Archive for June, 2015

Sometimes the movies and books that we appreciate the most stick out in our minds because of the lessons that we learn from them. Probably the most obvious example comes from Winston Groom in the character of Forrest Gump. Although the character was markedly different between the book and the movie, we all learned lessons from Forrest Gump through his unique view of the world. Everyone can tell you the relationship between life and chocolates. And who doesn’t know that stupid is as stupid does? I have to wonder if, while Groom was writing the book, he really thought through each of those lines as a writer, or if Forrest Gump had become a living, breathing person in his mind that saw the world that way.

People who don’t write probably think that writers are crazy. That’s because we writers are a little crazy.  When you start to truly write an in-depth story, the characters aren’t just a name that you write down on paper. Their actions, reactions, and point of view should be consistent, as if they were truly there and doing what you are writing down on paper. They should become believable not only to your readers, but to you as the writer as well. Even though they are a creation of your imagination, you should be able to learn from your characters.

I got to experience this in the writing of my novel, Pup. The main character, who goes by the nickname Pup, has a very unique way of looking at the world around him. I started to exercise my creativity with this character by wondering what his reactions would be to various situations that I experienced throughout the day. As time went by, I started to do this without thinking much about it. What resulted (and continues to result) is a series of sayings that I call Pupisms. Some of them are found in the book. Others have shown up on my twitter or Facebook or even on this blog. The funny thing about these Pupisms is that I will sometimes look at them and ask myself “Why don’t I see things that way?” For example, one Pupism states that working for someone else’s approval is like living on Jello. You’ll never feel satisfied. I have to remind myself of that on occasions.

Now, there are probably psychologists out there chomping at the bit to explain how those words are my subconscious trying to lead me in the right direction, etc., etc. I don’t care. The lessons come from a character that I created, and I learned a little something from them. If you are writing a story, don’t just gauge how those characters might react to the situations in your story. Started thinking of how they might react to situations in your life. Once they start to surprise you, or once you start to learn from them, then you know that you have a real character on your hands that’s ready to teach others as well.

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I know that as a writer I should tell other writers that the only way to help your writing is to read, then write, then repeat the cycle to improve. There is a reason that formula is used so often: it works. However, we are in a changing time with new technologies and possibilities around every corner, so I would like to entertain new concepts that could open your mind to new possibilities. In today’s vlog, I point out that the new public fad of binge watching can actually help you to develop your story and characters. It is all about opening your mind to new possibilities and stimuli.

So you are writing your story and your antagonist does something cruel. Have you ever wondered if your audience believes that someone would do such a thing? It’s amazing how many writers create a “bad guy” who is simply…bad. Sometimes it takes a great story and makes it mediocre. The way to prevent that is remarkably simple, and I tackle that not-so-secret in this week’s vlog.

In July I will have been married for fifteen years. There aren’t many things that television shows and movies get correct about normal life, but one thing that they do tend to accurately portray is the idea that as time passes in a committed relationship, romance seems to go away. How often have you heard married women talk about how they wish that their husbands were as romantic as they were earlier in their relationship? I’m sure that my wife says the same thing. I feel that I need to help deal with this problem. However, I am not writing this to tell the husbands to take more opportunities to be more romantic towards their wives (although they should). I am writing to explain to some of the wives out there how often your husbands show you how much they care without you ever knowing it, much less acknowledging their efforts.

I don’t claim to be an expert on male psychology. I tend to be more of an observer than a participant when it comes to many of the male-bonding rituals. What I have observed leads me to a conclusion about myself as well as other men: we rarely show our true selves. Men worry about our reputations a lot more than we will ever let on. You can’t show weakness in front of the other guys. Aggression is applauded. Meekness is degraded. There are a million things that a typical guy can do in a minute that can impact his reputation, both with other guys as well as with women. It might be his choice of vocabulary. It might be how he answers a question or if he chooses to answer at all. It might be his posture. It might be if he smiles and how. I don’t know if it is all social conditioning or a natural aspect of male psychology, but men have a lot of difficulty trusting someone so completely that they always show their true selves. (No, I’m not saying that every man secretly cries a lot and always wants to watch rom-coms. That only happens in the movies.) Once a man finds that level of trust in someone, it is a very big deal.

I understand that ladies want a romantic candlelight dinner and a night out on the town. That’s perfectly legitimate to expect and even demand. However, if you want to know how truly romantic your relationship is, just look at a typical day around your loved one. Look for the times when he relaxes around you. Maybe he holds your hand or puts his arm around you. Maybe he gives you a kiss on the forehead. Maybe he volunteers to tuck the kids in. Maybe he cut the time he was spending with his friends short so that he could get home. Sure, he may make jokes with his friends about “the old ball-and-chain,” but maybe he’s coming home early because he wants to be with you. Even if it seems like a lot of the things that he does are out of a sense of obligation, he may be doing them because he wants to. He may trust you enough to be showing who he really is.

In July I will have been married for fifteen years. I’m sure that there are times that my wife has wondered what has happened to the romance. She’s right to ask for more outward displays from me, and it would be appropriate for me to accommodate her. Still, I hope that every day she might look at the things that I do and realize that I trust her with seeing my true self. Each one of those acts that shows that I am relaxed around her is another time that I am showing her how much I love her, and how much I appreciate her for accepting me for who I am.

Featured image via candles.lovetoknow.com

Pups birthday

Well, today is the day. My brain-child was finally born. The novel Pup has been released. There are certainly days that have been more important in my life. The birth of my son and my wedding day are the obvious ones that come to mind. Still, this one certainly ranks up there. Any of you that are writers understand how amazing it can be to watch a story take shape in your mind and by your hands. Sometimes the characters become as real, or sometimes even more real than the people around you.You go back to read through what you have written and you find yourself surprised with what you find. A life plays out before your very eyes. You get to not only witness it, but you also get to shape it. I feel sad to say this as a writer, but words cannot do justice to the process. Those of you that don’t write understand as well. You get the same feeling through the expression of your own passions. I watched that same elation form on someone’s face when they finally got a troublesome engine running once again. I see it when people draw, and I’ve seen it on the face of every person that finishes a long-distance race. It is an amazing journey.

The difference between this journey in writing and others that I have taken is that this one included another leg to the trip. Not only did I get to write the story, I was offered the privilege of publishing the story. This meant that my story would not only mean something to me, but it had the chance of finding meaning for someone else as well. No artist paints a picture hoping that they are the only one that sees it. The very knowledge that someone else, even if it is only one individual, would get a smile, a laugh, or a lesson from my writing was a heady feeling indeed. That feeling has lasted since I first heard the news about publication over six months ago.

So, the big day of release is finally here. So what am I planning to do to celebrate it. Nothing much. Honestly, I have kept up with my social media, spoken to my mom (she was probably one of the first buyers. No surprise there!), gone to a few shops, and gotten a little exercise. My wife and I will probably go out to eat, but that is all that I really have planned. Am I a party pooper? I don’t think so. I’ve had six months of celebrating, and that isn’t counting the writing process itself. I’m thrilled. I’m proud. I plan for a great showing. But I don’t intend to spike the football. I’m happy just soaking it in and getting ready for the next day.

As I have stated in the past, I do not write poetry. At least, not on purpose. On occasions I’ll jot some things onto paper if it has been an interesting day or two (a term which has many definitions!) This is something I jotted into my phone a couple of days ago.

A Tough Day Parenting

My life centers around you.

You are my world now and forever.

Protect. Love. Teach. Guide.

Tricks. Lies. Distrust

Twist a knife in my heart.

Betrayal.

Send to bed with anger.

Tears.

Say I love you because I do no matter what.

Still hurts.

Hurts us both.

Return to tuck you in after you’re asleep.

Demand better tomorrow

From both of us.

Tired.

Determined.

Dedicated.

Parent.

With the release date coming up soon, I decided to read a brief section of PUP so that people can get a preview of what I am so excited about. The scene that I am reading is just an example of some of the early trials faced by the main character and gives an idea of the interesting, almost comical difficulties he has a habit of stumbling into.