Secret Diaries…..

whats behind the wrapper?

Browsing Posts in Writing

Creating believable characters is obviously a major part of every decent fiction writers trade, so where do these characters come from?  Many writers freely admit that most of their characters are a composite of a number of different people they come into contact with in their da ily lives, this is obviously a fantastic place to start because surely nothing will be more believable than a real person/people.  For new writers this does however often backfire, a tendency to focus on one aspect of someones personality or to combine only negative or positive characteristics results in flat characters who are either too perfect, or too repugnant for the reader to engage with them in any way.

The classic one for this would be the arch-nemesis, regularly guilty of having absolutely no redeeming features and of commiting evil acts for no other reason than because the author has decided the character is evil without thinking about their motivations.  The worst and most evil of people in mankinds history did what they did for what they believed to be perfectly rational reasons, not because they decided one day to be ‘bad people’.  Authors who can embrace this concept tend to create far more believeable villains.

The trick is in finding the right composite of characteristics to end up with a real living and breathing whole, something which I’ve been working on of late, having now got some idea of a plot line for my first real attempt at a novel I now need to populate my new world with some interesting people and this is proving to be a fun activity.  I’ve spent more time people watching in the last two weeks than I have in a while and its all proved very interesting and informative.  Hopefully the results will be worthwhile!

Sphere: Related Content

As you all know a major cause of deforestation is the unpublished novel, whole rainforests have been destroyed by people desperately seeking that big break from any and every publisher.  A lot of this is caused by some peoples complete inability to be self critical, a problem I thankfully do not suffer from, unfortunately I have the opposite malady.  I am firmly convinced that 99% of my output is total crap.

Take a flick through previous articles and you’ll see what I mean.

Having produced a lot of bad I thought I was capable of spotting a mile off, I now realise that my talents in this area pale in insignificance compared to the might of Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman the minds behind “How NOT to Write a Novel: 200 Mistakes to avoid at All Costs if You Ever Want to Get Published“.  I added this little gem to my bookshelf a while ago and have over the last couple of months (I’ve not had a lot of time to read recently) finally got round to reading .

If you are a writer, if your thinking of becoming a writer, if you’ve ever picked up a pen or sat in front of a keyboards with the idea for a sure fire bestseller in your head then you need to read this book.  I’m sorry to say its very likely to destroy some of your more extreme illusions about your talent.  This is a good thing however, if no one points out your mistakes then you’ll just keep making them (trust me I know what I’m talking about here).

I found very interesting flicking through the Amazon reviews of this book, trying to guess at the personalities behind the keyboard, some see as mocking or smug, everyone sees as sarcastic.  What interested me most though is those who claimed was useless, having read their opinions I’m firmly of the belief that the book cut a little too close to the bone for there liking.  I’d guess their own manuscript is currently being rejecting for one or more of the mistakes listed in this book!

Sphere: Related Content

A lot of my energy at the moment is going into simply generating ideas for things to write about, in the past I’ve relied on random inspiration to give me a topic but recently I’ve started to examine where those random ideas actually come from.  My reliance on randomness regularly leaves me bereft of ideas which seriously damages my output so finding the source will help to stabilise things somewhat.  The search has revealed a few things to me about my and about my approach to some things outside of as well.

The major discovery is the obvious one, ideas come from everywhere and anywhere.  A comment in the middle of a conversation, an image glanced as you go about your daily life, all these things get stored away and eventually if your very lucky your unconscious mind makes some kind of connection and you’ve got a potential best seller idea waiting to be unleashed.  This makes a vitally important part of any writers life to make sure that they always have their eyes and ears open or else the ideas may pass you by.

Dreams are another useful source of ideas, both your own and other peoples, as a for instance this morning my girlfriend told me she had a in which two of my friends from the world of amateur dramatics were researching their next role by pretending to want to be part of the Mafia.  All on its own you’ve got the begins of a fantastic story without your conscious mind actually having to do anything.  Dreams however are fickle and where one day you get a prize winning short story idea the next you may get a complete damp squib.

Which brings me to an incredibly important point:  Good ideas do not always produce good .  Once you have that germ of inspiration takes a lot of work to turn from idea into finished project and if you don’t approach the process the ‘right’ way you’ll waste a lot of time polishing a turd.  Evidence of that (I’m ashamed to say) can be seen in various corners of this site where over excitement at the mere thought of turning idea into substance has resulted in badly formed and incomplete product.

This is what my quest to understand the source of my ideas has taught me, I need a Plan, up until now (to paraphrase Phoebe Buffay) I haven’t had a pl.  Hence the creation of The Plan, the overriding rules by which I now abide when doing anything for this site.  The details of The Plan will continue to be fleshed out as time goes on.  Much of The Plan is actually still unpublished as I’ve come to realise I need something which extends beyond this site and into my daily life.

Its a freeing experience knowing that a part of your life now has structure and some kind of future, has become easier and more fluid and the rest of my life seems to be following suit. So, if your a budding writer whose struggling to find focus or if your just feeling a bit lost in any area of your life, make yourself a plan, even if its only a list of what your going to cook each night for dinner ’ll help.

Sphere: Related Content

Dreams

No comments

I would like nothing better in life than to sit and do this every day, the sheer joy of is incredible and fills me with a sense of well being and purpose.  The challenge is turning part time hobby into money making enterprise, something which isn’t easy.  The truth of the matter is though that there are now more people ‘living the ’ and making money from , drawing and otherwise creating content than at any other time in history.  The internet has opened up a whole new avenue and that avenue is spreading back to impact more traditional media, the days of self-publication have very definitely arrived.

This freedom to create which has been handed to so many people does of course give rise to the creation of a whole wealth of total crap, but some gems are really starting to shine through, the world of webcomics seems to be the most advanced of the new breed with many turning their comic into a full-time job.  Quite apart from the prolific (and the rest of the Blind Ferret team) over at www..com many others are making their mark and making their living in this new world.  Where the webcomics guys seem to have got right is by not limiting themselves, they are not only producing collections of the work they’ve presented on the web they’ve also expanded  into prints, T-shirts, figurines and even shot glasses.

So how do those of us with little in the way of artistic talent make use of these potential new money making avenues?  The phrase ‘you have to spend money to make money’ may come into play here, once you’ve established your as worth peoples attention you can spend a bit of cash getting a talented artist to create a few T-shirt designs for you.  If your fiction a few posters of your main characters may sell well.

The important thing is that there is no better time than now to try and make your artistic dreams come true, I’m certainly going to be trying over the next few months to make happen for me, whether that involves a whole load of or just some damn good only time will tell.

Sphere: Related Content

I’d like to introduce you all to Lightning Bug, an incredibly useful little site full of stuff to just get your moving.  Theres a whole raft of warm up excercises and different things to help you develop characters and setting.

Its well worth a look if you need help turning vague concept into fully formed idea.

Sphere: Related Content

Evernote

No comments

As I’ve said previously I intend to keep track of the work I’m doing on my top secret project and let you in on some of the things which are helping me pull everything together into a sensible whole.  First on the list is Evernote an incredibly useful little application for the technological writer.

I have spent a fair chunk of time walking round with a pen and notepad somewhere about my person so that I can write down ideas as they occur to me and to be quite frank I’ve been useless at using them, you see my handwriting is terrible and if I’m fast in a small goes from terrible to almost completely illegible.  I needed another solution and with a quick look round the Google market on my shiny new powered phone I’ve found the answer:  .

is available for Mac OS X, Windows, iPhone / iPod Touch, iPad, , BlackBerry, Palm Pre / Palm Pixi and Windows Mobile, so more or less any platform your likely to be using (except Linux, sorry open source fans.  Still ’ll probably run fine in Wine).  allows you to take notes in a whole variety of forms (Text, voice, snapshots or file uploads) before uploading them to ’s servers where they can then be synced to your other devices.  The basic package is free and gives you a maximum amount of 40Mb of monthly uploads which in these times of GB email inboxes etc doesn’t sound much but if all your using for is making text notes for your upcoming novel you should remain well below the limit.

The application itself (on and Windows anyway, I haven’t used on the many other platforms available) is simple to use and intuitive so you’ll find yourself taking a whole wealth of notes on a whole variety of subjects before you know .  I use to keep track of those random moments of inspiration which occur throughout the day before taking those many disparate thoughts and hammering them into a meaningful shape the next time I sit down to write.

This is actually looking like the single most powerful tool I have at the moment, those fleeting moments of inspiration are no longer being lost for want of a working pen and the chances of meaningful have been massively increased.  If you find yourself losing those brilliant ideas that would turn you into the worlds most successful author I seriously suggest taking a look.

Sphere: Related Content

Structure

No comments

I’m working a lot on improving the structure of my at the moment, particularly focussing on the need for a clear beginning, middle and end to everything I put together.  The beginning and middle have tended to be things which I don’t have a problem putting together its bringing those things to a well rounded conclusion which seems to cause me some challenge.

A lot of forward planning goes into any article, short story or novel.  Research is always necessary gives a far better structure and depth to your and this has been the main casualty in my recent work.  I’ve avoided property research or planning in an effort just to get something published which unfortunately has resulted in the series of random ramblings currently present on this very site.  Opinion only carries you so far when not backed by verifiable fact, without that grounding in reality the writers voice tends to get lost and the content of the article ends up awash in a sea of nothing in particular.

So this is where I find myself now, in search of facts and a rounded and well written ending to go with the many beginnings and middles floating around in my head.  Without them my new super secret project will remain unwritten.  So, over the coming months while I try and get my head round these little conundrums I’m going to be publishing a series of articles on the methods I find and the thoughts I have on the good and bad points of them all.  If nothing else the end result of all this may be some useful hints and tips for everyone else!

Sphere: Related Content

Powered by WordPress Web Design by SRS Solutions © 2010 Secret Diaries….. Design by SRS Solutions

Secret Diaries….. is Digg proof thanks to caching by WP Super Cache