Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Invasion Of The Minor Characters...

Regular lurkers might remember I recently wrote a post on minor characters, and about how they should be treated with respect and not used merely as props for the dreaded info-dumps.

Well, as a result of my indulgence towards them, my minors are now starting to get troublesome. For example, in a scene I wrote today, a drunken soldier tried to take over. Edric, as he is known, began spilling his life-story to me. Apparently, he co-owns and runs a tavern called The New Bridge with his brother; he's partial to the Earl's imported wine; his wife, Freya, is currently staying with her sister who's just about ready to give birth...etc...et al...

Grr! Shut up, Edric. Go and sit in a corner somewhere. Act wooden until I give you the signal to release an 'As you know, Jeff...'

Minor characters are a pain, aren't they? :)

Monday, 16 September 2013

Do you major in minors?

Do I? I certainly try to.
 
Every minor character is the hero of his/her own story.
 
I don't know who first said this, but it's true. If I could, I'd stick this quote on the first page of our writerly bible, 'The Rules'™. For me, it's much more important than a few dubiously placed commas, fragmented sentences etc. Often, they're style choices. Leave them be. 
 
As a reader, I don't care about the little stuff, not if the story is good. However, I DO NOT like finding a stiffy in my book. No. Not that sort! Read on

Imo, there's nothing more off-putting than having to suffer a scene featuring a wooden and 2D minor character. Usually cast in the role of the MC's 'friend', their only function seems to be that of a portable toilet. Whenever the MC is ready to indulge in a spot of info-dumping, right on cue, out comes the MDF 'friend'. You can almost hear the wheels squeaking as they're wheeled out on set. 

Peevus Maximus! Can you tell? :)

For me, MDF (wo)man is worse than the sin of Thou Shalt Not Begin A Sentence With 'As you know, Jeff...' (In fact, a well-placed 'As you know, Jeff' makes me giggle.) But there's nothing funny about being hit over the head with a piece of two by four.

As a writer, I really do try to treat my supporting characters with the same respect I afford to my lead-role people. I like to give them all lives, histories, and goals--even if I don't ever share any of them with the reader. I picture my characters as railway tracks. (Bear with me!) All of them are heading somewhere. Any one of them could have been--and still could be--my 'star player'. Sometimes those tracks intersect and the characters meet one another. I try and allow them to react and speak in ways that reflect their lives.

Whether I'm any good at it remains to be seen. My judgement day is still some time off.

A writer who passed her judgement exams with flying colours is Jane Austen. She totally excelled at creating 3D, walking, talking characters. Not a stiffy in sight! In fact, I love her minor characters almost as much as her Darcy/Wentworth/Brandon. Mr. Collins is a particular favourite of mine. Revolting as he is, he's uniquely, utterly, wonderful.

Who's your favourite secondary character and why?




Friday, 13 September 2013

Ouch!

As my friends and Critter Crew may be aware, my current story has been giving me a few headaches of late. Self-inflicted, but painful.

My bad guy (Anselm) suddenly developed a surprisingly soft centre which quite a few readers found...appealing. Several people even voiced hopes that Martha (my she-ro) would transfer her affections to him, leaving Vadim (my long-absent hero) out in the cold. Not ...good. Serves me right for writing 'off the leash'.

So, for the last few weeks, I've been working on the chapter where Vadim finally makes an appearance. Weeks? Yep, you heard me! My mission was to make Martha, the reader (and me!) fall in love with him again, and I honestly wasn't sure I could. Not without a major rewrite.

Well, for better or worse, the chapter is written, and it'll be up on CC this coming Wednesday after I've given it a quick hose down. If anyone wants to read it I'd be VERY grateful. No need for a crit-not unless you have a burning desire to squish some nits! Just a thumbs up or down would be grand.

As for me? Although I haven't forgiven Vadim for leaving Martha to the mercy of the Evil Earl and his trusty sidekick, I had a few flutters in the old heart region when he walked into the room. But then, I am biased. There's just something about a cloak-wearing bloke with a sword in his hand that turns me to mush. Le sigh!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Say, WHAT?!*

I'm currently deep inside Vadim's (my leading gentleman!) head after a long absence, and it's a weird experience. Martha, my leading lady, is easy to write. 'Easy' as in, I understand what she's saying, the way her mind works, and the way she reacts, or doesn't react! I'm a girl, she's a girl. No problem!

But Vadim? Same medieval world, but a very different planet.

I don't understand him half the time, and I'm supposed to be his Creator. Where the heck did I pull him from? And as for the way he speaks... No word of a lie, when I'm writing Vadim, I frequently have to stop to go and look up one of his words in the dictionary. Example of typical Vadim-stylee convo follows:

Me: 'Oh, no! I'm not giving you that one, matey. You can't say that. I don't know what that word even means. It can't be right. No way. No how.'

Him: 'You doubt me? Then by all means, go and confer with your little book of reference. Go! I shall look forward to a suitably-worded apology on your return.'

The scary thing is, he's always right. 😠 How can he KNOW these things when he's just a made-up character from my head? Deep PoV is a dodgy business, imo.

Please tell me your characters do similar stuff to you! 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The stuff of nightmares...

I'm feeling rather low tonight. I found out today that a little boy who went to the same kindergarten class as my son has a tumour on his kidney, and the cancer has already metastasised to his lungs. Apparently, the child's only symptom was blood in his urine. He's five years old.

I have all these feelings running through me and there's nowhere for them to go, and no useful purpose they can serve. I can pray for the boy and his family, of course. But what exactly do I pray for? All anyone wants is for him to get better. That's not going to happen, is it?

All I can do is hold my two kids a little tighter tonight and tell them for the hundredth time today just how much I love them.

Please, NEVER ignore blood when it's coming from anywhere it shouldn't be coming from. Let the GP/MD be the one to tell you you're fussing over nothing, okay? Rather that than realise you've left things too late.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Harry Potter and the Curse of the Cranial Cacophony...

 
 
I'm currently introducing my kids to the delights of the 'Harry Potter' films,only the first few, I hasten to add. Voldie is still in the form of the remarkably pretty Tom Riddle--nose thankfully still in situ! (Even so, he's not pretty enough to tempt my little girl. She recently informed me she loves Snape and wants to hug him 'because he's so beautiful'. A child of excellent taste, methinks!)

Am I digressing? Yes, I am. Sorry. There is actually a point to this post, if only I could get to it.

Any-whooo...in the film where Harry finds Tom Riddle's diary. What's it called? The Chamber of Secrets? Well, there's a scene where Harry confesses to his chums he's been hearing voices, and Hermione says something that stuck with me:

Hermione: It's a bit strange, isn't it?

Harry: Strange?

Hermione: You hear this voice, a voice only you can hear, and then Mrs. Norris turns up petrified? It's just... strange.

Harry: Do you think I should have told them? Dumbledore and the others, I mean.

Ron: Are you mad?

Hermione: No, Harry. Even in the wizarding world, hearing voices isn't a good sign.

So what does that say about us as writers? Are we the exception to this rule?

I don't know about you, but my characters 'chat' to me an awful lot throughout the day, especially when I'm occupied with a menial task. And it's not just the residents of my current MS. Mais non, mes amis! I have a host of new 'people' whispering away at the back of my mind, all wanting to be written. Gah!

How do you get them to shut up? Sleeping is my preferred escape route.

How do you tune out the tenants of your mind?

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

A new love...

I admit it. I've fallen. Hard.

But my hubby needn't fret. He hasn't lost me to another man. So, what am I talking about?

Pinterest. And I think I've figured out why. Viewing someone's page--anyone's page--is like taking a peek at a cross-section of their brain. Blogs and the like are all well and good, but it's easy to hide your true self behind words, even when we try not to.

Pictures, to my mind, are more honest. They are what they are and are difficult to misinterpret. Pinterest members open up the workings of their hearts and minds and leave them on display for complete strangers to examine.

Isn't that just great?

What do your boards say about you?

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