Some Write It Hot

February 23, 2011

The Cure For Writer’s Block by Amber Green

Sometimes I sit and stare into midair, trying to figure out what my character will do next. If the answer doesn’t come easily, and a simple mechanical exercise like changing the scene’s POV character doesn’t provide any solutions, I move to another scene. When more than a few such cloudy episodes have been left suspended in mid-air, though, they tend to form to a head-clogging substance that stops all forward motion. My favorite remedy for this situation is to run each of the characters—but especially the one who seems to be a problem—through a free online personality test.

As best I can tell, the test won’t work until I’ve wrestled with the character long enough to have several problems hanging in the air. Some of the ten-question pop quizzes give surprisingly useful insight, but my favorites are the 60- to 75-question Briggs Myers test, with or without a secondary Jungian analysis. The outcome of the test provides an archetype, says who this character has turned out to be, based on decisions I’ve made for and about him, as opposed to the character archetype I had planned to use for my story.

Say I plan for a scientist/thinker sort, an INTP. (After a few quizzes, this acronym will make perfect sense.) But as I write the scenes that come most easily, my decisions about this character’s preferences and instincts actually point toward an INTJ. Okay, so what’s an INTJ? Another professor/thinker type, but less of a goof and more sarcastic, less likely to get elbows deep in goop and more likely to come up with fifteen ways (on paper) to turn goop into poog, less likely to be the 25-year-old who makes a brilliant invention or discovery that no one can replicate and more likely to spend a lifetime discovering (and documenting) all the steps toward that brilliant outcome. Okay, so I have an INTJ character—what does that mean in terms of my unresolved scenes? The INTJ archetype has recognized strengths, like an INTJ’s ability to see the big picture and mental flexibility as far as accepting input. The archetype also comes with recognized weaknesses such as an INTJ’s insensitivity to other people’s feelings and tendency to react to extreme stress by focusing on minutia and repetitive activities. The archetype even comes with concrete details like an INTJ’s tendency toward sarcasm. Knowing these factors make my writing flow much more smoothly and easily.

Running all the primary characters through the same test (or a parallel test from another site) lets me use all kinds of canned wisdom about how this personality interacts with that personality, what conflicts they will face, and what action they (or the one of them who is most interested in cooperation) will have to take to work together. Say you have an INTJ trying to deal with Lucy from Peanuts, a classic ESTJ. To get any number of ideas for how the characters would clash and mesh, open your search engine’s bar and type in INTJ ESTJ.

By the way, if this reads like useless crap to you, your personality is unlikely to end in J.

February 9, 2011

Sucker for Love by Lauren Fraser

Filed under: Who we are — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
Tags: , , ,

Well with Valentine’s Day quickly approaching love is in the air, the stores are filled with hearts, chocolates and flowers and it’s got me thinking about what it is that makes a great love story.

Now as a romance writer, I have to admit I’m always thinking about love in all it’s forms. I’m sure it’s pretty obvious that I’m a HUGE sucker for a happy ending but for me, part of the fun of a love story is watching the couples journey to their Happily Ever After. Following the journey from those initial sparks and zings of attraction all the way to the big L-O-V-E, through all the ups and downs of should we or shouldn’t we. How they handle all that sexual tension and angst.

Although I am a sucker for the happy ending, I have to admit I do enjoy when it’s a bumpy ride to get to the admission or realization that this is the person they are supposed to be with.

I think part of why I enjoy love stories that have some bumps to them is it makes the characters more real for me, more human. I feel like I can connect with characters so much better when they are at least a little flawed, like me. LOL

For most of us the road to finding our partner was a little bumpy. They don’t say you’ve got to kiss alot of frogs to find your prince for nothing.

Then you have to factor in can you see past all your own crap to realize that the person standing in front of you is the perfect person for you. Oy, sometimes it’s amazing we get it right. LOL But when they finally realize and everything comes together. It’s magic. Yep, a bumpy ride is a beautiful thing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do like my fair share of fantasy in my romances but I like a little reality woven in.

What about you? As a reader do you prefer the romance in your stories to be a bit smoother, more of a fantasy rather than reality or are you like me and like when the couple has to work at least a little to find “The ONE”?

Read about what else Lauren is thinking on her website

January 21, 2011

The Importance of Proofreading by Lauren Fraser

Filed under: Writing life — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
Tags: , , , ,

Now we’ve all heard how important it is to proofread your writing before you submit. I’ve heard numerous editors say the worst thing an author can do is not proofread their submission and query letter before they send it.

That being said we’ve all seen those headlines in the newspaper that just make you stop and go huh? The funny thing is even though you know it’s wrong you still feel the need to go back and read it again just to make sure LOL

Check these headlines out…

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter
Wow, how’d he manage that?

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Tiger Woods plays with his own balls, Nike says.
Hmm, good to know.

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Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
Now that goes above and beyond the call of duty.

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Statics show that teen pregnancy drops off significantly after 25 .
Go figure!

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Caskets found as workers demolish Masoleum. “We didn’t know anyone was buried there.”
Huh, what did you think it was for?

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Missippi’s literacy program shows improvment
Apparently that doesn’t extend to the paper. LOL

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Federal Agents raid gun shop, find weapons
I’m shocked

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Never Withhold Herpes Infection from Loved One
Ummm, yeah you can keep that.

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Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Deade
Yikes, how’d that happen. LOL.

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Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
Where can I buy that tape?

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Well it’s official proofreading is important. LOL

Read more from Lauren on her website

December 31, 2010

Time Flies by Ellie Heller

Filed under: Writing life — dangerouslysexy @ 04:00
Tags: ,

Does it seem like the end of the year is coming more quickly at you than usual this year? I am amazed at how fast this year has seemed to have gone by.

Curious about my sense that time was flying by I began looking up information and I ran across several articles talking about perceptions of time. Basically I found out that as we get older how we experience time changes. Looking further, I found there have been many studies done on perceptions of time but these sentences, from an summary article on Suite101, get to the gist on current thoughts on perception of time:

The theoretical and most widely advanced answer for the subjective acceleration of time with aging says that subjective time is relative to a person’s lifetime. To a 5-year-old, for example, a year seems like a long time, specifically 1/5 of a lifetime. To someone 65 years old, however, a year is 1/65 of a lifetime and seems to pass so quickly as to be hardly noticeable.

Read more at Suite101: Why Does Time Speed Up as One Gets Older?

I’m certain I’m not the only one who can remember traveling as a child and sometimes it seemed like it took forever! to get places. Of course, in hindsight, given the amount of time I had already experienced, it *did* take forever.

Well then, that explained things. Time certainly was flying by at a faster rate than it had before.

As a writer, though, I think about this sense of the passage of time as I write, and even more when I read. Particularly when I come across a paranormal character who has lived for a hundred years (or more!). Part of me simply cannot imagine how these characters experience time.

Given what I’ve experienced, and what I’ve learned about perceptions of time, there seems to be a conundrum of how you would have a character who has lived for many, many years in the mortal world, particularly if they were once mortal, be able to relate to the sense of time a mortal experiences. How does someone, who has supposedly lived for three or four times as long as I have, deal with mere mortals?

Think about it, if the character has supposedly lived two hundred years, a day is 1/73,000 of their life experience. If, as the author above notes, a year is hardly noticeable to someone at sixty five, day to a 200 yr old is a blink of an eye. How can they function and live, even be effective among the necessary time constraints mortals have (and writers place!) on their time?

Of course, then I start thinking solutions, because otherwise my disbelief is no longer suspended and I can’t go on with the story. Given the amount of paranormal stories I read (and write!) I have to come up with some solution to deal with this odd conflict I’ve raised on my own.

One thing which might happen, then, is perhaps their perception of time at whatever age they became paranormal simply halts. Simple and elegant, however there are instances, say waiting interminably in a line, when I’m glad my sense of time has changed. And, personally, I can’t reconcile how someone could experience all those years and not have their sense of time affected. Plus, think about it, there’d be some radical changes in attitude with teenage vamps complaining ‘are we there yet?’

No, for me, personally, that didn’t work.

Hmm, an elegant solution is found in High Fantasy. In most stories long lived characters reside in the mortal world, but their sense of how time runs is influenced by an external world, one which their rhythms are in sync with. In this scenario the long lived paranormal character is both living the days faster (say a month in mortal time is equal to a week of their time, then day is experienced as if it were one quarter of a day) and slower (using the same parameters as above, during one year in the mortal world they will only age three months).

Examples of this are stories of characters who have only lived a season in ‘Elf havens’ coming back home to find years have passed in the mortal world. For me, this then becomes easier to understand that an ‘immortal’, in this situation, experiences time at different pace than mortals do, in part because their ‘clock’ runs at the pace this external location does.

But when you remove this external location, as is frequently (but not always) the case in contemporary paranormal literature, and have former mortals living in a mortal world for hundreds of years, I can’t jive things at all.

For now, I’ve simply let myself agree to suspend my disbelief, but in the back of my mind I still mull it over. Clearly there is no one ‘right’ or correct solution to this, and I’m not sure that anyone but me thinks there needs to be one. It’s just the way my mind works.

On the other hand, those hours long, all night sex sessions some authors include? Well, they make a lot more sense to me now. 🙂

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