ever ask for different photo.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BEING SCARED IN THE SAFETY OF YOUR HOME

I, for one, would never want to pack heat, walk the street,
and find myself face to face with a mugger just salivating
over the last two bucks in my wallet.
(and believe me, that's on a good day right after getting paid)
I would, however, love the opportunity of facing the same
criminal element if I were the character,
Super Chick!
She's not afraid to face the bad guys.
She seeks them out, corners them, dares them
to cross her path. And when she's done,
she dashes home, puts on a spot of makeup,
(she's ravishing by the way)
and is ready to be Super Cool, soccer mom
of three--a talented cook and bottle washer.
She's triumphed over evil in the world one more time.
No one's the wiser.
Is she afraid?
Never!
Well, there was that one time
when the baby had projectile vomiting.
Really scary stuff!!!
At its best, this is suspense in the safety of your home:
crashing down doors of hardened criminals,
walking in dark alleys, alone, with hundred-dollar bills
hanging out of your pockets, maybe ripping a child from
the grasp of a would-be kidnapper disguised as a clown.
(did I mention God blessed me with a quirky imagination?)
All on the pages of a book.
Just waiting for you to plunk down your money,
rush home, and wait to see where the suspense will take you.
Join me each week for a walk through
Suspense Tweaked with a Kiss!
Interviews, q and a's, and tips for
the romantic suspense writer's soul.