Sunday, July 31, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I feel like a proud papa displaying a picture of his kids. Something about opening the box and seeing them brings home the reality--I am published. You'll have to excuse me, but this is a great moment. The last time I saw so many books with the same cover, I was standing in a Barnes and Noble.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
But problems must be overcome. The space in self-checkout is a little a larger than a TV tray table, the built in scale is sensitive and the pleasant little voice is sensitive, too. Here is typical checkout scene with my words in caps and the little voice in italics.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
To avoid confusion, keep a list of the characters’ names, alphabetize it and make sure the first letter is different for each one. You don’t want to confuse your readers as they cook along eating up the prose you’ve served. You wrote Peter loves Mary, but they caught Paul loves Margaret.
Introduce your characters slowly. You got a cast of thousands, but spare your readers the memory exercise. Frist scene, do two or three characters. Bring along a character for the next scene and toss in another face or two. By Chapter four you got the entire cast laid out and your reader has a good idea who’s who. Imagine going to a party and the host introduces you to all fifty guests in fifteen minutes. You don’t remember anyone and end up hanging out all evening at the snack table to avoid embarrassing yourself.
Same logic holds when you finally do get to the point where you’ve got the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir in it. Let two or three characters carry scene. If you must let one in, let another drop out. I was at a luncheon the other day and noticed at our table of six, two people carried the conversation while the rest nodded and fed their faces. Same holds true for fictional characters.
Enough talk about food, I’m head out to the kitchen for a snack.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
I've read plenty of books on character development. Filling out six page profiles. Answering questionnaires. Writing biographies. My advice is screw it. You came into this wanting to be writer, not an HR manager.
Here are my six easy steps.
1. Start writing. If it's a novel, do around 10K words. For a short story, most likely the whole thing. This is not fixed, but you want to be at a point where you know what you want in your characters.
2. Find a key characteristic or two that sets the character apart from the rest. Make sure you have some well-defined, unique traits. Big Mike is mean. Old Lady Grayson pinches pennies.
3. Name them. Think about it carefully because the name must match the person. Is he Michael or Mike or Big Mike or Mikey? Each one conjures up a different image.
4. How do they look? No one cares about hair color or the shade of their eyes. But Old Lady Grayson's hump is getting bigger, or half of Big Mike's left ear was shot off. Guaranteed no one will forget them.
5. What do your characters sound like? They all talk differently. They will have tag lines. You have to hear them. "Hey! You wanna settle it out back in the alley?" Bet you know it's not Old Lady Grayson speaking.
6. If you can link them up with someone you know or someone from real life, great! Just be careful of too much coincidence and maybe toss in a disclaimer at the beginning that any resemblance to people living or dead is poorly coincidence.
That's it. Too simple? The most memorable characters are the ones that stand off the page. And don't fret about being too one dimensional. Big Mike may just have a tender moment, and Old Lady Grayson will find some way of giving back.
So what's your secret to writing a slam-bang character?
Friday, July 15, 2011
Egg come in three sizes: large, extra large and jumbo at prices that hover around the cost of a gallon of gasoline. I recall when they once came in small, medium and large. By today's standards, therefore, a small would be about the size of a pigeon's egg or possibly a quail's.
The shelves are stacked with denim jeans ranging in size from 30 to 36, with an occasional 38. I am a 42. I admit that I should lose weight, but a quick glance around at my fellow shoppers indicates that I am in a majority when it comes to waist size. So where are my fellow shoppers buying their jeans?
Toilet paper in the Men's room comes in a metal box comparable to a metal vault for protecting valuables and is located at the most awkward place to access. The one I encountered today was two feet off the floor, required groping to find the tissue end and came out looking more a rope of toilet paper.
Ice cream containers are shrinking. No shock there. 2 quarts. 1.75 quarts. 1.5 quarts. Surprisingly the containers' width have not changed so they look the same on the freezer shelf. The secret is they are getting narrower. The down side is eventually if they keep shrinking, my ice cream scoop will no longer fit, but on the up side, it's easier to find space for them in my freezer without much rearranging.
Does someone somewhere think they're fooling us?
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
"Uncle Elmer was her father's brother, but they looked nothing alike. While Father stood erect, Uncle Elmer slouched. Father had hair, Uncle Elmer had a few strands combed over a bald pate. Father's face was bold and sharp, Uncle Elmer's mug was soft and squashed."
When she asked me where he came from I couldn't answer. He just came out of my subconscious I guessed, but I kept thinking I'd met him before. Then she said, "He reminds me of my Uncle Bruno." She was right! All this time I had been writing about her uncle and never realized it. Now a quick point: her uncle was not a gangster as was my character, but otherwise I had sized him up pretty good.
Do you have an Uncle Bruno in your story?
Monday, July 11, 2011
SALT -- Entertaining, that says it all
BASIC INSTINCT 2 -- Who-Done-It, I saw the movie and still don’t know
Are you a movie junkie? What’s your top 5 flicks?
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Penelope comes from the Greeks and means weaver. Something about being Odysseus’ wife and fending off suitors by weaving a tapestry and unraveling it at night while telling these love smitten guys, she needed to finish the blanket before she’d wed again. Sounds like this chick was not in the husband hunting mode. Today the name means loyal, capable and clever.
Last thought. Lots of famous Penelopes out there . Penelope Leach. Penelope Ann Miller. And of course Penelope Cruz. My friend Rick Bylina (see his guest blog) says Ms Cruz should play the mom when PENELOPE AND THE BIRTHDAY CURSE is made into a move.
Now, I wonder who should play the part of Penelope in the movie?
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I've been thinking about liposuction, Botox injections, getting one of those $500 haircuts, going to a fat farm, breast reduction, going on "America's Biggest Loser," getting laser eye surgery, dying my hair from red to black, cutting off the 40-year-old mustache, bulking up, and slimming down. I doubt
that Miss America pageant contestants have had as many different ideas run through their heads as they prepared to meet their public as I have in preparing for book cover picture. I will not, however, use Vaseline to allow my swimsuit to slide easier across my buttocks. Fortunately, there isn't a
swimsuit competition for authors, and I've never seen one in a swimsuit on the back cover of any novel. Nor, do I want to see most authors in swimsuits. I shudder. So, unless I'm willing to spend several hundred dollars to mislead my public into buying into a false idol with a spiffed up picture, I'm left with me, and a picture that demonstrates my unusual advantage, explaining my unusually fast writing speed.
The only rule: writers write! Everything else is a guideline.
Tweet at: @rickbylina
Saturday, July 2, 2011
I highly recommend Ellie Burmeister's novel How to Get a Literary Agent in Two Murders or Less. The story drew me in, kept me laughing and held my attention, wondering who did it. This mystery definitely deserves a high shelf in library.