Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Put a Little Character in Your Characters

In your mind your characters do not look like the ones in the picture. They are colorful with dreams and ambitions. They also have unique interests and talents. However, sometimes we translate them differently from our mind to the page and they end up sounding like the picture: flat, colorless and see-through.

When that happens I challenge people to think about what they know about their characters. My husband consistently teases me about obsessing over my characters. I research them, know about their daily lives, and understand the past they came from. Why am I like this? Because I don't want my characters looking like the picture. I want vibrant characters who reach out and grab the reader with everything they are. When I know and understand them they write the story all on their on and I'm just the vessel they use.

So I ask you today to think about your characters. Can you see through them? How much do you truly know about them? And lastly who's writing your story?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Find Your Voice

I would like to apologize for the delayed blogging. I had a bit of technical difficulties with my laptop, but now I'm back. I started working on this blog post before the issue and am now posting it for your reading pleasure.

My daughter is going to film camp this summer. Might I add as the proud mom here it's to a highly distinguished invite only type of thing. A couple weeks ago her scholarship information arrived. She has to choose from a list of questions and write an essay about it. One of the questions immediately drew me in: What movie or movie moment inspired you to become what you are? Now if it were me having to write the questions it wouldn't be a problem as my own answer came to me immediately. It would be a 1980's movie starring Christian Slater entitled Pump Up the Volume. It's about this pirate radio DJ who brings relief to a group of drone high school students. In the climax of the movie he tells his listeners, "Find your voice and use it. Be the voice in the darkness."

Find your voice and use it! I love that thought. As writers we struggle with finding our voice and maintaining it throughout our story. I personally struggled with finding the genre I wanted to write and than find myself after years settling into my niche. My question today is do you find yourself writing in the voice/genre that you enjoy reading or something completely different? Are you trying to be the unique voice in the darkness?

Do What You Are

As I wondered through the bookstore this week I came across a book on one of the tables. It's title was Do What You Are. The thought that ran though my head brought a slight grin to my face. What an interesting challenge for all of us to do what we are. It was a timely thing to see when just last week I talked about my return to writing.

Discovering who we are isn't the easiest thing in the world. But dive in deep; allow your emotions to show you. Then put it on paper. Do what you are furiously!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Who I Am

As we settle back into the normal routine in the Dean house, one thing I had to do was arrange the new semester's schedule for my daughter. Her day is typically packed between ballet, guitar and her extracurriculars at school, but we attempt to make time for other things as well. For example her daily schedule involves reading, writing in her journal, and taking time to practice her acting.

We spent the summer exploring expressions and emotions. During the fall we focused on movement. As we were deciding how we would spend our winter I thought about the little rules that we've made for her concerning her acting. They are very simple, but manage to keep her in line. One night while she was still at her grandma's house she called me and decided we should rename them. To her the idea of calling them rules meant that she couldn't have fun! You see Cloudya is a firm believer that acting is FUN and the reason she does it is to make people SMILE! I got her point immediately, so we are looking for a new name that doesn't sound so commitment orientated.

After the conversation I thought about what she said. One of her "rules" is be yourself and you'll always shine! The real question though is who are we really. As artists we are known to go "searching for ourselves." Maybe at this crucial time in her development its important to focus on that now. If you ask her why she likes Nick Jonas, she will give you a simple answer, but if you dig deeper its much more than that.

My nine year old knows who she is! She really does. This winter we are going to spend our time highlighting it. Rather we are actors or writers diving into our own personality can open up a world of opportunity and we invite you to go on that adventure with us!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Writer's Block or Should I Say Unblock

Yes, it' me! Once again this Wal-mart manager survived the holiday season in usual fashion! I apologize for not being around, but since Thanksgiving all I've done is eat, sleep and work. Well on to more important things like writing!
I've made it no secret that for years I took a break from my craft. Years that I look back on now as wasted time. I'm sad for all of the projects that I could have completed and for all the characters I could have met along the way. Up until college, I spent many hours working on my writing and truly honing in my skills. I didn't care what people thought about me or what I wrote about! One professor is all it took and what I thought were my hopes and dreams came crashing down around me. It happened at such a vulnerable time in my life that I simply turned my back on everything I loved and walked away! I enrolled in management training with Wal-mart and off I went into a completely different career.
Looking back now I know this wasn't their fault. In fact every bit of it was mine. As a writer we should have thick skin for the criticism that we will ultimately endure. So much other stuff was going on in my life that I allowed one sneak comment to destroy the one thing that made me who I am. For five years I lived with the what ifs. Every time I attempted to even pen a sentence the only thing I saw was jade. So I didn't do!
This last May came with shocking news as I learned the foot surgery I had the previous year didn't hold and I would have to have another one. The second one was much more evasive and now I proudly carry a card that states I'm not a terrorist due to the amount of metal in my body! A close family member chatted with me on the phone after I learned the news and was feeling completely sorry for myself. Basically she asked me how long it had been since I'd written anything and than told me I was wasting my talent. Ultimately she wondered if this wasn't God's way of coercing me back into what I once loved so much.
The next day I sat at my computer attempting to lay something down; anything just to say I had. Two days later I finished a short screenplay. Shortly after that I created this blog.
I'd like to think my time at Wally World hasn't been a complete waste. I've learned a lot about human behavior and needs. I can see how much the maturity of my characters has changed over the years. One thing I do know is working with 500 people your life is an open book! You hear things about yourself all the time and it truly builds thick skin. So as I progress in the writing world this time I won't be so easily scared away.
Since that first day at the computer writing that short screenplay, its like a dam has broke inside my brain. I'm unable to stop the ideas from flowing so freely. All those years of keeping it so bottled up has caught up to me. Currently I have a list going of projects I want to tackle. At this rate I won't be caught up until sometime in 2012. I love this though...feeling as if I've finally comeback alive. My one wish in 2010 is to keep up with it all!