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Writing Characters Different from Ourselves #IWSG #Lostherofic

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[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts are, Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant and Beverly Stowe McClure.

Thank you so much! And thank you founder Alex J. Cavanaugh!

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As a reader, character driven stories draw me instantly. Some of my favorite authors show me the person at a rapid and believable pace. As a writer, I spend my energy first on the character and all those characters who build her story. I mention her for a reason. Being a woman, I’ve narrowed my focus and choose females as my leading characters since it’s what I know very well. I never expected to write a successful story as a man.

This month’s IWSG questions asks: “Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)

My answer is yes to both parts with “The Wheat Witch” in the Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life Anthology. Two things were different actually. First, I wrote the story as adult fiction/fantasy, and secondly, I choose a man as my hero.

I LOVE the Young Adult genre, especially fantasy. My initial brainstorm in “The Wheat Witch” involved two separate directions for the theme. One with a young teen boy going through the physical change of leaving the farm and losing the power, then the story quickly spiraled beyond the limits of 5,000 words. I came up with second premise about the older, retired gentleman reflecting on the damage he’d done to himself because of who he left behind transpired.

What helped shift my focus? What tips do I have to offer?

  1. Interview someone who could be a potential character in your book, your M.C.
    I Interviewed my father to gain insight into his life on my grandfather’s farm.
  2. What do you know about the topic? Brainstorm.
    I channeled my own memories of growing up in the summers with my grandparents for a couple of weeks, feeding a baby calf, harvesting the vegetables from the garden, running through the hay bales and spending hours in the fields, mostly building forts or tagging along with my grandma. Those moments are still alive in me from the feel of the sun, or the site of a moonless and star filled sky.
  3. Listen to dialogue and ask others who might be the experts, how they describe images.
    I paid careful attention to the words my father used as he talked. I spent a great deal of time discussing words and asking my partner to help come up with different ways to describe phrases.

Of course, I had a really great writing partner help me clean up a few scenes.

Did I write well like a man? I’d certainly like to think I did a decent job.  I’m not quite sure I’ll try it again, but that’s always been my style. When something scares you, you have to at least try it once so you can reflect and either swear it off, or quite possibly decide it was better than you believed it would ever be and you’ll consider taking the risk again.

How about you? What have you tried recently you never thought you would?

Capture My Mind: Excellent Books Paint Character. #IWSG #AmWriting

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[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts are, Christine Rains , Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner

Thank you so much! And thank you founder Alex J. Cavanaugh!

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Words are beautiful.

When put together just right, they build a painting in my mind and I’ve always been in love with these word paintings. They show me different worlds where I can see, feel, and smell everything as if I were standing on that boat, sandy beach, rocky mountain or whatever world unfolds. And recently I was drawn to a really great book at a local library because of the excellent title and captivating cover. I didn’t even bother to read the book jacket. I was so convinced it would keep me going from the first perfect sentence to the end.

Later that night, I opened the book. The first sentence read just the way I love them. The first scene drew me right in and it was fun and different. The dialogue was great. The characters really set off my mind. But then, page-by-page, I kept yearning for something … just a glimpse of the face, the eyes, the hair, or even a messy shirt or a fun pair of shoes. I kept going. It might have been 90 pages in when I finally realized the nationality of the main character. My interest was falling apart by then no matter the high caliber of dialogue or the action writing. My painting was a landscape of a pirate ship on the waters, but the captain at the wheel had no face, no height, no fun mustache or a cool costume. My magnificent painting had a glaring white blank blob of canvas. It didn’t feel right.

This month, the IWSG question asked me to reflect on my pet peeve in reading, writing, or editing. I know. I’m bringing up a controversial topic. I’ve read opinions on both sides where some readers and editors prefer no detail. They might think the imagination should create the look. I say, it’s your world you’ve written for me to believe. I want more. I want to see the face in your head the way it should be. I think humans in general, even animals, stop and ponder a reflection in the water, or a mirror. I think we all have self-reflective moments about matching our look with our mood or where we are going from time to time. As I read, I want to see all of these things. That’s the difference for me whether I am drawn in full force, or feel casually nonchalant about a book.

One last thought:

IWSG Post 21: The Human Flicker of Doubt

 

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[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts are JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner.

Thank you so much! And thank you founder Alex J. Cavanaugh!

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  • I really wish I never screwed up.
  • I really wish my every last word and sentence I typed was exactly right on.
    • No typos. No forgotten punctuation, and every word flowed smoothly with purpose.
  • Why can’t my first draft be perfect? It’s perfect in my thoughts, right?
  • And why can’t I act the way I really want to act?

Every time I finish something I write, I want to believe inside it’s really great. After all, stories are alive inside of us, and why can’t we get it out perfectly the way we really want and mean to do the first time?

I just told my kids the other day no one is perfect, and we must forgive and admit we screw up and say sorry. Emotion is a tricky thing though, and in answer to this month’s IWSG question, “Did you ever say ‘I quit?’ If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?”

My answer is never on purpose. My philosophy is to try and to keep trying until the sport, the class, the project is over. Reflect. Think about what works and what didn’t. Ask others to help. But the honest heart felt thought should be, if you loved it, if you liked it, then I encourage continued steps. True, at one point in high school I walked away from writing. I think my own emotional chaos erupted and my thoughts shifted to graduation, college, and how to prepare myself for the real world. I walked away from me then, too, and always felt something was missing.

But I’m back, and I wake up every day with stories and words in my head. I can’t always write every day, but I know I will try as hard as I can the next time, the next day because there is always a next day.

Victoria Schwab, author of A Darker Shade of Magic, made a video about writing and how difficult it is to finish something and submit it to the world to analyze and decide whether it’s fit to print or not. Waiting is the worse step and a very emotional piece in anything we do. We practice. We perform. Then we wait for the evaluation. Yes, my head goes back and forth with whether my stories are good enough. One day I say, ‘of course it is.’ The next day, I find human doubt poking at me, and I say, ‘what were you thinking?’ According to Victoria Schwab though, writers never stop. The best way to get through human doubt is to create something new, and keep writing.

Question: Do you have words of advice you follow? What keeps your own fire burning past the doubt?

 

IWSG POST 20: Weird Writing Research and Book Launch #IWSG #MysteriesOfDeathAndLife

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[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome hosts are Michelle Wallace, Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan , Liesbet @ Roaming About and Feather Stone

Thank you so much! And thank you founder Alex J. Cavanaugh!

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Research has always been my foundation for writing. I’ve loved history. As a kid, my mom gave us the best gift, a real set of hardcover Encyclopedias. I loved staring at those glossy pages. At the time, the dog section was my favorite. I pulled the “D” Encyclopedia out every night and dreamed about my own perfect dog. At the time it was a Pomeranian. Now, I’m more of a short-haired dog fan.

 

This month’s IWSG post asks me to think of the weirdest/coolest thing I’ve ever written for a story. In honor of the new release, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life, I’ll pick old farm equipment. And here’s what I incorporated into my own story “The Wheat Witch,” set in the middle of Kansas in the year 1989.

After interviewing my father about farm life in Kansas, I came up with this list of equipment my main character Ethan had to clean up and use:

  • International 560 Diesel Tractor. 1963. Pull Combine.

    photo credit: Pixabay

  • Disc Plow (4) and Harrow
  • Tiller for weeds
  • Planter
  • Sprayers
  • Old Farm Truck with bed (Ford)
  • A broken down shed.

A scene in my story involves the repair of an old tractor. I relied heavily on YouTube to get the visuals going in my mind.

photo: pixabay

Here’s the Youtube video I watched to get the background on troubleshooting a tractor that isn’t starting up right.

The picture to the right is just for fun. It’s Ethan’s man car, his only prized possession, a 69′ Mustang. My dad told me he and his family were only allowed to buy ford vehicles since the ford dealer went to his family’s church. The church was the pillar of the community and tying into the community was pivotal.

Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life

Today is the day! Thank you to everyone who made this book such an incredible success, from the talented authors, the judges, those folks taking part in the blog tour this month, the IWSG, and Dancing Lemur Press, LLC. Friday I’ll post the list of blog tour stops. 🙂

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eBook

Question? What’s your strangest item you had to research in school, life or writing?

Thank you and have a lovely day 🙂