The People


POSTCARDS FROM THE MUSE

The People

By Nandy Ekle

So, who are the people we write about? We have to have a main character, usually this is our hero. And we have to have a villain, the one who thwarts our hero (or vice-versa) in everything he/she wants. Most stories need secondary characters on both sides, because in real life no one is alone all the time. 

So we’ve defined their roles. But who are they? This is where your love of people watching comes into play.

This past summer I went to a city I had never been before, and I was able to sit at a table and just watch. This place is a place known for all kinds of people and situations. And it was an absolute feast to watch. I saw hundreds of tourists walking up and down the street. I saw performers on street stages, on street corners, and on every square of sidewalk there was. I saw people with hunger in their eyes, wanting the big win; people with desperation in their faces, realizing they were trapped in a life they didn’t like; and people like me, just taking it all in. 

And I know each and every person I saw, whether in sparkly lacy feathery fine-ness with tails and bow-ties, all the way down to the group of people dressed in dirty rags as they vomited into the trash cans; they all had a story. They all had a reason for being there. And they all had a purpose they were looking for. 

And next week we’ll discuss some of these purposes.

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My Style of Characterization


My Style of Characterization

by Adam Huddleston

Throughout this month, our writing group will be blogging about our styles and feelings concerning the topic of characterization.  I’m sure that there will be many contrasts and comparisons between direct and indirect characterization in writing.  While I have little more to add than my more experienced peers, I would like to express my favorite style of character description.

I readily admit that I am weak when it comes to direct characterization.  I need to work harder on describing what my characters actually look and sound like.  While I do believe that we should leave some of that up to the reader’s imagination, I do need to strengthen those skills.  I do prefer to show a character acting or reacting a specific way.  By doing this, the reader hopefully gains a better understanding on what the character is like.

For example, in the beginning of my work “Mattie”, the main character is an orphan sent to live with her only remaining relative,  a great aunt.  During the car ride to the aunt’s house, I attempt to portray a slight air of wealth and haughtiness to the older woman by describing how she carries herself and her dialogue with the orphan girl.  It’s not perfect, but I feel that it flows fairly smoothly.

In Search of a Character


Welcome to the year 2019!

In our journey since our start through 2018, the authors of Wordsmith Six have seen setbacks and success. However, we are determined to continue moving forward in reaching for our goals in writing. We hope you will continue to follow along as we focus our 2019 blogs on specific areas of the writing craft.

In January, we will focus on Characterization.

In Search of a Character

When starting a story, we need characters like a Protagonist, the main character and anAntagonistthe villain. There may even be secondary characters that play a role in your writing.

So where do characters come from? Where do we get them?

The easiest way for me to find a character is to think about people I know in real life.

This idea could include friends, family, or someone you just met.

If you have a good imagination, then creating characters by mixing fantasy and reality.

Are you coming up with blanks? Then a trip to the shopping mall with notepad in hand can offer some relief as you observe people as they shop. Another quick starter that might help is to do an internet search for movie star images.

How many different characters can you create this week?

THE WRItINNG LIFE QUOTES


“One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”
—Lawrence Block, Writer’s Digest

Unwrapping the Story


Outtakes 366

Unwrapping the Story

By Cait Collins

 

One of the problems with having a big family is trying to find a time for everyone to get together to celebrate the holidays.  At Christmas it’s often eat fast, exchange gifts, and go to the in-laws or rush off to have dinner with the significant other’s family. And sometimes, it’s just seems like crossing one more items off the list.

One of my sisters had a new idea.  She and another sister gathered prizes and over 300 feet of plastic wrap. They wrapped the prizes into two balls of plastic. The younger children were given the smaller ball and a pair of dice. They stood around a table. One child had the ball and the child on the right rolled the dice.  The child with the ball could unwrap the plastic until doubles were rolled. The ball and dice were passed to the right. This continued until all the prizes were found.

Adults and older kids were up next.  The ball was larger and the contestants were handicapped. We had to wear oven mitts when unwrapping the plastic. I assure you it was not an easy task. About the time I found a thread, someone yelled, “Doubles,” and I had to pass the ball. The unraveling took around 45 minutes filled with laughter and teasing. I truly enjoyed myself. The best part was dinner and the games came before the gift exchange. We were together longer.

Sometimes I feel writing my stories is similar to the plastic ball of surprises. I have a story line and characters, but the details are harder to come by. Characters are never introduced fully developed. The layers are revealed by circumstances, developments, triumphs, and disappointments. Each layer revealed shows the characters’ strengths, weaknesses, hopes and dreams. The revelations create likable and relatable heroes and heroines along with despicable villains.

The story also has layers. The events must unfold along a believable time line. And characters must be introduced at the proper time with just the right amount of detail. Like the handicap of wearing oven mitts when unwrapping the plastic ball, the story must have roadblocks and time constraints. The plot cannot be too easy or too predictable.

When a story seems to take a wrong turn or lose focus, instead of giving up, roll the dice, hope for doubles, and receive the ball with the expectation of finding a new part of the story puzzle. Never lose sight of the goal…a story the reader will enjoy and want to read again. Above all, do not forget the fun in finding a new character or story twist. And never let allow the handicaps to defeat you. Grab the ball and shake the bindings until they loosen and the treasures fall out. The tidbits are the gems that make the story.

Bathos


Bathos

by Adam Huddlestoon

The literary device this week is: bathos.  It is defined as the use of absurd metaphors, descriptions, or jokes that move a scene from seriousness to silliness.  Typically, an event occurs at the beginning of the scene that is solemn (such as a death), but through the dialogue or actions of the characters, the atmosphere becomes comedic.  An example given on literarydevices.net is that of an episode of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” where a clown is killed by a stampeding elephant.  The characters begin making jokes about it although Mary does not approve.  At the funeral, she begins laughing when she thinks about the jokes, while people around her stare in confusion.  

As a word of caution, if you choose to use bathos in a tense scene, use it sparingly so as not to destroy the mood if your intent was for it to be a somber scene. 

Happy writing!

THE WRITING LIFE QUOTES


“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
—Elmore Leonard

Service


Outtakes 365

Service

By Cait Collins

 

Good service matters.  I think we sometimes forget this.  The business type doesn’t matter as much as how a customer is treated when they walk through the door.  I had an unfortunate encounter with a post.  The thing just stepped out in front of me and broke my bumper.

I called my insurance company and they recommended several body shops.  I was thrilled to learn Drury body shop was on their list.  They repaired my car after a young man rear-ended me.  I was treated like royalty.  I called them and made an appointment.  They checked the damage and told me what parts they would order.  They set a date for me to bring the car in.  When I arrived I was treated like royalty.  They called the rent car company to let them know I was ready for them to come get me and then promised updates on the progress of my repair.

I received an update about two hours later letting me know the repair was in progress.  Around 3:30 I received a text telling me my car would be ready for pick at 5 PM.  I couldn’t believe it.  When we set the appointment they told me four days, but it was all done in one day.  And the final total was about half the original estimate.  When I arrived to pick up the car, it looked like new.  On top of the great repair job, they had detailed both the interior and exterior.  That’s service.  I’d recommend this shop to everyone.

I so appreciated the service I received, it made me wonder if I am as thoughtful of my customers.  I’m not just talking about the people who are my work customers.  I am also considering my readers.  Do I always try to see my plots and characters from their viewpoint? Do I use enough description to bring them into the setting?  Are the characters believable?  Have I done my research?  Do I settle for okay when the story could and should be magnificent?

Will the ending satisfy my readers?  Have I provided the royal treatment for the reader? Will they want to buy the next story? If even one of these questions has a negative response, then I have failed the service test.  I think my readers deserve better than mediocre efforts.

The Writing Life Quotes


The Writing Life Quotes

Natalie Bright

 

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
—Samuel Johnson

Malapropism


Malapropism

by Adam Huddleston

This week’s literary term is: malapropism.  It is defined as the use of an incorrect word (usually for comedic effect) with a similar sound in place of the correct word.  For example, in William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”, a character states “Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two auspicious persons” (replacing apprehended and suspicious).  This effect is often used by characters who are either uneducated or wish to appear so.  

I hope this helps in your craft.  Happy writing!