Tag Archives: art of writing

Tuesday Again??

Wasn’t it just yesterday that I wrote some fiction to get out of my Tuesday post about writing? And here we are again. And I still got nothing. I blame the heat. While the temperature is only in the mid-70s (F), the humidity was 83% earlier. I celebrated when it dropped to 71%.  Definitely not the kind of day to encourage movement. I am taking lessons from sloths. Highly underrated, sloths are!

How to get motivated? Well, one of my fav ways is to grab a glass of wine and check out what everyone else is writing. Who do I check out? Many of my fellow bloggers. Specifically, today I hit Claire Fuller;  Frankly Write ( I love her idea to imprison–metaphorically or realistically– your character to discover more about them. This link takes you right that post); and amie cuscuriae. Who gets you motivated? Do you have a certain set of bloggers that you know if you check out their posts will inspire you to write more?

Of course, there are the tried and true methods of encouraging yourself to start typing–or writing on that blank page. Does anyone still write longhand? I might if I didn’t have problems with my hands. My handwriting is just a mess, and my hands cramp up fairly quickly. Not that typing doesn’t hurt as well, but I can go a lot further a lot faster.

What are those tried and true methods, you ask? Well, the first one is the one I am clearly using is “Verbal Diarrhea”. I believe that is the correct term. I would rather call it something else, as I prefer to avoid bodily functions in my writing unless they actually involve my character’s body (sidebar: I misspelled character so often in 7th grade that my teacher threatened detention unless I started to get it right!). I checked out the diarrhea on my thesaurus, and I don’t see anything that would work better. “Verbal Montezuma’s Revenge” doesn’t have quite as a good a ring. Are you figuring out what verbal diarrhea is? I am just spouting whatever comes to mind that might be slightly connected to the topic at hand. It is kind of fun, actually 🙂

Another tested method is the reading of an admired writer to be inspired. I am still reading Margaret Atwood (although the next book in the series) and her writing definitely makes me want to be a better writer. The way she puts the words together is unique but easily understandable (some authors go so far to be unique they make almost no sense). And, of course, her ideas are fantastically excellent. The downside of this method is that I get sucked into the book and then write nothing as I am too busy reading. Fine line on that one.

Finally, I like to check out quotes on writing. Either they inspire me or make me think in different ways; and spur new ideas. What have we today?

I don’t want to be a doctor, and live by men’s diseases; nor a minster to live by their sins; nor a lawyer to live by their quarrels. So I  don’t see there is anything left for me but to be an author.
                                                                                          –Nathaniel Hawthorne

My main reason for adopting literature as a  profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably.
                    –George Bernard Shaw

As I spend much of my day in pj’s or exercise clothes, I can certainly see Shaw’s point. While I actually adore clothes, and dressing up, I also like being comfortable when I am at home and on the computer. I particularly like Hawthorne’s,  what a wonderful reason to sit and spread words across the page.

 

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Killing them softly?

My literary tastes run towards action and adventure, with a dose of mystery thrown in. When I see prompts for my own writing, my first thoughts tend to be a bit dark.Murder and mayhem seem to pop into my mind easily. So that brings me to the question: how do you kill off a character? Do you produce a body for the mystery, as Agatha Christie often did, or do you bring a fully fleshed character to life, and then kill them?

Are the books we remember and love the most the ones with true tragedy? I think so.  From the reader’s point of view, we are mad at the author. How dare they kill off that character?

But how must that author feel?  To have that character evolve and then die. Heartbreak.

So why do we murder our characters?  What does it add to the writing?

Let’s start with the original king of tragedy: William Shakespeare.  Shakespeare was prolific, and his characters were fully clothed, with souls, both good and evil.  Romeo and Juliet is one of his best known tragedies.

But before the poison and the knife, Shakespeare grasped the drive of both teenagers, the family ties, and the times in which they lived. His understanding of human nature made his characters real and breathing to his audiences.  How did he write so many characters, giving them life and taking it away? I pick Romeo and Juliet in particular as he killed off such young characters, without the taint of horrible actions behind them as some of his more mature characters had. I do have a theory on how he, as a writer, dealt with killing off his characters. Although it has been a question of many scholars on the exact chronology of Shakespeare’s plays, there is a pattern to the chronology that has been (mostly) settled upon. For every tragedy–or two– along comes a comedy. I think he used the comedies to recharge before mustering up the will to kill off more of his “children”.

A more modern, and much less known, writer that I love to read is Guy Gavriel Kay. His chosen genre is sci-fi fantasy, and his writing is what I call lyrically tragic. My first experience of him was in high school, and I wasn’t prepared for the richness of his worlds, the depth of his characters, or the tragedy that  would befall them. Many of his books are set in times of historical turmoil based on real times in our history.  The Lions of Al-Rassan is beautiful, every word. And the end, so well written.

  It was the series called the Fionaver Tapestry that caught my attention and made me a GGK reader for life.  Mr. Kay is particularly adept at having fully fleshed, breathing, loved characters die. The character to watch is “Diarmuid, although a fearless and elegant fighter is also (apparently) frivolous, impulsive, and shallow.”* His character develops, until he steals his brothers ‘glory’ by fighting a hideous monster during war, thus saving his brother because he feels the brother is the one the country needs. His character stays true to the end, as he ‘laughs gaily’** as he charges the monster. I kept waiting for the punchline, to see how he survived. I don’t think I have ever gotten over Diarmuid dying.

And that is a reason we murder our characters. When it is done properly, not to facilitate a plot line but because that is how the story unfolds, it holds our attention and our emotions. We look for a way the character could have survived. We deny the reality of the words before us.  We are sad. We think about the book. What more could an author want?

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fionavar_Tapestry

** The Darkest Road, book 3

 

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